Monday July 25, 2016

Peace and Justice - A Celebration of Ursula Franklin

Ursula Franklin

Ursula Franklin (University of Toronto/Mark Neil Balson)

Listen to Full Episode 54:00

To commemorate the recent death, and to celebrate the remarkable life of Ursula Franklin, we turn to the IDEAS archives, and sample over forty years of appearances by the public intellectual who delivered the 1989 CBC Massey Lectures -- "The Real World of Technology". Highlights include her profound (and still remarkably relevant) response to the events of September 11, 2001.


"Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice… And the presence of justice has been missing in the world for very many people…" -- Ursula Franklin 

"Technology is not the sum of the artifacts, of wheels and gears and rails and electronic transmitter.  For me technology is a system. It entails far more than the individual material components. Technology involves organization, procedure, symbols, new words, equations, and most of all it involves a mindset..." -- Ursula Franklin

Ursula Franklin was a long-standing and morally important member of the IDEAS family. The principles for which she stood (peace, justice, intelligence, compassion...) remain central to what we try to do, every day. She was first and foremost an experimental physicist and professor of metallurgy at the University of Toronto, but her academic accomplishments spread to many areas --  from the properties of metals and alloys, to the techniques of modern archeology. Her professional interests ranged widely too. Ursula was Director of Museum Studies and involved in an Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. She was a board member of the National Research Council and the Science Council of Canada.  A committed Quaker, she was active in peace movements, in efforts to promote international understanding, and in strategies to improve the role of women in society. She was a fellow of the Royal Society and an officer of the Order of Canada.  And she appeared frequently on IDEAS, with contributions that stretched over five separate decades.  Her first appearance was in 1971; her last in 2013. Her CBC Massey Lectures, in 1989, were published as The Real World of Technology.

"She really looked at the way power weaves its way through a set of social practices. .....and that has been something that has really influenced everything that I've thought about technology. ....the only thing that makes technology journalism worth doing, to me, is the notion that if we think critically about it and we talk about the politics of it, that we can get better at it and we can democratize technologies and we can think more creatively about their impacts, instead of what we normally do, which is to say 'well the genie's out of the bottle! there's nothing we can do about it now!"  So the notion that you could think critically about it and there could be a sociology of technology, a political theory about technology.....but also the fact that she was Canadian and a scientist and a woman, all together, were very powerful for me."  -- Nora Young, host of Spark on CBC Radio


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