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Campus Bulletin

January 11, 2006

BSE Forum Packs the House

A forum on BSE and bird flu sponsored by U of G and the Royal Society of Canada was a huge success, attracting some 250 community members as well as numerous viewers online. In fact, the event was so popular, several dozen people were turned away at the door as the room quickly reached capacity.

“This kind of public dialogue is critically important, especially when dealing with complex issues of global importance,” says president Alastair Summerlee. He added it was appropriate that U of G hosted such a community discussion, in part because of its expertise in animal and health research.

“But universities are also communities of scholars, made up of a unique collection of minds and viewpoints,” Summerlee says. “As such, they should be the moral and social conscience of society and actively promote such an exchange of ideas.”

The forum, which was held at the River Run Centre, was also carried live via the Internet by the Canadian Farm Business Management Council and Galbraith Communications. It will also be available online later this week.

The event featured a panel of some of Canada’s leading experts on consumer and food safety, ethics, economics and animal and human health and was moderated by Bob McDonald, host of the popular CBC radio program Quirks and Quarks. The forum was part of the “Taboo Topics” lecture series sponsored by the Royal Society of Canada.

It is also part of a series of ongoing events and symposia U of G is sponsoring to engage the public in stimulating discussions on emerging global issues. In November, the University hosted a special forum on the state of public affairs in Canada. In February, an inaugural “President’s Dialogue” will focus on the role of media and communications in a changing global community. In April, Summerlee will host a national symposium on poverty.

“We live in a complex and integrated world,” he says. “Our objective is to mobilize some of the best minds in the country to discuss issues of great social importance with the public.”

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