PhD thesis

Nothing about my PhD so far has been easy. As long-time readers may recall, my first comprehensive exam was only passed after two attempts and a lot of effort. The strike was painful, and has made me particularly question the quality of undergraduate education that U of T provides, in terms of class and tutorial […]

My PhD committee members probably feel like I have fallen off the face of the Earth. Seemingly decades ago, my hope was to have my thesis proposal submitted for approval by December 2015. Now, I am getting close to the point where I think the draft will be worth circulating to committee members and potential […]


The Federal Court of Appeal just ruled that the Canadian government had failed to adequately consult indigenous peoples and so quashed the 2014 federal approval for the project. As one of the subjects of my PhD thesis, all developments on NGP are of great interest. It’s certainly a fast-moving as well as an important topic.

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Today, hosted a teach-in in preparation for the climate change consultations which the Trudeau government has asked MPs to hold. Avi Lewis — co-creator of the Leap Manifesto — was on the panel. The question which I submitted through the commendable system of written cards (to avoid tedious speeches from the self-important audience members) […]


Occupy Wall Street comprised the people who responded to the call. Ultimately, however, uncritical openness was Occupy’s downfall: the general assemblies were paralyzed by the inability to distinguish between true and false. Participants who had been with Occupy for a day were given a say equal to that of committed activists who had founded the […]


I call Occupy Wall Street a constructive failure because the movement revealed undelying flaws in dominant, and still prevalent, theories of how to achieve social change through collective action. Occupy set out to “get money out of politics,” and we succeeded in catalyzing a global social movement that tested all of our hypotheses. The failure […]

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My friend Stu sent me a long article about the functioning of social justice movements of the Occupy / Arab Spring variety, discussing how their efforts at being internally democratic work. Much of it is of interest, but this passage made me think of the climate movement especially: When the anarchist participation prevented the Trotskyists, […]


The fossil fuel divestment campaign at the University of Toronto is still dealing with the disappointment of President Gertler announcing such an uninspiring response to the social injury and financial risk associated with fossil fuel investments. One early response from the campaign was to hold a creative direct action outside Simcoe Hall, home to the […]


I am finding myself frustrated with the primary challenge associated with trying to produce political change using groups of volunteers, which I would judge to be maintaining accountability and motivation. If the groups aspire to be democratic, that brings a set of challenges too. (The third biggest challenge is probably avoiding and managing interpersonal conflicts.) […]


I have come across a lot of exciting material for my PhD project in the last few weeks. Documents like the papal encyclical Laudato Si raise interesting questions about the connections between the faith community’s involvement in the effort against climate change, anti-capitalism, and the moral contemplation of the environment. For instance, there are interesting […]