A conference on the theme “Cultural Diversity & Liberal Democracy: Models, Policies and Practice” will be held at the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, in Toronto, on April 19-20, 2016.  Confirmed keynote speakers include David Miller (Oxford) and Alan Patten (Princeton).  A call for presentations is attached.  The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2015.

Please see below the fold for details.  Queries should be directed to Kenneth McRoberts, the School’s Director, at kmcroberts@glendon.yorku.ca.

Invitations to give keynote addresses have been accepted by David Miller (Oxford University) and Alan Patten (Princeton University).  Other invitations are pending.

Cultural diversity, and its implications, constitutes a fundamental challenge to contemporary liberal democracy.   Historically, liberal democracy’s adherents have championed tolerance and openness.   Yet, as diversity becomes more complex and the demands of cultural minorities for recognition and accommodation become more intense, so there is increasing debate as to the appropriate response.   By which principles and through which measures can, and should, the demands of cultural minorities be met?  Has multiculturalism proven to be an effective and, within the ideals of liberal democracy, legitimate formula for doing so?  Do other formulae (such as interculturalism or plurinational federalism) offer more promise?  Are different formulae appropriate for different situations?   Should diversity be embraced and encouraged as a value in itself?  Conversely, should liberal democratic institutions, given their very nature, avoid any attempt to accommodate cultural diversity?

While these questions have long been the subject of academic discourse and debate, they have acquired a new urgency in most liberal democratic polities.  Public debate over the implications of cultural diversity has become polarized and divisive.   Economic crisis, austerity policies and international security threats have helped to create a new political climate which is critical of immigration, calls for firmer measures to integrate immigrants, and is less disposed to recognize and accommodate minority cultures.  

Clearly, the time has come to take a new look at the implications of cultural diversity for liberal democracy.  Accordingly, the Glendon School of Public & International Affairs (GSPIA) is organizing a two day conference entitled ‘Cultural Diversity and Liberal Democracy: Models, Policies and Practice’.  The conference is scheduled to take place April 19-20, 2016.

Scholars, researchers and practitioners are invited to propose presentations for the conference.  Proposals will be considered on a wide variety of topics bearing upon the theme of the conference  including:

  • critiques, defenses and reformulations of multiculturalism
  • alternative  approaches to accommodation of cultural minorities
  • Feminism and multiculturalism
  • Relationship between cultural diversity and  social and economic inequality
  • Conflicts between diversity and redistribution
  • Impact of international security concerns of cultural minorities
  • Multinational or plurinational arrangements
  • Competing claims of national minorities and immigrant populations
  • ‘Civic integration’ policies, as implemented in Western Europe
  • Religious demands and liberal democratic values
  • Recognition of language rights