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'Big thinkers' conference pays tribute to policy leader

[Keith Banting in School of Policy Studies building]
A conference celebrating Keith Banting's distinguished contributions to scholarship and public debate will take place Sept. 23-24. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

In the academic world, conferences honouring retiring scholars are often reflections on their work by other researchers. However, an upcoming symposium paying tribute to Keith Banting will go beyond paper presentations in hopes of sparking the type of public policy debate Dr. Banting has contributed to for more than 40 years.

“Keith Banting has been consulted, officially and unofficially, by top policy-makers for years,” says Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, conference co-organizer and an associate professor in the Department of Political Studies. “The conference, in a way, pays tribute to those contributions by bringing together big thinkers – both scholars and practitioners – and providing a forum that encourages a cross-fertilization of ideas.”

The questions Keith Banting asked about the factors impacting social policy in Canada are still valid today. Given the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 and Queen’s 175th anniversary, this is an opportune time to revitalize the policy debate around these issues and reaffirm Queen’s place in policymaking and discussion.
— Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant (Political Studies), conference co-organizer

The conference, New Frontiers in Public Policy, will feature 11 presentations by leading Canadian and international academics on themes such as federalism, the welfare state, and multiculturalism. In addition to the presentations, a series of structured discussions will allow scholars and policy-makers to explore the links between academic research and public policy-making.

“The questions Dr. Banting asked about the factors impacting social policy in Canada are still valid today,” Dr. Goodyear-Grant says. “Given the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 and Queen’s 175th anniversary, this is an opportune time to revitalize the policy debate around these issues and reaffirm Queen’s place in policymaking and discussion.”

Dr. Banting formally retired from Queen’s in summer 2015. He maintains an association with Queen’s as a professor emeritus and as the Stauffer-Dunning Fellow in the School of Policy Studies. As the second director of the School of Policy Studies, Dr. Banting played a pivotal role in defining the school’s mandate to link teaching and research with contributions to public policy debates. Dr. Banting was also a founder of the Queen’s International Institute for Social Policy, an international conference held every August. He continues to help lead the program development for the conference.

“I am blown away by the willingness of colleagues to come long distances for the conference. It’s a star-studded cast, and I am looking forward to our debates very much," Dr. Banting says. "I am also anticipating a bit of a roast along the way. It should be fun.”  

Dr. Banting was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in 2004. In 2012, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Stockholm University, and received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Most recently, Dr. Banting received a lifetime achievement award from the American Political Science Association Canadian Politics Section.  

New Frontiers in Public Policy will take place Sept. 23-24. The event is co-hosted by the Department of Political Studies, the School of Policy Studies, and Queen’s Institute of Intergovernmental Relations. Financial support for the conference is also provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The papers presented at the conference will be collected into a volume edited by Dr. Goodyear-Grant, Richard Johnston, Will Kymlicka, and John Myles. Visit the conference website for more information.