The week before WEEC in Canada

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

The programme for the WEEC event in Vancouver in September is becoming clearer, and credit is obviously due to the organisers for taking Canada's rich cultural heritage seriously – at least as far as keynote speakers are concerned.  You can see the detail here.  It will be more of a challenge to ensure that participation in the rest of the programme reflects the breadth of Canada's communities, but then it always is.  I thought that the Durban WEEC was the most successful in doing this, but this WEEC might run it close.  Earlybird registration ends on May 31st.

As it happens, the other day I received an invitation to attend a two-day workshop in the week before WEEC that "will bring together international experts on sustainability competencies in higher education", although it's not yet clear what the purpose of the event is: maybe it will be a freewheeling kind of affair where streams of consciousness eddy, swirl and conflueure [sic].  I hope not.  Anyway, nice to be asked, but as I'll not be at WEEC, I'll not be going to this either.  Anyway, I've never considered myself an expert on such things – just too sceptical of the idea of competence / competency, I think.

Meanwhile, on this Canadian theme, a feature in the Economist caught my eye about how a liberal country with impeccable toleration policies struggles to cope with polygamy.  The story was about a Jack Morman with a lot of wives and over a hundred children.  It's not the man – women – children that Canada struggles to cope with, but the fact that the women are wives (though they may not so, fully legally).  This is how the article ends:

"Still, there is virtually no tolerance for multiple marriages within the boundaries of a single democratic state across the Western world.  It remains axiomatic that a person who enters a marriage ceremony while still legally wedded to somebody else is a bigamist. That rule invalidates the second marriage and renders the bigamist liable to prosecution.

Yet even that simple-sounding principle is not easy to apply.  What if the “ceremony “ is some new-fangled rite which has been dreamed up by a recently constituted community, with no real social or legal standing?  Does that make the situation better or worse than simply living with multiple partners, which is not illegal?  Such questions will remain hotly contested through this trial and beyond.

A hot topic for WEEC, maybe, though probably not for the competencies seminar.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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