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75th Annual Summer Conference, August 10–13, 2006

Reading List

Our summer conference will open our minds to all sorts of ideas, as will the books on this list. We’ve put together a selection of books that we hope will warm you up for “Wedded to Progress: For Better or Worse” – but the list is a living, breathing thing. Check back for additions as we move closer to August 10, and send us your recommendations!

Louise Arbour
Human Rights and the Politics of Fear

Presentation to the Canadian Club of Toronto, June 13, 2005
Available from the Canadian Club
Contrasts the world's response to the aftermath of natural disasters such as the 2005 tsunami versus the response to global conflicts such as those in Haiti, Darfur and Colombia. Reflects on human rights, development and security issues, and on how to get the balance right.

Isaiah Berlin
The Proper Study of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays

Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2000
Describes Berlin's views on a number of well-known figures, including Tolstoy, Pasternak, Akhmatova, Churchill, Roosevelt, Machiavelli, Vico and Herder. Includes the essay "The Pursuits of the Ideal," which is especially relevant for the subject matter of the Couchiching 2006 Conference.

Raymond Breton
Fragile Social Fabric? Fairness, Trust and Commitment in Canada

McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003
Analyzes Canada's social fabric and its strengths and weaknesses. Evaluates the national quality of life by looking at rights and obligations, as well as the more usual assessment of economic and material dimensions of Canadian society.

Jacob Bronowski
The Ascent of Man

Little, Brown, 1976
Essays from a 13-part BBC Television series describing humanity's nature and accomplishments from the use of primitive tools to the formation of the theory of relativity. Discussion includes such areas as astronomy, mathematics, physics, biology and archeology.

Jared M. Diamond
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Penguin, 2005
Describes five past societies that have collapsed. Uses a framework of factors that may a! ffect what happens to a society: environmental damage, climactic change, hostile neighbours, loss of trading partners and the society’s own response to environmental problems. Discusses three past success stories. Examines some modern societies (Rwanda, Haiti vs. Dominican Republic, China and Australia) and looks at factors such as business and globalization with lessons for societies at present.

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Zebra Bouquet, 1999
Answers why Europeans and Asians conquered the indigenous peoples of Africa, the New World, Australia and the South Pacific. The answer includes technology, genocide, zebras, pestilence, weather, geography and luck.

Gregg Easterbrook
The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse
Random House, 2002
Asserts, based on research, that people are less happy today when compared to those of other generations – despite excellent progress in virtually all aspects of western life. Delves into positive psychology to note what gives a person a strong sense of well-being and offers options for making our lives better and how to position ourselves in the world more positively.

Rajee Farhang
Globalization on Trial
Kumarian Press and IDRC Books, 2000
Notes that globalization is not necessarily a new phenomenon and that we need to look at it critically from several different perspectives, especially in so far as the western-Islamic interaction is going to be with us for some time as a complex and often contradictory challenge.

Thomas Friedman
The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty First Century
Farrer Straus Giroux, 2005
Examines globalization including the rise of India and China. Explains the flattening of the world at the beginning of the 21st century and tries to make sense of the often bewildering current global situation. Outlines globalization’s impact on countries, companies, communities and individuals and how governments and societies can and should adapt.

Laurie Garrett
The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance
Penguin, 1995
Chronicles the evolution of super germs around the world and argues that we should give more respect to the principles of microbiology. Looks at the last fifty years of microbes and the people who have done battle against them.

Anne Golden (speaker)
The State of CSR in Canada
Presentation to the 2005 Corporate Social Responsibility Conference, May 11, 2005
Available from the Conference Board of Canada
Reviews global trends in corporate social responsibility (CSR) over the past 15 years. Notes the Conference Board of Canada's model, comprising five elements. Discusses the evolution of CSR over the years from philanthropic donations by a company to its present form, which aims for the sustainability and the good health of the corporation and society.

Robert Greenhill (Speaker)
Making a Difference? External Views on Canada’s International Impact (pdf)
Canadian Institute on International Affairs, 2005
Interim report of the CIIA’s External Voices Project that assesses Canada’s impact since 1989, drawing on interviews conducted around the world in 2004. Suggests Canada’s future influence could make a positive difference, if we make the right choices.

Sam Harris
The End of Faith: Religion, Terrorism and the Future of Reason

W.W. Norton, 2005
Describes the dangers of organized religion and warns against its involvement in world politics. Calls for a new foundation for ethics and spirituality that is secular and humanist. Discusses neuroscience, philosophy and Eastern mysticism.

John Helliwell and George Akerlof
Social Interactions, Identity and Well-Being Program
Canadian Institute of Advanced Research, 2006
Research project working on expanding the scope of economics by broadening the definition of well-being and expanding the empirical basis for its analysis.

John Ibbitson (Speaker)
The Polite Revolution: Perfecting the Canadian Dream
McClelland and Stewart, 2005
Examines Canada’s current political system and argues that there is a new political era of four solitudes each with its own culture and economic concerns which are not being recognized by Canada’s major political parties.

Mark Kingwell (Speaker)
In Pursuit of Happiness: Better Living from Plato to Prozac
Penguin, 1998
Explores philosophically, historically and by personal anecdote what it is to be happy and how society uses different means to achieve it. Looks at happiness in terms of economics and politics and other areas of life. Tests various theories and samples a number of contemporary solutions which include personal happiness seminars, Prozac, and St. John’s wort.

Stephen Lewis
Race Against Time: Massey Lectures 2005
Anansi, 2005
Offers insight into the problems that cntinue to threaten the world: poverty, hunger, gender, and class inequality. Examines the depth of these problems and provides solutions for remedying them.

Brian Maracle (Speaker)
Back on the Rez: Finding the Way Home
Viking, 1996
Gives historical information of the Mohawk Natives and life on the reserve. A Mohawk from the Six Nations Grand River Territory in Ontario, after many years as a journalist he returns to the "rez" to test out life on the reserve.

David Noble
Beyond the Promised Land: The Movement and the Myth
Between the Line, 2005
Traces the evolution and eclipse of the biblical mythology of the Promised Land, the foundation of western culture. Links western religion and corporate globalization in the rejection of one of Judeo-Christianity’s most cherished myths.

Jean-François Rischard
High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them
Basic Books, 2002
Defines a list of 20 (more, actually) urgent global problems, including global warming, water scarcity, poverty reduction, universal education and taxation systems, and – because Rischard finds they're getting worse instead of better – offers innovative strategies for dealing with them. In his day job, Rischard is vice-president of Europe for the World Bank.

Jeffrey Sachs
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time
Penguin, 2005
Argues that extreme poverty can be ended by 2025. Examines the causes of poverty, the role or rich-country policies and gives a blueprint for achieving the elimination of extreme poverty.

John Ralston Saul
The Collapse of Globalism: And the Reinvention of the World
Penguin, 2005
Argues that globalization is dead and that there is a return to nationalism. Examines where the world goes from here and looks at Europe’s challenges of immigration, racism, terrorism and renewed internal nationalism. It also explores Africa’s debt, the AIDS epidemic, the return of fundamentalism and terrorism. Examines, as well, the success of globalism including the rise of China and India.

Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason
Penguin, 1993
Explores the cultural, economic, political and social underpinnings of Western society. Reflects on these underpinnings and where they have brought the world today.

Edward Tenner
Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

Vintage, 1997
Examines the not always positive effects of present-day progress in a number of areas including the biological, chemical, mechanical and medical – such as computers, ATM machines, superbugs, and so on.

Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity
Knopf, 2004
Looks at several everyday products including such inventions as protective helmets, reclining chairs and keyboards. Discusses the benefits of these and a number of other everyday inventions and how they increase our performance and improve our lives.

Peter Timmerman (Speaker)
Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change: Volume 5, Social and Economic Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
Wiley, 2002
Discusses the social, political, economic and spiritual dimensions of global environmental change. Includes information on the great political and economic theories along with the most influential views of nature from Plato to Rachel Carson along with environmental thought and practice.

H.G. Wells
The Time Machine: War of the Worlds
Originally published in 1895
Science fiction novel about conflict among the planets. Anticipates, from the vantage point of the late 19th century, what warfare will consist of during the 20th century – including Martians invading England and virtually conquering civilization. Predicts the effects of technology on humanity and civilization.

Ronald Wright (Speaker)
A Short History of Progress
Anansi Press, 2004
Examines the runaway growth of the 20th century with its pressures on the environment. Looks at the impact of this growth on the future and discusses a number of past civilizations and lessons learned from their experiences.

Jean Vanier
Finding Peace

Anansi, 2003
Takes the position that peace is the task of each person and should not be left to governments, armies, etc. Reflects on world events to promote context for the sources of conflict and fear among individuals, communities, and nations. Includes anecdotes from life-long work with people with mental disabilities to give a message of peace and tolerance.

Kim Vincente
The Human Factor: Revolutionizing the Way People Live with Technology
Knopf, 2003
Discusses how people use technology that has not taken the human factor into account, with results that range from the tragic to the simply inconvenient. Examines how technology relates well and poorly to our needs and looks at a variety of things from toothbrushs to voicemail systems to organizational culture and gives suggestions on how problem areas can be improved