A $3.4 million gift from McGill alumnus and long-time university supporter, Dr. Yan P. Lin, PhD’92, will establish an innovative interdisciplinary centre to explore the history and development of the fundamental ideas, systems and institutions which govern our lives.
The Centre, housed in McGill’s Faculty of Arts and closely aligned with the Faculty of Engineering, will bring together leading scholars in clustered into five research groups: global antiquities; transitions and global modernities; constitutional studies; global justice; and democracy, space, and technology.
“Dr. Yan P. Lin has been a constant and committed supporter of McGill for many years and I am grateful for this exceptional gift,” said McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Suzanne Fortier. “His vision and perspective is the driving force behind this centre and it will be a powerful incentive for leading scholars and students from around the world to work together and excel across disciplines and geographical boundaries.”
These research teams will work together to explore how conversations across various fields of study can illuminate important aspects of our shared histories and futures. Researchers associated with the Centre are already embarking on collaborations across disciplines and Faculties at McGill and with colleagues around the world. These range from an international series of conferences on studies of global justice in the wake of colonialism, to bridging history and architecture to examine educational globalization, to a workshop on freedom of religion with Canadian and American scholars of law, history, philosophy, religion, and political theory.
“The centre will focus on historical and normative studies of social and political life, drawing comparisons across eras from the ancient world to today, and across all regions of the globe,” said Jacob Levy, Founding Director of the Centre and Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory. “It’s an exciting and challenging mandate to all of the teams involved.”
“As a proud McGill graduate I am pleased to support this initiative and the vast potential it has to serve as a bridge between the past and the present, West and East, and science and the humanities,” said Dr. Yan P. Lin.
The Centre is planning a wide range of activities which will include hosting conferences and workshops, inviting visiting speakers to McGill, and facilitating research projects that will enable the Centre to become a vibrant and engaged participant in the community - both within and beyond McGill’s campuses. Two upcoming events are: a lecture in the Research Group on Constitutional Studies by political scientist Laurel Weldon on “The Logic of Gender Justice” on October 29, 2015 and another in the Research Group on Global Antiquities by art historian Lothar van Falkenhausen on “China and the West - before the ‘Silk Routes,’” on November 5, 2015.
The Centre's inaugural lecture will be given on April 13, 2016, by Orlando Patterson, John Cowles Professor of Sociology, Harvard University, the author of the National Book Award-winning Freedom in the Making of Western Culture.