Professor Joel Bakan receives UBC award for public education and prestigious Bellagio residency

February 2017 was a big month for Allard School of Law Professor Joel Bakan.


Allard School of Law Professor
Joel Bakan

On February 1, UBC announced the recipients of the Faculty Research Awards, one of the University’s top honours. With awards for research in the arts and humanities, applied science, science, and medicine, Bakan was recognized with the President’s Award for Public Education through Media for his active and creative sharing of research expertise through news media. Then, on February 19, Bakan received confirmation that he was accepted into a prestigious residency program at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre in Italy, which “supports the work of scholars, artists, thought leaders, policymakers, and practitioners who… promote the well-being of humanity around the world,” as stated on their website.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the President’s award, especially because so many of my colleagues across this University contribute so valuably, and regularly, to public discourse and public education,” Bakan said. “And the Residency is a wonderful melding of two necessary nurturers of scholarly production and creativity - undisturbed alone time and stimulating interdisciplinary engagement.”

The residency is for academic writing and will take place in April and May of this year. Bakan plans to work on the sequel to his acclaimed book and film The Corporation.

The Corporation is one of the ways Bakan has worked to, in his words, “promote reasoned, civil, evidence-led public discourse among broad and international public audiences,” which he considers invaluable, especially in a time of “post-truth, alternative facts, false news, eruptions of hate and xenophobia, and deepening inequality and environmental devastation.” He considers these to be symptomatic of, among other things, “degraded public discourse.”

Bakan’s aim has been to produce scholarly work that promotes critical thinking while still being accessible. Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children is another of his books that works to address important social issues.

“I feel privileged to be part of a university that values this kind of work, and more generally our role as public educators,” Bakan said.

The reception recognizing the winners of the UBC Faculty Research Awards will be held on April 5.