Fonds 1796 - Metta Spencer fonds

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Reference code

UTA 1796


Metta Spencer fonds


  • 1959-2001 (Creation)

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3.25 m of textual and graphic records and sound recordings (23 boxes)

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Biographical history

Sociologist Metta Spencer came to the University of Toronto, Erindale Campus in 1971 after completing her Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley under the supervision of renown sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset. Her early career saw the publication and several editions of her textbook Foundations of Modern Sociology, described by its publisher Prentice Hall as "the most significant introductory sociology texts published in the 1970s and 1980s". By the early 1980s, with the rise of the disarmament movement, Spencer's professional research and writings came to reflect her active involvement in the peace movement. It is, in fact, for her dedication to the study, research and teaching of peace, as well as her active participation in the movement, that Metta Spencer is distinguished among her peers. She has published over 100 articles in both refereed and non-refereed journals, and has given equally as many talks on such themes as peace activism, the peace movement, non-violence, negotiation, nuclear disarmament, nationalism and separatism. In late 1980s, she further integrated her peace activities into her role as a teacher by developing and coordinating the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Erindale College.

Prof. Spencer has been active in various national and international peace advocacy groups. To list a few, she has held various positions in the Canadian Pugwash Group and was among the 2000 members of Pugwash to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. She served as board member of the Canadian Citizen's Assembly for the Helsinki Process and was a founding participant and chair of the structure committee of its international body, the Helsinki Citizen's Assembly (1990-). She was also founding President and Director of the Canadian Disarmament Service, has held various executive positions in Science for Peace and has been editor of Peace Magazine since 1985. She has acted in a consultative capacity to the Canadian government in matters relating to peace and disarmament. For example she was a member of the Consultative Group to the Ministry of External Affairs (1985-1991), was a consultant to the Canadian Commission to UNESCO(1988), Special Advisor to the Canadian Mission to United Nations (May-June 1988) and at various times through her career has been invited to brief various government ministers including the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Foreign/External Affairs.

She has many honours to her name including the Governor General's Confederation Medal (1992), the Global Citizen Award from United Nation (1995) and recently the Jus Prize in Human Rights (2001). Dr. Spencer who retired in 1997 from the Department of Sociology, University of Toronto at Mississauga is Professor Emeritus and still teaches one course in the Peace and Conflict Studies Program. She remains active in the Canadian peace movement and continues to edit Peace Magazine.

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Records in this fonds document some of Dr. Spencer's peace activities including her participation in the Canadian Pugwash Group, the Helsinki Citizen's Assembly and Science for Peace as well as her attendance at some conferences and meetings. However, many of her activities, especially relating to the 1980s disarmament movement and her consultative roles are not evident in these records. Also this accession only provides a sampling of her talks and publications. There is however complete drafts and notes for her textbook as well as early versions for works still in progress. Finally, Dr. Spencer's notes and papers as a student of sociology at University of California Berkeley are also preserved in this accession.

These records will be of interest to anyone researching the Canadian and international peace movements and themes such as disarmament, peace advocacy, Canadian international affairs and the role of non-governmental organizations. It also may be of interest to those researching the teaching of these topics within the discipline of sociology. Finally, Prof. Spencer's student notes offer a glimpse of what was being taught at Berkeley in the mid 1960s (then the top department of sociology in the U.S.) . They would be of interest to anyone studying that institution and the history of sociology as an academic discipline.

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