JOEL BAKAN AND NEENA CHAPPELL
2004 DISTINGUISHED ACADEMICS AWARDS RECIPIENTS
A University of British Columbia law professor who found a unique way to engage the public debate about corporations and a University of Victoria sociologist who works with seniors and community groups seeking answers to important questions about caring for an aging population were honoured on April 14th by receiving the 2004 CUFA/BC Distinguished Academics Awards for academic research that contributes substantially to the wider community.
UBC law professor Joel Bakan was named Academic of the Year for research leading to the creation of the film The Corporation and the publication of his book The Corporation : The Pathological Pursuit of Power.
UVic sociologist Neena L. Chappell received the Career Achievement Award for her many years of collaborating with seniors and community groups in identifying and filling gaps in knowledge about care for seniors.
“Professors Bakan and Chappell exemplify the many B.C. university faculty who use their considerable knowledge and skills to conduct research that contributes directly to the community beyond the academy,” said Rick Coe, CUFA/BC President.
“Prof. Bakan’s unique project to bring his research to a wider audience through a popular film illustrates the creativity university faculty employ in engaging debates on key public policy issues,” Coe said.
“Prof. Chappell’s pioneering use of participatory action research, an approach that links research to community needs, enables our elders to identify and work on solutions to the challenges they face. For more than two decades, Prof. Chapell’s community-centred research has been a model for other scholars.”
Mark Forsythe, host of CBC Radio One’s BC Almanac, emceed the award dinner on April 14th at the Law Courts Restaurant in Vancouver.
The CUFA/BC Distinguished Academics Awards are in the tenth year and receive generous support from Sun Microsystems of Canada, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Northern British Columbia, Royal Roads University and the University of Victoria.
2004 CUFA/BC DISTINGUISHED ACADEMICS AWARDSRECIPIENTS
APRIL 14, 2004
ACADEMIC OF THE YEAR AWARD – JOEL BAKAN
FACULTY OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
Already a respected constitutional scholar, Joel Bakan in 1997 turned his formidable legal mind to questions about the status and functions of corporations. Why has the legal concept that defines corporations as people and was originally used merely as a means to organize business been twisted to the point that corporations demand constitutional protections normally associated only with flesh and blood people?
The results of his exploration are a book and film in which Bakan and his cinematic collaborators explore the origins of the corporation, then show how and why corporations’ pursuit of their shareholders’ and managements’ self-interests often undermines the interests of human people and of human society generally.
Extending the analogy of a corporation as a “person,” Bakan and film directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbot point out that a corporate “person” is “required by law to elevate their own interests above those of others” and demonstrate how this makes them prone to preying upon and exploiting others without regard for moral limits or legal rules. Bakan, Achbar, and Abbot assert that corporations typically behave in a manner defined by the Manual of Mental Disorders as psychopathic. The film-The Corporation-puts the patient “on the couch” to learn about the origins of its problems and consider how this illness might be treated.
An entertaining look at serious issues, the film is backed by Bakan’s thorough research. His book The Corporation : The Pathological Pursuit of Power has been described as “not only a skillful synthesis of the relevant literature but a compelling critique of what is arguably our most power and characteristic social, legal and economic institution.”
For his scholarship on the nature and function of corporations and for his unique efforts in making the results of his research widely accessible to the public, Joel Bakan received the 2004 CUFA/BC Academic of the Year Award.
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – DR. NEENA L. CHAPPELL
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY AND CENTRE FOR AGING, UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA
Since her student days, Neena Chappell has had a keen interest in the difficulties people face as they grow older. Whether it was the way in which medical professionals deal with older clients, the effects of institutionalization on elders, the special needs of Chinese seniors in British Columbia, or the ways in which seniors help support one another, Dr. Chappell’s research covers the range of public issues and private challenges in dealing with an aging society.
Not content with simply studying aging, Dr. Chappell worked in partnership with seniors and community organisations in identifying questions that needed to be answered and then brought her research expertise and university resources to the task of finding answers they could use. This type of research-called participatory action research-was rarely used when she started her career in the 1970s and remains uncommon today. Rather than the researcher alone setting the agenda, participatory action research enables community members to shape research questions toward their own needs, to participate actively in the research itself, and to use the research findings to improve their own situations.
Recognizing the need to involve academics from different disciplines in answering the questions posed by seniors and community organisations, Dr. Chappell sought funding from the federal government and established Canada’s first social science-based research Centre on Aging at the University of Manitoba in 1982. She established a second research Centre on Aging when she came to the University of Victoria in 1992.
For her research achievements, for bridging the gaps between academic disciplines, and for her longtime commitment to making research results relevant to the people and communities she studies, Dr. Neena L. Chappell received the 2004 CUFA/BC Career Achievement Award.