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Religious Diversity, Education, and the “Crisis” in State Neutrality

January 29, 2014 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm



 Benjamin Berger
Osgoode Hall Law School

Religious Diversity, Education, and the “Crisis” in State Neutrality

Education – and particularly public education – has become a crucible for the relationship between state and religious diversity, a principal site for contemporary debates about the meaning of secularism and the management of religious difference. This is so across a variety of national traditions, and despite wide differences in the historical and “emotional inheritances” surrounding the configuration of law, politics, and religion. Through an exploration of Hannah Arendt’s thought about responsibility and freedom in education, this article works towards a better understanding of why education is such a crucial and fraught field in the modern encounter between religion and law. The article turns to the recent jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada to draw out the implications of these ideas, arriving ultimately at a claim about the nature and limits of the concept of state neutrality.

Professor Benjamin Berger’s areas of teaching and research specialization are criminal and constitutional law and theory, law and religion, and the law of evidence.  Prior to joining Osgoode, Professor Berger was an associate professor in the Faculty of Law and held a cross appointment in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Victoria, where he began teaching in 2004.  He served as law clerk to the Rt. Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada, and was a Fulbright Scholar at Yale University.  He has published broadly in his principal areas of research and his work has appeared in multiple edited collections and in legal and interdisciplinary journals such as: Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence; Law, Culture and the Humanities; McGill Law Journal; Osgoode Hall Law Journal; ICON; and the Journal of Comparative Law. He is on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society and is an associate editor for the Hart Publishing series Constitutional Systems of the World. He is also co-editor of The Grand Experiment: Law and Legal Culture in British Settler Societies, published by UBC Press in October 2008.  He received the 2010 Canadian Association of Law Teacher’s Scholarly Paper Award for an article entitled “The Abiding Presence of Conscience: Criminal Justice Against the Law and the Modern Constitutional Imagination.”  Professor Berger is active in professional and public education, is involved in public interest advocacy, and has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada.  While at UVic Law, Professor Berger twice received the Terry J. Wuester Teaching Award, and was awarded the First Year Class Teaching Award; he received the Osgoode Hall Law School Teaching Award in 2013.

Event date: Wednesday, January 29, 2014, from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Location: Alumni Hall, Victoria College


January 29, 2014
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm