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Honorary degree citation - Heather Menzies

By: William J. Buxton, November 2007

Mr. Chancellor, it is my pleasure to introduce Heather Menzies, an award-winning, Ottawa-based writer and scholar, speaker, peace and social-justice activist, video producer, and passionate gardener.

The author of seven books, including the 1996 best-seller, Whose Brave New World, Heather Menzies' most recent book No Time, Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life (which won the Ottawa Book Prize in 2006) investigates the link between various diseases of our time - from stress and depression amongst adults to attention deficit disorder in children.

It maintains that the health crisis in our population is also taking place in institutions and society at large. She argues for a renewal not only of the humanity of our social institutions but of ourselves. Her most recent work, entitled Enter Mourning (forthcoming with Key Porter Books) is a memoir on death, dementia, and coming home.

Heather Menzies has made enormous contributions in the area of gender, technology and work from a Canadian perspective, drawing on the writings of Harold Innis, George Grant, Marshall McLuhan, Ursula Franklin, and Irene Spry, among others.

Her books, journal and magazine articles, and public talks have been inspirational and influential to many Canadian academics and students in communications studies, social science and the humanities, and also for policymakers and citizens.

For almost three decades, Heather Menzies' analyses have revealed - in a nuanced and complex manner - how the lives of Canadians have been affected by the development and implementation of digital technologies.

Ms. Menzies has also pioneered Canadian feminist analyses of digital technology through her early analysis of the impact of computerization on women's work and through her ruminations on the nature of technology, time, and health.

In this regard, her important work "Time, Technology, and Academic Work," written with York University Professor Janice Newson, examines how digitalization has affected academic work, resulting in increased workloads for faculty.

An adjunct professor and sessional lecturer at Carleton University, Heather Menzies has taught single courses or given lecture series at other Canadian universities including McGill, Simon Fraser and Wilfrid Laurier. She has also served as a member of several thesis committees at Carleton.

Heather Menzies has also been in demand as a keynote speaker, primarily addressing public and government conferences, but also professional associations.

She has served on the board of the Writer's Union of Canada on three occasions and chaired its Foreign Affairs Committee.

Reflecting her longstanding commitment to social issues, she is a founding member of the Ottawa-based Women's Health Project that responded to the mass rapes of women in Bosnia, Somalia, and now Darfur. She also co-chairs the Family Council of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.

As our lives become increasingly enveloped by the Internet, it is important that we examine critically all human aspects of our relationship to media technologies. I can think of no more deserving recipient of this honour than Heather Menzies, who has pioneered critical analyses of digital technology, particularly from a feminist viewpoint. She epitomizes the Canadian public intellectual who seeks to produce knowledge for the betterment of society.

Mr. Chancellor, for her groundbreaking social analysis, long-time activism in the women's movement, engagement in cultural politics and strong promotion of social justice, may I present Heather Menzies, the recipient of a Doctor of Laws from Concordia University.

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