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Education in Canada: The American Dream or the New Inequality?

Education Webinar 2022

This Outstanding Contribution Award keynote presentation was held as part of the 2022 Canadian Sociological Association Conference / Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Congress.

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Moderator: Irene Shankar, Mount Royal University and President-Elect – Canadian Sociological Association

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Terry Wotherspoon, University of Saskatchewan

One of the most remarkable policy achievements in the twentieth century has been the massive increase in educational attainment across populations. In Canada, these changes have contributed to increased opportunities and enhanced well-being for many previously excluded groups to the extent that some observers are calling the nation the new home of the American dream. However, educational attainment levels remain relatively low for many Canadians. In a context in which educational opportunities are widespread, and some people can enjoy entrepreneurial success without credentials, does educational inequality matter? Which segments of the population are most likely to have limited education, and for what reasons? This paper, adopting the stance that education does matter, explores the nature and consequences of educational inequality in contemporary Canadian society.

Dr. Terry Wotherspoon, professor of sociology at University of Saskatchewan, is the recipient of the CSA’s 2021 Outstanding Contribution Award. He has earned his reputation as a distinguished and established scholar, publishing widely on issues related to education reform, teachers’ work, social policy, inequality, and Indigenous-settler relations in Canada. Beyond these areas of specialization, he has presented on and published about the Canadian criminal justice system, the Canadian child welfare system, immigration, family, and migration and citizenship. Demonstrating exceptional scholarly merit, he has authored 22 refereed journal articles and 57 chapters in books. He has also authored three books, including The Sociology of Education in Canada (currently in its fifth edition, Oxford University Press), and The Legacy of School for Aboriginal People: Education, Oppression and Emancipation (with Bernard Schissel, Oxford University Press). He has also given numerous invited presentations at Canadian and international academic conferences, symposiums, workshops, and for government (e.g., Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, Canadian Council on Social Development).

Dr. Wotherspoon has also been advancing sociology in Canada through his various and countless service roles and responsibilities at the University of Saskatchewan at the Department and University level, with professional/association committees, and in the broader community. He served as Managing Editor of the Canadian Review of Sociology (2008-2014), as the President of the Canadian Sociological Association (2015-2016), as well as representing the Canadian Sociological Association at the Congress of National Associations, International Sociological Association meetings (2018). Additionally, Dr. Wotherspoon has been a thoughtful mentor and advisor to numerous sociology undergraduate and graduate students.

Dr. Wotherspoon’s extensive contributions have been recognized through many awards, including the Canadian Education Association’s Whitworth Award for Educational Research (2002-2003), the Canadian Association of Foundations of Education Book Award (1998), the Canadian Sociological Association’s Outstanding Service Award in 2018. Dr. Wotherspoon has been a true advocate and an ambassador for Canadian sociology. The Canadian Sociological Association is honoured to be celebrating Dr. Wotherspoon’s productive career and wide-ranging contributions through its 2021 Outstanding Contribution Award.