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The New Normal with Maydianne Andrade (Ep. 14): Wisdom Tettey on citizenship

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What does a more inclusive society look like – and what are the responsibilities we hold as citizens when it comes to building one?

In the latest episode of her podcast, The New Normal, Professor Maydianne Andrade explores these and other questions with Professor Wisdom Tettey, vice-president and principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough.

It’s the first in a series of episodes that will feature Andrade in conversation with university leaders. Upcoming instalments include a conversation with President Meric Gertler and a conversation with Professor Alexandra Gillespie, vice-president and principal of U of T Mississauga.

“The pandemic has shown us how interconnected we are,” says Andrade, Canada Research Chair in Integrative Behavioural Ecology. But can that offset “the lasting effects of Trumpism, the laying bare of selfishness?” 

For Tettey, a political scientist and leading researcher on African diaspora, politics and media, a crucial first step is recognizing inequities in our society and confronting difficult truths about their causes. Only then can we talk about “how to heal by making one another better,” he says.

“Those are conversations that are sometimes uncomfortable, but are necessary.”

For example, Tettey says the phrase “that’s not who we are” has dominated recent conversations around white supremacy and fear.

“It actually is who we are,” Tettey says. “This is fundamental to who we are. It goes to my point about recognition as a fundamental prerequisite for making the changes that are necessary.”

To build a more inclusive society, he says, we must “have the humility to challenge ourselves and to be willing to let go of things that have no basis,” so that we can learn and grow.

“It takes all of us doing our part and continuing to challenge ourselves, to learn, to reach out, to get into spaces that we're not comfortable with.”

The New Normal is created in collaboration with a University of Toronto Communications team led by Lisa Lightbourn. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify or listen on SoundCloud. You can also find it on Apple or listen on Google.

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