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Stephen Clarkson, 1937-2016

Acclaimed author and authority on political economy was devoted to his students

Stephen Clarkson led students on a research trip to Portugal.

We mourn the passing of a respected colleague and friend, indefatigable scholar, dedicated teacher, and beloved mentor to generations of faculty members and students.

Stephen joined the Department of Political Economy in 1964, as he was completing his doctorate from the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, Sorbonne, Université de Paris. Before that he earned an MA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 1959, he completed his undergraduate studies in modern history and modern languages at the University of Toronto and Trinity College.

After the department was reorganized in 1982, Stephen remained a leading light in the field of Canadian political economy. His scholarly influence was wide-ranging, and he remained a passionate promoter of Canada all his life. His nationalist sympathies and his deeply analytical critiques of global, regional, and national policy developments led to many contributions to academic and political life. His many publications included Dependent America? How Canada and Mexico Construct US Power (2011 with M. Mildenberger); A Perilous Imbalance: The Globalization of Canadian Law and Governance (2010 with Stepan Wood); Does North America Exist? Governing the Continent after NAFTA and 9/11 (2008); The Big Red Machine: How the Liberal Party Dominates Canadian Politics (2005);Trudeau and Our Times Vol. 1: The Magnificent Obsession and Vol. 2: The Heroic Delusion (1990 and 1994 with Christina McCall) The Canadian-American Relationship: Uncle Sam and Us: Globalization, Neoconservatism, and the Canadian State (2002) and Canada and the Reagan Challenge (2nd. ed., 1985).

In recent years he focused on the diffusion of foreign-investment-protection norms and investor-state dispute settlement institutions between Europe, North America and Latin America as well as the impact of globalization on the Canadian state with particular interest in NAFTA and the WTO. His contributions were recognized and he received many awards and honours over the course of his distinguished career. In 2010, he was appointed to the Order of Canada. In 2004, he was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was a recipient of a Killam Senior Research Fellowship, a Canada-US Fulbright Scholarship, the John Dafoe Prize for Distinguished Writing, and a Governor General Award for Non-Fiction, as well as many research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Stephen was devoted to his students, and he saw his teaching as the most important part of his academic life. He closely advised generations of undergraduate and graduate students. He held his students to high standards, and they reciprocated with much energy and enthusiasm. Of his many honours, he was especially happy to receive the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Faculty of Arts and Science in 2004. Under his guidance, many of his best students went on to win Rhodes Scholarships and other distinguished awards of their own. He continued teaching until the end. Just a couple of weeks ago, he led a group of students on a research trip to Portugal. Alas, it was during that trip that he contracted a virus, which soon led to complications from which he was unable to recover. He died in Freiburg, Germany, the home of his wife Nora Born, on February 28, 2016.

“I have known Stephen Clarkson as a friend and colleague for many years,” said political scientist David Cameron, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. “I am so sorry he is gone; I will miss him, as will his colleagues in political science and generations of his students.

“For a man of many interests and accomplishments – Stephen ran for Mayor of Toronto, after all – the things which really mattered to him professionally are apparent in how he spent his final days: teaching, writing, and with his students. Always the students. The international study trips with his students are legendary, and many have spoken of the impact these formative experiences had on their lives. His teaching is where I see him making his largest and most important contribution and that is where he will be most heavily missed. My heart goes out to Nora, his dear wife, and to his daughters, and their partners and children.”

Anyone who knew Stephen knows that what mattered most to him was his family. He leaves behind Nora as well as Kyra and Blaise, his daughters from his first marriage to former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, and Ashley McCall, his daughter from his marriage to his eminent co-author, the late Christina McCall as well as sons-in-law, grandchildren, many relatives and many, many friends. He will be sorely missed.

As an expression of remembrance, contributions to the Stephen Clarkson Scholarship in Political Economy are most appreciated by Professor Clarkson’s family and the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto. Donations may be made online or by mail using this pledge form.

Louis W. Pauly is professor and chair of political science and former director of the Centre for International Studies in the Munk School of Global Affairs.