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Arthur Schafer

Arthur Schafer is Canada’s most distinguished authority on bioethics and he is stepping down as director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, which he founded in 1986. The Centre hosts a symposium in his honour on Feb. 5

A titan steps down

The Ethics Centre at 30

February 2, 2016 — 

The following is from Neil McArthur, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics

On January 1, I became Director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics. I am only the second person to hold the position, and I have big shoes to fill. For the past 30 years, the Director has been Professor Arthur Schafer. Professor Schafer is Canada’s most distinguished authority on bioethics. On February 5, we will sponsor a half-day conference to mark his 30 years of service to the Centre. Colleagues, friends, and interested members of the public are all invited to attend.

Many people will know Professor Schafer as a commentator in the media on a wide variety of issues. He has given lectures around the world, and written numerous editorials as well as scholarly articles. In particular, he has done work on medical research ethics, focusing on the need for medical researchers to remain independent of pharmaceutical companies. And he currently serves on the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying, another topic that has been a focus of his writing. Professor Schafer is also a distinguished teacher.  At the University of Manitoba he has received the Stanton Teaching Excellence Award, the Campbell Award for University Outreach, and the University Teaching Service Award for Teaching Excellence.

Professor Schafer founded the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics in 1986. Shortly thereafter he was able to attract an endowment of roughly a half million dollars to support the Centre’s operations. He has used this endowment to support research and outreach at the University for the past three decades. During this time, the Ethics Centre has sponsored several talks and public fora each semester, and has awarded grants to support research on ethics by U of M faculty.

The symposium on Feb. 5 brings together some of the most distinguished scholars who have worked with Professor Schafer through his career. Arthur Ripstein is a University of Manitoba graduate who has become one of Canada’s most distinguished philosophers and legal theorists. He is currently Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Toronto. Nancy Olivieri is a distinguished haematologist and medical researcher who has championed ethics in medical research, following her own experience battling for the disclosure of adverse effects during a drug trial. Professor Schafer defended her publicly and was sued by the drug company for doing so. Amir Attaran is a law professor at the University of Ottawa and an activist in the fields of global health and international justice.


What: The Ethics Centre at 30: A Symposium in Honour of Founding Director Arthur Schafer
When: Friday, Feb. 5, 1:30-5 p.m.
Where: Concourse lounge, University College, Fort Garry campus


The conference takes place in the Concourse Lounge of University College. It is free and open to the public. The schedule is as follows:

  • 1:30: Arthur Ripstein (University of Toronto): “Not on the Merits: Understanding the Morality of War.”
  • 3:00: Nancy Olivieri (University of Toronto), “Why Heroes of Bioethics Matter: Reflections on Research Ethics and Academic Freedom”
  • 4:15: Amir Attaran (University of Ottawa), “The Limits of Conscientious and Religious Objection to Physician-Assisted Dying after the Supreme Court’s Decision in Carter v. Canada”


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