By Laura Dalton
Ryerson University has named a politics professor based in New York the school’s first Jarislowsky Democracy Chair.
Sanjay Ruparelia will be moving to Toronto to assume the position in January 2019 and will use research to analyze democratic models as a basis for reform and create a public forum promoting citizen engagement around democracy.
Ruparelia is currently an associate professor of politics at the New School for Social Research in New York. His research uses a problem-oriented approach to address democratic politics, postcolonial equality and development, as well as the roles of political institutions and parties. Democracy in India is his main research interest.
“What is exciting about the chair is that there are many important questions to study and tackle,” Ruparelia said. “For instance, how to deal with new migrants in the 21st century, and how to tackle growing social inequalities.”
He has published a number of scholarly articles and is the author of Divided We Govern: Coalition Politics in Modern India.
Teaching staff and students at Ryerson about democratic issues facing today’s society, researching such issues and collaborating on research projects with other faculties at Ryerson and institutions in Canada are a few of Ruparelia’s plans.
The Jarislowsky Democratic Chair position was established in the faculty of arts with a $2-million donation from Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist Stephen A. Jarislowsky, who is the president of the Jarislowsky Foundation.
“Now is the right time for someone to lead the study of democracy and suggest reforms to align with social challenges,” Jarislowsky said in a press release.
Ruparelia is interested in learning what forms of community engagement and discussion are already present at Ryerson in order to build on them and produce more progressive democratic policies for the community.
Speaking on what he plans to do in this position, Ruparelia said he would like to use an international perspective in analyzing Canadian democracy, “build ties and networks and bridges between scholars and activists and policy makers that are based in Canada and elsewhere.”
He also wants to use the position to start conversations comparing the democratic perspective of Canada to other countries in order to utilize reforms that other nations are suggesting.
Ruparelia’s work will complement the research of the Harold and Dorrie Merilees Chair for the Study of Democracy at the University of British Columbia, as well as the Jarislowsky Chair at the University of Ottawa.