Countering discrimination and fostering dialogue between groups in conflict
Karen Mock (BA 1967 UC, MEd 1970, PhD 1975) changed her mind about becoming a teacher midway through her undergraduate degree at U of T, and yet today the whole country is her classroom. As the executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, she is one of Canada’s foremost experts on anti-racist education.
In the third year of her honours psychology degree, Mock’s goal shifted from teaching children to educating teachers on child development and the most effective teaching methods. Following graduate school, Mock (née Greenberg) started her career as a professor of educational psychology and taught at several Ontario universities, including U of T. She became a pioneer in helping teachers become more culturally sensitive in order to understand and inspire children from every type of background. “Before it was fashionable, I started to teach teachers how to create an inclusive curriculum and ensure that they took the family, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds of the children into consideration.”
Mock went on to educate a broader audience by consulting and publishing widely on issues related to racism and hate crimes in Canada. Before being appointed by the federal government to her current position, she served as the national director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith for 12 years.
The last few years have been hard for those trying to promote a racism- and hate-free society, says Mock. “September 11 showed us how close racism was to the surface.” She believes it’s more important than ever to counter discrimination and foster dialogue between groups in conflict.
As a special prize in the silent auction at the University of Toronto’s 175th Anniversary Gala, U of T Magazine offered to profile an outstanding alumnus. This story is the result.