Bob Young, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Western University, passed away on August 15, 2017.
Young joined the Department of Political Science in 1981, and retired in 2016.
Young studied at McGill University, Institute d’Études Politiques (Paris) and Oxford University.
In his time at Western, Young developed a reputation for being an excellent teacher and an authority on a broad number of aspects of political science, including NAFTA, the political economy of New Brunswick and local governance.
Young is most renowned for research on secession in Quebec and around the world.
Young published “The Secession of Quebec and the Future of Canada”. Andrew Sancton, professor emeritus, described it as “the definitive book” on the possible implications of Quebec secession, what it would mean for the rest of Canada, and how negotiations might work.
Young was “probably the leading voice on the possibility of Quebec separatism” said Don Abelson, chair of the Department of Political Science.
His expertise was not limited to political science, but also included the fields of history and economics. In 1988, Young won the CHR Prize for the best article in the Canadian Historical Review. In 1995-96, he was awarded the Douglas Purvis Memorial Prize for the best work on Canadian economic policy.
Young was also very committed to growing and strengthening the Department of Political Science at Western.
Young became involved in the local government program and the Masters of Public Administration. In 2003, he was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Multilevel Governance. He also received SSHRC funds to conduct the largest research project ever on the role of Canadian municipal governments within Canadian federalism.
Sancton was a colleague and close personal friend of Young’s. “Everybody who wanted to do anything, whether apply for a research grant or make a contact outside of the university, they would go to Bob” said Sancton. “He would have some connection or know how to do the work.”
“He didn’t hold back and was very well intentioned,” said Abelson. “He always thought about how to make things better.”
“Bob was a great scholar, teacher and colleague,” said Robert Andersen, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science. “We were privileged to have him as part of the Western community. He will be missed”.
Despite his highly-regarded reputation, Young is remembered as being very relatable and personable.
“It always struck me that you could be walking around campus with Bob, and people would stop and ask him about things. He would ask about their work and their personal lives. He had an amazing string of connections all over campus,” said Sancton. “I don’t know that many people who are that interested in other people.”
“Things were never about him” said Abelson. “He would never remind you how bright he was. He wanted to raise the profile of the department and make sure others could contribute.”
“We’ve lost a true intellectual – a public intellectual – in the truest sense,” said Abelson.