Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In Memoriam: Hanna Newcomb

I knew Hanna when we served on the Hamilton Mundialization Committee. Here is the text of a memorial printed about her in the World Federalist's Newpaper for May.

In Memoriam
Hanna Newcombe’s commitment to peace

"Hanna Newcombe, an active member of the World Federalists for nearly four decades, died April 10 after a short illness.

She served twice as national president of the organization. Although she received her PhD in chemistry, she will be remembered as a pioneer in the field of peace research. In the mid-1960s, after meeting Norman Alcock, a physicist who had founded the Canadian Peace Research Institute (CPRI), Hanna realized that
she had found her calling: the use of science to better understand the path to peace.

With her husband Alan, she worked at CPRI and then cofounded the Peace Research Institute – Dundas (PRI-D). The Newcombes published numerous Peace Research Review monographs as well as the Peace Research Abstracts Journal. During the Cold War years, peace research and peace studies was not widely accepted by mainstream academia. Selling the peace research abstracts to libraries across North America was what maintained a modest revenue flow to the PRI-D.

A quote at the bottom of the PRI-D letterhead (adapted from Epictetus, the Discourses) summed up Hanna Newcombe’s broad-based scholarly approach:

“Observe, this is the beginning of philosophy - a recognition of the conflicts among men, an inquiry into their causes, the discovery of a standard of judgment, and a condemnation of mere opinion.”

It was the problem of peace that brought her to world federalism, a recognition of the need not only for institutions of law and world order to avert war and promote international security, but also as mechanisms for providing justice and welfare for the world’s citizens.

Her views became more widely recognized in the 1980s with the rise of a broadbased peace and disarmament movement. She was also actively involved with the Quakers and Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and helped establish the Canadian Peace Research and Education Association.

She received the Pearson Peace Medal in 1997 and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2007. In 2006, WFM–Canada inaugurated an award in her honour, the “Hanna Newcombe Lifetime Achievement Award,”
recognizing the outstanding contributions made by individuals from within the movement.

With modesty, considerable intellect and a genuine intellectual curiosity, and with a strong belief in humanity and the power of ideas, Hanna Newcombe set a fine example, and made a difference.

From the World Federalist Newsletter, May 2011

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