The fact of diversity in our culture today is boringly obvious.
How to deal with it realistically and generously–that’s not so obvious,
and among the most important questions of our time.

Diversity challenges North American life more now than ever. How are we supposed to accommodate differences in our schools, in our businesses and professional workplaces, in our courts and police forces, in our politics and in our private time? Are there rules about how much freedom we can give ourselves and each other? And are there strategies that can make diverse organizations perform optimally in our globalized age?

John Stackhouse has analyzed the theory, history, and practice of both American and Canadian approaches to diversity, multiculturalism, and social change. He brings sober good sense that cuts through the sloganeering to expose what we can and must do to live well with each other. He is also committed to the long-term training of organizations, keeping their approach competitive and effective in the face of unpredictable challenges.


Dr. Stackhouse trained in Canadian and American history on both sides of the border, and he has lived in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces. He has screened candidates for a food bank on the South Side of Chicago, talked with Texas ranchers and oilmen, taught native Canadians in Manitoba, and discussed changes around the Pacific Rim with Chinese and Korean businesspeople in Vancouver, Seoul, and Hong Kong. He has lectured on the challenges of diversity at several law schools (including Pepperdine, Stanford, and the University of British Columbia), Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and the University of Edinburgh.

To a group of well established, high-performing professionals seeking to enhance their
public service careers by studying at the Harvard Kennedy School, Dr Stackhouse put forth a productive,
charitable, and realistic approach to diversity aimed at helping decision-makers navigate a 21st-century marketplace.
Tyler Thigpen, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, Atlanta

talks & seminars

Does Religion Belong in School? (at Work?) (in the Hospital?) (in the University?)

CEOs, directors, managers, trustees, teachers, principals, city councils, legislatures, lawyers, police officers, and judges—everyone is dealing with religious diversity today. What’s really changing—and what have the media overblown or otherwise distorted? Should your group be observing all religious holidays? Should religious meetings be held on company property? Should discussion of religion be forbidden in the cafeteria? Should meetings begin with prayer? The religious scene is becoming ever more complicated in the modern workplace and public institutions, and this lecture helps leaders sort through the issues—and the minefields.

Now It’s Gotten Interesting: Diversity as Threat and as Opportunity

Multiculturalism has been a part of Canadian identity for two generations, but only in the last decade has it become a significant challenge. Now diverse populations in Canada have achieved critical mass—in numbers, in dollars, in votes, in voices. Meanwhile, Americans continue to struggle with the legacy of slavery while Latino and Asian immigration alters cities and even whole states. What now is “reasonable accommodation” of diversity? How can a coherent society be formed out of such different groups and individuals? This talk—drawing on cross-border and cross-regional perspectives—explodes the comfortable, constraining myths of both “assimilation” and “affirmation” to set out a realistic sketch of what can and cannot be done. North American society can flourish as never before with all this diversity, but only if certain fundamental lessons are learned—and learned quickly.

Is Proselytizing Un-Canadian/Un-American?

Where does free speech end and people’s freedom to work or study without offense or distraction begin? How do we think about attempts at religious persuasion at our front doors, yes, but also in our workplaces, on city buses, at universities, and in the mass media? This talk outlines the grounds for both free speech and the reasonable limitations of it, describing a mature and considerate neighbourliness and a clear recognition of purpose in each context that will foster the common good.