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Weller, Geoffrey R.
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Originally from the U.K., Geoffrey R. Weller was born in 1942. He graduated high school in England in 1960 and then spent an additional year at Ann Arbor High School in Michigan, graduating a second time in 1961. Weller pursued a BSc in Economics at the University of Hull, graduating in 1964, and a master degree in Political Science at McMaster University, completing a thesis titled “Some Contemporary American Views of Democracy and the Third World: A Critical Appraisal” in 1967. He went on to hold teaching positions at Bishop’s University (1965-1971) and Lakehead University (1971-1990). At Lakehead University, Weller also became the Dean of Arts (1984-1985) and Vice-President (Academic) (1985-1990). Over the course of his career, Weller obtained visiting professor positions at: the University of Minnesota, Duluth (1973), the University of Ottawa (1977-1978), and Simon Fraser University (1995) and taught a summer course at Laurentian University (1979). Over his teaching career, Weller taught courses in Canadian politics, public policy, and comparative politics. In 1991, Weller became the founding president of the University of Northern British Columbia and held this position until 1995 when he stepped down and began teaching in the department of International Studies.
Weller’s early research pertained to Canadian labor relations, working first as a researcher for the Federal Task Force on Labor Relations in 1967 and subsequently pursuing an academic research project titled "Trade Unions and Political Change in the Province of Quebec 1921-1972.” In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Weller’s research turned to health policy in Canada and worldwide. From 1975 to 1980, Weller worked on his doctoral dissertation at McGill University titled “The Development of Health Policy in Ontario.” Though he ultimately never finished this degree, Weller published several papers on similar topics during this time, including: “From ‘Pressure Group Politics’ to ‘Medical Industrial Complex’: The Development of Approaches to the Politics of Health” (1980), “The Determinants of Canadian Health Policy” (1980), “The Conflict of Values and Goals in the Canadian Health Care System” (1978), and "Hygeia Versus Asclepius: Conflict within the Ontario Health Care System" (1979). Other projects on health policy in the 1980s included Weller’s research on the Canada Health Act of 1984 and collaboration with his colleague Pranlal Manga on a project looking at politics and health care in South Africa in 1983. Weller continued to conduct research on health policy into the 1990s.
Overlapping with his work on health policy, Weller explored politics and development in the Circumpolar North. From the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, he engaged in several projects examining local government in the North and provincial ministries of northern affairs. Specific publications included: "Local Government in the Canadian Provincial North" (1980), "The Evolution of Local Government in Northern Ontario" (1980), "Provincial Ministries of Northern Affairs: A Comparative Analysis" (1982), and “Local Government Development in the Yukon and Northwest Territories” (1983). Later in the 1980s, Weller conducted research on politics in Ontario, publishing a 1988 paper titled “The North in the Ontario Election of 1987.” This interest in government and development in the circumpolar north reemerges in Weller’s work in the 1990s with an emphasis on economic development, seen in the publications “Regional and Economic Development in the Circumpolar North: early 90s to 2000” (2000) and “Economic Development Initiatives in the Circumpolar North: A Comparative Analysis” (1999).
Weller’s research interests in health policy and northern studies also overlap in many projects. Specifically, from 1983 to 1991, Weller’s research on health policy turned to examine health care in the circumpolar north. During this period, Weller held government appointments and community service positions on the Advisory Committee for the Health Promotion and Prevention Project of the Ontario Council of Health (1983-1984), the study advisory group for the Study on Health and Social Service Professionals in Northern Ontario (1989-1990), and the Thunder Bay District Health Council (1983-1988), on which he was also chairman (1986-1988). Research conducted in these roles dovetailed with academic research projects, including "The Politics of Health in the Circumpolar North” (1987) "The Delivery of Health Care to Underserviced Areas” (1991) and "Health Care Delivery in Northern Hinterlands” (1989). During this period, some of Weller’s research also examined the transfer of health care responsibility to Canada’s northern territories and local government among First Nations groups, specifically in his papers “Self-Government for Canada's Inuit: The Nunavut Proposal” (1988), “Devolution, Regionalism and Division of the Northwest Territories” (1990), "The Devolution of Authority for Health Care Services to the Government of the Northwest Territories” (1989), and “Health Care Devolution to Canada’s Territorial North” (1990).
Weller’s research in the field of northern studies also combined with research on environmental politics, higher education, and international relations. During 1981-1988, Weller collaborated with Douglas Nord on projects pertaining to environmental issues and politics in the Great Lakes region, including two research reports funded through the state of Minnesota and the Canadian Consulate-General in Minneapolis titled “Transborder Politics and Paradiplomacy: The Ontario- Minnesota Fishing Dispute” (1987) and “Canada and the United States: An Introduction to a Complex Relationship” (1987). Weller also pursued academic research in this area including a project titled “Water Politics and Policy in the Lake Superior Basin” (1988) and another collaboration with Douglas Nord "Environmental Policy and Political Support in Canada and the United States: A Comparative Analysis” (1981).
Also holding research interests in higher education, from the late 1983 to 1998 Weller explore aspects of circumpolar universities and their effect on the surrounding regions, resulting in publications such as “Universities, Politics and Development: The Case of Northern Ontario” (1988) and “Universities, Politics and Development: Northern Ontario and Northern Sweden” (1985). Weller’s interest in northern studies combined with international studies in research concentrating on foreign policy and security in the north. Publications in this area include “The Circumpolar North and Canadian Foreign Policy” (1989) and “The Arctic as an International Community” (1992). Weller also produced publications in the late 1980s through the 1990s dealing with security and intelligence in Canada and internationally.
In 1999, Weller was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Lapland based on his work on the circumpolar north encompassing Scandinavian countries and his research collaborations with Scandinavian scholars. Geoffrey Weller passed away in 2000. His legacy includes the establishment of the Lakehead University Centre for Northern Studies, the Northern Ontario Medical Program, and the Association of Circumpolar Universities.
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Revised on December 18, 2014 by BG.
Information was obtained from personal communications with Douglas Nord (December 1, 2014) and Pranlal Manga (November 28, 2014) as well as UNBC’s announcement for Weller’s memorial service (http://www.unbc.ca/releases/2000/09-07memorial, accessed December 16, 2014).