Robert J. Brym

Robert ByrnRobert J Brym was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1951 and studied at Dalhousie University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the University of Toronto. He taught at Memorial University of Newfoundland from 1976 to 1978 and then joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, becoming a Full Professor in 1984.

Professor Brym’s research focuses on politics and social movements in Russia, Israel/Palestine and Canada. He is a leading authority on the politics of intellectuals, emigration from the former Soviet Union, the development of sociology in Canada, and suicide bombers in Israel/Palestine. His work – including about 100 scholarly papers, six monographs and seven edited collections – has been published in twelve countries and translated into six languages. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and research, including the Outstanding Contribution Award of the Canadian Sociology Association and the Northrop Frye Award. In 2008 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Professor Brym is a dynamic and innovative lecturer, and he especially enjoys Introductory Sociology, which he has taught almost every year since he came to the University of Toronto. His classroom is Convocation Hall. By means of engaging narrative, dialogue, humour, clickers, and film clips he enlivens his presentations and has developed a reputation as one of the University of Toronto’s most popular lecturers.

Professor Brym has been invited to speak about how to revitalize the large lecture hall in many universities and colleges in Canada, the United States, and Brazil. He has prepared a variety of teaching aids that are widely used in Introductory Sociology classrooms, including data mapping software, interactive websites, clicker software, and the 7-DVD Think Outside the Book documentary video series, widely considered the best of its kind. In the mid-90s, dissatisfied with available first-year sociology textbooks, he embarked on preparing several textbooks himself. By 2010, his textbooks had been published in 29 editions in English, French, and Portuguese, and in that year alone they were adopted in 271 universities and colleges in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and other countries.

Professor Brym routinely co-authors papers with graduate students, reflecting his strong belief that students learn best by doing research and publishing its results. More unusually, a few years ago he recruited twenty “A” students from his Introductory Sociology course to help him research and write up a paper that was subsequently published in Canada’s leading sociology journal. He does not, however, cater just to the student elite. A firm believer in inclusive education, he has actively promoted the STEPS to University and Transitional Year Programs at the University of Toronto, which recruit disadvantaged but promising students to the university.

Robert J Brym is the epitome of the scholar-teacher. By conducting prolific research, publishing with graduate and undergraduate students, mentoring colleagues on teaching techniques, preparing a wide range of teaching aids, writing a series of popular textbooks, and lecturing to enthralled audiences, he has influenced the lives of hundreds of thousands of students for the better and established himself as an educational leader and an outstanding member of the University of Toronto community.