What I have to say will, I fear, be either obvious or presumptuous. However, what is obvious is worth looking at occasionally, and presumption is not a new phenomenon in university circles. I hope it may be agreed that the purpose of social studies is to acquire a better understanding of society in its widest sense, with a view to the formulation of policy, individual or collective. Dr. W. A. Mackintosh, in his presidential address to this Association, said that “any social science must ultimately be justified by the basis which it affords for policy,” and Father G.-H. Lévesque, “Les sciences sociales ont pour objet la connaissance de ce que sont et doivent être les sociétés.” What I suggest is obvious is that the intelligent formulation of policy almost invariably involves more than one and often several of the social studies.
All too frequently we find experts in particular studies, or in particular aspects of them, who might profit by a knowledge and understanding of what others are doing, becoming so absorbed in what they themselves are doing as to neglect, or dismiss as irrelevant, everything else. This Association is an excellent example of what can be achieved by co-operation, and attracts political scientists, economic theorists, economic historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and statisticians. In some countries, there are six separate associations, and I am sure something important is lost as a result. My own department at Toronto includes all of these except anthropologists, and adds commerce and finance as a branch of economics.