Student Statement

October 25, 2009

Dear Colleagues, Fellow Students, and Friends,
History and Philosophy of Education, the only humanities doctoral program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, IS ABOUT TO BE CLOSED on the basis of erroneous claims and secret, behind-closed-doors political decisions bearing no relation to the quality of this crucial humanities program. The Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Brian Corman, along with the Ontario Council for Graduate Studies proposes cutting out program for the following reasons:

“The staffing levels for the program are extremely low and will be exacerbated by imminent retirements. The Committee was not convinced that a critical mass of Faculty is associated with the program to ensure the necessary intellectual climate for a doctoral program. In addition, there is no commitment for hiring at an appropriate level to ensure program viability.” (MEMO, Sept 29, 2009)

To correct the record:
1. The above statement contains incorrect information. There are no imminent retirements in the H&P area. The two faculty members (Professors Troper and Levine) who are nearing the former mandatory retirement age have provided letters to indicate neither plans to retire.
2. It is unclear how OCGS defines “a critical mass of faculty.” We believe that a critical mass of faculty exists. As H&P noted in previous responses to OCGS, in addition to the 7 tenured faculty in our program, who, we must reiterate, are highly respected and internationally renowned scholars in their fields, we have 17 associate faculty from across the UT campus who contribute to the intellectually vibrant life of the program. The May 2009 H&P Report to OCGS documented the numerous levels of Associate Faculty involvement with H&P. Associate faculty are offering courses that are either formally cross-listed with H&P or are recognized by the program as H&P courses. The associate faculty participates actively in the H&P speaker series both by presenting their scholarly work and by attending the speaker series. H&P Associate Faculty participates in graduate seminars as guest lecturers in numerous courses each semester. In addition, many are serving on supervisory committees for doctoral students and all have indicated their willingness to do so. Thus, by our account, there are 25 faculty involved in the program.
3. Regarding support for H&P: the Department has been requesting a new faculty position from Dean Jane Gaskell for six years. At the department level, TPS has on record a proposal that was given the unanimous support of the department in 2007 that states that the next hire in the department should be in the area of History and Philosophy.
4. Not only is it FALSE that there are imminent retirements–It may be against UTFA union policy to refer to faculty age or imminent retirements in any way. Even if there were imminent retirements, this is NOT A VALID REASON TO CLOSE a UNIVERSITY PROGRAM with 85 students, 7 faculty, 17 associate instructors, in a Program currently poised to become an international Center for Research and Teaching of High School Philosophy!

Our Theory and Policy Studies Department has gone to great lengths to meet and surpass all OCGS mandates regarding faculty and program integration and has done so with success. This decision to CUT this program bears no relation to the quality of integrity of the History and Philosophy Program (see this for yourself in the attached documents). Any University of Toronto decision to close our History and Philosophy of Education blatantly disregards the internationally-recognized faculty members, our superb doctoral graduate students’ scholarship, and the quality of this doctoral program. Theory and Policy Studies Department has gone to great lengths to meet and surpass all OCGS mandates regarding faculty and program integration and has done so with success.
The History and Philosophy of Ed Doctoral Program is the only program dedicated to the Humanities at OISE/UT. For UT to cut History and Philosophy sets two dangerous precedents: (1) that humanities and educational theory has no place in faculties of education; (2) that professional and technical neo-liberal values have consumed universities as institutions that abide by corporate values above scholarship.
As one of our graduate students notes, “Education emerged as a discipline within the humanities. It IS the humanities. The capacity to quantify and empiricize data are recent developments that come alongside the capitalist/neo-liberal trend to count only that which can be counted in dollars; without the ballast of the theoretical humanities, the ship of education will capsize in the waves of social science trends and be forever beholden to the market!”

You can help us try to stop this closure of OISE History and Philosophy of Ed, and remind UT that its slogan about Great Minds requires a minor addendum: Great Minds Needs Humanities.

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