Dr. J. Gaskell, Dean
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto
252 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6
Dear Dr. Gaskell:
It has come to my attention that OISE/UT is making plans to close its doctoral program in History and Philosophy of Education. I am writing today in order to express my disappointment that such a plan is being considered, and to urge you to continue supporting and strengthening the program.
I took two graduate degrees from the History and Philosophy program: a Master of Arts (2003) and Doctor of Philosophy (2007). During my time as a graduate student and in the period since my graduation I have achieved much success in the academy and have been noted publicly as making a significant contribution to the knowledge in my area and the academy in general. In particular, I would like to point out that my doctoral research, The Moral and Pedagogical Importance of Dissent to Catholic Education, received the Association for Moral Education’s 2009 Dissertation Prize for making a “substantial impact both on the field and on policy and practice.” Since graduation I have taken up a faculty position in Educational Foundations at the University of Victoria, and have had great successes in teaching (scores of 4.1 or greater out of 5), research (thirteen publications and seven in review or in press), and service (member of the Faculty of Education’s Adjudications and Appeals Committee, the Learning and Teaching Centre’s Course Redesign Workshop Committee, and Associate Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Religion and Society). I emphatically submit that I do not make these statements in order to self-aggrandize, but rather to attribute them to the teaching, mentorship, thesis supervision, and research collaborations that I was offered while a student in the History and Philosophy program at OISE/UT. Professors Boler, Portelli, Ford, and Boyd are each instrumental figures in the contributions that I make at the University of Victoria.
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that this program is very unique in Canada and North America. Where programs in Curriculum Study, Administration, Psychology, and many other areas are commonly found in many universities, programs in History and Philosophy of Education are not. While the Ontario College of Graduate Studies has adjudicative powers over its review and accreditation, and the OISE and the University of Toronto have the final say in the support of the program, I submit that the program has a wider scope and impact than local and provincial interests. As one of its kind in Canada, and one of only a handful in North America, it attracts and serves students from many places who could not and would not otherwise be able to receive such an education in their home jurisdiction. Likewise, the program has its impact when students return home after graduation and being transformed by their experience. If one of the founding purposes of OISE/UT was to prevent the migration of graduate students in Education to the United States and elsewhere, then unfortunately the cancellation of this doctoral program will force prospective students to more seriously consider looking outside Canada in order to pursue further study. I encourage you and your colleagues to consider very seriously a re-evaluation of the national and international importance of this program, which I fear is too often under-recognized and under-appreciated.
Graham P. McDonough, PhD
Assistant Professor, Limited Term
Associate Fellow, Centre for the Study of Religion and Society