History & Philosophy: Sacrificial Lamb of UT’s Quality Assurance Council and OCGS

University of Toronto has chosen to suspended and essentially close History and Philosophy of Ed at the premiere international institute of education, OISE/University of Toronto,  through the publicly-recognized wrongful recommendation of the Ontario College of Graduate Schools (OCGS) and the University of Toronto’s immoral “acceptance” of the unfounded claims of OCGS. Why wrongful?  OCGS and UT claim that this recommendation is based on the External Review of History and Philosophy conducted in 2004, yet that review was glowingly positive.  The few concerns raised–integration of the history and philosophy fields, and increasing number of students–have been successfully addressed through the diligence H&P since 2004.  There is one remaining OCGS concern–hiring a new faculty member in H&P–which H&P and TPS Departments Chairs (and now, all 5 Dept Chairs of OISE) have requested from Dean Gaskell for 5 years  to no avail.


On  Nov 5 the University of Toronto “accepted” the Ontario College of Graduate Schools (OCGS) recommendation to suspend doctoral admissions into H&P Program. Following the past  3 weeks of tremendous public outcry (see the dozens of letters sent by faculty and scholars from around the world, posted on this site) and phenomonal public meetings (see the Facebook group SHAP for details) demanding accountability from OISE and UT, even UT School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Dean Brian Corman and OISE Dean Jane Gaskell recognize that the OCGS recommendation is unfounded, wrong, and reflects political reasons having to do with the shift from OCGS to a new “Quality Assurance Council” controlled by UT.


Supporters of History &Philosophy and humanities at OISE continue to demand accountability and transparency from OCGS and UT, including legal counsel.  UT  meanwhile has called for suspension of enrollment of new doctoral students in 2010, a decision which devastates this internationally renowned History and Philosophy of Ed Program, crushes our current stellar doctoral students, and ignores the human toll and impact of making H&P the sacrificial lamb.


UT has publicly said on numerous occassions (most recently at a public UT Faculty Cuncil Mtg Nov. 4) that neither closure nor suspension was ever the intention, and that this OCGS decision is wrong.

However, no amount of reason or moral appeal for UT to question the unfounded reasons of OCGS, shifts UT from its authoritarian and unilateral–certainly non-transparent, non-accountable, non-democratic decision–to close the only humanities doctoral program at OISE.

There is NO connection between the 2004 External Review and the OCGS 2009 recommendation to “suspend enrollment” and close H&P. All present at OISE Faculty Council  Nov 5, all Dept Chairs at OISE (perhaps even now the OISE Dean) disagree with the OCGS recommendation and are calling for UT and OCGS transparency. To UT we say: Have the courage to question the illegitimate reasons given by OCGS to close the only humanities program at OISE. Not to so question is immoral, and demonstrates UT’s desire for political gain over integrity. However, if UT instead has the courage to question OCGS, this will demonstrate the integrity of UT’s desire for quality assurance more than accepting recommendations based on erroneous facts.


Demand that OISE and TPS Stand up to UT and demand transparency and accountability regarding the suspect and political OCGS accreditaton ‘process’. Suspend the Unjustified Suspension of H&P doctoral enrollments for 2010 and the illegal closure of H&P. Make the “confidential” 2004 External Review of H&P–upon which OCGS claims they base their decision–and all other documents related to this mystified OCGS process, *public* and transparent.

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One response to “History & Philosophy: Sacrificial Lamb of UT’s Quality Assurance Council and OCGS

  1. Natalie Kallio

    Note: a condensed version of this letter was sent to Jane Gaskell, Brian Corman, and Edith Hillan on October 23/09

    Dear Powers that Be,

    I just received word that OISE and the UofT are cutting–effective immediately?–the History and Philosophy of Education doctoral program, and I am extremely flabbergasted and disgusted that there has not been a greater effort to save this unique and incredibly
    worthwhile program. Please pause for a moment and consider the importance explicated in the very name of this program: History and Philosophy of Education. Why would this not be top of the list of priority programs for an esteemed–and once venerable–college of Education?

    As a recent graduate of your B.Ed. program (Secondary English and Politics, ’07), I found it regrettable that MORE history and philosophy of education was not included in the churning out of teacher candidates, many of whom were able to graduate from this program with barely any foundation in these core areas. Who are we, as educators, without an understanding of and foundation in the history
    of organized education and the myriad philosophies that have shaped institutions of learning and approaches to, and pedagogies of, education?

    Your own literature, selling your program, correctly states that:

    “The History and Philosophy of Education Group at OISE is among the top-ranked graduate programs internationally. Through our strong commitment to disciplinary-based inquiry and insistence on the necessity of contextualized studies, our program has long been recognized as a dynamic and vibrant centre for the study of history
    and philosophy of education.”

    Perhaps you should read your own communications, and consider the loss of such a program to OISE: lack of commitment to disciplinary-based inquiry; lack of concern for any semblance of contextualized studies; lack of recognition because there is no dynamism or vibrancy here–or, why on earth would we study the history of education, or the philosophy of education, in an Institute for Studies in Education?

    That there is such a program at OISE is one of the reasons I chose to attend OISE over other schools–and was
    considering doing a PhD there, rather than elsewhere.

    This cannot be a “done deal.” And as an alumnus, if it is a foregone conclusion without any consultation with alumni–you can expect to not have my support (or dollars) in future.

    Sincerely,
    Natalie Kallio, OCT, M.A., B.A (Hon.), B.ED.
    OISE-UT 2007

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