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Letter of support from Rosario Marchese, NDP MPP and Provincial Education Critic

Rosario Marchese

Member of Provincial Parliament, Trinity-Spadina

854 Dundas St W, Toronto ON M6J 1V5

P: 416-603-9664 F: 416-603-1241

Ontario Council on Graduate Studies

180 Dundas St W, Suite 1100

Toronto ON M5G 1Z8

November 16, 2009


Re: EdD/PhD program in History and Philosophy of Education at the U of T

ATTN: John ApSimon and Donna Woolcott


To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you today to urge you to reconsider your recommendation that the EdD/PhD program in History and Philosophy of Education at the University of Toronto be classified as NOT APPROVED. I strongly support the program as a valuable contribution to the Canadian education system, and believe it is a mistake to place such a program in jeopardy. Studying the history and philosophy of education is not a frivolous matter—it is absolutely as important to the overall quality of education in a school system as the more technical elements that make up the day-to-day curriculum. A critical, well-rounded pedagogical perspective is crucial to ensuring the ongoing quality of any education system. The program offered at OISE is world-class, and attracts students and faculty from across the globe. To place the History and Philosophy program in jeopardy is to do all Canadians a serious disservice.


It is my understanding that the substance of your concerns about the program relates to the number of faculty currently dedicated to the program. The program is well represented by 7 full-time faculty and 17 associate faculty drawn from across the U of T campus. With a full subscription of students, and being positioned to become an international Center for Research and Teaching of High School Philosophy, I am hard pressed to believe there is a serious lack of quality teachers. As well, it is my understanding that the department is actively petitioning the college for a new faculty position in History and Philosophy, which would further reinforce the quality of the program. For the sake of the students and faculty in the program, and for the sake of the many people who benefit from such a world-class program, I urge you to reconsider your recommendation and to support the EdD/PhD program in History and Philosophy of Education at the University of Toronto.


Thank you for your time and consideration,

Rosario Marchese MPP


Cc Prof. Jane Gaskell (Dean, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education)

Cc Dr. Brian Corman (Dean, School of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate


Cc Cheryl Regehr (Vice-Provost, Academic Programs)

Cc Edith Hillan (Vice Provost of Academic Affairs)

Cc Save-History-and-Philosophy Action Group (TPS Graduate Students)


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Letter from Bai, Boyd, Burbules, Hare and Vokey

Students of History & Philosophy (SHAP) 

Theory & Policy Studies Student Association (TPSSA)

Dear Colleagues,

History and Philosophy of Education, the only humanities doctoral program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, will likely be closed by decision of the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies (SGS) this week. The reasons for this threatened closure have never been clear (since this threat commenced in 2006) and remain to this day utterly non-transparent and disconnected from the actual current vibrancy of our internationally recognized Ph.D. program (85 students, 7 faculty, 17 Associate Faculty, outstanding doctoral scholarship). However, as detailed below, the reasons given in a Memo from the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies (OCGS) recommending a “not approved” status for History and Philosophy of Education include a factually erroneous reason—namely, that “[t]he staffing levels for the program are extremely low and will be exacerbated by imminent retirements.”


This decision to CUT this program bears no relation to the quality or integrity of the History and Philosophy Program. Any University of Toronto decision to close the History and Philosophy of Education Program blatantly disregards the quality of a doctoral program of internationally-recognized faculty members and the superb scholarship of its doctoral graduate students.


Reasons Given for Closure (September 29, 2009) and the Response of the Department of Theory and Policy Studies to these Reasons (October 11, 2009):

The Ontario Council for Graduate Studies proposes cutting out the program for the following reasons, a recommendation currently being considered by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. We believe that the School of Graduate Studies is inclined to accept the OCGS recommendation for closure—though it is not clear why. As quoted in a memo sent to the Department of Theory and Policy Studies (the History and Philosophy program is one of the three programs in TPS):

“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.” 

(OCGS MEMO, Sept 29, 2009—see document)

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, we have 17 associate faculty from across the UT campus who contribute to the intellectually vibrant life of the program.

3. Regarding support for H&P: the Department has been requesting a new faculty position from Dean Jane Gaskell for five years. At the department level, TPS has on record a motion that was given the unanimous support of the department in November 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!

The 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. For the university of Toronto to cut History and Philosophy sets two dangerous precedents: (1) that humanities and educational theory have no place in faculties of education; (2) that professional and technocratic values have come to dominate universities to the extent that they exalt corporate values over academic scholarship.

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” Need Humanities.

We urge you to write a letter/note/email/comment with copies to all email contacts below

o Jane Gaskell (Dean of OISE)

o Brian Corman (Dean of Graduate Studies)

o Edith Hillan (Vice Provost of Academic Affairs)

o Cheryl Regehr (Vice-Provost, Academic Programs)

o External Reviewers of OISE Dean

o (Save H&P rep)


Heesoon Bai, Director of Graduate Programs, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, and Editor of Paideusis: The journal of the Canadian Philosophy of Education Society.

Dwight R. Boyd, Professor Emeritus, History and Philosophy of Education Program, Department of Theory and Policy Studies, OISE

Nicholas Burbules, Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois-UC; Editor, Educational Theory

William Hare, Professor Emeritus, Mount St. Vincent University

Daniel Vokey, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, and President of the Canadian Philosophy of Education Society


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Letters of Support for History and Philosophy of Ed from around the Globe

The letters posted here were sent to UT administration including Vice-Provost Cheryl Regehr, UT Dean of Graduate Studies Brian Corman, OISE Dean Gaskell.

There will be a public Town Hall meeting on the fte of History and Philosophy Tuesday November 17, 2009, at 3:30-5:30 5th floor of OISE, 252 Bloor St West, Toronto.

For more information, please join the Facebook group SHAP.

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Dr. C Ruitenberg, Fac of Ed UBC – please prevent closure of H and P

October 27, 2009

Subject: Please prevent closure of History and Philosophy of Education Program!

Dear Dean Laufer,

I have been astonished to learn that the doctoral program in History and Philosophy of Education in the Department of Theory and Policy Studies is at risk of being closed down. Over the past decade I have come to know both faculty and students of this strong program and have seen them play a key role in scholarly communities.

I fully agree with my esteemed colleagues Drs. Dwight Boyd, Nicholas Burbules, William Hare, Heesoon Bai and Daniel Vokey that the Humanities offer valuable and relevant disciplinary and interdisciplinary angles for the study of educational questions today, and I urge you to prevent the closure of the doctoral program in History and Philosophy of Education.


Claudia Ruitenberg


Claudia W. Ruitenberg, Ph.D.

Secretary/Treasurer of the Canadian Philosophy of Education Society

Assistant Professor, Philosophy of Education

Department of Educational Studies

Faculty of Education

University of British Columbia

2125 Main Mall

Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4

Tel: 604-822-2411

Fax: 604-822-4244

Cc Sihra,

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Dr. RD Glass – Univ of Cal at Santa Cruz – Dismay at Potential Closure


27 October 2009 [Letter Transmitted Electronically]


Jane Gaskell Dean, OISE

Brian Corman Dean of Graduate Studies

Edith Hillan Vice Provost of Academic Affairs

Cheryl Regehr Vice Provost for Academic Programs

University of Toronto

Vanessa Laufer Dean, External Reviewers, OISE

University of Toronto

CC: Megan Boler Co-Chair, Department of Theory and Policy Studies

History and Philosophy of Education, OISE, University of Toronto

I am writing in great dismay at the news of the potential closure of the Program in History and Philosophy of Education in the Department of Theory and Policy Studies. I cannot conceive of a sufficiently warranted argument to justify such a decision since this program is now, and long has been, one of the premiere programs in philosophy of education in the world. It has outstanding faculty and doctoral students who are frequent contributors to the leading international journals in philosophy of education, and who provide leadership at multiple levels of the profession. To lose this program would be devastating for the disciplinary field of philosophy of education, but in addition, it would augur poorly for the entire field of education which has been suffering from a broad assault on its humanistic foundations. OISE has for many years been a beacon of clarity and wisdom in its nurturance of the humanities generally and this program specifically, and I would like to believe it will never surrender this position of international leadership.

If I could be of any assistance in your deliberations, or in your efforts to further strengthen the Program in History and Philosophy of Education, please do not hesitate to contact me.


R.D. Glass

(signed electronically)Ronald David Glass, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Philosophy of Education

Director, University of California Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California

Chair, Committee on Professional Affairs, Philosophy of Education Society (North America)


Philosophy of Education 2008

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S Gacich – Call for Boycott of AQ courses in protest re: closure of H and P

Wed Oct 28, 2009

Dear Administrators at OISE,

I am shocked that the History & Philosophy of Education doctoral programme is slated to be closed. I find that the OCGS recommendation to close the programme based on the OCGS recommendation criteria is completely unjustified given the evidence. This action will have negative consequences for all educators, students, society, OISE and the University of Toronto. Cancelling a program that informs the foundational knowledge of all educational research benefits no one except those who want to silence critical voices. This action leads me to forego any future AQ courses at U of T I plan to take. As well, I am circulating an on-line petition among my colleagues & will encourage them to boycott AQ courses as well.This decision will undo progress toward UT’s reputation as a centre for critical thought, one that has taken a long time to develop.

Sean Gacich

Harbord CI

Toronto District School Board

Cc Hillan, Gaskell, corman, Laufer, Sihra

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J Lang’s Dismay at Backward Step in Scholarship

October 26, 20009

Dear Dean Gaskell,

I am writing to express my shock and dismay at the apparent moves afoot to kill the history and philosophy program in Theory and Policy Studies at OISE. Closing this program would send a dire message to the academic world where scholars consistently express their admiration for the work done in H&P at OISE. I have had conversations with professors from Stanford, UCLA and around the globe who have all claimed that H&P at OISE is considered the WORLD STANDARD for this kind of program. Just this past weekend at the University of Washington in Seattle, I heard the word “amazing” used to describe philosophy of education at OISE. In conference after conference, the scholarly work of OISE philosophy students and faculty is regularly over-represented in peer-evaluated selections for presentations and publications. Philosophy of Education is a large international community where OISE is considered by many to be the highest bar of scholarship. Ending this program will send a message to the world that the work others value so highly has no place at the University of Toronto.

While this horrific, unconscionable action is being considered at the U of T, other schools continue to emulate OISE, starting NEW philosophy of education doctoral programs–Simon Fraser is one example. Smaller institutions, such as the University of Saskatchewan have twice the number of philosophers of education than OISE as it now stands, yet those scholars look to OISE for leadership.

I cannot express my dismay at the possibility of such a backward step in Canadian scholarship. In my long years on this earth, I have not witnessed scholarship so close to the cutting edge as I have in H&P at OISE. It is an academic jewel that should be nurtured and treasured– not tossed aside like dross. Please reconsider and please do everything possible to prevent this tragic outcome.


James C. Lang, PhD

80 Beverley St., #6

Toronto, ON, M5T1Y1


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