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Two new academic departments strengthen teaching and learning at UTSC

The University of Toronto Scarborough reached an historic milestone on 30 March 2010. The Council of  the University of Toronto Scarborough unanimously approved a proposal to create two new academic departments: Department of Philosophy and Department of English -- effective 1 July 2010.  This proposal will now move through University of Toronto governance for final approval.

“UTSC has reached a new level of maturation in the scale and complexity of our academic programs,” says Dean Rick Halpern.  “This new academic structure will better support us in our mission to provide the best possible environment for teaching, learning, and research at UTSC.”

The UTSC campus was first created in 1964 with the three academic divisions of Science, Humanities and Social Sciences.  Since that time, these divisions have been divided several times to form the current seven academic departments. The new structure of nine academic departments (see below for a complete list), reflects the natural progression of an academic division evolving in response to changing academic priorities and student needs.  

With this structure, Philosophy and English, which have been previously housed as disciplines within the Department of Humanities, will be more clearly recognized for their own distinct identities, benefiting students and scholars alike.  “Without a department structure that is comparable to universities around the world, we have not been as effective as we could be at representing UTSC’s scholarly strengths in English to the international academic community,” notes Professor Christine Bolus-Reichert, Program Director, English, at UTSC.

When an academic unit has a strong and recognizable reputation beyond its campus community, students benefit in countless ways, explains Bolus-Reichert.  “With an increased profile, we will be better able to compete to bring more high-caliber scholars to our campus, and our students will be more readily noticed when applying for positions in top graduate schools around the world.”

Professor Phillip Kremer of Philosophy sees many possibilities as well.  “We are looking forward to investing in our new department, which will give us an opportunity to really cultivate the philosophical community of students and professors here at UT Scarborough,” says Kremer.  “We see this as an opportunity both to make Philosophy much more visible to Scarborough undergraduates, and to make UTSC much more visible to the world of Philosophy in general."

According to Halpern, academic planning will now accelerate.  “With these changes, we can look forward to members of all three departments focusing their efforts on advancing exciting academic visions for their respective areas.  The Department of Humanities, under the leadership of Professor William Bowen, already has made considerable progress in carving out a distinctive niche that builds on our strengths in traditional fields, while advancing new multi-disciplinary capability.  Their plans will continue to evolve over the months ahead.”

These new administrative structures respond to aspirations long expressed by colleagues in Humanities and to a further endorsment provided by a recent external review of the Department.  The external review acknowledged that the Humanities department, as an umbrella administrative unit to a number of disparate programs, would face increasing challenges as it continues to grow, and therefore, would benefit from subdividing. 

Under the direction of Professor Bowen, as the Chair since 2005, the Department of Humanities has developed a singular academic identity and is known for a number of achievements, such as strengthening innovative areas such as Visual & Performing Arts, supporting unique interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to undergraduate education, creating the successful office of Arts & Events Programming, and integrating the Doris McCarthy Gallery into the academic curriculum.  “During my term as Chair, the Department of Humanities has grown with exciting new faculty and engaged students who are striving to contribute to a diverse global community,” says Bowen.  “I look forward to contributing to the next phase of growth in this dynamic area of teaching and scholarship.”

UTSC Academic Departments, effective 1 July 2010

Biological Sciences

Computer & Mathematical Sciences

English (Pending approval by U of T Governing Council)

Humanities

Management

Physical & Environmental Sciences

Philosophy (Pending approval by U of T Governing Council)

Psychology

Social Sciences




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