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The Toronto Scheme: The Undergrad Curriculum in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto, 1945-2000

Abstract: Over the course of the second half of the twentieth century, undergraduate degree requirements in the Faculty of Arts (later the Faculty of Arts & Science) at the University of Toronto were comprehensively reviewed and revised seven times. The records of these reviews demonstrate that the curricular changes of the second half of the twentieth century were substantial, reflecting attempts by curricular planners to shape the undergraduate program of study to accommodate broader social, economic, demographic, and epistemological changes. These changes therefore reflect the connections between the University and its local, provincial, and international communities. These substantial changes, however, are balanced by consistent and recurrent patterns in curriculum across this period as curricular planners sought ways to implement sustained curricular goals into a changed institutional environment and a changed curricular framework. Collectively, these reviews demonstrate that the U of T maintained a distinct approach to undergraduate education from the beginning of this period through the end. This approach, referred to here as the “Toronto Scheme,” is characterized by the belief that specialized study can lead to liberal education, and that students should have access to multiple pathways through the degree. This analysis of degree requirements over time has important implications for understanding higher education at the University of Toronto, in Canada, and internationally. Most importantly, this research helps to explain both the strong similarities and significant differences between American curricular structures and those in place at the U of T. Additionally, this study of curriculum provides valuable insight into the role of the U of T’s colleges in undergraduate instruction, further illuminating the effect of this relatively unique institutional structure on the history of the U of T. On a broader scale, the relationship indicated by this history of the curriculum between the U of T and other institutions in Ontario and Canada deepens our understanding of the nature of a Canadian system of or approach to higher education (or lack thereof). As such, the Toronto Scheme informs – and sometimes challenges – many of the assumptions currently made about Ontario, Canadian, and North American higher education.

Author: Emily Greenleaf

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 1.08 MB
Last Updated: July 31, 2015