The Return of the History Wars

This piece was originally published on

Last week a story in Le Devoir caught my attention.  The headline read: ‘Quebec’s history has been left behind by the universities.’  The article reports on a study lamenting the quality and quantity of history-specific training in Quebec universities.  More importantly – and this is what caught my attention – the spokesperson for one of the study’s sponsors, the Coalition for the History of Quebec, argued that the teaching of political and economic history had been subsumed by an over emphasis on social and culture history.  After reading this critique of Quebec’s university history departments, I realized that the so-called ‘History Wars’ are still alive and well in the Canadian public sphere. Continue reading “The Return of the History Wars”

Are Canadian Universities Academically Adrift?

This piece was originally posted on Teaching the Past

Over the past couple of weeks I have had some really concerning conversations about the state of teaching and learning in Canadian universities.  In one, a colleague of mine – a university instructor – claimed that universities do not have an overall curriculum governing their operation.  In another, a senior educator stated bluntly that students learned little in the average undergraduate program.  Both of these statements took me aback and got me thinking a little more deeply about teaching and learning in the classroom.  Surely universities and individual academic departments have curricula that structures student learning outcomes, I thought.  But to what extent does this govern the content of specific courses and class pedagogies?  And in what ways do we measure what students learn from university programs as a whole? Continue reading “Are Canadian Universities Academically Adrift?”