Universities and Academics

By King, Alyson E. | Journal of Canadian Studies, Fall 1998 | Go to article overview

Universities and Academics


King, Alyson E., Journal of Canadian Studies


TAKING STOCK: CANADIAN STUDIES IN THE NINETIES. David Cameron (Montreal: Association for Canadian Studies, 1996) 238 pp.

GEORGE GRANT. SELECTED LETTERS. Edited with an introduction by William Christian (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996) 402 pp.

GEORGE GRANT AND THE SUBVERSION OF MODERNITY: ART, PHILOSOPHY POLITICS, RELIGION, AND EDUCATION. Edited by Arthur Davis (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996) 346 pp.

THE SOCIAL SCIENCES IN CANADA: 50 YEARS OF NATIONAL ACTIVITY BY THE SOCIAL SCIENCE FEDERATION OF CANADA. Donald Fisher (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 1991) 115 pp.

THE POLITICS OF COLLEGIALITY: RETRENCHMENT STRATEGIES IN CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES. Cynthia Hardy (Montreal and Kingston: McGillQueen's University Press, 1996) 232 pp.

SOCIAL CRITICISM: THE UNSOLVED RIDDLE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE AND OTHER ESSAYS. Stephen Leacock. Edited and introduced by Alan Bowker (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996) 145 pp.

WORKING IN ENGLISH: HISTORY, INSTITUTION, RESOURCES. Heather Murray (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996) 253 pp.

OUTSIDE THE LINES: ISSUES IN INTERDISCIPLANARY RESEARCH. Liora Salter and Alison Hearn (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996) 212 pp.

The eight volumes listed above cover a range of years and diverse topics, yet raise many similar issues. Donald Fisher examines the history of the Social Science Federation of Canada, which brought together the several disciplines that fell under the label of social science. Liora Salter and Alison Hearn discuss the nature of disciplines and the problems of doing interdisciplinary work. David Cameron unravels the history of one interdiscipline: Canadian Studies. Heather Murray uses an interdisciplinary methodology to analyse the discipline of English. In addition, she draws considerably on the work of George Grant in her discussions regarding the nature of curriculum. William Christian's collection of Grant's letters, combined with the volume of essays about Grant edited by Arthur Davis, provides access to Grant's personal writings and analysis of his work. The reprinted collection of Stephen Leacock's essays, edited by Alan Bowker, makes his non-fiction work more readily accessible. As academics, both Grant and Leacock had considerable influence on universities and on their particular disciplines. Finally, Cynthia Hardy addresses the politics of retrenchment policies in the 1980s those policies that are having an impact on universities now and that will continue to do so in the future - and the role played by collegiality in the implementation of retrenchment strategies in Canadian universities.

Donald Fisher's The Social Sciences in Canada, spanning 50 years of the Social Science Federation of Canada (SSFC), takes an historical, sociological approach with the intention of creating a structural history of the society. He argues that the "history of this organization is probably the best barometer that we have for recording the changes that have occurred in the relation between social scientists and Canadian society" (1). In charting the activities and significant events of the SSFC, he also illustrates the increasing involvement of the government in universities; in particular, its role in the setting of research agendas and the recent shift towards decreased funding. Fisher's research is divided chronologically into three chapters. Chapter I, entitled "A Council of Independent Researchers," covers the period 1940 to 1958; Chapter II spans the years 1958 to 1977 and focusses on the Social Science Research Council of Canada (SSRC) and the Canada Council; and Chapter III looks at the very recent past, examining the SSFC and the Social Sciences and humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) during the period 1977 to 1990.

The Canadian Social Science Research Council (CSSRC) was formally established in 1940 as the Canadian Research Council in the Social Sciences. …

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