A Timeline of Departments, Schools and Programs

The Department of Sociology, 1969. 

In September 1960, B.A. students had a choice of five concentrations including philosophy, French literature, English literature, history and political economy. All B.A. students were required to take a common core of 48 credits including 12 credits of French, Spanish or German, 12 credits of English, 12 credits of philosophy, 6 credits of history, and 6 credits of mathematics or science.


A lot has changed since 1960. The Faculty of Arts now offers a wide range of programs housed at Laurentian University, the University of Sudbury, Thorneloe University and Huntington University.


Each decade has brought a cluster of new departments, schools, and programs. As we retrace their establishment and identify the key phases of their development, you may recognize some of the faces in the photos as we go along:

  1. The Traditional Humanities (pre-1960): ReligionPhilosophyClassicsModern LanguagesFrenchEnglish.
  2. The Social Sciences (the 1960s): HistoryEconomicsPsychologyPolitical ScienceGeographySociology/Anthropology.
  3. Identity-Based Interdisciplinary Departments (the 1970s): Canadian StudiesFolklore and EthnologyNative StudiesWomen’s Studies.
  4. The Fine Arts (the 1980s): MusicTheatre ArtsTheatre.
  5. Interdisciplinary Departments (1989-): Law and JusticeGerontology.
  6. Communication, Film and Media Studies (the 2000s): Rhetoric and Media StudiesCommunication StudiesPublic CommunicationsMotion Picture Arts.
  7. Interdisciplinary Schools (the 2010s): Northern DevelopmentEnvironment.


Before we start, we need to review the terms used to describe our degree programs which include the old 18-credit continuation, the new 24-credit minor, the 36-credit concentration, the 42-credit major (formerly known as the combined specialization), and the 60-credit specialization.

We will begin in 1960 when the focus of the curriculum was still on Europe as the source of Western civilization and Laurentian University’s stated mission was to train the elites to occupy leadership roles in society:

“Its fundamental mission was to train the elites on whom rests a civilization’s progress. It is a university’s undertaking to prepare men who are able to occupy leadership positions and serve society by leading it to achieve its full potential and its perfection. Thus it must actively take part in the maintenance and development of human knowledge through scientific research and in-depth studies. It must promote and guide the intellectual, spiritual and social progress of the faculty and students. It must collaborate with civil and religious powers and institutions. Furthermore, Laurentian University believes in the trandescendence of spiritual, moral and human values. At the apex of the values hierarchy, it holds the supernatural values transmitted by the Christian Revelation.” (Bray, Matt, et al. Laurentian University. A History. Montreal/Kingston: MQUP, 2010: p. 100).





With the exception of religious studies and philosophy, all of the programs launched by the University of Sudbury in the traditional Humanities disciplines were transferred to University College in 1960 in order to be eligible for provincial funding.

RELIGION (1957 - University of Sudbury; 1960 - Huntington University; 1963 - Thorneloe University)


Each of the federated Universities established its own Department of Religion. In 1960, courses were offered on Hebrew and Biblical Greek, Jesus, the Gospels, Church history, theology, comparative religions and the history of religions. Courses in religious knowledge were required in all B.A. programs until 1964. In 1968, a concentration in religious studies was created and the name Department of Religious Studies was adopted. New courses were added on topics such as socio-religious adherence, God and contemporary man, and

Vatican Council II. In 1977, the courses were divided into three groups: 1) Judaeo-Christian tradition, 2) religions of the world and 3) contemporary religious issues, later renamed religion and modern culture. A specialization was approved in 1978. In French, it is offered by the University of Sudbury; in English, it is a joint program offered by the three federated Universities. The concentration has been available by distance since 1981.


Department of Religion, 1961

Department of Religious Studies, 1984

PHILOSOPHY (1957 – University of Sudbury; 1960 – University College and Huntington University; 1963 – Thorneloe University)


All four institutions established a separate Department of Philosophy. However, in 1964, faculty members teaching philosophy at Huntington University and Thorneloe University were transferred to University College. Today, Laurentian University and the University of Sudbury continue to offer a joint program. When the specialization was introduced in 1967, courses were available in ancient, medieval and contemporary philosophy. In the 1970s, courses in the philosophy of art, science, education and other disciplines were added, followed by a program in ethics in the 1980s. Dr. Carolle Gagnon was the first woman to teach in the joint program. Appointed by Laurentian University in 1994, she introduced a course on feminist philosophy. In 2011, Dr. Gillian Crozier, Canada Research Chair in Environment, Culture and Values, was appointed to the same department, becoming the first Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Arts. 






CLASSICS (1960 – University College; 1978 – transferred to Thorneloe University)

The Department of Classics focused on providing students with an opportunity to master Classical Greek and Latin and to read ancient literature in the original. In 1961, a Senator questioned “how a BA degree could be given if Latin were not included among the compulsory subjects for all students since this subject was considered an essential element of culture”. While Latin was compulsory for French literature students until 1976, it was not a requirement for all students. In 1966, the department was renamed as the Department of Classical Studies and a concentration in Latin became available. Over the years, as interest in the classical languages declined, new courses in Greek and Roman civilization and literature in translation were introduced. In April 1978, Senate approved the transfer of the program to Thorneloe University. By the year 2000, a Certificate was introduced, giving non-degree students the opportunity to undertake a program out of interest. In 2015, the department was renamed as the Department of Ancient Studies.


Department of Classical Studies, 1969

MODERN LANGUAGES (1960 – University College)

The Department of Modern Languages taught French as a Second Language, Spanish, Italian, German, and Russian. Reflecting the heritage of Sudbury’s immigrant population, courses in Ukrainian (1961-63) and a continuation in Finnish (1975-84) were also offered. All B.A. students were required to take 12 credits in a second language (1960-68). The 1969-70 Calendar notes with pride: “The language laboratories, accommodating some one hundred students, are located on the first floor of the Arts and Humanities Building. They are fully equipped with tape recorders, earphones, an intercommunication system with teacher’s console, and control-room programme outlets.” The elimination of the language requirement led to the development of concentrations encompassing language, literature and culture. Those in Russian (1969-95) and German (1969-95) were discontinued. In 1999, the department was renamed as the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Today, majors in Hispanic Studies and Italian Studies as well as a specialization in Modern Languages (1991-) are offered.







FRENCH (1960 - University College)


The Department of French offered a concentration in French literature that required students to take Latin and English literature. Only one course in French-Canadian literature was available. In 1970, an expression of the sense of alienation experienced by Franco-Ontarian students appeared in the student newspaper Le Lambda under the pseudonym “Molière go home”: “Je prends des cours universitaires de littérature où des profs européens s’acharnent à me déraciner en corrigeant ma prononciation, mon vocabulaire et ma pensée, et où ils achèvent de m’aliéner et de me dépersonnaliser.” Students staged a sit-down strike, demanding new courses on French-Canadian and Quebec literature. As of 1976, courses were introduced in language, linguistics and Franco-Ontarian and French-Canadian literature. The department offered a Joint Masters with the University of Ottawa (1975-84) and a program in Études cinématographiques (1989-95). In 1998, courses from the former School of Translators and Interpreters were transferred to the Department of French. The school had been established in 1968 in response to the demand created by the new federal French-language Services Act (1968), and had become part of the Faculty of Professional Schools (1975). In 2002, the school stopped admitting students and was subsequently closed. The Department of French was renamed as the Department of French Studies and Translation (2001) and then as the Department of French Studies (2007). In 2007, the department launched a B.Sc. program in speech pathology (Orthophonie) which was transferred to the Faculty of Professional Schools (later renamed as the Faculty of Health) in 2013.




ENGLISH (1960 - University College)

The Department of English offered a concentration in English literature. The department taught British literature, and an M.A. in Victorian literature was available from 1974 to 1983. Although a few electives in Canadian literature were introduced in 1970, Canadian literature was not a requirement for a degree in English until 1980. In 1995, Dr. Laurence Steven founded Scrivener Press as a regional literary publisher for northeastern Ontario, one that would respect local specificities such as the weaving of Anishinaabe words into an English text. In 2000, the department launched a new stream in Rhetoric and Media Studies. In Barrie, the English literature program has been available since 2001. From 2004 to 2014, an annual birthday celebration was held for Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood, initiated by Dr. Shannon Hengen. Indigenous scholar Dr. Michelle Coupal and Métis poet Gregory Scofield joined the department in 2013 and 2014 respectively.





2. THE SOCIAL SCIENCES (the 1960s)


The Social Science disciplines were introduced over the course of the 1960s. Enrolments grew rapidly, leading to the restructuring of the Faculty of Arts and Science in 1975. The six founding departments in the Faculty of Social Sciences (1975-2014) included History, Economics, Psychology, Political Science, Geography, and Sociology/Anthropology.


HISTORY (1960 – University College)


History was already well established at the University of Sudbury when it was transferred to University College. In 1960, the Department of History was offering one of the original five concentrations available in the B.A. The specialization became available in 1966. In 1972, it became the first Arts department to offer a Masters program. Offered in English and French, it was the first graduate degree available to francophone students at Laurentian University. While history is considered to be a Humanities discipline at many older universities, the popularity of social history in the 1970s led the department to join the new Faculty of Social Sciences. A course on women in society was introduced in 1979 but it was not until 1991 that the first woman, Dr. Janice Liedl, was appointed in the department. Dr. Linda Ambrose, a specialist in gender and social history, was hired in 1994 and established Women’s History Week the same year. In Barrie, the program has been available in English since 2001. In 2013, the department appointed Indigenous scholar Brittany Luby. A Research Chair in Franco-Ontarian History is planned for July 2015.




ECONOMICS (1960 – University College)

Like history, political economy (économie politique) was part of the French Jesuit intellectual tradition and was already well established at the University of Sudbury when it was transferred to University College. In 1960, the Department of Economics was offering a concentration with courses in theory, economic history, currency, the banking system, finance and statistics, as well as political science. Distance courses in economics were broadcast by the local television station CKSO. The specialization became available in 1966. As interest in quantitative methods grew across the Social Sciences, courses were added in econometrics and mathematical economics in 1970. The first woman to join the department was Enid V. Barnett (1970-88). The second was Dr. Monica Neitzert (1992-99) who introduced a course entitled Women in the Canadian Economy. In the 1990s, the department was a major contributor to the Elliot Lake Tracking and Adjustment Study of the impact on families of mass layoffs due to mine closures in Elliot Lake, which was supported with a $2,030,000 grant from Human Resources Development Canada. Dr. Corinne Pastoret, appointed in 2006, was only the third woman in the department’s history.



PSYCHOLOGY (1962 – University College)


In 1962, a Department of Psychology was established, only a year after the first course in psychology was introduced at University College by the Department of Philosophy. In the summer of 1962, enrolment in psychology reached 90 students, forcing the University to rent a special classroom to meet the demand. By 1964, a new concentration in psychology was available. The specialization became available in 1968. The department was an active participant in the interdisciplinary Masters in Child and Development Studies (1980-97), later known as Human Development (1997-2013), and since 2013, as Interdisciplinary Health. Dr. Michael Persinger, full professor, initiated the B.Sc. in Behavioural Neuroscience (1985-). In 1992, a Joint Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with the University of Ottawa was established but quickly discontinued. The department contributes to the interdisciplinary program in Sports Psychology, initiated by Dr. Wendy Jerome in the School of Human Kinetics in 2001. By 2002, the specialization in psychology was available within the B.A. or the B.Sc. An M.A. in Psychology has been offered since 2007. The program in English has been available in Barrie since 2001.



POLITICAL SCIENCE (1967 – University College)


In 1967, the Department of Political Science was established. French-language political science courses had been offered by the Department of Economics since 1960, with English-language courses added in 1964. Interestingly, the establishment of separate departments for economics and political science at Laurentian University coincided with the establishment of separate professional associations for each discipline at the national level in 1967. The specialization became available the same year. Dr. Rand Dyck, professor emeritus, who taught in the department (1971-2005), established the Model Parliament in 1993. In 2001-02, Dr. Robert Segsworth who taught in the Department (1970-2014) established the Centre for Local Government and co-edited the journal Culture and Local Governance (2008) which is now housed at the University of Ottawa. In Barrie, the program has been available in English since 2001.


GEOGRAPHY (1969 – University College; 2014 – transferred to the School of Northern Development)


In 1969, the Department of Geography was established. Geography courses had been introduced in 1960 under the direction of the Department of History and then offered by the Department of Geology as of 1962.

By 1966, a concentration in geography was available with a focus on regional geography. Dr. Oiva Saarinen, professor emeritus, who taught in the department (1962-2003), is well known for his work on the historical geography of Sudbury including Between a Rock and a Hard Place: a Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area (1999). The emphasis gradually shifted from regional geography to techniques courses which included geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and spatial statistics. The department now offers a Certificate in Geographic Techniques. In 2010, several members formed a new Department of Environmental Studies. In 2014, the remaining members joined the new School of Northern Development, founded in 2013.




SOCIOLOGY (1969 – University College)


The Department of Sociology was established in 1969, and renamed in 1972 as the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Even though sociology had been taught in theology programs since the 1920s, most Canadian universities did not establish a Department of Sociology until the 1960s. At University College, a few sociology courses were introduced in 1961 under the direction of the Department of Economics. The University of Sudbury’s Department of Philosophy stopped teaching sociology in the fall of 1962 for financial reasons. It was then offered by the Department of Psychology (1962-69). The Department of Sociology (1969) was a very active participant in interdisciplinary programs including Law and Justice (1978-); the Masters in Child and Development Studies (1980-97), which became Human Development (1997-2013), and then Interdisciplinary Health (2013-); Labour and Trade Union Studies (2000-); and Études de la santé (2007-12), now known as Santé publique (2012-).  The program in Labour and Trade Union Studies was launched by Dr. Mercedes Steedman in collaboration with the Sudbury and District Labour Council. Now known as Labour Studies, it features 300 hours of practicum placements and showcases the eventful labour history of the Sudbury region.



ANTHROPOLOGY (1972 – University College; 2005 – department; 2013 – transferred to the School of Northern Development)


In 1972, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology introduced a concentration in anthropology with courses in the ethnology of North American Native Peoples, linguistics, field methods, archaeology and physical anthropology. Anthropology would be one of the rare Arts programs at Laurentian University not offered in French. Dr. Kathryn Molohon served as Editor-in-Chief for eight issues of the international journal Anthropologica (1983-89). A specialization was added in 1995, maintaining the focus on applied anthropology. New courses in medical anthropology were introduced in the early 2000s and a B.Sc. option was added at that time. The Department of Anthropology (2005) was dissolved as its members founded the new School of Northern Development (2013).


Dr. Kathryn Molohon




In the 1980s, there was a proliferation of introductory statistics courses. In 1990, eleven different departments and schools at Laurentian University were offering their own course. STAT 2126E Introduction to Statistics was finally introduced in 2005 to replace six such courses in the Social Sciences. A decade later, this decision remains controversial.




Interdisciplinary programs in Canadian Studies, Folklore and Ethnology, Native Studies and Women’s Studies were launched in the 1970s at a time when students were organizing identity-based groups such as the Women’s Liberation Group (1969), the Native Students’ Club (1973) and the Association des étudiant(e)s francophones (AÉF) (1974).


CANADIAN STUDIES (1971 – University College)


In 1971, an interdisciplinary program in Canadian Studies (1971-96) was established at University College. By 1972, it featured a co-taught CANA course. Participating departments included English, French, religious studies, history, geography, economics, political science, sociology and anthropology. The program consisted of 18 credits of CANA courses, 18 credits from each of two participating departments and 6 credits from a third department. In 1974, the Ministry of Education introduced Canadian Studies in secondary schools, creating a demand for this type of program. A motion to eliminate it was brought to Senate in 1988 and finally approved in 1996. Many Canadian Studies programs at other Canadian universities have also been discontinued.

Today, we take for granted courses such as GEOG 3497 Geography of Northern Canada: Developmental Issues, HIST 3276 History of Northern Ontario, POLI 3105 Canadian Law, Politics and Aboriginal People, ITAL 2516 Evolution of Italian Culture in Canada or THEA 2357 Canadian Theatre. But in 1960, there was little Canadian content in the programs offered. In 1969, 52% of faculty members at Laurentian University were from abroad. Canadian content gradually increased over the 1970s as new faculty members joined the University. In 2014, 78% of full-time faculty members in the Faculty of Arts obtained their highest degree in Canada, 50% from an institution in Ontario.


FOLKLORE AND ETHNOLOGY (1975 – University of Sudbury; 1981 - department)


The first program to focus specifically on the local francophone community was the 18-credit continuation in Franco-Ontarian and French-Canadian folklore launched by the University of Sudbury in 1975. It was based on the work of Father Germain Lemieux, S.J. whose collection is housed in the Centre franco-ontarien de folklore (CFOF) at the University of Sudbury. The Department of Folklore and Ethnology followed in 1981. There are only a handful of similar programs in Canada, such as the ones located at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Cape Breton University and the University of Alberta (Ukrainian folklore).

The launch of the folklore program at the University of Sudbury in 1975 coincided with the launch of the Franco-Ontarian flag. A year later, new courses on French-Canadian and Quebec authors were introduced by the Department of French and the Institut franco-ontarien (IFO) was established to promote research on Franco-Ontarians. The membership of IFO included the first Director, Dr. Benoît Cazabon (French linguistics), and his colleagues Dr. Louis-Gabriel Bordeleau (Education), Dr. Roger Breton (Political Science), Dr. Gilles Comtois (Education), Dr. Donald Dennie (Sociology), and Dr. Gaétan Gervais (History). IFO established the Revue du Nouvel-Ontario (1978) under the direction of Dr. Donald Dennie and organized various conferences. Research on Franco-Ontarian identity, language, and culture led to the development of courses such as HIST 3136FL Histoire de l’Ontario français, LING 2026FL Le franco-ontarien, LITT 2907FL Poésie et roman en Ontario français, and POLI 3546FL Minorités et politique: les Franco-Ontariens et les Franco-Ontariennes.

Father Germain Lemieux
NATIVE STUDIES (1977 – University of Sudbury)


In response to recommendation 123 of the 1968 Hall-Dennis Report on educational reform in Ontario (“Encourage at least one Ontario university to establish an Institute for Canadian Indian Studies.”), Dr. Edward Newbery, first president of Huntington University, had started a seminar study group which became the Institute of Indian Studies (1970). In 1971, the Institute began offering “An Interdepartmental Programme in Amerindian-Eskimo Studies” with courses in English, philosophy, religious studies, geography, history, political science, sociology and anthropology. Following an external review, this was terminated in favour of an Indigenous program, approved in 1976, with Cree and Ojibwe language courses and courses on Anishinaabe identity, religion and culture. In 1977, the Department of Native Studies was established at the University of Sudbury. In 2013, it was renamed the Department of Indigenous Studies. Today, the program aims to promote an understanding of Aboriginal peoples, their traditions, aspirations and participation in local, national and international communities through the study of Indigenous knowledge and languages, politics and law, social justice, traditional ecological knowledge, identities and cultures, the arts, and health and wellness.

The Laurentian University Native Education Council (LUNEC) was established in 1991. In February 1997, the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) created a banner of three circles symbolizing its English, French and Indigenous members. The 2008-11 Collective Agreement for Laurentian University contained an Aboriginal Equity Initiative but no hiring of Aboriginal faculty members took place in the Faculty of Arts at Laurentian University until 2013. Self-identified Aboriginal faculty members now make up 8% of full-time faculty in Arts whereas self-identified Aboriginal students make up 12% of B.A. students. The 2014-17 Collective Agreement for Laurentian University acknowledges research carried out using traditional Indigenous knowledge.

In 2012-13, over 65 Arts courses with Indigenous content were offered by Laurentian University. The recent hiring of Indigenous faculty members in the Faculty of Arts has led to an increase in courses taught from an Indigenous perspective: e.g. ANTR 2XXXEL The (De) Colonial Struggle, ENGL 2677EL Indigenous Poetics: Poetry as Testimony, ENGL 3566EL Indigenous Oral Storytelling, and HIST 3486EL Indigenous Histories, Indigenous Food Ways: Understanding Contact and Conflict through Dietary Change.


Dr. Edward Newbery with Native Studies students, 1977.
Leland Bell


WOMEN’S STUDIES (1978 – Thorneloe University)


In 1978, Thorneloe University introduced an 18-credit continuation in Women’s Studies. It included the interdisciplinary WOMN 1000EL Women in Modern Society involving 4 or 5 departments, and any two of SOCI 2600E Male and Female in Contemporary Society, ENGL 2700E Women in Literature and RLST 2390E Women and Religion. The program was coordinated by a man - Dr. Christopher F. Headon, professor of religious studies. In 1990-91, Dr. Margaret Kechnie introduced a concentration despite considerable resistance from members of the Academic Planning Committee (ACAPLAN) who questioned the scholarly legitimacy of the program. In 1999-2000, Dr. Andrea Levan obtained approval for a combined specialization. She was the fourth student in Canada to graduate with a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies (York, 1999) and taught at Thorneloe University (1989-2013). The shift in the discipline from women’s studies to gender studies has led to the creation of new courses such as WOMN 2506E Rethinking Masculinities and WOMN 2906E Queer/Trans/Sexuality Studies in 2014-15.

In the 1970s, the status of women was attracting considerable attention following the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women (1970). When the Ontario government initiated a study leading to the 1975 report on Women in Ontario Universities, Laurentian University was the only institution to name a man as its representative. By 1985-86, 53% of the student population were women but women made up only 20% of the tenured and tenure-track faculty in the Faculty of Arts at Laurentian University (18 of 91) compared to 43% today (46 of 108).

In the 1990s, new courses on women were introduced in a variety of departments such as Economics, History and Philosophy where women had been rare or nonexistent. Today, students can choose from a range of courses such as SOCI 2076FL Études féministes en sciences humaines, ENGL 3257EL 19th Century Women’s Writing, JURI 3246EL Women in Conflict with the Law, or LITT 4226 Écrivaines et écrivains du XXe siècle..


Dr. Margaret Kechnie


In 1968, Laurentian University established a School of Graduate Studies and launched the Laurentian University Review. The content of this bilingual journal, which had separate editorial boards for each language, embodies the transformation that occurred over the 1970s as the various identity-based disciplines were established.

The first issue published under the title Les Cahiers Laurentiens aimed “to promote both the language and literature of France, the heritage of all French speaking peoples, in a spirit of universal symbiosis, and in addition to reveal some inherent truths and significant values of other national cultures.” The French editor, Léandre Page, was an immigrant from France who taught in the Department of French (1967-70). Topics in the early issues included Rabelais, Diderot, Flaubert, Sartre, Russia and Eastern Europe. 

Father Fernand Dorais

Only three years later, Fernand Dorais who also taught in the Department of French (1969-94) and who was one of the organizers of Franco-Parole which led to the music festival La Nuit sur l’étang, edited a special issue on Le fait français du Nord de l’Ontario (1971) which discussed Franco-Ontarian institutions, education and culture. He declared that the journal existed “d’abord et avant tout pour se mettre au service de son propre milieu professoral et étudiant, géographique et social, pour aider ce milieu à s’exprimer, à se dire et à se créer” (p.4). He insisted that authentic texts be presented without correction: “Pareil filtrage au bénéfice d’une politique de prestige nous aura paru odieux et inacceptable” (p. 5).

The publication of this issue in 1971 coincided with the launch of the Canadian Studies program. Subsequent issues included Le bilinguisme: impasse ou défi! (1974); Community Development in the Sudbury Area (1974); Regionalism and Canadian Literature (1975); Historical Essays on Northern Ontario (1979); Ontario Northland Railway (1981); Aspects of Ethnicity in Northeastern Ontario (1982); Northern Ontario: Environmental Perspectives (1984); and City Government in Northern Ontario (1985).

The creation of the program in Amerindian-Eskimo Studies in 1971 was followed by an issue on The Canadian North (1973). Later issues on Indigenous topics included Challenge for Change: Education and Modern Society (1983) and The North American Arctic (1985). The introduction of the Folklore and Ethnology program in 1975 resulted in issues on Folklore and Oral Tradition in Canada (1976) and Popular Religion in the Daily Life of the Worker (1979). Finally, the founding of Women’s Studies in 1978 inspired an issue on Women: Images and Insights (1982).


4. THE FINE ARTS (the 1980s)


The development of music and theatre arts programs at Huntington University and Thorneloe University respectively would not have been possible without strong support from University presidents with a keen interest in the fine arts. Laurentian University’s francophone program in theatre was established many years later in 2011.


MUSIC (1979 – Huntington University; 2006 – transferred to Laurentian University)


The concentration in Music was inaugurated in 1979. A year later, the Huntington Conservatory of Music (1980-2003) was established under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Ludo Winckel, President of Huntington University (1972-89) and an accomplished organist. The specialization was made available in 1985. The Certificate in Church Music provided training in conducting a choir, coordinating music and liturgy, and serving as a music director within a parish setting. Another stream prepared students to teach music in schools. In 1987, jazz pianist Oliver Jones was a sessional member of the program. In 2005 when the program was closed for financial reasons, an agreement was reached to transfer it to Laurentian University. In 2006, the Department of Music was established at Laurentian University, offering courses in jazz and classical music.


Rev. Dr. Ludo Winckel 

Grand piano donated to the Department of Music by Dr. Elizabeth Dawes, 2012. 
THEATRE ARTS (1980 – Thorneloe University)


In 1980, Thorneloe University launched a concentration in Theatre Arts with courses in theatre history, acting and directing. Its first director was Dr. Stanley G. Mullins, Chair of English (1980-83) and former President of Laurentian University (1963-70). Students in the program could opt for the B.A. or the B.F.A. In 2000, the Bachelor of Fine Arts was an articulated program involving University College, the Huntington Conservatory of Music, and Cambrian College’s programs in Music and Theatre production. Today, the B.F.A. program includes courses in Theatre Arts, Théâtre (francophone program), Music and Motion Picture Arts.

Dr. Stanley Mullins 
FRANCOPHONE THEATRE PROGRAM (2011 – Laurentian University)


As the francophone B.F.A. program in Arts d’expression  (1999-2012) within the École des sciences de l’éducation was being phased out, a new francophone specialization in Théâtre was established by Laurentian University in the Faculty of Humanities in 2011. Alain Doom is the sole full-time faculty member. The specialization allows students to fulfill the requirements for three teachable subjects (theatre arts, French, history or philosophy) recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Education. The program features an introduction to the art of contemporary clowning.


Alain Doom



The creation of interdisciplinary programs that had begun in the 1970s continued and two new departments were established.


LAW AND JUSTICE (1978 – Faculty of Social Sciences, Laurentian University)


In 1978, the Department of Philosophy launched an interdisciplinary concentration in law and justice, coordinated by Dr. A. Wesley Cragg, a philosopher specializing in ethics. It was designed as a liberal arts program exploring moral and legal issues for students with “no specific professional or employment objective”. The first of its kind in Canada, it included courses in philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology. Once the Department of Law and Justice was established in the Faculty of Social Sciences in 1989, the program committee made up of members of participating departments was eliminated. Today, the specialization includes 21 credits of JURI courses and 39 credits of electives drawn from various other programs.

Dr. A. Wesley Cragg
GERONTOLOGY (1992 – Huntington University; 2013 – Faculty of Professional Schools, now the Faculty of Health)

In 1992, a Certificate program in Gerontology was inaugurated on campus and subsequently made available by distance. A concentration was introduced in 1999 and made available by distance in 2001, the first and only distance program in Gerontology in Canada. A specialization was approved in 2002. Formerly associated with the Faculty of Humanities, Gerontology joined the Faculty of Professional Schools in 2013, and now belongs to the Faculty of Health (2014). It remains under the administration of Huntington University.


Rev. Dr. Brian Aitken




In the new millenium, Laurentian University and its three federated partners each introduced programs in Communication, Film and Media Studies, combining hands-on experience in media production (e.g. documentary filmmaking) with courses in theory and criticism.

RHETORIC AND MEDIA STUDIES (2000 – Department of English, Laurentian University)


In 2000, the Department of English launched a new stream in Rhetoric and Media Studies, introducing students to rhetorical theory, documentary filmmaking and film criticism. A specialization in Rhetoric and Media Studies is now available. Dr. Philippa Spoel (1994-) and Dr. Hoi Cheu (1999-) both teach in the program.

Dr. Hoi Cheu

Dr. Philippa Spoel
COMMUNICATION STUDIES (2001 – Huntington University)


In 2001, a specialization in Communication Studies was inaugurated by Huntington University involving three years of study in areas such as interpersonal communication, semiotics and information technology followed by a year at Cambrian College focusing on journalism, advertising or public relations. The program is chaired by Dr. Janis Goldie, a specialist in political communication.


Dr. Janis Goldie
JOURNALISM STUDIES (2004 – University of Sudbury)


In 2004, a francophone program in Public Communication was launched by the University of Sudbury involving theoretical courses and a series of practicum placements allowing students to focus on journalism or public relations. In 2013, the public relations stream was eliminated. Renamed as the Department of Journalism Studies, the department is chaired by Dr. Osée Kamga, a specialist in the uses of social media in the developing world.

Dr. Osée Kamga



MOTION PICTURE ARTS (2013 – Thorneloe University)


In 2013, a new Motion Picture Arts option within the B.F.A program was created by Thorneloe University. The program prepares students for careers in the production of TV programs, advertising, video games, etc.


Dr. Benjamin Paquette



Interdisciplinarity was front and centre in Laurentian University’s 2010-15 Academic Plan. Two new schools were established, housing several distinct, but interrelated programs.

SCHOOL OF NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT (2013 – Faculty of Social Sciences, Laurentian University)


In 2013, Labour Studies and Sociocultural Anthropology, both originally housed in the former Department of Sociology and Anthropology, founded a new School of Northern Development. Members of the former Department of Geography joined the school in 2014. The school is currently developing a new Masters in Northern Development. In 2014, Anishinaabe anthropologist Dr. Darrel Manitowabi was appointed to a position in Aboriginal health and a Minor in Occupational Health and Safety – Health and Policy Stream was approved. Anishinaabe artist and visual anthropologist Celeste Pedri-Spade and physical geographer Dr. Pascale Roy-Léveillée, a Weskarini Algonquin Métis, were both appointed to the school in 2015.

Charles Daviau, Director 
School of Northern and Community Studies
SCHOOL OF THE ENVIRONMENT (2014 – Faculty of Science, Engineering, and Architecture, Laurentian University)


The Department of Environmental Studies (2011) was established to house interdisciplinary programs developed by former members of the Department of Geography. In 2014, a new School of the Environment, initiated by Dr. Elizabeth Dawes, Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities, was established within the Faculty of Science, Engineering, and Architecture with Dr. Brett Buchanan, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Laurentian University, as founding Director. The School houses undergraduate programs in Environmental Studies, Archaeology, and Environmental Science and the Graduate Diploma in Science Communication. The interdisciplinary program in Archaeology was developed by Dr. Alicia Hawkins, formerly of the Department of Anthropology.


School of the Environment, Launch Event 2014
Photo by: Anthony Crozzoli


The Faculty of Arts: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


We will conclude by taking a brief look at the Faculties that housed our departments, schools and programs before the Faculty of Arts was established in 2014.


Faculty of Arts and Science (1960-75)


By 1975, the Faculty of Arts and Science housed six Humanities departments (Religious Studies, Philosophy, Classical Studies, Modern Languages, French and English), six Social Science departments (History, Economics, Psychology, Political Science, Geography, and Sociology/Anthropology), six Science departments (Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics, the Institute of Astronomy, home to the Doran Planetarium, and the Institute for Fine Particle Research), and a Department of Mathematics, grouped with the Sciences “for administrative purposes”. While all of the federated Universities still had a Department of Religious Studies, the University of Sudbury was the only one of the three that still had a Department of Philosophy.


Faculty of Humanities (1975-2014)


After the founding of the Faculty of Humanities, Laurentian University transferred its Department of Classical Studies to Thorneloe University in 1978. There were no new Humanities departments at Laurentian University until 2006 when the Department of Music was transferred from Huntington University.

New Humanities departments were created at the federated Universities where changes to the funding regulations provided opportunities for growth. The University of Sudbury added Folklore and Ethnology (1975), Native Studies (1977), and Public Communication (2004). Thorneloe University established Women’s Studies (1978), Theatre Arts (1980), and Motion Picture Arts (2013), whereas Huntington University added Music (1980), Gerontology (1992), and Communication Studies (2001).

New Humanities programs at Laurentian University included the Interdisciplinary M.A. in Humanities: Interpretation and Values (1995), an undergraduate program in English Rhetoric and Media Studies (2000) and a francophone program in Theatre (2011).


Faculty of Social Sciences (1975-2014)


After the founding of the Faculty of Social Sciences, no new Social Science departments were established until 1989 when the Department of Law and Justice was created.

The Social Science departments participated in a number of interdisciplinary programs including Canadian Studies (1971); Amerindian-Eskimo Studies (1971); Law and Justice (1978); Women’s Studies (1978); the Masters in Child and Development Studies (1980), later known as Human Development (1997), and then Interdisciplinary Health (2013); the B.Sc. in Behavioural Neuroscience (1985); Labour Studies (2000); Études de la santé (Health Studies) (2007), now known as Santé publique (Public Health) (2012); as well as the Ph.D. in Human Studies (2007).

The Department of Anthropology (2005-13) and the Department of Environmental Studies (2011-14) both existed briefly prior to the establishment of two new interdisciplinary schools – the School of Northern Development (2013) in the Faculty of Social Sciences, and the School of the Environment (2014) in the Faculty of Science, Engineering, and Architecture.


Faculty of Arts (2014-)


In the new Faculty of Arts, the Humanities and Social Science disciplines are reunited, alongside new departments, schools, and programs including Folklore and Ethnology, Indigenous Studies, Women’s Studies, Law and Justice, Music, Theatre Arts, Labour Studies, Communication Studies, Journalism Studies, and Theatre, many of which blur the traditional boundaries between the Social Sciences and the Humanities.

In 1961-62, the Arts departments had a total of 33 full-time faculty members including 11 Jesuits, 3 other religious leaders and 2 women. Each of the fledgling departments had at least one Jesuit member with the exception of Modern Languages which was the only one to include women. Of the 33 full-time members, 8 (24.2%) held a Ph.D., 14 (42.4%) held an M.A., and 11 (33.3%) held a B.A. as their highest degree.

By 1968-69, the Arts departments had a total of 91 full-time faculty members including 8 women who were teaching languages, psychology or geography. In many departmental photos, the only woman is the administrative assistant.

In 1985-86, 15 of the 66 full-time faculty members in the Social Sciences were women (22.7%) versus 3 of the 25 full-time faculty members in the Humanities (12%) at Laurentian University. The hiring of women occurred primarily in the new disciplines in the Social Sciences. There were no women in History or Philosophy and only one woman in Economics.

In the early 1990s, affirmative action was imposed by the senior administration. “Where no suitable female candidates can be found [for a tenure-track position] only sessional appointments shall be recommended”, states a letter from the Dean, addressed to one of the department Chairs and copied to the University Equity Committee. The Dean concludes his letter by noting: “I would be most disappointed if the Department were to come across as a collection of misogynous dinosaurs”.

In 2014, when the Faculty of Arts was established, there were 140 full-time faculty members in total at Laurentian University and its three federated partners, including 58 women (41%) found in every department and school with at least two full-time members. Interestingly, women make up exactly 50% of the 48 full-time faculty members in the Faculty of Arts who were hired by Laurentian University since 2006. Of the 127 full-time faculty members at the rank of assistant, associate or full professor in 2014, 122 (96%) held a doctoral degree, compared to just 24% of full-time faculty members in 1961-62.

Of the 140 full-time faculty members, 44 are francophone (31.4%). Since 2013, 8 new Indigenous faculty members have been hired in full-time permanent positions across a variety of Arts disciplines, bringing the total number of self-identified Indigenous faculty members in the Faculty of Arts to 11 (7.9%).

When future generations look back at departmental photos taken today, we can be sure that these photos will look just as curious as the ones from 1969 do today. The Faculty of Arts is a dynamic entity which will continue to evolve as our curriculum is adapted to the ever changing needs and interests of students and faculty, and our departments, schools, and programs are restructured and realigned to reflect changes in the way that knowledge is produced, organized into disciplines, and transmitted to new generations.