Intellectual Histories, Present Circumstances, and Future Prospects*


This research is being undertaken in an era when the contours of Canadian identities are being challenged by Canada’s unique realities, among them ongoing efforts at justice for Aboriginal peoples, the continuing arrival of immigrants and refugees, and the complex now contentious relationship with the United States. Addressing such realities through the field of curriculum studies and the school curriculum is critical at this historical conjuncture given the complex and shifting intersection of local and global dynamics restructuring education. This research aspires to addresses this critical need for understanding curriculum, responsive to the vexed relations among schools, nation-building, social reconstruction, and identity development in order to cultivate more sophisticated understandings of what it means to be educated in Canada.

The goal of this research is to understand curriculum studies scholarship in Canada historically and through the regionally and culturally specific lens of multi-nationality as specific sites of knowledge production and pedagogical engagement. Central to this study is the hypothesis that understanding the distinctiveness of curriculum studies in Canada can advance the curriculum field worldwide, enabling researchers to coordinate their efforts more effectively as they work separately and together in a culturally complex and politically fractured global village. This investigation aspires to provoke unprecedented understandings of Canadian curriculum scholarship through study of its intellectual histories and present circumstances, accenting its potentiality, and thereby increasing its global visibility and local viability.

Research objectives include:

  1. Examine the confluence and divergence of historical movements and contemporary trends in the Canadian scholarship in curriculum studies.
  2. Synthesize insights to intensify the impact and potential of the field both globally and locally.
  3. Produce knowledge that shows how the complex concept of Canada is refracted through Canadian curriculum studies scholarship.
  4. Facilitate knowledge mobilization to create multi-layered intellectual exchange and ongoing dialogic encounter regarding the curricular implications of Canadian curriculum studies.

This research draws upon synoptic research methods to examine in depth and across a wide range of historical and contemporary issues that have and are now being addressed in curriculum studies. Specific research outputs will include: (1) a website as a knowledge network platform, (2) multi-dimensional narrative highlighting the distinctiveness of Canadian curriculum scholarship, (3) public forums and a symposium inviting dialogue and exchange, (4) scholarly publications including a book and research briefs.

As the first synoptic study to systematically chronicle curriculum studies scholarship in Canada, this research aspires to produce and support scholarly work that emphasizes historical consciousness, present circumstances, and multiplicity of contemporary Canadian lived experience. The researchers hope to substantially increase the visibility of the Canadian field for scholars working outside Canada through emphasizing the interconnections across global social, cultural, and political issues intersecting with the Canadian educational landscape. In engaging in such a complicated conversation in curriculum, this research provokes us to rethink what constitutes curriculum in an era that compels Canadians to reflect upon and reconstruct their visions of democratic, sustainable futures through education. It will also invite the public to contemplate how we imagine the purpose and practice of teaching and learning within particular civic communities that are increasingly characterized by immigrants, refugees, and indigenous people, in Canada and worldwide.

*Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Principal Investigator: William F. Pinar, University of British Columbia

Pinar’s lectures at: