Preface
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ix PREFACE fifty years ago, as the earliest religious studies programs were being established in the arts faculties of Canadian univeristies, I was completing a B.Th. degree in Christian theology at St. Stephen’s College, the United Church Seminary at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Forty-five years ago, I enrolled in the new religious studies graduate program of McMaster University in Hamilton, chaired by George Grant in 1965. There I was, studying world religions, a program that was not available in Canada in 1962 when I began my theology degree. My forty-five year career in religious studies has in many ways paralleled the development of religious studies in the arts/ humanities faculties of Canadian universities. In this volume, I offer a personal retrospective of religious studies in Canada over the past fifty years. Research for this book really began in the early 1980s when, as vice-president of the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion (CCSR), I convinced Paule Leduc (then president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) to give the CCSR a grant to fund a state-of-the-art review of religious studies in Canada. This resulted in a series of volumes for each region, which I organized and edited during the 1980s and 1990s, all published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. My original idea was to write an overview volume once the regional volumes were all completed, a task I am partially fulfilling with this book. In chapters 2 and 5 I describe the creation of religious studies departments and their development to 2012. What I offer is not a formal history of religious studies in Canada, but a memoir of my involvement in the development of religious studies as a new academic field of study. As such, it is a story of my engagement in the birth and growth of religious studies in Canada that I attempt to present as personally engaging and richly informative about the broad development of the field. x Preface In Chapter 2 (1966–1976) and Chapter 5 (1970s–2012), I tell the stories of how the various departments of religious studies came into being and have grown into maturity. In telling these stories I found it necessary to include descriptions of the faculty hired (including their specialization and where they did their Ph.D.) to demonstrate the academic strength or weakness in meeting the new religious studies requirements for faculty trained in areas other than theology—areas such as history of religions, comparative religion, philosophy of religion, psychology of religion, sociology/anthropology of religion, and biblical literature—that could offer a program of studies that was open, critical, and inclusive of Eastern and Western as well as Aboriginal religious traditions. These descriptions (lists of faculty, their Ph.D.s, and teaching areas) are foundational data on which I build my analysis and conclusions . It is also important that this information not be lost. In telling about the birth and early growth of religious studies departments across Canada, I found that often there were no archives or written histories. I found the needed information only through personal contact with my wide network of colleagues across the country, many of whom are now aging and dying. For a future formal history of religious studies in Canada, it is essential that this information not be lost. At times reading these lists of faculty and their involvement can become tedious—a problem I have handled as follows. Where the list is simply informative about matters of fact, it is placed in the Notes; where the list contains information important to the narrative and demonstrates the academic strength and breadth of the department being described, it is retained in the text. There may be programs I have not included, although I have tried to be as complete as possible (church-based colleges excluded). I leave the task of writing a full formal history of religious studies in Canada for someone else to pursue. But perhaps my “after fifty years” snapshot will provide a beginning and, at the very least, save useful information from being lost. I am grateful to the many colleagues and friends who have helped me in the writing of this book. Patrick Grant, my colleague and friend at the University of Victoria, is the one who, at just the right moment, suggested I write this volume and carefully read my draft manuscript, offering most helpful suggestions for revision. At the UVic Centre...


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Subject Headings

  • Religion--Study and teaching (Higher)--Canada--History--20th century.
  • Theology--Study and teaching (Higher)--Canada--History--20th century.
  • Universities and colleges--Curricula--Canada--History--20th century.
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