Victoria University is committed to the belief that our students should have a robust and diverse undergraduate experience.
This program does just that. Ideas for the World blends social interaction, academic reflection, and community awareness (locally and globally). The program is transformative and engaging for all who participate.
Each offering of the program consists of five to 10 weekly, seminar-style discussions. Discussions are led by selected U of T faculty and guest speakers.
We offer Humanities for Humanity and Theatre for Thought courses during the fall and winter semesters respectively. See below for more details.
Humanities for Humanity
In Humanities for Humanity (H4H), students and community participants will gather online once a week to engage in meaningful discussions on social justice topics from assigned articles.
Discussions will be led by University faculty and staff, and distinguished speakers from across the city. Student mentors are expected to help guide breakout discussions and offer pathways for nuanced commentary on each week’s topics.
Dedicated upper-year students are encouraged to join as mentors, and will receive co-curricular record credit.
Sessions run from October to late November, on Tuesdays evenings.
Stay tuned for more information on our series starting in October 2022.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
Humanities for Humanity, Fall 2021 Program
- Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. - Orientation and Training Session for Student Mentors
- Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. - Orientation and Training Session for Student Mentors
- Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. - First Session: Prof. John Duncan, Ideas for the World Academic Advisor, and Director, Ethics, Society & Law Program at Trinity College in the University of Toronto and Dean Kelley Castle, Dean of Students, Victoria University.
- Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. - Second Session: Prof. Steve Easterbook, Director, School of the Environment, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto.
- Tuesday, November 16, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. - Third Session: The Right. Hon. Kathleen Wynne, MPP for Don Valley West and former Ontario Premier.
- Tuesday, November 16, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. - Fourth Session: Prof. Daniel Bender, Canada Research Chair in Global Culture and the Director of the Culinaria Research Centre, University of Toronto.
- Tuesday, November 16, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. - Fifth Session: Prof. Susan Hill, Director of Centre for Indigenous Studies; Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies & History, University of Toronto.
Theatre for Thought
Join us Tuesday evenings this winter for the “Theatre for Thought” (T4T) section of the Ideas for the World program.
Victoria College students and community participants will gather online once a week to watch a short movie or documentary and engage in meaningful discussions on social justice topics.
There are no pre-assigned readings this semester as participants will watch short films together online at the beginning of each session. So, while we are calling in Theatre for Thought, we will focus on short films and documentaries.
All the material is available online for free, a link to the video will be provided in the syllabus and before each session. Participants are welcome to watch the video prior to the session or watch it together during the first part of the session.
The program will run from February 1 to March 15, on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 to 7:45 p.m. The sessions will be held online (including over the phone if required) using ZOOM online meeting software. Participants will have to have regular access to the Internet or at least a phone.
Here is the schedule and syllabus:
Session 1, Feb 1: 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m: Bao - Domee Shi | 2018 | 7 min.
Session 2, Feb 8: 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m: Into Light - Sheona McDonald - 2020 | 19 min.
Session 3, Feb 15: 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m: Island Green – 2013 | 25 min.
BREAK for Reading Week (February 21-25)
Session 4, March 1: 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m: Dr. Sanduk Ruit: The Gift of Sight | 101 East – 2014 | 26 min.
Session 5, March 8: 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m: Period. End of sentence. | Rayka Zehtabchi – 2019 | 25 min.
Session 6, March 15: 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m: Paper and Glue | JR - 2021 | first 30 min.
Discussions will be led by University faculty and staff. There are no tests, no assignments, and the program is free for participants.
Community participants who attend at least 5 out of 6 sessions will be receiving a Certificate. Student-mentors who attend at least 5 out of 6 sessions will be eligible for CCR credits.
Questions about all Ideas for the World programs can be directed to email@example.com.
See media coverage of the Ideas Program to learn more about its vision and goals.
Humanities for Humanity in the Engaged Scholar Journal
Professor John Duncan, Ideas for the World Academic Adviser and the Director, Ethics, Society & Law Program at Trinity College in the University of Toronto, writes about H4H for the Engaged Scholar Journal.
Since 2007, the Humanities for Humanity (“H4H”) course has brought together student experience beyond the classroom, educational experiences for community members who could not otherwise attend university, discussion of social justice, and studies in the humanities. By discussing a selection of rich and influential primary texts from the humanities, course members are introduced to a rudimentary history of the present, focussing on who we have become as members of a concrete social and political reality intersected by capitalism, bureaucracy, liberalism, socialism, anti-essentialism, and post-colonialism. Both the texts and the student-participant encounters are rich, and the sessions are guided by two central classical ideals: the activity of learning is primarily an end in itself, and the most important thing to learn may be who we are. The core course content of H4H is outlined, and the ways in which H4H connects student mentors and community participants are discussed. Implications are drawn regarding what makes H4H a unique form of community service-learning in which service is virtually eclipsed by learning in a process that subverts barriers between people.Humanities for Humanity in the Engaged Scholar Journal
UofT Professor Mark Kingwell discusses the "extraordinary success" of the "innovative series"
Excerpt from "A populist wake-up call for universities" in Academic Matters from UofT Philosophy Professor Mark Kingwell.
It happens that this spring is the tenth anniversary of a program run at the University of Toronto called “Humanities for Humanity.” My friends John Duncan and Kelley Castle, along with a host of student and faculty volunteers, have run this innovative series with extraordinary success over this decade.
In the program, people from different walks of city life, recruited through community centres and downtown churches, attend a series of lectures and discussion groups. They read very canonical material and hear from professors interested in the topics. (I have lectured every year on Machiavelli’s The Prince; also lately on Ibsen’s A Doll’s House in a related program called “Theatre for Thought”.) There is a hearty dinner and free childcare, formal certificates at the end, and, above all, an intellectual fellowship I have not seen anywhere else.
Some 500 students have been inspired by the original program over the years, with another 300 graduating from the theatre-based offshoot. These might seem like small numbers, compared to the massive waves of populism that contend with the very idea of a university, and the huge annual intakes of students at all levels of our system. But, I can tell you that there is nothing in my experience more moving than to hear someone, excluded by language or background from regular attendance, wax emotional about the simple chance to attend a university lecture on power, or identity, or faith.A populist wake-up call for universities
Toronto Star: "University should leave students stirred — and shaken"
Louise Brown, Education Reporter at the Toronto Star: "University should leave students stirred — and shaken"
Dean Kelley Castle "the outspoken University of Toronto academic and former community activist has invited members of the public facing hardship — poverty, disability — to join in several of the discussion-based courses on heady topics in science, culture, religion, theatre, the humanities and politics, all part of a post-secondary experiment Castle calls Ideas for the World.
“For too long we’ve created classrooms where students aren’t interested in deep learning; they’re so worried about upsetting their professor, they’re afraid to take a risk,” warned Castle.
“But I really believe university should leave you stirred — and shaken.”Toronto Star: "University should leave students stirred — and shaken"
Dean Kelley Castle "The value of being porous: What universities and cities can do for each other"
Dean Kelley Castle writes about the "The value of being porous: What universities and cities can do for each other" in Academic Matters.
In a program called Ideas for the World at Victoria College at the University of Toronto, we take a crack at making the walls of the university a bit more porous. The program has 10 sections, all of which are designed around meals. Lunch groups have a cap of 25 students who meet with a different faculty member, public figure, or professional every week for an open discussion led by the guest. Sections have included: Art, architecture and building culture; Culture and conflict in the media; Science in society; Environment and economics; Religion in the public sphere; and The purpose, power and politics of the university.
Weekly topics include such things as what forms our views of scientific doubt and scientific risk, and how the media can influence which wars we think are just. Students consider whether forced quarantine is sometimes socially necessary (for instance with new drug-resistant strains of TB); whether Muslim prayer should be allowed in public schools; whether or how evidence-based medicine represents a shift from traditional paradigms of diagnosing and treating patients. They ask how religion is involved in forming public opinion around international policy (especially in the U.S.); how science, morality, and the law intertwine around the issue of HIV status disclosure; how architecture and power relate; and how the media can sometimes influence people to believe things, even against the evidence. And in the section that considers the university itself (led by our own President, Philosophy Professor Paul Gooch, with various guest speakers) themes have included: why academic freedom is so important; the issue of donors influencing curricular decisions; how the government influences how universities function; and the (not-surprisingly heated) question of who sets priorities for universities and on what basis.The value of being porous: What universities and cities can do for each other
Daniela Rupolo's "The Ivory Tower" Video
The Ideas for the World certificate recognizes students who demonstrate sustained involvement in the program during their undergraduate degree.
You must be a Victoria College student and complete four Ideas for the World "credits."
"Credits" are earned for each program in which you attend at least 75% of the sessions. (For example, in an eight-week program, attendance is require for at least six sessions.)
The "credits" awarded are based on the number of hours involved in each program. Our community outreach programs are worth two "credits" each, and our discussion series are worth one "credit" each.
Note: Ideas for the World "credits" do not count towards your academic degree requirements and do not appear on your transcript.
Receiving Your Certificate
Certificates are awarded at the year-end banquet in April. All eligible students will be sent an invitation by the Ideas for the World Program Coordinator.