Implementing Our Plan

Academic Plan 2025 - Leveraging our Strengths

Implementing Our Plan

Since the creation of our 2020-2025 Academic Plan, the Faculty of Arts & Science has made considerable progress in meeting established goals — while also rising to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In addition to intensifying our efforts in research capacity, teaching distinction, student well-being, and equity, diversity, and inclusion, we have initiated and played a key role in several important institutional partnerships. We have also extended our commitment to sustainability and remain focused on implementing a digital learning strategy to provide our community with the best tools and resources available both inside and outside the classroom.  

How are we doing?

Key highlights and progress to date.

  • Strategic Research Plan
    In 2023, the Faculty of Arts & Science published our first Strategic Research Plan (SRP), which outlines our collective vision, values, commitments, and priorities for supporting and advancing research over the next five years. Designed as a complement to the Academic Plan, the SRP provides a roadmap for how we will strategically improve the sustainability of our research operations; support our excellent faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, and students; increase funding success rates; and foster strong and diverse research cultures across Arts & Science.
  • U of T’s Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship
    A&S administers this fellowship, a program of Schmidt Futures. In 2022-23, the program provided vital artificial intelligence tools and training to 10 exceptional postdoctoral fellows.
  • Promoting sustainability
    In 2022-23, Arts & Science joined the newly launched Sustainable Development Goals initiative led by University of Toronto Scarborough. A&S continues to be a strong partner in the Climate Positive Energy Initiative led by the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.
  • Acceleration Consortium
    Research capacity is being strengthened thanks to the Faculty of Arts & Science’s involvement with and support for the Acceleration Consortium (AC) — a new global coalition of academia, industry, and government that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to accelerate the design and discovery of affordable and sustainable materials. In 2023, with support from A&S, AC was awarded the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the largest federal research grant ever awarded to a Canadian university.
  • Data Sciences Institute
    A&S played a central role in establishing the Data Sciences Institute, which provides the leadership and capacity to catalyze data sciences across all disciplines.
  • Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society
    As a key partner of the Schwartz Reisman Institute, A&S is advancing the next wave of Canadian innovation, enabling AI, biomedicine, and other disruptive technologies to enrich lives.
  • Increased support for Research Services
    To magnify the scope of our research services, A&S has improved support for grant applications and delivered a host of new sessions on research and grant writing for our community. A&S has also raised awareness and support for academic units in nominating faculty members for awards.
  • Dean’s Research Excellence Awards
    This awards program recognizes the achievements of outstanding mid-career faculty members, positioning them to compete successfully in national and international awards competitions.
  • Improving graduate funding
    A&S introduced a top-up to all graduate student funding packages in 2022-23, with a further increase planned for 2023-24. The Faculty also made more funding available directly to units to provide additional student support for writing, professional development, and language acquisition.
  • A holistic student-advising approach
    In fall 2023, the Office of the Faculty Registrar rolled out the staff-facing Student Advising Service with college registrar’s offices, with plans to bring academic units on board in early 2024. The platform standardizes, streamlines, and elevates our undergraduate student advising culture, practice, and processes, thereby improving the advising experience for students. In addition, the Dean has provided funding to ensure resources for registrarial services, advising, and writing centres are equitably accessible to students across all seven A&S colleges.
  • New Office of Graduate Professional Development and Student Success
    A&S launched this new office in May 2023 to enhance experiential-learning opportunities for graduate students, help units frame and discuss non-academic career pathways in new ways, and encourage units to consider how professional outcomes intersect with program design.
  • Teaching & Learning resources on generative artificial intelligence
    In 2022-23, A&S shared new institutional policies and resources, as well as guidance on designing assessments with generative AI in mind. The Teaching & Learning team incorporated the topic into several events and community of practice discussions for instructors.
  • African Studies Centre
    The African Studies Centre was established as an EDU:B in 2023 as the new administrative home for the undergraduate African Studies program. The centre will allow for the hiring of additional faculty members and the expansion of scholarship and experiential-learning opportunities for students.
  • Centre for Caribbean Studies
    The Centre for Caribbean Studies, established as an EDU:B in 2022, will be the home of the only programs in Canada specifically dedicated to the study of the Caribbean and its people. The centre will facilitate the strategic broadening and deepening of teaching and research in Caribbean studies.
  • School of the Environment
    Arts & Science supported the School of the Environment through a conversion from EDU:B to EDU:A status in 2021. This change facilitates the school’s role as an international leader in interdisciplinary environmental research and teaching, and responds to the growing urgency of global environmental crises — as well as the demand from students that universities play a leadership role in responding to them.
  • Arts & Science Internship Program (ASIP)
    Launched in fall 2021, the Arts & Science Internship Program provides students with an exceptional range of paid work opportunities coupled with specialized professional training. In 2023, ASIP opportunities expanded to nine additional units, with three more scheduled to join in fall 2024.
  • New degree programs
    Two new degree programs — an honours BSc major in quantitative biology and an honours BA major in work and organizations — were launched in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
  • Arrive Ready
    This free online program for incoming first-year students offers a mix of lectures, skill-building exercises, and peer-led study groups to help them prepare academically and find community at U of T. In fall 2023, the program was expanded to auto-enrol all eligible students.
  • Mental health support
    In recognition of the importance the Faculty of Arts & Science places on mental health, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, A&S offered a series of 17 Wellness in Practice workshops and training sessions to promote mental-health literacy among faculty members, staff, and graduate students. The Faculty continues to promote practices that support well-being and encourage help-seeking through Minds Redefined initiatives.
  • Improved Indigenous space on campus
    The Centre for Indigenous Studies and First Nations House now have increased access to office, classroom, and gathering space in their renovated space in the North Borden Building. In addition, A&S has been a partner in the Ziibiing landscape project with the Division of the Vice-President and Provost.
  • Developing guidance on pursuing ethical Indigenous research
    The Indigenous Research Webinars Working Group received approval in 2023 to begin producing a series of webinars for the A&S community on how to pursue Indigenous research via an ethical engagement with Indigenous peoples and communities.
  • Centre for Indigenous Studies
    The Faculty has supported the Centre for Indigenous Studies through a conversion from EDU:B to EDU:A status. This change allows the centre to broaden its strategic mission and increase teaching and research expertise, in part through new majority appointments.
  • Appointment of Elder and Special Advisor to the Dean
    In 2021-22, the Faculty of Arts & Science appointed Eileen Antone in the role of Elder and Special Advisor on Indigenous Affairs to the Dean.
  • Recognition of Excellence Awards for Indigenous and Black Graduate Students
    A&S introduced these entrance awards with support from the School of Graduate Studies in 2022. In 2023, they were incorporated into A&S’s base budget and award amounts were increased. A welcome dinner co-hosted by the Indigenous Research Network, First Nations House, and Black Research Network offers a community-building opportunity for recipients.
  • Enhancing EDI in our faculty complement
    Several new practices have been introduced in A&S to support equity, diversity, and inclusion in our faculty complement. In addition to EDI training for chairs and directors, new guidelines have been introduced that require unit leaders to consider employment equity and diversification when making appointments to unit-level admin roles. The Faculty continues to access the Provost’s Diversity in Academic Hiring Fund to support the hiring of Indigenous and Black faculty members. Additionally, all requests from academic units for new faculty lines include a section asking them to describe the steps their unit will take to develop and implement a proactive outreach plan that will broaden and deepen the pool of candidates in order to increase the possibility of hiring a candidate who is both excellent and from a diverse background.
  • Hiring of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Director
    In 2021, A&S hired our inaugural director of equity, diversity, and inclusion to provide strategic leadership and enhance a sense of belonging across the A&S community.
  • New staffing to support EDI
    The Faculty also hired a student recruitment officer and a student success program officer to reinforce unit support.

More information about Arts & Science EDI initiatives can be found in the annual EDI report released by the University’s Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

  • Experiential Learning Faculty Fellowships
    The A&S Experiential Learning & Outreach Support team launched this new program in 2022-23 to provide structured pedagogical, partnership development, and administrative support to instructors interested in incorporating experiential learning into their course design.
  • Expanding partnerships through community events
    Arts & Science has expanded our focus on community events and on planning strategic events with internal and external partners to demonstrate our leadership in addressing key issues of our time — such as the state of democracy, the future of artificial intelligence, and the climate crisis — and to engage our community in these important conversations.
  • Palette Skills Inc.
    A unique new partnership with Palette Skills Inc. has made A&S the national host of this groundbreaking not-for-profit on behalf of U of T. Under this agreement, students will receive superior skills training and certification to fortify their work experience.
  • Memorandum of Understanding with Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
    Under an agreement with Ukraine’s National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (KMA), A&S will collaborate on a variety of educational and research initiatives. During 2022-23, the Faculty welcomed more than 200 KMA students on exchange, and 11 KMA faculty members as visiting professors, supported by the Temerty Foundation.
  • Centre for Entrepreneurship
    The new Centre for Entrepreneurship is home to entrepreneurship education, co-curricular programs, venture incubation, and acceleration in the Faculty of Arts & Science. In 2023, the centre hired an executive director to support the continued growth of its engagement with stakeholders, and moved into a dedicated space in the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus – West Tower.
  • Transformational builds
    In 2023, the Academic Wood Tower Project began construction. It will support graduate students, teaching, research, and faculty expansion within the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. The Lash Miller Expansion Project broke ground to provide research labs and support space for the Acceleration Consortium and classrooms and laboratory space for the Department of Chemistry. Innis College broke ground on an exciting student-focused expansion that will create a modern student learning centre, library, computer lab, dedicated areas for student activities, and revitalized common spaces.
  • Experiential Learning Commons
    The new Experiential Learning Commons (ELC) opened in fall 2023, in partnership with the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Office of the Vice-President & Provost. It includes employer interview rooms, student and employer meeting rooms, a workshop room, event space, and administrative space for experiential-learning activities. The ELC allows all three units to work more closely to enhance experiential-learning opportunities for students and increase meaningful connections between students and industry professionals.
  • Koffler Scientific Reserve (KSR)
    A new field-research station, retreat, and conference centre at the KSR will be completed in summer 2024. The KSR is an internationally recognized site for cutting-edge research and education in biodiversity, ecology, and conservation biology located on the Oak Ridges Moraine in King Township, north of Toronto.
  • Digital Learning Strategy
    A&S’s Digital Learning Strategy has been developed to foster a wealth of new tech-based teaching and learning options. 2020 saw the launch of the Online Learning Academy, an instructor-to-instructor network created to assist the delivery of such options. In 2023, A&S launched the Digital Teaching & Learning Studio to provide instructors with equipment, space, training, and skilled personnel to develop and produce high-quality video and audio content.