Democratic values are under threat globally. Concerns mount as students witness the erosion of civil structures and open debates. Universities, the generators of knowledge and facts, serve an important function in society and in a young person’s life. Most students study at U of T during their formative years, a time of life when individuals are most open to learning about views different than their own, debating constructively and questioning their beliefs. Considering this, the Faculty must continue to advance the role of civil leadership through what Arts & Science does best — developing programs that shape future leaders and cultivating safe spaces for the robust practice of challenging conversations and respectful opposition.
Arts & Science is committed to incorporating frequent touchpoints in the learning journey that emphasize strategies for solutions, specifically around restoring foundations and the future of functioning democratic societies. By modelling and encouraging open and honest debate in classes and events across A&S, the Faculty will continue to make room for healthy differences of opinion and robust public discussions.
How A&S is Driving Change
The Scholars at Risk program is a marquee initiative at U of T, which the Faculty prioritizes and mobilized in response to urgently needed support for student asylum-seekers.
Undergraduate and graduate students around the world whose program of study has been impacted by changing political environments — such as the war in Ukraine — are welcome at A&S. In 2021-22, faculty members, donors and friends created opportunities for displaced students like Mariia Cherednychenko to continue her studies at U of T and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to recover in the midst of war.
“The only feeling I remember straight away is constant fear,” Cherednychenko says of the war in Ukraine. She came to the Faculty through a special exchange program with the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy thanks to a generous $3.2-million donation from the Temerty Foundation, which enabled the University of Toronto to welcome 200 students and faculty from Ukraine.
“Despite all these horrors that my family still faces in Ukraine, I have the power to carry on here because I’m supported. I feel safe. I’m very thankful for this chance to live a normal youthful life despite the worry.”
Meanwhile, the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy had an incredible and important year. Research impact included exposing how governments leverage technology to target LGBTQ citizens. The School continues to lead groundbreaking analysis of high-level strategic policy and legal engagement at the intersection of information and communication technologies, human rights and global security. Ultimately, generous donors make this important work possible.