Internal Academic Review Committee

Report on the Review of the Department of History and the Program in Mediaeval Studies

Approved by Senate January 25, 2001

Department of History

The External Consultants and the Review Team view the Department of History as a strong Department with an excellent record of research and scholarship, and of high quality undergraduate and graduate teaching. Their reports provide useful guidance, highlighting strengths and also identifying current and potential issues that need to be addressed to maintain and enhance quality.

The undergraduate program is large and is judged as being very good. A unique component of the program is its seminar system, which is viewed as playing an integral role in the intellectual life of the Department. Reference was made, however, to the resource intensive nature of this model of delivery. The Department is encouraged to continue to assess the cost-effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the seminar system, particularly in light of possible enrolment increases.

The External Consultants and the Review Team recommend that the Department proceed with a review of the introductory History courses with careful attention to both content and delivery. The Internal Academic Review Committee (IARC) concurs with this recommendation, and is encouraged that the Department will be reviewing the first year program next year.

During the internal academic review, concern was raised about the number of sections of the first year courses that are taught by graduate students and adjuncts. The IARC recognizes the effort made by the Department to provide training and support to its graduate students with teaching responsibilities. It expects, however, that the Department will monitor the impact of having graduate students assume these teaching functions not only on the quality of the undergraduate education but also on the time to completion of the graduate students.

The considerable student demand for the graduate program speaks to the high quality of the program and strong scholarship of the faculty members involved. There was some concern, however, about the job opportunities for PhD graduates, particularly in faculty positions. The Department is encouraged to work with the School of Graduate Studies and Research to assess if the placement rate is consistent with other Canadian universities and to seek ways to improve work opportunities for its graduates. The Department should continue to monitor the impact of changes made to the graduate program, in particular to the PhD programs and to the 12-month Masters.

The External Consultants sensed divisiveness and a lack of civility within the department beyond what would normally result from intellectual diversity. The IARC believes that this is an issue deserving serious attention as it can affect faculty, staff and student morale as well as the Department's reputation.

The IARC commends the Department of History for accomplishments that put it, according to one of the External Consultants "among the best in Canada" in teaching and research. Clearly the Department is held in great esteem outside Queen's and fully deserves a similar recognition within our community.

Program in Mediaeval Studies

The program in Mediaeval Studies is a very small inter-disciplinary program built on resources residing in other departments, in particular within the Departments of History, English, Philosophy, and Classics. A thorough review of the program would require information on all of these departments, which neither the Review Team nor the External Consultants had. However, all those involved in the review have agreed that the Program should continue. The IARC agrees with this recommendation.

Follow-up on recommendations and issues raised will occur as part of the annual staffing and budget strategy meetings between the Dean and the Vice-Principal (Academic).

October 23, 2000