Phase 2: Scenarios for Departmental Restructuring

Upcoming Large Group Consultations

Currently there are no the upcoming consultations for Faculty Restructuring (ARWG), Administrative Restructuring (SET), and Department Restructuring (FAARI). Videos for the past consultations may be found in the links.


With the launch of Phase 2 of the Faculty of Arts Academic Restructuring Initiative, faculty members, staff, and students are invited to consider a number of scenarios for new, larger academic Departments.

We undertook this process to explore possibilities for Departmental restructuring with the goal of reducing the number of academic Departments by creating a number of new, multi-program Departments. During the first phase of this initiative, the Dean and our Departmental Chairs sought input regarding the academic programs that could be brought together to build new Departments inspired by real and meaningful affinities. We also asked colleagues to identify risks associated with certain combinations of programs.

At a number of the consultative meetings and Departmental Councils at which input was sought, colleagues asked why it is important that we reduce the number of Departments in our Faculty. Today, the simplest answer is that the Faculty of Arts must adjust to budget cuts and the realities of coming administrative restructuring by creating larger academic units that allow for more effective deployment of staff resources to support our programs and students.

The Context of Departmental Restructuring
Initiated in the context of University of Alberta for Tomorrow, the Faculty of Arts Academic Restructuring Initiative (FAARI) aims to establish a set of academic Departments that can be resourced and governed to best serve our academic programs and students. A detailed overview of core objectives and processes for Departmental restructuring were shared in a memo distributed in late August, and posted on the Faculty of Arts website. Colleagues will be aware that, at the institutional level, there are two initiatives associated with University of Alberta for Tomorrow. A process exploring Faculty restructuring is being led by Provost Steve Dew and the Academic Restructuring Working Group (ARWG). There is also an initiative known as Service Excellence Transformation (SET) that is addressing comprehensive Administrative restructuring. Importantly, we have learned that the implementation of administrative restructuring will, in addition to changing key administrative structures and processes, be accompanied by a further reduction of 650 staff positions across the university over the next year.  While we do not yet know the details with regard to job losses within the Faculty of Arts, the restructuring and loss of positions will impact our Faculty, requiring adjustments to our own structures and processes.

Our Approach

Since late August, Departmental Chairs and the Dean have been gathering input from faculty members, staff, and student leaders. What has become most clear, is that while the reason for creating some new, larger Departments is rooted in a need to realize cost savings and utilize staff resources efficiently, the design of any new Departments must be justified on academic grounds. Departments aren’t merely administrative homes for our academic programs, they are scholarly communities and our Department Councils are the foundation of our system of collegial academic governance.

Rather than merely considering potential Departmental mergers, we focused our efforts on imagining new combinations of academic programs that would produce viable Departmental communities. One key message that we heard loud and clear, is that a key principle of governance and administration of larger, multi-program Departments must be program-level autonomy and control. The Dean and Chairs are uniformly committed to this principle.

At this stage, we are not proposing any particular structure for governance, academic leadership, or administration of Departments in the Faculty of Arts. These matters must be addressed before any concrete proposal is put before our community for debate and approval by Arts Faculty Council. For now, our focus is simply on imagining new multi-program Departments that could help us realize the goal of reducing the number of Departments in the Faculty, a task that is necessitated by the need to find cost savings and adapt to administrative restructuring.

Phase 2 Consultations

The goal of this second phase of consultations on Departmental restructuring is to gauge the Faculty community’s interest in and level of comfort with a number of proposals for new, multi-program Departments. We are also open to hearing proposals for how programs could be brought together to create Departmental configurations that are not among the scenarios offered below.

Between now and late November, the Dean and Chairs will create numerous opportunities at the Departmental and Faculty levels for students, staff, and faculty members to discuss the scenarios that are being offered for consideration. Most of these consultations will be small and medium sized discussions, but there will also be some larger ‘town hall’ style forums. This phase of the consultation will conclude with a discussion of Departmental restructuring at the Arts Faculty Council on November 26, 2020.

Your feedback is also welcome at artsdean@ualberta.ca.

The views and insights collected during this phase of consultation will inform the work of the Dean and Chairs Council as we work toward a proposal for Departmental restructuring that will be put before the Faculty community and then debated and voted on at a special meeting of Arts Faculty Council early in the new year. The details of that proposal and the exact timing of its release will depend, in part, on the outcomes and impact of the Faculty and administrative restructuring processes associated with University of Alberta for Tomorrow.

About the Scenarios

The scenarios we are offering for consideration were informed by input received by colleagues from across the Faculty and extensive dialogue and deliberation within Chairs Council.

These scenarios do not take the form of comprehensive mappings of all the Departments within the Faculty of Arts. They are merely proposals for new Departments that bring selected academic programs together in ways that produce larger, multi-program Departments.

The scenarios we are proposing do not include details regarding academic leadership, administration, or Departmental governance. These are issues we are actively exploring and want to hear views on, but final decisions must await greater clarity on Faculty and administrative restructuring. Importantly, some of these issues are matters for new Departments to decide for themselves through their own processes of collegial governance.

Not all academic programs and existing Departments appear with regularity in the scenarios, and some do not appear at all. This is because the scenarios are proposals for building new Departments, and we do not anticipate that all our existing Departments will be impacted by the process of creating these new multi-program Departments. Some of our Departments are likely to remain unchanged.

While the issue of naming is extremely important, we are not yet wanting to propose new Department names, preferring to leave this matter for careful future discussion. The names used below are merely placeholders.

These scenarios are offered as a set of possibilities. We see interesting affinities at the level of programs, objects of study, methodologies, and intellectual curiosity in these scenarios, and offer them to stir discussion and debate. We welcome both positive and negative reactions to each of the scenarios, and we invite alternatives that are not on offer here.

Scenarios for Consideration

Special Notes:

  • Media & Technology Studies (MTS) includes: Digital Humanities; Media Studies; MA in Communications and Technology (MACT); and Science, Technology, and Society (STS).
  • Science, Technology, and Society (STS) could remain with the MTS grouping, but might fit well in other Departments.
  • Film Studies could remain with English, but might fit well with the MTS grouping.
  • Certificates are not identified in the scenarios, but some of these Departments would continue to be home to certificates.
  • Existing Departments: Some colleagues will appreciate an opportunity to review the information about existing Departments and academic programs on the Faculty of Arts.

 Scenario 1: Historical, Religious, and Philosophical Studies   

Combining the programs of History and Classics, Religious Studies, and Philosophy

Scenario 2: East Asian, Historical, Religious, and Philosophical Studies 

Combining the programs of East Asian Studies, History and Classics, Religious Studies, and Philosophy

Scenario 3: Fine and Performing Arts  

Combining the programs of Art & Design, Drama, and Music

Scenario 4: Gender and Political Studies  

Combining the programs of Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies


Scenario 5: Gender, Politics, and Sociology  

Combining the programs of Political Science, Sociology and Criminology, and Women’s and Gender Studies

Scenario 6: Behavioural Sciences A  

Combining the programs of Anthropology, Linguistics, and Psychology

Scenario 7: Behavioural Sciences B  

Combining the programs of Linguistics and Psychology

Scenario 8: Modern Languages, Cultures, and Media  

Combining the programs of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies and Media and Technology Studies

Scenario 9: Literatures, Culture, and Media  

Combining the programs of English and Film Studies, Media and Technology Studies, and Modern Languages and Cultural Studies

Scenario 10: Languages, Culture, Media, and Gender Studies  

Combining the programs of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, Media and Technology Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies

Scenarios for Consideration

Faculty of Arts Restructuring
Phase 1