Institute for Christian Studies
|Institute for Christian Studies|
|Type||Independent graduate school of philosophy|
|President||Dawn Wolthuis and Tom Wolthuis|
|Academic staff||7 Senior Members|
|Location||229 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 1R4|
|Colours||white and Red|
|Affiliations||Toronto School of Theology, CCCU, ARIHR, IAPCHE|
ICS Toronto is an independent graduate school of inter-disciplinary philosophy. At ICS, Junior Members (students) and Senior members (faculty) take part in shared learning through participatory seminars, mentoring, and an inter-disciplinary approach to study. ICS is affiliated with the Free University (VU) in Amsterdam. VU has co-sponsored and co-supervised the awarding of ICS doctoral degrees. The Institute is also affiliated with the Toronto School of Theology  of the University of Toronto, with whose courses ICS courses are cross-listed and students from the other institutions may, as may ICS Junior Members, matriculate across institutions - but with restrictions on how many credits for a degree a student may take from these approved external sources. ICS has some cross-listed courses with the Philosophy faculty of the University of Toronto, as well.
Wider circle of important affiliations
In addition the Institute maintains an affiliated membership in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities , an evangelical academic organization including over one hundred institutions that maintain high standards of intellectual excellence and are accredited by mainstream regional college and university associations. Another important affiliation of ICS Toronto is with the Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education in North America, where discussions and debates are ongoing on the merits of establishing a set of geographically distributed discipline-specialized graduate faculties across the continent, that together could constitute in a new way the earlier model of a Protestant Christian graduate-research university upon which vision ICS was originally founded. Surviving through a number of difficult financial years, ICS revised its organizational model more on the lines of the Frankfurt School, a research and teaching center in Germany devoted to Neo-Marxism, that was home to a string of illustrious philosophers Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and today Jürgen Habermas. The Frankfurt model of organization has been serviceable for its season.
A final affiliation must be mentioned in order to contextualize ICS Toronto in a worldwide movement for Christian higher education, where often a primary task is the fostering of teachers for the elementary and secondary levels - whereas ICS, while it includes a senior member of philosophy of education and a program for school teachers seeking graduate studies in Christian worldview, places more emphasis on preparing Master's of Arts in Philosophy and PhD-level graduates to teach in colleges and universities, as well as in many other disciplines, or for entrance into a more activist profession. With its unique emphasis among English-based Christian programs of advanced studies, ICS Toronto is a dedicated affiliate of IAPCHE, the International Association for Promotion of Christian Higher Education  worldwide. IAPCHE now consists of a grouping of five regional bodies in Africa, Asia/Oceania, Europe, Latin America, and North America (ARIHE above).
Faith & Learning Network, ICS's online worldwide service
As part of its services to its broad circle of institutions to which it is affiliated and to the many individual inquirers who visit its website, ICS had developed over several years and maintains the Faith & Learning Network. Principally, FLN is a bibliographic resource that can be accessed directly at the ICS website. Its purpose is to disseminate information on the results of Christian research publications, and popularizations to various learning levels, that reflect to some extent the vision of ICS, IAPCHE, and related organizations and movements worldwide.
Background, founding and early faculty
The Institute for Christian Studies (ICS), Toronto was founded in 1967.
More than ten years before, a lay movement was initiated amongst Dutch immigrants in Canada to promote academic studies from a Reformational Christian perspective. As a result of that movement, the Association for Reformed Scientific Studies (ARSS) was launched in 1956 in Toronto, Ontario, by a number of pastors, including Dr Paul Schrotenboer, who emerged as key figures in close contact with Dr H. Evan Runner, a professor of philosophy at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Runner had graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, and then during studies at Harvard University had served as an assistant to Werner Jaeger, a leading classicist there. Runner then went to the Free University to study philosophy under Dr D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, as would many of the early faculty members of ICS from its inception. In 1958 the philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd visited America and suggested to the ARSS - which later became the Association for the Advancement of Christian Scholarship (AACS) - that they write an educational creed. The creed appeared several years later and was drafted by D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, during his subsequent visit and conferencing with Runner, Schrotenboer and others. The prevailing idea was to lay the groundwork for an independent Protestant Christian university modelled after the VU in Amsterdam, not under the governance of the state or any church.
In 1967 the ARSS became the AACS which soon established the Institute. The first professor, called a Senior Member, appointed to serve the new Institute was Dr Hendrik Hart who proceeded to teach worldview studies and philosophy, an appointment which later became specialized to Systematic Philosophy as the number of Senior Members grew. The student body also began to grow in numbers from the outset. A second Senior Member received appointment in ethics and philosophical theology, Dr James Olthius who had graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary and received his doctorate from Dr. André Troost in philosophical ethics. Then, in short order, because of a dispute at another institution in the United States, what may be called "the Chicago School" of thought within Reformational philosophy became available for ICS appointments. Dr Calvin Seerveld in philosophical aesthetics, Dr Arnold DeGraaff in psychology and education, and Thomas McIntire in history (abd). What marked this entire contingent was the strong emphasis on pursuing philosophy and the philosophical foundations of other disciplines, with intense historical depth.
Upon completion of his dissertation under Herman Dooyeweerd, professor of jurisprudence at VU Amsterdam, Dr Bernard Zylstra took up an appointment at ICS as Senior Member in political philosophy. Zylstra had been a student of Runner's as an undergraduate at Calvin College, had received his theological degree at Calvin Theological Seminary, his Master's in Law at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and was the only faculty member to have studied directly under Dooyeweerd at VU Amsterdam; he had a strong influence on numerous students who are teaching in political science departments today. Many other ICS Senior Members were also students of Runner and had completed doctorates at VU, as mentioned. The exception among early faculty was McIntire who was writing his dissertation for the University of Pennsylvania at the time of his ICS appointment. He received it a few years later.
At some point, ICS's affiliation with VU required that a full-time Senior Member in History of Philosophy be added to the faculty, so that candidates for the PhD program in philosophy sponsored by VU, could meet VU's own internal requirements regarding the credit hours in discipline of history of philosophy, a trademark of VU's philosophy faculty since its establishment under Vollenhoven. ICS was quite amendable to this arrangement. Runner, Hart, and Seerveld had all studied history of philosophy directly under Vollenhoven. A recently graduated fourth Senior Member "promoted" by Vollenhoven, Dr Al Wolters received the first ICS appointment as Senior Member in history of philosophy.
The current faculty includes: Lambert Zuidervaart (Philosophy), Robert Sweetman (History of Philosophy), Shannon Hoff (Social and Political Philosophy), Ronald A. Kuipers (Philosophy of Religion), Doug Blomberg (Philosophy of Education), Nicholas John Ansell (Theology), and Rebekah Smick (Philosophy of Arts and Culture).
By 1972, ICS had moved to its current location on College Street, had added several faculty and had begun granting Master's-level certification in philosophy. In 1980, ICS began to develop a doctoral programme in co-operation with the Free University of Amsterdam.
In 1983 the ICS received Royal Assent to a Charter from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The AAACS then ceased to exist and allowed the ICS to develop. In 1992, ICS was authorized to grant a Master of Worldview Studies degree, a one-year program in large part to accommodate non-philosophers teaching in Christian elementary and secondary schools; and in December 2004 ICS was given ministerial permission to grant PhD and MA in Philosophy degrees on its own standing before the Crown, without a necessary mediation through the Free University in Amsterdam. The strong bond between the two institutions, and inter-academic affiliation and cooperation, continues.
C. T. McIntire 'Herman Dooyeweerd in North America' in Reformed Theology in America D. F. Wells ed. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, 1997.
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