Thomas More Institute
The Thomas More Institute (TMI) is a secular academic institution based out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada offering a program of university level studies in the liberal arts. There is an option to earn a Bachelor of Arts in affiliation with Bishop's University.
TMI was founded in Montreal in 1945 by a group of people, most of them in their twenties, including Charlotte Tansey, Martin O'Hara, Stan Machnik, and Veronica Smyth. The aim was to provide opportunities for lifelong learning and liberal arts education for adults. In 1950, TMI established the Workers' School, which offered evening classes in "Human Rights and Labour Unions," "The Rise of Labour Movements," and "Talking at Meetings," training workers to become union members. The Institute received a federal charter in 1959.
Today, annually, the Institute has more than 600 registrations and 35-40 new courses. The adult students are of all ages, from those in their early 20s to several over 90 years of age.
TMI’s teaching is inspired by the Socratic method. Instead of lectures, TMI offers discussions guided by trained leaders and based upon carefully chosen and sequenced texts representing different perspectives on the questions each group has come together to explore. Although they may have special knowledge in a particular field the leaders do not lecture; the text is the professor. The discussion team only asks questions to channel the conversation. Participants learn to listen to one another; people of all ages and all backgrounds coming together to exchange their views on what a reading means to them. TMI’s method requires critical thinking, clear references to common terms, and respect for alternate views. The challenge in TMI courses is not for students to agree, or come to a consensus, but to embrace new ways of thinking that go beyond individual bias.
Seniors' Outreach Program
In 1977, TMI launched an outreach program to take courses to seniors’ residences and centres in response to some of the Institute’s original discussion leaders and students no longer having the mobility to come to courses downtown. The program continues to organize discussion groups on history, literature, science, and other liberal arts topics in residences and meeting places of older adults throughout the Montreal area.
Bernard Lonergan, the Canadian philosopher, theologian, and economist, taught at TMI (beginning with a 1945 lecture series called "Thought and Reality") and significantly shaped the learning and questioning experience offered by the Institute. TMI is also home to a large collection of Lonergan documents, including lecture notes and audio tapes, which are being digitized with the help of the Lonergan Research Institute. Every fall, TMI organizes a Listening to Lonergan lecture series, co-sponsored by Concordia University and the Thomas More Research Institute.
- "Spirit of Girl in Twenties Spells Success for Adult Education Inst.", Manitoba Ensign, February 4, 1950.
- Lisa Fitterman, "Dedicated to the pursuit of lifelong learning: Founder of Thomas More Institute for Adult Education had fierce vision and passion for knowledge", The Globe and Mail, September 6, 2010.
- "Thomas More Institute Gets Federal Charter", Montreal Gazette, May 20, 1959.
- "Teaching Philosophy".
- "Seniors' Program".
- "Thomas More Institute is 40 Years Old", Montreal Gazette, August 18, 1984.
- Frederick E. Crowe, Developing the Lonergan Legacy: Historical, Theoretical, and Existential Themes (University of Toronto Press, 2004), ISBN 978-0802089380, p.44 & passim. Excerpts available at Google Books.