The Evolution of FWI
In 2011, McMaster President Patrick Deane published Forward with Integrity: A Letter to the McMaster Community. The letter reaffirmed McMaster’s historic strengths and challenged the McMaster community to find new and innovative ways to approach the University’s core mission through excellence in teaching and research.
In his letter, President Deane urged faculty, staff and students to radically question the University’s current practices, to experiment and take responsible risks, to find new ways to collaborate, to incorporate multidisciplinary perspectives and to remove barriers to cooperation.
The letter was intended to reinvigorate activity in four key and interconnected areas; the student experience, McMaster’s research environment, our relationship with the surrounding community and McMaster’s commitment to global activities.
The Emerging Landscape
The FWI letter sparked many grassroots conversations across the University, both within specific task forces and at University-wide forums, the results of which were captured in Forward with Integrity: The Emerging Landscape (July 2012). This document, prepared by the FWI Advisory Group, proposed ‘research-focused student-centred’ as a distinct identity that affirms the centrality of research within a renewed educational mandate.
Underpinning this approach is the overriding vision of “educating for capability;” that implies continual growth, the ability to adapt, improve performance and generate new knowledge. This idea that we should actively instill an inquiring frame of mind, consider multiple perspectives and build the capacity for critical thought and life-long learning, would apply not just to our students, but to all areas of the University.
The principles articulated in the President’s FWI letter and the recommendations put forth in The Emerging Landscape have inspired and continue to inform many of the projects and initiatives currently underway at the University. Some advances, such as the Learning Portfolio, the Network of Community-Campus Partnerships and the University Research Council are gaining momentum across campus, while others are situated within individual units; all are contributing to advancing our mission.
Reflections on the Landscape
In October of 2013, President Deane published FWI: Reflections on the Landscape in which he took stock of the progress made since the publication of his original letter. In it, he identified some of the challenges that remain; in particular, the reorientation of McMaster’s activities internationally.
In Reflections on the Landscape, President Deane described FWI as a process of “open-ended renewal.” It is our hope that the principles of FWI will continue to guide that renewal of education, research and administrative processes at McMaster so that we will be best positioned to address the current and existing challenges facing higher education.