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The Coach House Institute Plants Stronger McLuhan Roots with Name Change

Submitted on Tuesday, July 12, 2016


What’s in a name?

Strength—according to Professor Seamus Ross, Interim Director of the Coach House Institute (CHI). The poetic probes and multidisciplinary approaches of Marshall McLuhan in the past century have emerged as prescient for our current rapidly changing world. The McLuhan name itself stands for the strength of creative inquiry.

Accordingly after considerable consultation, a decision has been made to change the name from Coach House Institute to The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. The change was approved by the University of Toronto’s Governing Council recently.

“It is fitting and appropriate to regard the base of McLuhan’s teachings as a McLuhan Centre. Back in the 1960s, McLuhan’s Coach House teachings stimulated and challenged students to fully use their creative imagination in understanding how we shape technologies, and how they, in turn, shape us,” says Professor Wendy Duff, Dean, Faculty of Information.

Since August 2015, the McLuhan Centre, under the direction of Professor Ross, has undertaken an ambitious program of seminars, workshops, labs, and book salons engaging an internal and external community of interest under a dedicated strategic planning process.  In moving forward with these developments he was joined in January 2016 by Professor Sarah Sharma, who, as Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, outlined her goal as “developing opportunities to extend McLuhan’s formative insights on culture and technology to reach across new terrain, including a Toronto that is very different today than it was when McLuhan was writing.”

In the course of this revitalization, it has been recognized that the legacy of Marshall McLuhan is an asset for new and innovative approaches to learning, research and public engagement. The name change along with energized activities honours and builds on this legacy.

On behalf of the McLuhan family and estate, his son Michael McLuhan says it “warms the heart” to see the legacy of his father’s work at the Centre enshrined by this renaming, where “so much foundational, ground breaking work was done in the emerging field of media studies.”

He adds that the recognition of McLuhan’s legacy and work will enhance inquiry and the creative imagination at the Centre for years to come. “Bravo to the forward thinking souls who have championed the cause!”

The University of Toronto is holding a global conference this October called “Toronto School, Then, Now, Next” celebrating and building upon the value brought to the world by Marshall McLuhan, Harold Innis, Walter Ong, Eric Havelock, Northrop Frye, and Glen Gould, among others. The Centre is pleased that The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology is planning and hosting this event, at which time the new name will be publicly unveiled.

About the Centre
The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, is an initiative of the Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto. It aims to continue the ground-breaking work initiated by the Canadian thinker Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), who spent his career as Professor of English at the University of Toronto. It preserves and honours his intellectual heritage by fostering and supporting innovative scholarship and interdisciplinary research in the broad field of humanities, according to the tradition of the so-called Toronto School of Communication.