Paul Axelrod

Professor Emeritus (Retired)

B.A. History/Political Science - York, Toronto; M.A. History - University of Toronto, Toronto; Ph.D. History - York, Toronto


CV of Paul Axelrod



Paul Axelrod began teaching at York in 1982, first in the Division of Social Science, where he was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 1987. He was appointed full professor in 1994. He served as Chair of the Division of Social Science from 1989 to 1993 and as Dean of the Faculty of Education from 2001 to 2008. He is the author or editor of 10 books, 54 scholarly articles, 67 book reviews, and 60 magazine, newspaper and internet articles. His scholarly work explores the history of schooling and higher education, policy development in public schooling and post-secondary education, and student and youth experiences. He has served as an expert witness in several legal cases involving educational issues. He is the recipient of a number of research and writing awards. He retired in June 2015

Faculty & School/Dept

  • Faculty of Education - Graduate Studies
    • Faculty of Graduate Studies, Education - - Post-secondary education
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies, History - - Canadian history

Selected Publications

  • Paul Axelrod (2021). Academic Freedom and Its Constraints: A Complex History Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 51 (3), 51-66.
  • Paul Axelrod (2021). The Other 1960s: Academic Leaders as Agents of Change in Canadian Higher Education. In Miles Taylor and Jill Pellew (Eds.), Utopian Universities: A Global History of the New Campuses of the 1960s (pp. 287-304). London, Eng.: Bloomsbury
  • Jason Ellis and Paul Axelrod (2016). "Continuity and Change: Special Education Policy Development in Toronto Public Schools, 1945 to the Present" . Teachers' College Record, 118, 1-42.
  • Theresa Shanahan, Paul Axelrod, Roopa Desai Trilokekar, Richard Wellen (2016). "Policy-Making in Higher Education: Is a 'Theory of Everything' Possible?" ?" in Researching Higher Education: International Perspectives on Theory, Policy and Practice . In Jeroen Huisman and Jennifer Case, eds (Eds.), (pp. 132-150). LondonEngland: Rutledge
  • Paul Axelrod, Roopa Desai Trilokekar, Thesesa Shanahan, Richard Wellen (Ed.). (2013). Making Policy in Turbulent Times: Challenges and Prospects for Higher Education. (Paul Axelrod, Roopa Desai Trilokekar, Thesesa Shanahan, Richard Wellen, Ed.) Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Paul Axelrod and Charles Levi (2012). "Universities, Students, and the Conduct of War in Canada and Britain: A Comparative Perspective." . In Lisa Panayotidis and Paul Stortz (Eds.), (Vol. Cultures, Communities, and Conflict: Histories of , pp. 253-71). Toronto: University of Toronto Press
  • Paul Axelrod, Theresa Shanahan, Richard Wellen, Roopa Desai Trilokekar (2012). "The Politics of Policy Making in Postseconday Education in Canada and the Province of Ontario: Implications for Governance. In Hans. G. Schuetze, William Bruneau, Garnet Grosjean (Ed.), University Governance and Reform: Policy, Fads, and Experience in International Perspective (pp. 77-94). New York, New York, U.S.A.: Palgrave MacMillan
  • Paul Axelrod, Roopa Desai Trilokekar, Theresa Shanahan, Richard Wellen (2011). "People, Processes, and Policy-Making in Canadian Post-secondary Education, 1990-2000,". Higher Education Policy, 24 (2), 43-66.
  • Paul Axelrod, (2010). "No Longer a Last Resort: The End of Corporal Punishment in the Schools of Toronto". Canadian Historical Review, 91 (2), 261-85.
  • Paul Axelrod, (2009). "Implementing the 'Innovation' Agenda: Post Secondary Educational Policy in the Chrétien Years," . In Penny Bryden and Dimitri Anastakis (eds.) (Eds.), Framing Federalism: Essays in Honour of John T. Saywell (pp. 231-254). Toronto: University of Toronto Press
  • Paul Axelrod, (2008). "Public Policy in Ontario Higher Education: From Frost to Harris" . In Adrienne Chan and Donald Fisher (eds.) (Eds.), The Exchange University: The Transformation of Academic Culture in Canada (pp. 90-104). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press
  • Paul Axelrod (2004). Knowledge Matters: Essays in Honour of Bernard J. Shapiro. (Paul Axelrod, editor, Ed.) Montreal, Quebec, Canada: McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Paul Axelrod, (2002). Values in Conflict: The University, the Marketplace and the Trials of Liberal Education. Montreal/Kingston, Quebec, Canada: McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Paul Anisef, Paul Axelrod, Etta Baichman, Carl James and Anton Turrittin (2000). Opportunity and Uncertainty: Life Course Experiences of the Class of '73. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press
  • Paul Axelrod, (1997). The Promise of Schooling: Education in Canada, 1800-1914. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press
  • Paul Axelrod and Paul Anisef (eds.) (Eds.). (1993). Transitions: Schooling and Employment in Canada. (Paul Axelrod and Paul Anisef (eds.), Eds.) Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Thompson
  • Paul Axelrod, (1990). Making a Middle Class: Student Life in English Canada during the Thirties. Montreal/Kingston, Ontario, Canada: McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Paul Axelrod and John G. Reid (editors) (Eds.). (1989). Youth, University, and Canadian Society: Essays in the Social History of Higher Education. (Paul Axelrod and John G. Reid (editors), Eds.) Montreal/Kingston, Quebec, Canada: McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Paul Axelrod, (1982). Scholars and Dollars: Politics, Economics, and the Universities of Ontario, 1945-1980. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press

Other Research Outputs

Interview, CBC Radio, Ideas, Humboldt's Ghost, April 2024

 Interview: Academic Freedom and Its Constraints, Faculti, February 28, 2024

"Renewing Campus Civility in Illiberal Times," Globe and Mail, January 13, 2024

“Academic Freedom: Can History Be Our Guide?” University Affairs,  January 24, 2018


"Are STEM Fields Over-Prioritized in Higher Education?", Yale-Global Online, October 27, 2017; publshed as "Why the Arts Matter," Physics World, January, 2018


“Instead of Renaming Buildings, Why Not Truly Improve Indigenous Lives?” The Conversation, August 28, 2017; reprinted National Post/Post Media online, August 29, 2017; Hamilton Spectator, August 30, 2017


 “Don’t Take Liberal Democracy for Granted,” University Affairs, August 2017 


What is Academic Freedom?” Policy Options, April 2, 2017 

“Turning the Lure of the Laptop into a Positive Classroom Experience,” University Affairs, online, Dec. 9, 2015. Published in print edition as “The Laptop is Not Your Enemy,” January, 2016.

 "Ignore University Rankings," National Post, Nov. 10, 2014

"Teaching, Touring and Learning in Africa," University Affairs on-line Aug. 20, 2014

“Are Canadian Universities Sustainable in the Years Ahead,” Canadian Issues, Association for Canadian Studies, (Spring 2014), 54-57; “Les universités canadiennes pourront-elles subsister dans les années a  venir?” 58-62.


“Why Basic Research Matters,” Council of Ontario Universities, Research Matters Website,, December, 2013.


 Paul Axelrod and Charlotte Yates, “Is the B.A. a Ticket to Nowhere?,” Hamilton Spectator, July 3, 2013.


  • Grant for Historical Studies in Education, SSHRC - 2015-18
  • Policy Making in Post-secondary Education, 1990-2007, SSHRC - 2008
  • David C. Smith Award for significant contributions to scholarship and policy in higher education, Council of Ontario Universities - 2007
  • Distinguished Contribution Award, Canadian History of Education Association - 2016

Professional Affiliations

Service/Community Activities