Last Wednesday we were informed that the University has recommended closure of the BPMH program. This proposal has not yet begun the University governance process required for approval, although we have been told by the Principal of New College that they plan to close enrollment in the program this year.

Faculty and students were shocked by this sudden news, and by the total absence of any faculty or student consultation. We are asking the Faulty of Arts & Science to revisit their decision about this program and undertake a thorough process of consultation.

Since its founding 16 years ago, BPMH has been a lifeline for thousands of students, as one of the only opportunities they have at the University of Toronto to study, research, and build community around mental health. BPMH courses are developed from rigorous interdisciplinary research interactions between scientists, academics, health practitioners and contemplative traditions.

Over the past three years our program has also been transformed by deeply researched, new approaches to climate justice, mental health, racism, and systemic change. Although contemplative science programs are growing rapidly across North America, the BPMH program is currently the only undergraduate program of its kind in Canada.

In both theory and practice, the BPMH program strongly and directly aligns with the recommendations of the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, December 2019, which addressed the growing and serious mental health crisis of our students.

In our courses, students learn how distress and well-being are shaped by culture, experience, and opportunity, and they study how diverse models of collective and individual well-being may evolve in their lives. We are appalled that the University of Toronto would take steps to close this program at this moment.

BPMH continues to be a highly popular, well-enrolled program. There are currently 343 students enrolled in the minor. This year we have 1203 students overall enrolled in our eleven fall and winter courses. In September, 182 students stood on waiting lists hoping to be admitted into our courses. Looking at the 24 academic programs across U of T’s seven colleges, 71% of college programs have 200 students or less, and 41% of college programs have fewer than 100 students enrolled.

In other words, BPMH is one of the largest and most in-demand programs hosted by the University’s colleges, which are where many of the University’s most innovative and interdisciplinary academic programs are housed.

Over 700 Signatures in 6 Days

In our courses, students learn about global movements of contemplative activism led and inspired by Buddhist engagement with systemic oppression, climate justice, and decolonization. Our students have therefore been able to take fast and decisive action as news of their program’s proposed closure was released, immediately drafting a petition and demanding that their voices be heard. They write,

“Closing the BPMH program would not only deprive current students of an exceptional educational experience but also undermine the University of Toronto’s value as a leader in mental health pedagogy and research.The program stands as the first and only one of its kind nationwide offering an unparalleled academic experience.”
You can find the students’ petition at and follow students on Instagram @pathuoft