Assistant Professor

Research Supervision Interests

Main area of supervision: History of education

(Click the tab above right marked “Additional” for information about graduate studies in history of education with me at UBC.)

I also supervise students interested in the politics of education.

I am currently accepting students at the M.Ed., M.A., Ed.D., and Ph.D. levels.


I am a historian of education who researches urban and suburban education, education policy and politics, school reform, special education and disability, and childhood and youth.

My current project–which was supported by a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship–is on suburban schooling in Canada’s major metropolitan areas in the post-World War II period. The project examines suburban planning and the development of large suburban school systems, with a particular emphasis on educational opportunity and economic inequality.

The project includes the digital repository that I am building to house policy documents and other primary and secondary source material related to post-war suburbs and Canadian schools.

My previous large project is a book: A Class By Themselves? Children, Youth, and Special Education in a North American City–Toronto, 1910-45 (forthcoming January 2018 with University of Toronto Press).


I earned MA and PhD degrees in History from York University, where I studied under Dr. Paul Axelrod, a historian of education, Professor emeritus of Education and Graduate History, and former Dean of Education. My PhD fields were Canadian history (major field) and US history (second field). My dissertation, “‘Backward and Brilliant Children’: A Social and Policy History of Disability, Childhood, and Education in Toronto’s Special Education Classes, 1910 to 1945,” was awarded the 2012 Cathy James Memorial Dissertation Prize by the Canadian History of Education Association for the best history of education dissertation in Canada, 2011-12.

Prior to joining the Department of Educational Studies at UBC, I taught educational studies, child and youth studies, history of education, and Canadian history at Western University, Brock University, Wilfrid Laurier University (Brantford), OISE-University of Toronto, and Trent University (Oshawa).

I am the English language book review editor for Historical Studies in Education.


York University, 2011, PhD, History
York University, 2005, MA, History
OISE-University of Toronto, 2012, BEd, Intermediate/Senior
Queen’s University, 2004, BAH, History and French Studies


Cathy James Memorial Dissertation Prize. Canadian History of Education Association. 2012.

Research Projects

A Special Vocation: Teachers of Early Special Education Classes in Two Canadian City School Systems, 1910 to 1945 Completed
MetroPolicy Virtual Research Infrastructure development Current

Selected Publications

Peer reviewed articles and essays:

Jason Ellis. “Exceptional Educators: Canada’s First Special Education Teachers, 1910-45,” Historical Studies in Education/Revue d’histoire de l’éducation 30, no. 2 (Fall 2018): 47-77

Jason Ellis. “Early Educational Exclusion: ‘Idiotic’ and ‘Imbecilic’ Children, Their Families, and the Toronto Public School System, 1914-1950,” Canadian Historical Review 98, no. 3 (Fall 2017): 483-504. DOI: 10.3138/chr.4142

Jason Ellis. “Brains Unlimited: Giftedness and Gifted Education in Canada before Sputnik (1957),” Canadian Journal of Education/Revue canadienne de l’éducation 40, no. 2 (2017): 1-26.

Jason Ellis and Paul Axelrod. “Continuity and Change in Special Education Policy Development in Toronto Public Schools, 1945 to the present,” Teachers College Record 118, no. 2 (February 2016): 42 pp. DOI: n/a .

Jason Ellis. “’All Methods–and wedded to none: The deaf education methods debate and progressive educational reform in Toronto, Canada, 1922-1945,” Paedagogica Historica 50, no. 3 (2014): 371-389. DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2013.833273

Karen Yoshida, Fady Shanouda, and Jason Ellis. “An Education and Negotiation of Differences: The ‘Schooling’ Experiences of English-speaking Canadian Children Growing Up with Polio during the 1940s and 1950s.” Disability & Society, 29, no. 3 (March 2014): 345-358.  DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2013.823080

Jason Ellis. “‘Inequalities of children in original endowment’: How Intelligence Testing Transformed Early Special Education in a North American City School System.” History of Education Quarterly 53, no. 4 (November 2013): 401-429. DOI: 10.1111/hoeq.12035

Jason Ellis. “The History of Education As ‘Active History’: A Cautionary Tale?” (24 September 2012).

Other publications:

Jason Ellis. ““The Theory of Special Education and the Necessity of Historicizing: A Multilogue Response to Benjamin Kelsey Kearl and Donald Warren” Education’s Histories (blog), January 31, 2017.

Jason Ellis. Review of Catherine Gidney, Tending the Student Body: Youth, Health, and the Modern University. Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences 53, no. 1 (Winter 2017): 96-8. doi: 10.1002/jhbs.21826

Jason Ellis. Review of Sue Wheatcroft, Worth Saving: Disabled Children during the Second World War. H-Disability, H-Net Reviews (January 2016).

Jason Ellis. “Special Education,” Living Eugenics Archives of Western Canada website. (24 October 2014).

Jason Ellis. Review of Sara Z. Burke and Patrice Milewski eds., Schooling In Transition. Canadian Historical Review 95, no. 1 (March 2014): 107-108.

Jason Ellis. Review of Wayne Urban ed., Leaders in the Historical Study of American Education. Historical Studies in Education 25, no. 2 (Fall 2013): 142-144.

Jason Ellis. Review of Michael D’Antonio, The State Boys Rebellion, Historical Studies in Education 19, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 169-171.

In review:

Jason Ellis. “James L. Hughes (1846-1935),” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. XVI.


Students Supervised



Ph.D. in Educational Studies

  • (in progress.) Co-supervisor (w/ Dr. A Metcalfe). J. Anderson. “Higher Education ‘beyond Hope’: A Political History of Institution-Building in British Columbia’s Hinterland.” (UBC Entrance scholarship recipient.)
  • (in progress.) Co-supervisor (w/ Dr. A. Metcalfe). D. McCartney. “Envoys of Neoliberalism? International Student Policy and the Changing Higher Education Landscape in Canada, 1945-2014.” (UBC 4YF scholarship recipient; SSHRC doctoral award recipient, not funded.)
  • (2017.) Committee member. B. Cowin. “Public Policy and the Structural Development of Post-secondary Education in British Columbia, Canada, 1960 – 2015.” (SSHRC doctoral award recipient, 24 month award.)

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy

  • (in progress.) Co-supervisor (with Dr. A. Taylor). R. Sikkes. “A History of Education in Yukon.”

M.Ed. in Society, Culture, and Politics in Education (SCPE)

  • (in progress.) L. Zhang
  • (in progress.) A. Lozano
  • (in progress.) J. Trapier
  • (2018.) Y. Keles.
  • (2018.) C. Keirn.
  • (2017.) O. Ramprashad.
  • (2017.) T. Feitosa de Britto.
  • (2015.) E. Collins.
  • (2015.) S. Wilkinson.

Ph.D. in another department

  • (in progress.) Committee member. K. Gemmell. “From the Second Vatican Council to Funding: A History of Catholic Schools in British Columbia, 1962-1989.” (EDCP.) (SSHRC doctoral award recipient, 48-month award.)

M.A. in another department

  • (2014.) Committee member. K. Gemmell. (EDCP.) “The Impact of Progressive Education on Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, 1924-1960.” (SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS, MA award recipient; winner of Canadian Association of Foundations of Education (CAFE) outstanding MA thesis award.)

Graduate supervision in History of education at UBC

I am available to supervise graduate studies in history of education, in particular (but not limited to): history of urban and suburban education; history of school reform; history of special education; history and education policy; history of progressive education; history of educational administration and leadership; history of education in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada, and the United States.

History of education is one of the most established areas of study in the UBC Faculty of Education, with a reputation for scholarly excellence stretching back over decades. The UBC Faculty of Education is home to Canada’s history of education scholarly journal, Historical Studies in Education/Revue d’histoire de l’éducation.

Today the history of education is part of the Department of Educational Studies’ (EDST) offerings. Prospective students wishing to study history of education at the master’s level may apply to the M.A. degree in Educational Studies, concentration in Society, Culture, Politics and Education (SCPE), or to the M.Ed. degree in SCPE. For doctoral level study, apply to the Ph.D. degree in Educational Studies. Applicants interested in historical studies may request to work with me. I am currently accepting students at the M.Ed., M.A., Ed.D., and Ph.D. levels.

Course offerings in the history of education, within the Department of Educational Studies and the SCPE degree and concentration, are listed in the UBC calendar. A few of my sample syllabi may be viewed under the EDST activity tab of my profile page.

Please also visit UBC EDST historian of education Dr. Mona Gleason’s page.