UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

From imperialism to internationalism in British Columbia education and society, 1900 to 1939 Nelles, Wayne Charles


This study argues for a transition from imperialism to internationalism in British Columbia educational thought, policy and practice from 1900 to 1939. Three contrasting and complementary internationalist orientations were dominant in British Columbia during that period. Some educators embraced an altruistic “socially transformative internationalism” built on social gospel, pacifist, social reform, cooperative and progressivist notions. This contrasted with a self-interested “competitive advantage internationalism,” more explicitly economic, capitalist and entrepreneurial. A third type was instrumental and practical, using international comparisons and borrowing to support or help explain the other two. The thesis pays special attention to province-wide developments both in government and out. These include the work of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), of several voluntary organizations, and provincial Department of Education policy and programme innovations. Examples include the rise, demise, and revival of cadet training, technical education, Department curriculum policy, and the work of the Overseas Education League, the National Council on Education, the Junior Red Cross, the World Goodwill Society of British Columbia, the Vancouver Board of Trade, and the League of Nations Society in Canada. A diverse array of BCTF leaders, parents, teachers, voluntary organizations, students, educational policy makers and bureaucrats, editorialists, the general public, and the provincial government supported international education and internationalist outlooks. The argument is supported chiefly by organizational and government documents, by editorials, letters, articles, commentaries, conference reports, and speeches in The B.C. Teacher, by Department of Education and sundry other reports, by League of Nations materials, and by newspapers and other publications. Distinctive imperially-minded educational ideas and practices prevailed in British Columbia from about 1900 to the mid-1920s, whereas explicitly internationalist education notions and practices complemented or overshadowed imperial education from about 1919 to 1939. The transition from imperialism to internationalism in British Columbia education and society coincided with Canada’s industrialization in an interdependent global economy, and its maturation into an independent self governing nation within the Commonwealth and League of Nations.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.