While the Faculty of Science as we know it only solidified in 1971, its origins date back to the foundation of McGill University. Scientific education and research always occupied an important space at McGill, but nineteenth-century understandings of the place of science in university education looked very different. In fact, until 1931, science classes were taught under the auspices of the Faculty of Arts and it was not until 1971 that Science became its own distinct faculty.
The dawn of the 20th century saw a significant expansion of scientific teaching and research at the university. The creation and endowment of many new science departments at the end of the nineteenth century facilitated groundbreaking research and produced students ready to take on the unique challenges of the new century.
Science at McGill continued to grow throughout the mid-twentieth century, building on the investments and advancements achieved during the first part of the century. One notable difference was the expansion of McGill’s global reach. Between 1930 and 1970, several research institutes were established within Canada and outside of it. This period culminated with the formal creation of the Faculty of Science at McGill.
1971 - Present
In 1971, the Faculty of Science was officially founded as a separate entity from the Faculty of Arts. The general layout of the faculty closely resembles the one that we have today, with the notable exception of computer science, which joined the faculty in 1997. During this period, the boundaries between the different departments became more permeable as several interdisciplinary research institutes and programs were created. The student body also became much more international and diversified during this time. This period also marked the opening of the Faculty to the public with the Redpath Museum acting as the launching pad for several outreach initiatives that have importantly contributed to increased access to scientific knowledge beyond the walls of the institution.