Honorary Degrees

N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may be available at the University Archives.


Honorary Degree recipient, David Olson, 1997 (University Secretary fonds)
Name: David Richard Olson, BEd, PhD
Convocation date: April 3, 1997
Special Convocation: 90th Anniversary Convocation
Discipline / contribution: behavioural and cognitive research
Citation / biographical information:
Born in Saskatoon, David Olson lived on the family farm at Wynyard until his parents moved to Saskatoon to provide a university education for their four sons in 1947. David attended Victoria Public School and Nutana Collegiate and completed his education at Radville Christian College, Radville, Saskatchewan. He received his Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1960. He received his Ph.D. in Eduational Psychology from the University of Alberta in 1963. After a brief stay at Dalhousie University, he became a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Cognitive Studies working with Jerome Bruner, a relationship that continues to this day. Indeed, Bruner’s most recent book The Culture of Education is dedicated to Dr. Olson.
He returned to Canada in 1966 to become Professor of Applied Cognitive Science at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education where he has taught ever since. He has held Fellowships at Harvard’s Center for Cognitive Studies, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences and Stanford’s Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Gottenberg, Sweden, and was the winner of the Canadian Education Association’s “Whitworth Prize” in 1995. His research on relations between language, literacy and mind has resulted in over 200 research publications, two of which became “Citation Classics” and 10 authored or edited books including Cognitive Development (1970; second edition, 1996), Spatial Cognition (1980), Literacy, Language and Learning (1985), Developing Theories of Mind (1986), Literacy and Orality (1990), Scripts and Literacy (1995), Handbook on Human Development and Education (1966) and Modes of Thought (1966). His latest book The World on Paper: The Conceptual and Cognitive Implications of Writing and Reading was published by Cambridge University Press in 1994 and has been extremely well received and widely reviewed. Several of his books have been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. He is a frequent participant in International Conferences and Workshops, most recently at the Einstein Forum in Berlin, the Colegia de Mexico, and the Piaget-Vygotsky Centennial in Geneva. He is co-organizer of an UNESCO and DSE sponsored workshop on “Literacy and Social Development” to be held in Berlin in July, 1997. In the fall of 1997 he returns to the Prairies to spend a sabbatical term centered at the University of Calgary from which he will make visits to several other places in the area, including the University of Saskatchewan where he will give a series of lectures on “Language and Mind”.
Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Degree presented by: Randy Randhawa

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