Office of the Rector

German fantasy marbled paper design


Edward Tilson

Rector and President


Edward Tilson, Rector and President



As the first Rector of the HDD Project, Professor Tilson has set the following priorities:

♦ to continue working with the Ontario government to complete the processes leading to the granting of consent to establish and operate an independent university college offering the Project’s proposed degree programs;

♦ to ensure that exceptional program standards build credentials of the highest value to students and employers alike;

♦ to ensure that the Project’s purely digital delivery format and radically innovative tuition and business model will significantly increase the accessibility of a humanities degree to students in Ontario and across the digital domain.

Messages and Communications


The Scholar in Society: Looking back to 1984. Rector Tilson presents the National Film Board's 1984 film, directed by Donald Winkler, The Scholar in Society: Northop Frye in Conversation

The Scholar in Society: Looking back to 1984 (link to video)


The Digital Promise. Rector Tilson discusses the advances of the digital age: why have so few of the heralded benefits been reaped and how can digitization’s promises actually be realized in the academic sphere?

The Digital Promise (abridged) (link to video)

The Digital Promise (full version) (link to video)





Professor Tilson is a an internationally known academic whose work on Renaissance thought and literature is at the forefront of contemporary critical re-evaluations of humanism and (post)modernity.

A Montaigne specialist, Professor Tilson has written numerous articles and book chapters on the Essais, as well as on Ronsard’s Amours and on Rabelais’ Chronicques, most recently, “Cynic Charity and Christian Satire: Blending Genres and Programming Readings in the ‘Author’s Prologue’ to Rabelais’s Tiers Livre” (Yale French Studies, no. 134, January 2019, pp. 33-50) and “La raison et les affects dans La Theologie naturelle de Raymond Sebon, traduicte nouvellement en français par messire Michel, Seigneur de Montaigne” (Montaigne Studies, vol. XXX, no. 1-2, March 2018, pp.165-178). Broadly, his work focuses on how understandings of modernity shape and are shaped by readings — or mis-readings — of canonical Renaissance texts. His interest in how Renaissance writers forge new conceptions of reality by recombining forms and ideas inherited from diverse classical schools of thought led to his direction of the volume, Les Interférences des écoles de pensée antiques dans la littérature de la Renaissance, for Garnier’s “Perspectives humanistes” series (Paris, 2013).

As a teacher, Professor Tilson has developed dozens of undergraduate and graduate courses and led efforts to revitalize humanities programs and reinforce academic standards. His interest in digital didactics began during his training as a teaching assistant at the universities of Geneva and Yale, and he continued to experiment with the adaptation and integration of new technologies to improve the design and teaching of humanities courses at the universities of Ottawa, Missouri and Trent.

In parallel with his own teaching, Professor Tilson returned to school in 2015 to experience digital learning in Ontario’s public system from the student’s perspective and to update his administrative software skills by completing an online diploma (O.C.D.) in business entrepreneurship at Durham College.

A graduate of the universities of Toronto (B.A., Trinity College), Carleton (B.A. Hon., M.A.), and Yale (M.A., M. Phil., Ph. D.), Professor Tilson has over three decades of experience as a humanities teacher and administrator. Having joined the HDDP as one of its founding directors in 2014, he oversaw the development of the Project’s academic programs as well as its academic and financial plans, and exterior relations. Professor Tilson was elected Rector and President of the Humanities Digital Degrees Project on June 11th, 2018.