Why Canadian Studies?

Canadian Studies is an interdisciplinary field, attracting students from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds. It is exciting and innovative, with a critical perspective on Canadian policy, culture, and social values in a rapidly changing pluralistic society. Our faculty engage in research and teaching across a number of thematic areas including Heritage Conservation; Culture, Memory, and Place; Nation-building, Nationalisms, and Nation-branding; Indigenous Studies; Social Justice: Voice, Power, and Policy; Critical Settler Studies; Gender and Sexualities; and Identity, Representation, and Performance. In the emerging global economy, the development of Canada-centred knowledge has become even more relevant and in demand. What better place to study Canada than in Ottawa?

To see a list of all graduate courses offered through the School, follow this link.

Canadian Studies Graduate Calendar

The School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies offers a number of key research streams, which might intersect and overlap, including:

Canadian Cultural Studies and Cultural Policy

This area offers an interdisciplinary and critical approach to the study of culture in Canada. It brings together scholarship on all forms of cultural production, including cultural institutions, cultural policy, the arts, traditions, beliefs, genres, communicative practices, creativity and cultural consumption. It is geared towards students with a broad interest in traditional and popular music, art, film, literature, performing arts, cultural theory, cultural institutions and cultural policy.

While broad and diverse in scope, the Cultural Studies program coheres around a few central themes. These include long-standing Canadian Studies interests in nationalism, regionalism, class, gender, and ethnicity; as well as newer concerns about the ways in which culture relates directly to the information economy, pleasure, and the exercise of power. Students are exposed to principal approaches to cultural criticism, including methodologies drawn from British and American cultural studies, Canadian communications theory, policy studies, post-modern critical theory, and the liberal humanist tradition.

Carleton’s location in Ottawa makes it an ideal place to study Canadian culture. The city offers a close-up perspective on the political uses of culture, including government-sponsored public performances and exhibitions. In addition, it provides easy access to cosmopolitan collections of art, artefacts, and archives, while remaining immersed in the wash of global popular culture.

The Cultural Studies program brings together students from diverse backgrounds, providing them with opportunities to cross-reference areas of specialization and to broaden their knowledge of the Canadian cultural scene. Graduates pursue careers as writers, researchers, educators, administrators, journalists and artists. In all these varied pursuits, their cultural studies education provides invaluable contextual knowledge and an intellectual experience that stimulates and informs continued learning.

Canadian Women’s and Gender Studies

The School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to graduate studies which focuses on the experiences of Canadian women as a special area of research, leading to a degree of Master of Arts. The program area in Women’s Studies was established in 1983-84. Both interdisciplinary and comparative in focus, the program area permits students to examine the interplay within the Canadian context between and among gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and nationality. As well, opportunities are available for students to fulfill up to one full course requirement through a practicum placement with one of the many women’s organizations in Ottawa. Specialists from various academic disciplines in the university will direct research and supervise theses.

In addition to the courses offered in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies, advanced courses are offered at Carleton in many areas including the following:

  • Feminist Theories of Law
  • Women in 19th and 20th Century North America and Britain
  • Women and Welfare
  • Women and Social Policy
  • Women and Work
  • Women and Literature (French and English)
  • Race, Ethnicity and the Law
  • Feminist Theory
  • Gender and Environments

Students must fulfill prerequisite course requirements of the departments offering the courses in any of the disciplines/fields which relate to Canadian Studies.

Admission Requirements:

Applicants for the Master’s program must normally hold an Honours B.A. (or the equivalent), with at least high honours standing, in one of the disciplines represented in the School. Applicants with a general (pass) Bachelor’s degree with honours standing will be required to complete successfully a qualifying year of full-time study, before proceeding to the Master’s program.

Program Requirements:

Students following the Women’s Studies option will include among their courses interdisciplinary seminars in Women’s Studies, Canadian Studies CDNS 5201 and CDNS 5202. In these core seminars, students will examine the history and development of Canadian women’s movements and feminist theory. Key issues affecting the lives of Canadian women will be examined using the tools of feminist theory and analysis developed during the course. In addition to the core seminars, all students in the program are required to complete the interdisciplinary seminar, CDNS 5001, Concepts of Canada.

In addition to English, the School requires a reading knowledge of French from its students.

Students can choose their remaining courses from among the graduate courses offered at Carleton University (or at University of Ottawa) including directed studies. These directed studies courses enable students to pursue their particular interests in areas not covered by formal lectures or seminars, under the supervision of a specialist in the field. One course at the fourth year undergraduate level may be included in lieu of a graduate course. In addition to courses with a women’s studies focus, students may include advanced courses in their own particular discipline or professional field. As well, students may include up to one full credit of practicum work, based on a work/study placement with an organization in the Ottawa area.

The School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies places particular emphasis on original research by students, and a limited number of grants are available to support especially promising proposals for thesis research. Grants may also be made to support travel costs and other expenses for students carrying out field research. Students may also be eligible for employment as teaching or research assistants.

Indigenous Studies and the North

Carleton University offers a co-ordinated approach to graduate work in Aboriginal Studies and the North as a special area of scholarship, leading to a degree of Master of Arts within the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies.

Individual scholars at Carleton have carried out research in Aboriginal and Northern issues for several years, often in collaboration with the federal government, Aboriginal organizations, or private agencies. The interdisciplinary program area in Aboriginal Studies and the North brings these scholars together with students from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities and from Northern Canada. Specialists from various academic disciplines in the university and also from government and other agencies will direct research and supervise theses.

Among the fields which may interest students and in which advanced courses are offered at Carleton are:

  • First Nations, Inuit, and Métis ethnohistory and anthropology
  • Canadian law and the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada
  • Aboriginal languages of Canada
  • First Nations, Inuit, and Métis art
  • First Nations literatures
  • Political developments in Aboriginal and Northern regions
  • The Northern economy
  • The Ecology of arctic and subarctic regions
  • The Geology and geography of resource development
  • Environmental and social change in Canada’s North

Admission Requirements:

Applicants normally must hold an Honours B.A. (or the equivalent), with at least high honours standing, in one of the disciplines represented in the School. Applicants wishing to be considered for financial assistance from Carleton University are advised to submit completed applications to the School by February 1, since enrolment in the School is limited.

Aboriginal Studies and the North are of particular interest and relevance to Aboriginal students and to those living in the North or among Aboriginal people. Special consideration for admission to the degree program is given to Aboriginal Peoples and/or Northerners who do not meet the above formal requirements but who have extensive knowledge of the North or of Aboriginal Peoples, and who have demonstrated ability to do university work at the graduate level.

In addition to English, a working knowledge of a second Canadian language is required (French or Aboriginal).

Heritage Conservation

The M.A. program in Heritage Conservation at Carleton’s School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies brings together graduate students from a variety of academic backgrounds to explore the theory and practice of heritage conservation in Canada in an interdisciplinary setting. Students come from undergraduate programs in archaeology, history, architectural history, architecture, landscape architecture, cultural geography, journalism, cultural tourism, native heritage studies, Canadian studies, economics, law and related fields. The program is designed primarily as a professional development path, but also provides a setting for reflective academic inquiry, and a base for doctoral studies in the field.

The program area emphasizes the importance of approaches to conservation which are holistic, integrated, risk sensitive, and systemic in their approach, including for example the recent emphasis on “cultural landscape” ways of looking at heritage issues. In essence, the program looks at concerns of relevance in management of the built heritage, rather than just traditional preoccupation with interventions to repair or restore heritage structures.

Heritage Conservation and Canadian Studies offers courses developed within our School  and also access to others developed within other Departments: Architecture, History, Art History, Geography, and others.

One of the greatest strengths of the program is its location in the National Capital Region of Canada. This region has the highest concentration of conservation professionals and institutions in Canada and these people and places are important resources for the Heritage Conservation program. Practicing professionals and policy makers participate in the courses, and their institutions provide practicums and internships for graduate students within the program.

Students graduating from the program have gone on to work in heritage agencies at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, in heritage non-governmental agencies, in the private sector and in academic and teaching institutions.

Digital Humanities

Canadian Studies, in conjunction with a new collaborating MA in Digital Humanities, offers a program designed to add value to the existing MA in Canadian Studies by offering courses focused on the rapidly growing field of digital humanities.  Applicants must already be enrolled in the MA in Canadian Studies and, upon completion of their degree, they will obtain an MA in Canadian Studies with a designated concentration in Digital Humanities.  Application deadline to the Collaborative MA in the Digital Humanities is August 1, 2014.  For more information, go to Digital Humanities.