Program Overview:

The Childhood and Youth Studies program at Carleton, with its focus on youth as well as childhood, and its attention to critical intersectionality as well as children’s rights and youth activism, is the only program of its kind in Eastern Ontario. Significantly revised and renamed in 2019, this program is designed to address the sustained growth of student demand over the last five years and reflect current trends in research about and with children and young people. Critical childhood and youth studies is the theoretical study of childhood and youth. It is a relatively new interdisciplinary field that spans multiple epistemologies and methodologies, and it is one of the most active and rapidly growing fields in academia today. Critical childhood and youth studies represents a departure from traditional psychological and educational research “on” children, which limits the agency, voice, and participation of young people. Contemporary critical childhood and youth scholars believe that children themselves are the best informants of their own lives and therefore look at children’s own cultures, meanings and the ways in which they attempt to change their lives and the lives of adults around them. Whereas traditional research has viewed children as passive, dependent or incomplete, critical scholars view young people as equal participants in society, differently competent to adults, but of interest for what they are now, not only what they will become. In order to prepare graduates for a wide range of careers, the program focuses on skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing, social and historical analysis, and research.

Program Goals:

The principal goal of the Childhood and Youth Studies program is to provide a critical interdisciplinary educational experience designed to prepare students for a wide range of careers that involve work with and/or for children and youth. The program structure reflects the belief that understanding the relationship between childhood, youth, and culture, as well as the economic, social, and political conditions that influence young people’s lives, is essential in promoting the welfare and individual rights of children and youth. Childhood and Youth Studies majors will acquire the analytic skills necessary to work effectively with children and youth, gain an understanding of the complex contexts of childhood and adolescence throughout history, and develop a commitment to the welfare of children and youth in Canada and across the world.


Skills and knowledge you may gain from your program:

  • Explore the ways that societal structures of power, privilege, and oppression shape the identities of children and youth in Canada and across the world.
  • Interrogate normative assumptions about children, childhood, and adolescence.
  • Collect and analyze relevant information about children and youth from a variety of interdisciplinary sources.
  • Present results from research in childhood and youth studies, both in writing and orally, to promote evidence-based knowledge to policy makers and service providers, as well as to general audiences.
  • Communicate effectively, intelligently and constructively during discussions on topics relevant to childhood and youth studies.
  • Identify strategies for and ethical and human rights implications of working with children and youth.
  • Write non-academic reports, policy briefs, pamphlets and posters to communicate about specific issues in childhood and youth studies.
  • Critically review and evaluate strengths, weaknesses and limitations of a variety of childhood and youth research methodologies.
  • Conduct a self-directed research study utilizing appropriate research methods to effectively investigate a special topic related to childhood and youth studies.