The Institute of Political Economy, established in 1989, remains the only graduate program of its kind in Canada. The Institute developed out of the Graduate Summer School of Political Economy, which was launched in 1983 by Wallace Clement (Sociology) and Leo Panitch (Political Science).

The summer school was built on the strong tradition of interdisciplinary studies at Carleton, and on the interests of numerous faculty at Carleton involved in political economy. Distinguished international scholars, including Guglielmo Carchedi, Ralph Miliband, Michèle Barrett, Mary Macintosh, Peter Bihari, Patricia Marchak, Alain Lipietz, Mike Davis, Robin Blackburn, Robin Murray, Anne Showstack Sassoon, Pat Armstrong, and Sheila Rowbotham, were attracted to Carleton to teach in the summer school alongside select Carleton faculty. As the summer school transitioned to a full degree program, visiting scholars remained central to the delivery of its curriculum, and are now in residence to work with students and teach seminars during the normal academic year.

For more than thirty years, the Institute has benefitted from the generous support of both the Faculty of Public Affairs (IPE’s institutional home) and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (from which half of the Institute’s affiliated faculty are drawn). Minimal administrative turnover and long-lasting commitments from university faculty have kept the original spirit of the summer school alive. The Institute’s small size, visiting professor program, and flexible curriculum have all contributed to its success in providing an engaging, rigorous, and collaborative research environment for students and researchers.

“The Institute is a beacon of excellence and innovation, of which Carleton University can be justly proud…One of the reasons why so many professional economists did not realize the dangers inherent in the  complex, globalized, financial system was that they had been trained only in a very narrow set of methods of analyzing an economy, divorced from political, social, and historical analysis.”

— Professor Diane Elson, University of Essex (UK

“…an outstanding institution in the world of higher education.”

 Prof. Margit Mayer, Freie Universität Berlin

Today, MA students are able to choose between a thesis or major research paper depending on their preferences. The program’s placement course also allows students to network with government and non-governmental organizations, policy-makers, researchers, and community-based organizations in order to gain practical and on-site work experience outside the classroom. Students may also choose a collaborative specialization in African Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, or a concentration in Work and Labour.

The collaborative PhD with a specialization in Political Economy is especially designed for Carleton doctoral students who have already been accepted to one of our collaborating programs: Canadian Studies, Communication, Geography and Environmental Studies, History, Legal Studies, Political Science, Public Policy and Administration, Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work.

The Diploma in Work & Labour is geared toward union staff, community activists, and others wanting to engage in research and advocacy around questions of economic policy, work and labour rights, social welfare, pensions, health care, immigration and settlement, disability and inclusion, child care, and support to vulnerable people. Those enrolled in one of the MA or collaborative PhD programs may also enrol concurrently in the Diploma program. The program emphasizes both academic study and experiential learning.