Why UW for Political Science?
Our department is the perfect size for students. It is large enough to have a high level of research prestige; we have faculty members who have been named to the Royal Society of Canada, who are the recipients of esteemed fellowships, and who have won, numerous research grants and awards. In QS World Rankings of Departments of Politics, no comparably-sized political science department in Canada ranks higher.
At the same time, our department is small enough to ensure that our students have close contact with their professors. Teaching and learning is at the core of what we do. Full time faculty members, including our most senior members, teach the majority of our undergraduate courses, including both of the first year courses. This means that Political Science students at UW develop long-term learning relationships with their professors as they proceed through their chosen stream, from introductory to upper-year classes.
Our department also provides exciting opportunities for hands-on experience. As one of three experiential learning pathways, our ‘engagement pathway’ gives students exciting opportunities to fulfill program requirements and course credits through participation in international exchanges, international field courses, directed research assistantships, and voluntary community placements, among other things. Our students are encouraged to make connections between theory and practice, to hone important skills for both academics and work, and to develop critical insights. Given this focus, it’s not surprising that our alumni from the private, public and non-profit sector have won the UW Faculty of Arts Young Alumni Award in five of the past seven years!
Take a closer look...we think you will like what you see!
Research | Recent faculty book publications
Anna Esselment | Permanent Campaigning in Canada
Election campaigning never stops. That is the new reality of politics and government in Canada, where everyone from the Prime Minister’s Office to backbench MPs practice political marketing and communication as though the official campaign is still underway.
Permanent Campaigning in Canada examines the growth and democratic implications of political parties’ relentless search for votes and popularity, and what a constant state of electioneering means for governance. With the emergence of fixed-date elections and digital media, each day is a battle to win mini-contests: the news cycle, public opinion polls, quarterly fundraising results, by-elections, and more. The contributors’ case studies – on political databases, the strategy behind online political communication, the politicization of government advertising, and the role of the PMO and political staff – reveal how political actors are using all available tools at their disposal to secure electoral advantage, including the use of public resources for partisan gain.
Emmett Macfarlane | Constitutional Amendment in Canada
In Canada, the 1982 Constitution Act contains the amending formula, which outlines a set of procedures required to make changes to the constitution. Recent debates over Senate reform, the status of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the rules governing royal succession have highlighted how important the amending formula is in maintaining the vitality of the governing system.
Constitutional Amendment in Canada is the first volume to focus solely on the implications of the amending formula in Canada. Emmett Macfarlane has brought together a group of expert authors to address such topics as the difficulties of constitutional reform, the intersection of various levels of government and the judiciary, and the ability of the public to veto proposed changes. Filling a serious gap in the literature, Constitutional Amendment in Canada is an authoritative study of the historical and contemporary implications of the amending formula.
Andrew Cooper | The BRICS - a very short introduction
In the wake of the post-Cold War era, the aftermath of 9/11, the 2008 global financial crisis, and the emergence of the G20 at the leaders level, few commentators expected a reshaping of the global system towards multipolarity, and away from the United States. And yet, the BRICS - encompassing Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - has emerged as a challenge to the international status quo. But what is its capacity as a transformative force? And can it provide a significant counter-narrative to the Western dominated global order?
In this Very Short Introduction Andrew Cooper explores the emergence of the BRICS as a concept. Drawing on historical precedent, Cooper provides a contemporary analysis of the BRICS' practice and influence as as a forum and a lobby group in advancing a distinctive but amorphous agenda amongst global politics.
Hongying Wang | Enter the Dragon: China in the International Financial System
Enter the Dragon: China in the International Financial System brings together experts from both inside and outside of the People’s Republic of China to explore issues regarding the internationalization of the renminbi (RMB). This volume tackles questions surrounding the process being used to attempt to achieve internationalization of the RMB, the broader issues related to the country’s financial integration with the rest of the world, and issues concerning China’s role in global financial governance.
Faculty | Meet Professor Heather Whiteside
Heather Whiteside is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She is a member of the Centre for Global Political Economy at Simon Fraser University and the Political Economy group at the University of Waterloo.
Earning a doctorate in Political Science (Simon Fraser University), Master’s degree in Political Economy (Carleton University), and Bachelor’s in Global Political Economy (University of Manitoba), her teaching in the Government and Business stream at the University of Waterloo now includes PSCI 231 (Intro to Government and Business), PSCI 300 (Foundations of Political Economy), and PSCI 403/635 (Topics in Politics and Business). After completing her doctorate in 2013, she held a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Geography Department at the University of British Columbia; and in 2014 she attended the Summer Institute in Economic Geography, in Frankfurt, Germany.
Her research and publications centre on the political economy of privatization, financialization, and fiscal austerity. She has published articles on these themes in journals such as Economic Geography, Studies in Political Economy, and Health Sociology Review, and her three books are About Canada: Public-Private Partnerships (2016, Fernwood), Purchase for Profit: public-private partnerships and Canada's public health care system (2015, University of Toronto Press), and Private Affluence, Public Austerity: Economic Crisis and Democratic Malaise in Canada (2011, Fernwood, co-authored with Stephen McBride). More specifically, her writing critically examines the political economy of public-private partnerships, private finance and public infrastructure, economic and financial crises, government debt and fiscal crises, health sector privatization, market-oriented state restructuring, and public land privatization. Interview and case study research has thus far meant fieldwork across Canada, the UK, and Australia.
She was recently awarded (as co-investigator) two multi-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grants to fund new research into the ‘Varieties of Austerity’ and ‘Austerity’s Alternatives’. These projects aim to uncover the structural and ideational forces promoting the widespread (re)emergence of austerity policies after the 2008 global financial crisis; its national variations in Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and Spain; and its endurance today. Fieldwork for these projects is set to begin in summer 2017.
Heather Whiteside sits on the Editorial Executive Board of the scholarly journal Studies in Political Economy and is a co-editor of the ‘Alternatives’ section of this journal. She has published op-eds with The Hill Times and The Bullet and participates in events organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the Ontario Health Coalition. She is active in several academic associations including the Canadian Political Science Association, Association of American Geographers, International Research Society for Public Management, and International Political Science Association. In 2018 Whiteside will be the Political Economy section head for the Canadian Political Science Association’s annual conference.
Political Science Student Association
Meet the 2017-18 PSSA Executives!
More Info on the PSSA!
The Political Science Student Association (PSSA) at the University of Waterloo is an energetic and exciting student club. We host a number of fun socials throughout the year, which create a group atmosphere and allow us to discuss our passion for politics!
In the past year we have participated in some great events:
- Elections and debate socials – always lively and fun!
- Movie Nights – food, discussion and great movies!
- Talks hosted by the Political Science department - free food, drinks and a meet & greet social after the talk!
- Lectures at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) - which are followed by a PSSA social between professors and students at the Huether Hotel.
- Tested our mettle at our free Mock LSAT exam.
- 3rd & 4th year workshops – we learned about, and visited, the Political Science, Global Governance and Public Service Master’s programs.
- Annual national conference for Political Science Student Associations.
We always have lots going on and are always looking for more exciting and fun initiatives to offer our members and fellow political science students. All students are welcome to join! We look forward to getting to know all of you.
Research Assistantship: Gain practical research skills with Prof. Angela Carter and meet her former RA!
Gain practical research skills with Prof. Angela Carter
Dr. Angela Carter recently worked with undergraduate and graduate students on research for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Strategic Research Grant entitled "The Environmental Assessment Processes of Canadian 'Frontier' Oil and Gas." Through these research positions, students developed and practiced a range of skills from research and analysis, to writing and revising. For example, students conducted a media scan of major Canadian and provincial newspapers and then developed an annotated timeline of new public debates around the environmental impacts of intensifying oil development, in particular “fracking.” Another compiled and reviewed legislation and regulations relating to the environmental impacts of oil and gas development in three provinces. This student also compiled and assessed newly proposed policies on climate change in Canada’s major oil producing provinces, tracked down new oil production data, and helped edit and revise a draft journal article. Another student completed a review of academic literature on theorizing community resistance to energy projects. Students make important contributions to my research work and I enjoy getting them involved in new projects.
Meet a former undergraduate RA
Dani Marcheva | Former Undergraduate Research Assistant
I worked on the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Strategic Research Grant entitled "The Environmental Assessment Processes of Canadian 'Frontier' Oil and Gas" with Dr. Angela Carter
What were your duties?
One of the reasons why I enjoyed my RA work was because I had various tasks. Most of my duties involved searching news media outlets online for particular articles and podcasts, which were related to Dr. Carter’s project. After selecting the relevant media items, I put them together in chronological reports. I often produced timelines or summaries with the most important events, debates or incidents. I liked doing the news media scans because I got to read and listen to different provincial and national outlets on topics that were interesting to me. Scanning field notes was also part of my duties. Through doing this task, I could see how political science researchers do interviews and other fieldwork.
Were there any specific skills you learned while working on the project?
I definitely improved my communication skills through my regular check-in meetings with Dr. Carter. I also have a better understanding of what political science research entails and how to conduct it. Therefore, now I have much more insights into different research methods.
What was/is the best part of your RA?
The best part was meeting with Dr. Carter and talking about the progress of the research. I am also glad that I undertook the RA because I look up to Dr. Carter as a great mentor. It was also very convenient that I could do my RA work whenever I had free time.
Earn credit...Travel abroad!
Travel to Israel with Prof. Jasmin Habib & Political Science 493
International Trade Minor students travel to Israel for two weeks, visiting Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Eilat, with support generously provided by The Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation.
"When I learned that ITS students would be going on a trip to Israel, I was excited – and slightly nervous. I had heard of different perspectives on Israel and did not know what to expect. However, from day one, I loved this country. Israel, a country enriched with religious and historical significance, is truly a beautiful country. From its beaches and city life in Tel Aviv, to the deserts in Masada, touring in Israel guaranteed me a different adventure every day.
"Not only did I enjoy immersing myself in its rich culture, I was exposed to its corporate side too - which I quickly realized was different from Canada. I was impressed by the way Israelis got business done in a casual but efficient manner. This is a nation that is known for its start-ups and visiting one only enhanced my knowledge on this trip. I thoroughly enjoyed going to Given Imaging, a medical technology company, and learning how this company started and how innovation brought the company to where it is today. Overall, I learned a lot from both my professional and personal experiences in Israel, and I hope to visit again one day!"
— Shobana Sukumaran
"Israel, your land is beautiful and your people are inspiring. I've learnt so much about Israel and my hope is that the media will start to portray not the atrocities but the beauties of your nation. I had the time of my life travelling from beach to mountain and to sea, and was humbled to meet the kind and passionate people of your nation. It was an unforgettable experience and it wouldn't have been so if it weren't for the awesome group of people I went with. We bonded so quickly and have way too many stories and inside jokes. I'm going to miss you Israel. 'Til next time. Shanah tova!"
— Christina Park
Specializations and minors in Political Science
Did you know that the department of Political Science is the home of four career-relevant Minors? Students enrolled in any degree program may pursue a Minor in Political Science.
Political Science | designed to foster a deeper understanding of politics across the world at multiple scales (domestic, regional, global) while also allowing students to develop the analytical and professional skills required for success.
If you are majoring in Political Science (regular or co-op stream) you can choose an optional specialization to enrich your degree:
Master of Arts in Political Science
Our MA in Political Science is designed to foster a deeper understanding of politics across the world at multiple scales (domestic, regional, global) while also allowing students to develop the analytical and professional skills required for success in both academic and non-academic job markets.
With 22 faculty members in our department and an additional 15 associated faculty, our program offers a wide range of courses and graduate research supervision and opportunities across a broad range
of topic areas with specific strengths including the following:
Political Economy | What is the relationship between politics and business, power and wealth, states and markets? Our department has particular strength in the study of these political economy questions with over ten faculty members researching in this field. Our faculty members bring a variety of perspectives to these questions and explore their relevance at the local, national, regional and global levels across various geographical contexts ranging from North America to East Asia and the Middle East.
Conflict and Security Studies | Interested in the role that conflict plays in the contemporary world, the dynamics of domestic security and counter-terrorism, or what happens in a post-conflict era? Many faculty in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo specialize in the study of these and other topics relating to the role of governments, international organizations, and non-state actors in conflict and conflict resolution. Our students learn about the political theories that frame our understandings and debates about national and human security as well as peace building practices and human rights. Our expertise spans many areas of the globe from Europe to the Middle East.
Canadian Politics | A number of faculty in the department have research interests relating to different aspects of Canadian politics. Research strengths include public policy, constitutional politics, political institutions, political parties, local government and Canada-US relations.
You can complete an MA in Political Science (regular or co-op stream) through the Masters Research Paper option or the Thesis option. Our co-op stream enables students to combine their academic studies with practical work experience in positions related to their professional interests in public or private sectors.
- 2 terms of paid teaching or research assistantships
- Various scholarships in each term of study
- Total: $15,000.00
Undergraduate Co-op Student Profile | Anne Marie Hayman
What co-op positions have you held?
- Junior Research Advisor, Research Branch, Ministry of Research and Innovation in Toronto, ON
- Research Assistant, Resource Policy & Programs Directorate, Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada in Gatineau, QC
- Research Assistant, Digital Innovation & Design Practice, Institute of Systems Science-National University of Singapore in Singapore
- Research Assistant, Companeros Inc. & FIDEG (International Foundation for Global Economic Challenge) in Managua, Nicaragua
More on Anne Marie
What was your best co-op experience?
In terms of the work I was doing, I think my best co-op experience has been with the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. Having the opportunity to return and complete a second work term, I was able to make strong connections with my colleagues and I was treated as if I was a full time regular employee and not just a co-op student. During the two terms, I got to work on two different research grants, assist with a submission to the treasury board. I also got to work with the international research team to help plan a workshop that was attended by 50+ industry, academic and government officials in the field of nanotechnology. Post-workshop, I was asked to write a strategic report, which was submitted to the Assistant Deputy Minister to review regarding a potential nanotechnology partnership between Ontario and China.
In terms of the experience, my best co-op experience has been working in Singapore. Getting to experience another country, another culture, a different work culture and being able to travel around the area to countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia has been an absolutely amazing experience.
How did your PSCI major prepare you for your jobs?
My PSCI major helped prepare me for my jobs by giving me opportunities to learn and refine skills that will be necessary in any work place. This includes researching, ability to communicate your arguments/thoughts in multiple formats (written, verbal), balancing multiple projects/assignments on very different topics, sound reasoning skills and logical thinking.
Which PSCI course did you find most useful?
For my job in Singapore (and upcoming job in Nicaragua), I believe that PSCI 282 (Foreign Policy) has been the most useful as it provided an overview of the political situations and relations of many different countries, especially small states. I also found PSCI 255 (Comparative Political Economy) to be useful for my co-op positions in the government. The work I did in those positions did not align with the subject matter covered in PSCI 255, but the theories and ideas behind them, and understanding different policy options that are utilized by different countries.
What advice would you give to upcoming co-op students?
Don’t search through jobs specifically using the PSCI filter or based on job titles. Sometimes there are more obvious jobs, such as the ones I received working for the government, but the skills we learn in our classes can be applicable in many different industries and many of my fellow PSCI co-op students have had great co-op opportunities in jobs that one wouldn’t immediately think correlated with political science.
Graduate Co-op Student Profile | Rachel Beals
Policy Intern, Northern Policy Institute, ON
In the summer of 2016, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a Policy Intern for the Northern Policy Institute. NPI is a non-partisan, evidence-based think tank located in Northern Ontario and they focus on a variety of policy areas concerning the north such as the environment, Aboriginal affairs, the economy, infrastructure and so on. Over the course of the co-op placement, I was able to become familiar with these issues through my various responsibilities such as writing blogs, gathering primary and secondary research, analyzing Northern Ontario news, attending cultural events and so on.
More on Rachel
During my placement I was assigned several projects, the first of which revolved around directional signage. For this project I was given the opportunity to not only conduct qualitative research, but to design and carry out a research trip to gather primary data in different parts of Northern Ontario. In addition to this task, my colleague and I were a part of a collaborative project between Northern College and NPI in which we led interviews and organized qualitative data. Between these two responsibilities, I was able to code and analyze data, design and conduct interviews, create a field study, and finally, evaluate and synthesize research findings. I believe all of these experiences have helped me to become a better researcher.
In addition to these projects, another important part of my coop placement was writing blogs. As someone who had very limited experience with Northern Ontario, the opportunity to research, analyze, and critique policies that affect northern communities allowed me to become familiar with not only with how the north functions, but also the how the policy-making process is carried out in this region. Since my own research involves the study of how certain policies affect rural groups, there were some parallels between my coop responsibilities and my Masters work. Finally, another takeaway I had from the blog process was how to become a more dynamic writer. I believe this is an important skill that will be of use in my future workplace.
In short, I have learned a great deal from my coop placement and I attribute this to the fact that I was given the opportunity to be challenged as a researcher, a student of political science, and as a professional. Not only have I developed my current capabilities, but I have cultivated new skills as well. So to this I say thank you to the University of Waterloo coop program and NPI; you have helped provide me with aa engaging experience that will continue to aid me in my school and work life.
Connect with us!
- Have exciting news to share? We'd love to hear what you are up to!
- Want to be involved in networking or Political Science events? Let us know.
- Want to donate? Your contributions help fund awards and lectures that benefit students.
To connect, please email Marina Ivanova. To donate, please contact Anna Esselment, Chair of the Department of Political Science, or the the Faculty of Arts' Director of Advancement, Kim Bardwell for details.