Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity

Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity
Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity


Current projects

Corrective Justice and Land

Funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant, with Dr. Margaret Moore as principal investigator, this research project involves an examination of claims for corrective justice in cases where individuals and groups have been expelled from land that they previously occupied.

The first part of the proposed research project involves a conceptual and normative analysis of the rights violated in cases of expulsion from land.  We can distinguish between three different kinds of rights that might be violated:  individual (and/or group) rights to property; individual rights of residency; and group rights to collective self-determination within a territory.  Although there is a substantial literature on corrective justice in such cases, virtually all of this literature focuses on the first of these rights (expropriation of property), and therefore is unlikely to grasp the full implications of the wrong done, and the full extent of what might be owed to people. The normative dimension of the project aims to explicate the justificatory argument behind different kinds of rights.  This is essential for understanding what should be done to remedy rights-violations; which rights might be weakened over time; or the conditions under which new occupants can acquire rights.  The second part of the project applies this normative and conceptual analysis of different place-related rights to three cases where expulsions and expropriations have taken place. 

Mapping the Terrain: Assessing the scope, strength and future potential of civil society organizations active in Syrian refugee sponsorship and early integration

With one year of funding (2016-2017) from the Syrian Refugee Program SSHRC research grant, Dr. Keith Banting, as Principle Investigator, and Dr. Beesan Sarrouh as Collaborator, will be exploring the strength and depth of civil society organisations in Toronto, Ontario that have been working to assist the Syrian refugee sponsorship and integration process.

The Politics of Complex Diversity in Contested Cities

Is a comparative project funded by a 5-year SSHRC insight grant awarded in March 2015.  Dr. Zsuzsa Csergő is the Principal Investigator; and Dr. Keith Banting and Dr. John McGarry are Co-applicants.

The scope of this project is to examine change in ethnic rivalries in historically contested cities, where established status hierarchies are challenged by “political newcomers”-- immigrants and other newly mobilized ethno-cultural communities.  Such contestations are an increasing reality in contemporary democracies.  Historically contested cities in democratic states reveal the difficulties of accommodating competing ethnic claims particularly well. In such cities, long-standing rivalries have emerged in multiple fields, manifesting themselves in conflicts over: language use, state-church relations, cultural symbols and narratives, schools, neighborhoods, access to local institutions and resources.  Political newcomers challenge “old” rivalries--some by claiming recognition for other cultural symbols, languages, or cultural institutions, others by changing the uses of old spaces, institutions or narratives. Studying these dynamics provide us invaluable opportunities to gain a better understanding about boundary-making---which can deepen existing divisions, create multiple divisions, or lead to less "ethnicized" political environments.

We focus on four historically contested major cities, which are also sites of multilevel governance (urban, regional, state-wide, and sometimes trans-national), allowing for a rich variety of policy experiments and diversity strategies: Montreal (Canada); Brussels (Belgium); Belfast (UK); and Vilnius (Lithuania). This range of cases allows us to explore how differences in institutional environments and collective resources available to ethnic communities shape the outcomes of contestation.

The ultimate goal of this project is to contribute to the broader society by producing and sharing new knowledge about “good practices” in the way institutions, policy-makers, community leaders, and publics deal with conflicts associated with complex diversity.

The Multiculturalism Policy (MCP) Index

Co-directed by Dr. Keith Banting and Dr. Will Kymllicka, the Multiculturalism Policy Index is a scholarly research project that monitors the evolution of multiculturalism policies across Western democracies. The project is designed to provide information about multiculturalism policies in a standardized format that aids comparative research and contributes to the understanding of state-minority relations. There are three separate indices covering three types of minorities: immigrant groups; historic national minorities; and indigenous peoples. Documentation on the adoption (or repeal) of multiculturalism policies relating to these three types of groups across 21 Western countries is freely available through this site for researchers, public officials, journalists, students, activists, and others interested in the topic.  Visit the MCP website to see the full research.

Past projects

Building Democracy in Ukraine project

Supported by grants from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) the BDU project worked to help Ukraine develop the capacity to deliver a self-sustaining program of education that would foster and strengthen commitment to liberal-democratic values and the processes of liberal-democratic governance among its citizens and elites. Visit the BDU website

Ethnicity and Democratic Governance project

The Ethnicity and Democratic Governance Project was an international Canadian-based 5-year SSHRC major collaborative research initiative studying one of the most complex and challenging issues of the world today -- governing ethnic diversity. Led by Bruce Berman of Queen's University, the team of thirty-nine international researchers and additional associated organizations examined how can societies respond to the opportunities and challenges raised by ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural differences, and do so in ways that promote democracy, social justice, peace and stability?

Democracy Assistance Assessment Project

Receiving support from the Global Peace and Security Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) this project focused on the development of assessment protocols to evaluate the effectiveness of democracy assistance. Of growing concern to donors is their inability to determine whether assistance programs achieve their goals. The Centre designed a project to attempt to address this problem.

Assessing the performance of Canadian democracy

In its research on Canada the Centre has focused on assessing the performance of Canadian democracy. It commissions and conducts empirical inquiries aimed at identifying issues for public discussion. The Canadian research, therefore, has an important function in supporting the Centre’s public education activities. Recent projects on Canadian democracy have been funded by the Aurea Foundation.