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Canadian politics, up close

The two-week program offers on-campus educational sessions and experiential learning opportunities through a number of field trips.

  • [Tony Clement with students]
    Students participating in the Queen's University Political Studies Summer Institute had the opportunity to speak with MP Tony Clement, current leadership candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada. (Supplied photo)
  • [Students check-in to residence]
    Students stayed at Watts Hall residence during the Queen's University Political Studies Summer Institute. (Supplied photo)
  • [Students check out Niagara Falls]
    Students from China and Australia had the chance to visit some of Canada's most notable landmarks including Niagara Falls. (Supplied photo)

Australian and Chinese university students who want to learn more about Canadian politics have come straight to the source this summer.

Eleven students – eight from Australian National University (ANU) and three from different institutions in China – are attending the first-ever Queen’s Political Studies Summer Institute (QPSSI) from July 9-24.

The two-week program offers on-campus educational sessions and hands-on learning opportunities through a number of field trips. A highlight so far was a visit last week to Parliament Hill, where students met MP Tony Clement, a current Conservative Party leadership candidate.

Himangi Ticku, who is studying international relations at ANU, says she was intrigued by the summer institute because it offers a more dynamic learning experience than traditional lectures and readings.

“Back home maybe I wouldn’t have the time or opportunity to do a course on Canadian politics,” she says. “The summer institute was a good way to study Canadian politics in Canada, as well as travel around and make practical observations.”

Jonathan Rose, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Studies, and Elisha Corbett, a summer research student, developed the summer institute. As a visiting professor at Fudan University in Shanghai last year, Dr. Rose was asked if Queen’s offered any summer programs. Those conversations sparked the idea for the summer institute, and he moved ahead with the project with support from his colleagues and graduate students.

“Campus is underutilized in the summer, so we wanted to expand what is offered while at the same time combine experiential learning with traditional classroom instruction,” Dr. Rose said. “Our goal was to create a program where international students could examine Canadian politics, society and culture and explore how they interact and influence each other.”

The summer institute was a good way to study Canadian politics in Canada, as well as travel around and make practical observations.
— Himangi Ticku, Australian National University student

Faculty members, graduate students and invited guests lead the educational sessions. Brittany Shales, a Queen’s political studies master’s student, delivered the lecture on Canadian foreign relations last week. She welcomed the opportunity to share her research and learn more about China and Australia from the students.

“I’ve studied in France and lived and worked in Croatia. I really wanted to give back and share the international perspective I’ve gained from so many people,” she said after the lecture. “The students surpassed all of my expectations. They are bright and really want to be here. They challenged me to answer questions about Canada that I hadn’t thought of before, and it was a fantastic opportunity.”

Adding Australia

While the idea for the summer institute was born in China, the Faculty of Arts and Science worked to include students from ANU, which has an exchange agreement with Queen’s. As ANU prepared to launch a new learning-abroad program geared for first-year students, the university approached Queen’s about serving as the exclusive Canadian destination.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to raise Queen’s profile abroad,” said Hugh Horton, Interim Vice-Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Queen’s campus is beautiful this time of year and quite welcoming for international students. Furthermore, our location near major centres enables an enriched student learning experience through interesting field trips. The response to the summer institute has been great so far, and we hope it is offered again next year.”

Last weekend, students visited Montreal to see the influence of French in Canada. The institute concludes this weekend with a trip to Toronto. Students will tour Queen’s Park and City Hall on Friday before enjoying free time on Saturday.

Visit the Department of Political Studies website for more information about the summer institute.