A salute to the past, and optimism for the future
The Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre (IRC) celebrated 85 years of success last week, using the event to reflect on the early days of the Centre and start planning for the future. Now housed within the Faculty of Arts and Science, the IRC was created to provide challenging and innovative educational programs to advance the skills and expertise of organizational leaders through training and practitioner-focused research, enabling them to contribute to the success of their organizations.
The roots of the IRC stretch back all the way to 1936, when future Principal W.A. Mackintosh, then head of the Department of Political and Economic Science, organized a conference on industrial relations for academics, government, and industry leaders. Approximately 100 representatives from corporations, universities and governments attended that inaugural event. This led to the formation of an industrial relations unit in 1937.
Dr. James Carruthers Cameron was the founder and head of the first university Industrial Relations Section in Canada, linked to the Queen’s School of Commerce and Administration. The Section was created in 1937 to investigate the complexities of industrial management-labour relations in the emerging field of IR. Twenty-nine students were enrolled that year. Now the IRC boasts more than 15,000 participants.
“The IRC is continually evolving,” says Alison Darling, Director of Professional Programs. “When the pandemic hit, we had to transition to the virtual classroom in order to continue our training across Canada and in the Caribbean. We have now transitioned back to in-person training, but we will keep our virtual classrooms as well. We are also revamping and relaunching content to respond to the complexities in today’s workplace.”
In 1960, the Queen’s Industrial Relations Section was renamed the Industrial Relations Centre (IRC). The IRC went on to spur the creation of the School of Industrial Relations, and two academic programs, a Master of Industrial Relations (MIR) and a Professional Master of Industrial Relations (PMIR).
“What’s important about the IRC is the way it has participated in innovation and pedagogy,” says Dean Barbara Crow, who attended last week’s event. “The Section was the first of its kind in Canada and led to the formation of the IRC to train leaders in human resources, labour relations, and organizational development. The mission of the IRC is to evolve and develop programs to give industry professionals the tools and skills they need to grow and thrive.”
Today, the IRC offers four industry-leading certificates, and 21 unique programs. They deliver in-person and virtual professional development training from coast to coast across Canada, and beyond, to hundreds of participants and organizations each year. Queen’s University employees receive a 50 per cent discount on all IRC programs.
To recognize these efforts, the IRC recently earned the HRD Readers’ Choice Award for Best Service Provider. The award acknowledges the contributions of a company or individual with a proven track record of providing the HR industry and/or HR professionals with the superior service, solutions and support needed to perform their duties.
To learn more about the IRC visit the website.