Our Department

The Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto ranks among the world’s best.

It provides an ideal setting for students and learners at all levels to engage with novel ideas, thorough scholarship and creative research in all of the discipline’s sub-fields, as well as in an array of interdisciplinary areas of inquiry. As a community of established and emerging scholars — teachers and students — we are uniquely positioned to draw upon a Canadian perspective as well as the university’s intellectual buzz and the city’s cultural diversity, to address the most enduring questions of politics, locally and internationally.

More than ever, our mission is to encourage our students to think broadly, critically and internationally about the core features of democratic and global citizenship. We do this with faculty that include award-winning teachers, building on a legacy of famously gifted instructors, such as Harold Innis, C.B. Macpherson and Allan Bloom.

Dating back to the 1880’s (take a look at our previous department Chairs down through the years here), the department now has a total faculty complement of over sixty across the three campuses of the University of Toronto. We offer numerous courses at all levels and in a variety of fields: political philosophy and theory, Canadian politics, international relations and global affairs, comparative politics of industrial and developing societies and public policy in Canada and abroad. Our Ph.D. program ­is the largest and most prestigious in Canada. At any point in time, we have about 150 students pursuing doctoral studies in our Department, most of whom receive generous funding during their first five years in the program. Many dissertations written by our doctoral students have been awarded prizes and later turned into influential books. Graduates of our Ph.D. program have gone on to pursue successful careers throughout Canada and the United States, as well as in many other countries worldwide. In addition, we offer a popular MA program, which admits approximately 60 new students every year. On the St. George campus alone, over 400 undergraduate students are enrolled in our Specialist programs, over 800 in our Major program each year, and approximately 750 in our Minor program. Thousands more, from programs all over the university, enroll in our courses. Taken together, the programs at the other two campuses — University of Toronto at Mississauga and University of Toronto at Scarborough, are about three-quarters of the size of the St. George programs.

Our faculty are among the best in the world, featuring a unique blend of intellectuals alongside up and coming bright minds. Each year, our faculty members are invited to deliver public lectures in the world’s foremost universities — from Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Princeton to Oxford and Cambridge. Members of our department produce on average ten (10) books a year, with the world’s best presses. Their articles appear in such top journals as Political Theory, Comparative Politics, Annual Review of Political Science, International Security, Canadian Journal of Political Science, World Politics and International Organization. Our faculty is closely engaged with research and development projects in Canada and abroad, from the Arctic to the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Political Science faculty members are routinely honoured for their accomplishments. Many are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, the most prestigious academic appointment in Canada, and several have won Governor-General’s awards — the most prestigious book award in Canada and been named to the Order of Canada — the highest civil honour in the country. In addition, over the last decade alone, books published by our faculty members have won international awards for the best work in their respective fields.

Our colleagues have played key roles in founding and leading major interdisciplinary centres at the university including:

Our faculty members count among Canada’s most prominent public intellectuals. They are widely acknowledged as leaders in their field, frequently cited in academic publications and in the media, and help shape public debate including:

  • Aisha Ahmad, on international security and the economic drivers of conflict in war zones across the modern Muslim world
  • Jacques Bertrand, on the effects of democratisation on sub-state nationalist mobilisation in South East Asia
  • Olga Chyzh, on political violence and repressive regimes
  • Christopher Cochrane, on Canadian politics, ideology, party competition, and computational social science
  • Ron Deibert, on internet-based activism
  • Diana Fu, on civil society, popular contention, state control, and authoritarian citizenship in China
  • Jessica Green, on climate politics, transnational private regulation and its interactions with public forms of authority
  • Ran Hirschl, on constitutional and judicial politics
  • Phillip Lipscy, on international organizations, the politics of energy and the environment, and the politics of East Asia, particularly Japan
  • Carla Norrlof, on great powers, global currencies and global order
  • Lynette Ong, on authoritarianism, contentious politics, and political economy of development in China, Southeast Asia and India
  • Janice Stein, on the Middle East, negotiation theory, foreign policy decision-making and international conflict management
  • Melissa Williams, on ethics and the political recognition of “difference”
  • David Wolfe, on the growth, innovation, and prospects of city-regions
  • Joseph Wong, on comparative public policy and political economy, Asia and globalization
  • Linda White, on comparative welfare states, comparative social and family policy, particularly education, early childhood education and care, and maternity and parental leave

In order to run a smooth operation, skillful and dedicated administrative staff is required. Our administrative staff on all three campuses are frequently credited by students at all levels for being exceptionally friendly and helpful. Several of our staff members have been recognized by the University in recent years for their invaluable contribution to student life.

Our students hail from all over the world and speak dozens of languages. Their questions regularly challenge received wisdom and push us in new intellectual directions. As they have in the past, our graduates have gone on to become leaders in all avenues of life; their voices are heard in government, NGOs, business, the arts, law, universities, public policy, and the media. Here are just a few of those who have gone on from an undergraduate or graduate degree in Political Science to notable careers:

  • Maria Banda, Rhodes Scholar, student at Harvard Law School
  • Lyn Betzner, deputy-minister, Government of Ontario
  • Julie Bristow, director, CBC
  • Ben Cashore, professor of Forestry, Yale University
  • Tony Clement, cabinet minister, Government of Canada
  • Alex Costy, director of humanitarian support in Afghanistan for the U.N.
  • David Docherty, president of Mount Royal University; formerly dean of arts, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Atom Egoyan, film-maker
  • George Fierheller, president and CEO, Cantel, former chair of United Way
  • Claude Galipeau, former senior executive at CBC, Rogers Media, and currently at Astral Media
  • Steve Goudge, judge, Ontario Court of Appeal
  • Peter Hall, professor of Government, Harvard University
  • Abby Hoffman, former track and field Olympian and activist
  • John Honderich, president of Torstar, publisher of the Toronto Star
  • Simca Jacobovici, film-maker and television documentary host
  • Joanna Nairn, debating world champion, clerking at the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Ann Peel, formerly world championship athlete, educator
  • Kent Roach, professor of Law, University of Toronto
  • Tom Walkom, journalist, currently national affairs columnist at the Toronto Star

In short, the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto is an incredibly diverse, accomplished, and vibrant place. You are most welcome to explore it for yourself.

Our mission is to encourage our students to think broadly, critically, and internationally about the core features of democratic and global citizenship.