Field research courses

Large group of smiling participants from the Field Research Course

Field Research Courses Summer 2020

We offer courses that enable students to conduct an independent study abroad and offer them the opportunity to increase their knowledge on particular issues linked to the host country. These courses represent six credits in the undergraduate program of study and three credits for students registered in a masters program.

Please note that each course has a maximum capacity of 15 students.


This course examines different forms of inequality in Brazil and some of the responses to those inequalities given by activists. Students will learn about significant theoretical approaches to social and economic disparity, while studying firsthand how activists in Brazil have organized associations and social movements to alleviate poverty and other forms of social injustice.

The course has three interrelated goals. 1) To better understand inequality, students will use the cities of Salvador da Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, and a rural area near Itacaré, in the state of Bahia, as case studies that provide empirical knowledge and specificity in relation to global trends; combining fieldwork and coursework, we will draw comparisons between Brazil and other international sites. 2) The course will invite students to creatively explore activism as a response to inequality. Towards these ends, student will learn to think critically about some of the themes that underpin international activism. While students deconstruct certain forms of activism as problematic, they will also seek inspiration for building a more just society by listening carefully and learning from the work of the Brazil-based groups we encounter. 3) This is a research-intensive course which will allow students to learn and/or hone the core social science skills of observation, unstructured interviewing, writing fieldnotes, and, integrating these, ethnography.

Within the embedded study abroad context and the condensed format, it is also a chance for students to engage in stimulating and memorable discussions with each other about approaches to inequality, toward critical analysis of what they are simultaneously learning in the field and in the interdisciplinary scholarship addressing poverty. In combination, students will develop field observation, analysis, and writing skills in the fashion of professional anthropologists and other ethnographic researchers.

This course is offered in English to students from May 7 to 25, 2020.

Professor Contact Information

Professor Meg Stalcup
School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies

Office Hours : Thursdays 12:30-2:20 PM, and by appointment
FSS 10008

Course Outline


This fieldwork course in anthropology aims to understand ancestral and contemporary medicine in the heart of their practices, with a more in-depth entry into Bantu and Peul medicine.  Often described as “Africa in miniature”, Cameroon assembles people from all of Africa, hence enabling to grasp multiple traditions and how they (dis)articulate themselves in a same location. 

The course will be interested in the question of medical pluralism, its interwoven cultural, culinary and environmental issues.  By living on the premises of the Association of research in the anthropology of African medicine (ARAM) in the periphery of the capital Yaoundé, we will be situated in the heart of the practices of its president and Bantu healer, hence enabling to participate and comprehend his expertise in action as people come to consult him.  The visit of ARAM’s Antenna Lamal Pouguè in the forest of Bassinglèglé will enable to follow the process from plant collection up to their transformation in remedies and a visit to the Kribi Antenna will enable to understand how ARAM’s practices weave themselves through a context, a history, a present and foreseeable futures.  We will also have the chance to participate in some sound therapies of the performative Mviet tradition, as well as learn some of the stakes linked with biomedical traditions with professors in philosophy of medicine at the University of Yaoundé-1.  Finally, a historian specialist of Peul medicine will accompany us on the location of his fieldwork in Ngaounderé to meet other healers and multiply perspectives.

This course is offered in French and English to students (bilingual francophones and anglophones, or student who are not completely bilingual, but that understand the other language) from August 3 to 23, 2020.

Professor Contact Information

Julie Laplante
School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies

Office hours : By appointment

Course Outline


Like all countries in the world, some Mexican populations suffer exclusion and discrimination from dominant groups in Mexican society. Be it sexual, linguistic, cultural, visible minorities, women, migrant populations and refugees, many social groups living in Mexico are subjected to various forms of injustice (legal, social, economic, formal or informal, regular or institutionalized, etc.).

Focusing on the issues of social justice, this course will seek to understand socio-economic inequalities and sociocultural conflicts in Mexico that lead certain social groups to be more socially, economically, legally and institutionally excluded and / or discriminated. To do so, we will study the sociological, historical, economic and political factors inherent in the processes of exclusion and discrimination. Throughout the course, we will analyze the various facets of the process of minorization, (prejudice, stigmatization, exclusion, discrimination, ordinary racism or institutional racism). Particular attention will be paid to the struggles, challenges and opportunities of these minority groups and how they have organised and organizing themselves in order to fight for their rights.

By interacting with various field practitioners (NGOs / academics / students / stakeholders), interactive seminars, field observation and visits in Mexico City and Puebla, students will explore socio-political challenges of various minorities in contemporary Mexico.

Finally, students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to carry out scientific research through field immersion with one or another of these Mexican minority groups.

This course is offered at the undergraduate level in French and will take place from April 26 to May 16,  2020. Some Spanish knowledge is required.

Professor Contact Information

This course is only available in French. to undergraduate students.

Professor Patrice Corriveau

If you have any questions, please contact professor Corriveau by email.

Course Outline


**This course is cancelled**

Rising political tensions between Russia and the West make this an important moment to study Russians’ perception of the world and their country’s place in it. To this end, this course will study Russian national identity, the nature of the Russian political system, Russian views on current international affairs, and Russian foreign policy. It will examine question such as: ‘Do Russians consider their country to be part of Europe, part of Asia, Eurasian, or something different?’ ‘Where do Russians consider that their future lies?’ ‘How do Russians explain the rising tensions with the Western world?’ ‘What solutions do Russians see for current international problems?’ ‘What are the main vectors in Russian foreign policy, and what factors and institutions shape it?’

The course will take place in two segments. The first segment consists of one week of introductory classes held at the University of Ottawa at the end of May 2019. The second consists of two weeks of seminars and field trips in Moscow at the start of June 2019, during which students will have the opportunity to visit institutions such as the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Russian media companies, visit museums and historical sites, meet and interview Russian public figures, and learn about the Russian point of view.

The course is open to MA students only. The course is offered in English. No knowledge of Russian is required. It will take place from May 13 to June 4 2020.

Professor Contact Information

Professor Paul Robinson
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
613-562-5800 ext. 4174

Course Outline


This course examines the challenge related to the demographic dividend in Africa with the increasing numbers of new students heading to schools, universities and later to the labour market. In Senegal, almost 62% of the population was less than 25 years-old in 2015. This young population, dynamic and hopeful, is facing a chronic economic crisis which is excluding many of them from the job market. This is happening while important socio-economic and cultural changes are transforming family dynamics and social relationships within communities of various ethnicities and religions.

It is in this context that a significant proportion of young people remain at the margins of the formal school system and, for those who have access to it, they are far from being ensured that their education process will provide them with a job.

Students will explore the intersection between families’ daily life conditions and their effects on youth educational and professional trajectories: what are youth and their families’ expectations and aspirations? Does the education system meet these expectations?

In a context of youth high mobility, partly related to the increasing access to social media and other new technologies, students will address three main themes :

  1. The individual and family strategies regarding schooling and access to a job in a context of high poverty and gender inequalities
  2. How do young women and men participate to the local economic development? Does the school or professional training meet the local needs?
  3. The challenges related to post-secondary studies : lack of resources in a situation of a constant increase in the number of new students; gender inequalities in the access to universities or post-secondary studies in general

During an intensive fieldwork, students will be confronted to the gap between the international discourses on Education for all and the daily realities of families and communities for whom education may not be the only option for their youth’ transition to financial autonomy. Using observation, conducting interviews, and being involved in stimulating debates, students will develop their critical perspective and will share their experience through various communication channels – writing, audio-visual tools, etc. – both within the academic and professional environments.

The course is offered in French but anglophone students are welcome as long as they are able to communicate in French. The course will take place 4-25 May, 2020

Professor Contact Information

Nathalie Mondain
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Telephone: 613-562-5800 ext. 1323

Office hours: Wednesday from 3 to 4:30 p.m., and preferably by appointment only
Office: Social Science Building, FSS 10006

Course Outline

Taiwan (Taipei)

Taiwan and Canada are both destination for female migrant workers responding to an expanding demand for live-in caregivers helping elderly people. It matters to know more about the reality of this workforce, labouring in worrisome conditions of precariousness and vulnerability, because it is bound to grow in importance during the coming decades, as result of changes in the demographic structure of our societies and in their welfare policies.

The classes include lectures by experts, meetings with civil society actors involved in the promotion of care workers’ civil rights, and excursions in the capital’s historical memorials, its health care institutions, and its important cultural sites. Students will gain understanding of the stakes related to labor relations and immigration in a society where traditional gender relations change, and concerns over the upholding of national identity remain acute.

This course is offered in English to undergraduate students from May 4 to 22, 2020.

Professor Contact Information

André Laliberté
School of Political Studies 

Office Hours: by appointment

Course Outline

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