Directed research course from the Center on Governance for 4th year social science students (FSS 4150)

*** Please note we are no longer accepting applications for the Fall 2022 semester. Please check this website in December for the Winter semester competition. ***

Fourth-year social science students with an average of at least B+ will be able to participate in an applied research internship on the research themes addressed by the Centre on Governance. These include: public management, public policy, and governance. This research internship is supervised by a professional from a public, private or non-profit organization. The Centre's affiliated researchers and visiting scholars are also eligible to participate in this program. Internships are offered in English or French.

The qualified student will be paired with an experienced professional who will set the objectives of the project with the student and meet with him/her regularly to supervise the internship during the semester. The equivalent of one regular course (3 credits) will be granted to students who successfully meet the objectives. The Centre on Governance’s directed research course is offered by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa and managed by the Centre and its team with the support of the Office of the Vice-Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Students who are accepted into the program must register for course FSS 4150 (English).

The main objective of the program is to provide top-performing fourth-year students with hands-on professional research experience in the areas most relevant to the Centre on Governance.

The number of participating students will depend on the availability of research opportunities offered by the host organizations., affiliated researchers and visiting scholars. As a general rule, work on the research project will be done off-site, through telework, and will not be paid.

Host organizations, affiliated researchers and visiting scholars will contact or meet with students on a regular basis to establish the objectives of the placement and the work report to be submitted for the completion of the placement. In order to obtain course credits, students will be expected to meet the objectives set for the internship. The supervisor will evaluate the internship and the research report submitted by the student. The final evaluation will be determined by the Center on Governance directorate responsible for validating the student’s final grade based on the supervisor’s evaluation, and the internship report submitted to the centre. The final grade will follow the official alphanumeric evaluation scale of the University of Ottawa.

Student Eligibility and Commitments

To be eligible, a student must be enrolled in a Major, Honours, Joint Honours or Specialization in the Social Sciences. In addition, the student must have completed 81 credits. Finally, the student must have maintained a B+ (7/10) average or higher at the time of application to the program.

Students must commit to devoting approximately 100 hours of work to the project and agree to meet regularly with the professional designated by the host organization to supervise the student. Students must be committed to demonstrating a high level of professionalism throughout the project.

At the end of the project, students must prepare a brief report for the Centre on Governance. This report will form part of the evaluation for course grading and must include the following documents:

  • A one-page description of the work performed;
  • A copy of any research reports produced by the student as part of the internship;
  • A one-page evaluation describing the quality of interaction with the professional supervising the practicum and a description of the competencies acquired;
  • A two-page reflective text on the learning acquired and its relevance to the research conducted at the Centre on Governance: Public Management, Public Policy and Governance.

The grade for the course will be assigned by the Centre on Governance.

Applying and qualifying for the program does not guarantee participation. The number of research projects available will affect the number of students participating in a given semester. Other criteria also include the student’s grade point average.

The mechanism for allocating internships is explained below.

Eligible Host Organizations and Commitments

Host organizations eligible for this program provide applied research internships in areas related to the field of research of the Centre on Governance. All organizations external to the University of Ottawa are eligible. This does not exclude, on occasion, the possibility of producing research in collaboration with a professor who is a member of the Centre on Governance. However, supervision and coaching of the intern must be provided by a professional from the host organization, an affiliated researcher or a visiting scholar.

Host organizations, affiliated researchers and visiting scholars must provide a brief information document for each proposed research project as well as the name of the professional responsible for supervising the student. At a minimum, this person must have a master's or doctoral degree in the social sciences, management, or a relevant field. Multiple offers are accepted from the same host organization.

For each project, the information provided must include:

  • The name and address of the organization;
  • The name and title of the person who will supervise the student (must have a master's or doctoral degree in social sciences, management, or a relevant field);
  • A brief description of the research project and its relevance to the Centre on Governance;
  • Identification of any specific qualifications required from the student in order to carry out the research project.

Organizations, affiliated researchers and visiting scholars interested in submitting a proposal for a directed research project should submit a project.

Projects must be undertaken in English, French or in a bilingual environment.

The host organization, affiliated researchers and visiting scholars must agree to meet with the participating student at regular intervals, at least once a week, to assess progress and provide guidance.

At the end of the project, the host organisation, affiliated researchers and visiting scholars must prepare an evaluation of the student's performance, justifying in a few paragraphs and specifying the assessment according to the following scale:

  • exceeded expectations (A/A+),
  • met all expectations and, in some areas, exceeded expectations (A-),
  • succeeded on all expectations (B+),
  • was able to meet the most important expectations but failed to meet some secondary (C+/B) expectations,
  • was able to meet some expectations, but failed to meet one or more of the most important expectations (D+/C/C+),
  • met some secondary expectations but did not meet the most important (E/D) expectations, or
  • did not meet any of the expectations (F).

The Centre on Governance will validate the final grade for each student in the course.

Allocation Process

The program is not available during the summer term. In the fall and winter terms, the Centre on Governance will be calling for potential host organizations to develop and receive research projects for 4th year social science students. A bank of projects will be compiled and made available to students in mid-August (fall term) or mid-December (winter term).

Interested and qualified students will submit a form including their eligibility criteria (latest course transcripts), and a letter of intent for available projects (200 words maximum). Each student may identify a maximum of 2 projects (identifying first and second choice). A bank of qualified students will be prepared by the Centre on Governance taking their preferences into account.

The Centre on Governance management will be in charge of pairing research projects and students during first round. The host organization will have to approve or disapprove the proposed match based on the student's file. Some interaction may be necessary to ensure that the interests of the students and the needs of the host organizations are best matched. Once the host organization has approved the match, the student will be offered a place in the Directed Research course.

The number of internships offered for a given duration may be less than the number of qualified and interested students. In such a case, the Centre on Governance will give priority based on the excellence of the student's academic record. Qualified students who are denied an internship in one term may apply for another term. Qualified students will be allowed to complete only one practicum in their fourth year. International students may also participate.

Some project opportunities may not be filled due to the limited number of students. The Centre on Governance will then inform the organizations concerned. In this case, the organization will be invited to submit its project(s) for the following semester.

Participating Organizations and Registration

The following projects have been confirmed by our partners participating in the Centre on Governance’s directed research course:

Fall 2022

  • Visiting Affiliated Researcher at CoG. Project: Canadian border management in times of COVID 19: A study of policy narratives. This project investigates border management in Canada in times of the COVID 19 pandemic through the study of policy stakeholders’ narratives. In this directed study, the student will assist the professor with bibliographic research, including thorough reading and summarizing of books, academic journal articles, legislative documents, and national and local newspapers analyzing how the Canadian borders have been managed in times of the COVID 19 pandemic. Special attention should be paid to how border management policies have changed since the COVID 19 was declared a health crisis, compounded by other disasters, such as asylum seekers fleeing wars and famine. The student will explore the policy narratives of different stakeholders, such as elected representatives, special interest groups.
  • US-based Affiliated Researcher. Project: Case Study book chapter: International City Management Association. City of Moncton. Topic of case study-Management challenges in a bi-lingual community. Will be working with Prof. Blair; Marc Landry, city manager of Moncton, NB; and David Johnston, retired Quebec city manager. Student will be collecting information from City of Moncton regarding their bilingual policies and procedures, including documents and interviews with city officials. Student will also interview Mr. Johnson. Project is part of larger case study book to be published by the International City Management Association.  Prof. Blair will write the final copy of the case study to make it a learning experience for students studying to be city managers.
  • Forum of Federation. Project: Corruption and decentralized/federal/multilevel governance. The conventional wisdom on this topic is that the decentralization of governance provides increased opportunities for corruption to proliferate due to a lack of central oversight/control. But some studies suggest that in practice there is greater accountability when governance is closer to the people, and therefore that corruption is less prevalent. This is a particularly relevant issue in a development context in countries which are undertaking decentralization or federalization processes.
  • International Affiliated Researcher: The project will mainly focus on public management and specifically human resources management (HRM) and agile government. The student will need to participate in data analysis collected from executives, HR officers, HR directors, supervisors related to agile/innovative HRM practices.
  • International Affiliated Researcher. Project: The governance of issues across levels (national, transnational, international) is increasingly characterized by overlapping functions and networked relations among different actors. One example is the (sometimes significant) impact non-state actors can have in state-centric multilateral institutions. Such examples require moving away from analytical models that assume states and their international institutions as the sole authorities, to one where a mix of actors, like corporations, standard-setting agencies, and non-profits, can also exert authority. These public-private dynamics require a reconsideration of our understanding of authority, who is authoritative, how that comes about, and how it operates practically. Through literature searches and reviews of recent scholarship on public, private, and hybrid authority in (global) governance, the student will acquire a better conceptual grasp of this fundamental social science term. Authority is the basis for governance, and through this project the student will contribute to analysis of what forms it takes and how it could be made accountable and legitimate. Ideally the student would have familiarity with conducting literature reviews and some previous coursework in political science.
  • Affiliated Researcher. Project: This research project on democratic governance in Canada investigates the relationships between lobbyists, politicians and public servants. The project's contribution is twofold. First, the project highlights the role of lobbyists representing corporations and other interest groups in democratic governance in Canada. Second, the research contributes to discussions on ethics and transparency in public policy processes by creating research tools and databases that are made available through the project's website ( The project places a strong emphasis on research and knowledge mobilization and values student training, as evidenced by our collaborations with students from Canadian and European universities.
  • Parliamentary Centre. Project: Kenya is a new addition to our current projects in Ghana and Togo. Funded by Global Affairs Canada, this project will support the Members of Parliament and the parliamentary staff in assessing gender-equality gaps, formulating a process, and designing tools to strengthen their capacity to incorporate gender equality measures across the exercise of their legislative, oversight, and representation roles. The scope of the work includes participating in research on Kenya by developing a donor scan, and reviewing the National Policy on Gender and Development to develop a critical analysis of current gender issues in Kenya.
  • Forum on Water Law and Governance. Project: The student will support the team of the University of Ottawa Forum on Water Law and Governance which is currently working on the publication of the second edited book on the issues of multilevel governance in the protection, management and law of freshwater. The student may be required to perform other tasks aimed at supporting the semester activities of the Forum. The student must be bilingual.
  • Affiliated Researcher. Project: Not-for-profit board governance practices.This research wishes to study not-for-profit board governance practices.  We are seeking to identify the  “best governance practices” rooted in law and business principles and identify the gap between “good” and “bad” practices. Not-for-profit governance, for the most part, is based on volunteer labour and has the reputation as not being as rigorous as private corporation board governance. It is often said that there is more governance rigour – oversight - in for-profit corporations because of capital markets. That being said, the notion that “governance is governance” should apply to both for-profit and equally to not-for-profit corporations as they often work in the public interest and as they often pay not taxes.
  • Forum on Water Law and Governance. Project: The blue economy: an innovative concept source of irrigation of public policies? Cross study of the Blue Economy Strategies of the African Union (AU) and Canada. This research project studies and compares the Pan-African and Pan-Canadian Blue Economy Strategies. He especially appreciates their development process knowing that one is complete and the other is under construction. It will be interesting to see if the methodology used by pan-African authorities can be applied in Canada and what lessons can be learned in terms of improving global water governance. Can Canada learn from Africa? And can Africa perfect its strategy by drawing inspiration from Canada? The theoretical prism mainly used will be that of the analysis of public policies. And more precisely the sequential paradigm initially formulated by Harold Laswell and enriched by his supporters. As part of the directed study, the student will assist the researcher in his bibliographical research. This includes extensive reading as well as synthesis of academic journal articles, regulatory documents, and national and international journals.

Winter 2023

  • US-based Affiliated Researcher. Project: Canadian city management research: data collection. This project is part of a larger study of professional city management in Canada, begun by Prof. Blair in 2021, assisted by Centre on Governance students. The research project includes case studies of selected municipalities in various provinces. Working with Prof. Blair student will identify 5 to 10 municipalities in Canada for an intensive examination.  Focus of case study is the identification of the role and responsibility of the city manager in the municipality, examining the collaboration between elected officials and city administrator in the development and implementation of public policy. Relying primarily on internet sources, and the municipality’s webpage, the student will research local ordinances, job descriptions, strategic plans, organizational charts, development plans, etc.

Applying and qualifying for the program does not guarantee participation. The number of research projects available will affect the number of students participating in a given semester.

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