Field research courses

Large group of smiling participants from the Field Research Course

Field Research Courses Summer 2019

The deadline to apply for the Summer 2019 courses is November 19, 2018 before 4 p.m.

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 9 to 27, 2019.

Professor Contact Information

Professor Meg Stalcup
School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies

Office Hours Fall Trimester: Thursdays 12:30-2:20 PM
FSS 10008

Course Outline


In Canada, the Indigenous population is, in general, more at risk for health problems than the non-Indigenous population. In addition, many urban Indigenous people do not trust public health services and staff; they therefore rarely frequent them, except in cases of emergency. This worsens the disparity in the health status of Indigenous people compared to non-Indigenous people residing in urban areas, their diagnoses being most often late, their medication, inappropriate, and their follow-up, virtually non-existent.

In recent decades, in the wake of the denunciation of these inequalities and injustices, and the parallel movement of identity and political affirmation of Canada’s Indigenous population, a variety of innovative initiatives have emerged, such as the Minowé Clinic, an health care clinic for Indigenous people residing or passing through Val-d'Or, Quebec. By settling within the walls of a center that was already known to the Indigenous people in the region (the Val d'Or Native Friendship Center), and by developing models of practices based on Indigenous knowledge , the Minowé Clinic has contributed to a significant improvement in the health status of the Indigenous population in the region. Nevertheless, challenges remain to the good functioning of an initiative like that of the Minowé Clinic, including the non-recognition, by federal and provincial government authorities, of the authority and expertise of Indigenous organizations in the design, development, and implementation of public services.

By examining, in situ, the genesis and operation of the Minowé Clinic, this course seeks to raise students’ awareness about the health inequities facing the Indigenous population in Canada, the role played by Indigenous organizations in addressing them, as well as the difficulties encountered in this process. Moreover, this course aims to introduce students to the ethical issues involved in conducting research in Indigenous communities, as well as the methodological approaches that are best suited to fostering a true decolonization of academic research.

This course is offered in French, to undergraduate students, from May 20 to June 11, 2019 NEW.

Professor Contact Information

Karine Vanthuyne
School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies

Office Hours: Thursdays from 2:30 to 3:30p.m. or by appointment

Course Outline


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland (NI) is a stimulating setting from a public policy development perspective where the public service and non-profit organizations are very much involved in policy making and implementation since the collapse of the government in January 2017.  NI also provides students an opportunity to study social issues and policy making in a post-conflict society, presenting more stability and security than other conflict zones while, at the same time, carrying a past that still impact social policy development.

The course therefore aims at understanding how certain contemporary social problems are answered in different governmental contexts.  The course will focus on sensitive issues and how they are understood and supported in the policy formulation process in NI (in comparison with Canada).  Specifically, the course is organized along two axes: 1) an introduction to the political and social context of Northern Ireland with an explicit attention on social policy making; 2) an immersion in two specific social issues: Social insecurity and homelessness and social justice through the Magdalene Laundries case. 

The course will include group lectures (12 hours), visits to historical sites and meeting with policy actors/groups. This course will take place in Belfast, in collaboration with the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences at Ulster University (Jordanstown and Coleraine campuses). A visit to the Giant’s Causeway is also scheduled.

This course is offered in English to undergraduate students from May 4 to 25, 2019.

Professor Contact Information

Nathalie Burlone, Ph.D.
School of Political Studies

Office hours by appointment, in room FSS7006

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 May 5th to 25th 2019. 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



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 27 to June 16 2019.

Professor Contact Information

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

Office hours: Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., FSS6054

Course Outline

Taiwan (Hualien)

This is a three-week field course to the College of Indigenous Studies, National Dong Hwa University, in Hualien, Taiwan, an area with a large indigenous population. Through course works and field visits, students will gain knowledge of what international indigeneity means in the specific context of Taiwan and it its local communities. The course will enable students to get a hands-on experience with anthropological field research methods of participant observation research and taking field notes. Students will visit Paiwan and Rukai communities in Taitung, as well as the Truku community of Skadang, at an elevation of 1400 meters in the mountains of the Taroko National Park. This is a challenging uphill hike, but an unparalleled opportunity to get to know the forested mountains and the people who live there. The course will explore issues of indigenous peoples in Taiwan, including culture, state-indigenous relations, development and, above all, ecology.

This course is offered in English to undergraduate students from May 6th to 24th 2019

Professor Contact Information

Scott Simon
Sociological and Anthropological Studies
613-562-5800 ext.1363

Office Hours: Tuesday, 10am to noon and by appointment
Office:Social Sciences Building, FSS 10007

Course Outline


Since January 2011, Tunisia has been experiencing political and social upheavals of such magnitude that every day moves the country further away from the authoritarian Arab exception.  The political, legal and institutional achievements that Tunisians have succeeded in building over the past seven years have been admired around the world. The success of Tunisians must be understood not only politically but also in its cultural dimension. In other words, not only have the Tunisian elite avoided the trap of civil war, which unfortunately has been tearing apart much of its immediate neighbours (Libya) and more distant ones (Syria, Iraq, Yemen); they have also succeeded in indirectly laying the long-awaited foundations for a reform of Arab-Muslim culture, a culture often considered incompatible with the philosophical origins of democracy and the founding principles of human rights. In other words, by democratizing themselves, Tunisians have partially solved the problem of sharing political power, which for fourteen centuries has remained almost insolvent in Arab-Muslim culture.

These advances, undoubtedly unique in the Arab and Muslim worlds in their speed and depth, led to Tunisia’s winning of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. They have also enabled Tunisia to join the community  of democracies worldwide. After being ranked, during the era of Ben Ali's detestable dictatorship, among the ten countries most hostile to freedom of expression, Tunisia is now ranked by the prestigious Democracy Index of The Economist among the flawed  or imperfect democracies. It was ranked 57th on a scale of 167 countries, with a score of 6.32 out of 10. This means in practice that it has been classified as the first, if not only, Arab democracy and the fifth African democracy. A radical turnaround in such a short period of time is not only to be welcomed but above all to be supported and protected by the international community. For scholars in the academic world, Tunisia is thus  a  rich and intriguing case-study to investigate.

This course proposes to study the evolution of the situation on the ground in Tunisia during 2019, which will be the year of the third democratic election after the uprising against the Ben-Ali dictatorship and the second under the new constitution of 2014.

This course is offered in French to undergraduate students, from May 3 to 24, 2019.

Professor Contact Information

Noomane Raboudi
School of Political Studies

Office hours: Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., FSS 7022

Course Outline

Back to top