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Forecasting 2017 and Beyond: Political Science

A&S News asked some Faculty leaders what’s ahead in their fields in 2017 and beyond.

Here’s what the head of our political science department, Louis W. Pauly sees coming soon.

Photo of Louis W. Pauly

Louis W. Pauly, Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science

A continuing tradition of interdisciplinarity

The Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto has a proud past and a bright future. Its roots reach back to the Department of Political Economy, established in 1888. Originally, political economy encompassed what is now law, anthropology, geography, and sociology, and economics.

Although those fields long ago established their independence on our campus, political science remains notably interdisciplinary. Core faculty now include political theorists, political economists, international relations specialists, comparativists, scholars of public policy and more.

Asking the ‘big questions’ in a different way

Political science at the University of Toronto remains best known for its commitment to political philosophy, its penchant for asking ‘big questions’ in every field, and its methodological pluralism.Other departments, especially in the United States, spent much of the past couple of decades locked in divisive methodological debates. Our judgment lay against the presumption that any one methodological approach could fully comprehend the scope of political questions facing humanity. No doubt, there remains a certain Canadian sensibility behind our strategic choices, but we now rank among the top departments in the world. And it is no coincidence that we continue to play a leading role in developing, directing and staffing many of the innovative programs and affiliated schools the Faculty of Arts & Science has championed in recent decades.

Collaborating to solve global problems

Interdisciplinary collaboration will continue to mark the work of our faculty in the year ahead and beyond. Ron Deibert and other colleagues are at the forefront of research on cyber security and human rights in the digital age. Aisha Ahmad and Ed Schatz are building a forum to address rising Islamophobia. Randall Hansen, Joseph Carens, and others are world leaders in the study of the forces pushing and pulling migration and related policies in new directions.

Theresa Enright is unraveling puzzles associated with the development of new transportation systems in global cities. Sylvia Bashevkin remains at the cutting edge of research on women in political leadership roles around the world.

Canada’s 150th birthday

And let’s not forget that during 2017 we will be celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. Not coincidentally, we will see a number of colleagues publishing related books and articles, not the least of which will be a major study of our country’s political development by University Professor Emeritus Peter Russell, who joined the Department in 1958!

Sharing expertise based on world events

Undoubtedly, colleagues will generate much commentary during the year on American politics as the Trump era dawns, while others will be asked to speak about the implications of Brexit, the challenges facing indigenous communities in Canada and elsewhere, and an array of policy dilemmas in the Pacific region. Know that underneath their public statements and their teaching in burgeoning classrooms lies first-rate scholarly research by them, their colleagues, and their students. If they could speak today, their forebears from 1888 would surely be proud.

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