Political Studies examines the dynamics of human interaction in which individuals and groups compete to achieve their goals. The study of politics involves a consideration of the interactions between the individual, the state, government, public affairs and public policy. Political Studies examines the dynamics of these interactions in the context of competing visions, values and interests, particularly in the pursuit of varying public goals, including the quest for political power and the control of government. Politics is thus both a study of conflict among competing interests and a study of how these competing interests achieve compromise and cooperation.
Radhika Desai teaches politics, international political economy and development issues from a social justice perspective. In particular she emphasizes the destructive consequences of inequality, oppression, poverty and deprivation and the critical importance of democratic political activity, and of deepening and broadening democracy, in ending them. At various times she has been active in trade unions, women’s organizations, minority groups and issue-based coalitions. She has consistently sought to bring her scholarship to the service of these organizations and to bring these experiences back to her teaching to enrich its content and pedagogy.
As a scholar of Indigenous politics, Kiera Ladner works extensively in the area of human rights. Her multifaceted research program in Indigenous politics and governance is well situated within the field of human rights. More specifically, her research project on constitutional reconciliation examines the potential for political reconciliation between Indigenous nations and the settler state in the present given the long history of injustice, discrimination, oppression, domination, regime replacement and the (attempted) destruction of nations; a history often referred to as political genocide. Beyond examining the constitutional requirements and foundations for securing political reconciliation, Ladner's research program includes several community-based projects on envisioning and mobilizing decolonization and reconciliation. These include: (1) a project honouring the 20 year anniversary of the resistance at 'Oka' (really Kahnewa:ke and Kanehsata:ke) which was both the result of centuries of human rights violations (collective and individual) in Mohawk territory and it resulted in new human rights violations; (2) a project exploring the manner in which decolonization and reconciliation has been envisioned in Hawaii since the 1970s in response to the both historic and contemporary human rights violations; and (3) developing a project which engages youth in research on social justice and reconciliation. Finally, Ladner is also developing Mamawipawin - a research space for community-based research with Indigenous peoples - which will enable her both further her research and aid other scholars and students who are pursuing research in this area.
An expert in contemporary theory, Dr. Lecce has recently published in the areas of children's voting rights, and civil and political liberties. Dr. Lecce’s research agenda and interests include Contemporary Political Theory; Theories of Social and Distributive Justice; The Ethical Bases of Liberalism; Democratic Theory; and Children, Families, and the State.
Dr. Karine Levasseur
Dr. Levasseur joined the political studies department in 2011.
Her research explores the relationship between the voluntary sector – including human rights charities – and the federal government in Canada.
Levasseur's Carleton PhD dissertation examined the impact of legal, regulatory and funding frameworks on organizations with charitable status.
One particular area she assessed was the limitation placed on human rights charities in terms of their ability to advocate. Her research findings indicate that while real benefits flow from receiving charitable status, such as increased legitimacy and the ability to diversify funding, the trade-off is the ability to engage in advocacy.
Given that much of the work human rights charities do is related to advocacy and policy, the implications for public policy development are significant, particularly in an era when the policy capacity of federal and provincial governments is declining.
Dr. Levasseur is an assistant professor and the director of co-operative education for the joint master's program in public administration with the University of Winnipeg.
Dr. MacDonald is an assistant professor of political studies. She is interested in multiculturalism and citizenship; democratic theory; Indigenous politics and feminist political theory.
She is working on a book manuscript for UBC Press on Democratic Multinationalism: Reimagining State-Indigenous Relations in Canada. Future research plans include looking at how issue framing can be used to garner political will on basic human needs such as clean water for Indigenous peoples.
On Feb. 7, 2011, Dr. MacDonald presented Are Child Welfare Agencies the “New” Indian Residential Schools? as part of the Centre for Human Rights Research Initiative’s Critical Conversations seminar series. Macdonald argued that while some modest improvements have been made to Indigenous child welfare, the current agency/authority models do little to change the underlying colonial dynamic. In fact, current models are particularly dangerous, given the state-sponsored discourse of “autonomy” and “empowerment” that gives the appearance that Indigenous needs have been met and the colonial power structure de-centred.
In the field of International Relations, one of George MacLean’s primary areas of research and publishing has been in the field of human security. He has published 2 book chapters and 5 journal articles in this area, and has presented 10 conference papers on human security. He has served on the University of Manitoba’s Joint Faculty Research Ethics Board, and is an associated member of the Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice. He also sat on the Ad Hoc Committee (chaired by Dr. Digvir Jayas) on Research and Infrastructure Projects (Human Rights programs) in 2007.