Glendon opens first bilingual School of Public Affairs in Canada

Glendon College will open Canada’s first bilingual School of Public Affairs, offering graduate students a high-level bilingual education that will prepare them for leadership roles in public life.

York’s Board of Governors approved creation of the new school at its June 19 meeting. When fully developed, the school will offer a bilingual master’s degree, executive development programs, stays for mid-career public servants, and a research centre on public and international affairs.

Students in the two-year master’s program will become well-versed not only in public policy and administration, but in public affairs – a broader examination of Canadian public institutions and the domestic and international environments in which they function. Entering the program with a working knowledge of both official languages, they will pursue their studies in both languages and be fully bilingual when they graduate.

“The Glendon School of Public Affairs will be unique in Canada. It will respond to demand from federal and provincial governments for fully bilingual leaders and public service employees,” says York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden. “It will also become an important site for research and debate about the issues confronting government and the public sector.”

The school will fulfill the original mission of Glendon, which was founded by former diplomat Escott Reid to prepare leaders for public life in Canada, says Kenneth McRoberts (right), principal of Glendon. “Glendon provides students with a bilingual and broad-based liberal arts education. This interdisciplinary undergraduate education remains indispensable for leadership in public institutions. We are now building on it with the more focused study that comes with a master’s program,” says McRoberts, who will be acting director of the new school. A political scientist and past president of the Canadian Political Science Association, he has written extensively on intergovernmental relations and public policy in Canada.

Alex Himelfarb (left), who occupied the highest public service position in Canada as clerk of the Privy Council until recently (when he was appointed ambassador to the Italian Republic), will chair an advisory committee of leading Canadians from the public, private and voluntary sectors who will guide the development of the new school.

In addition to preparing students for public life, the new School of Public Affairs will give students the type of understanding of public institutions that is essential in leadership roles in other careers such as journalism and business-government relations, says McRoberts.

The projected bilingual master’s program in public affairs will introduce students to financial management, organizational theory, project implementation and evaluation, and other techniques of policy-making.

At the same time, students will study topics such as how public decision-making is shaped by economic processes and actors, and the relationship between the state and civil society. They will also explore how international influences shape Canadian policy and see how, increasingly, public goods are conceived on a global basis. Discussions are underway with Université Laval in Quebec regarding student exchanges with a comparable master’s program at Laval.

For a French version of Glendon’s media release, click here.