Students praise new graduate school of public affairs

Last fall, Glendon welcomed the first cohort of students to enrol in Canada’s first bilingual Master’s in Public & International Affairs Program (MPIA). Ambitious and headed for diverse careers, many in this class of 18 say their first year has so far more than lived up to their expectations.

An integral part of the new Glendon School of Public & International Affairs, the master’s program offers a high-quality bilingual education that prepares students for leadership roles in public life. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding public affairs and a Canadian perspective in an international context. In the first year, students take prescribed courses; in the second, they focus on their areas of interest and have chances to do internships and exchanges.

“Our program offers a study of public affairs with a broad scope,” says Roberto Perin (left), director of the graduate program. “We are preparing specialists, not just for government positions, but also non-governmental and international organizations, such as the UN and the International Red Cross.” Perin emphasizes the benefits of a small program. “Faculty members have a sense of each individual student, who they are and what their goals are, their qualifications and what they bring to the program.” And because students share the same classes in first year, there is an esprit de corps and a positive atmosphere.

What do these first students really like about the program? Small classes, challenging courses, the range of study – and the guest speakers they hear at weekly colloquia.

From left, students Alice Gheorghiu, Edgar Aldrin Bartolome, Bethan Dinning and Adrienne Novak

Multilingual and well-travelled Adrienne Novak, who earned a BA in European studies, political science and sociology at the University of Toronto, likes the small classes and wide-ranging courses. “Coming from a large university, I was not accustomed to the smaller classes and streamlined introduction to policy formulation we received at Glendon this fall. However, I quickly began to appreciate the complexity of policy-making and enjoy the various courses that address different aspects of public policies. I now understand that it is necessary to cover a wide range of specific topics in order to be properly introduced to policy studies.”

Edgar Aldrin Bartolome, who earned a BA in French and an international studies certificate from Queen’s University and can speak Filipino/Tagalog, Italian, Spanish and German, has set his sights on the Canadian foreign service. Impressed with the faculty and the “dynamic and challenging atmosphere,” he says “one of my favourite classes is the weekly colloquium series: Canada and its Place in the World. These lectures offer unique opportunities to interact with prominent public figures and discuss important issues and current events.” The MPIA program and the Glendon experience measure up to his expectations. “It is a very enriching academic and social environment.”

Bethan Dinning, who earned a BA in political science at the University of Ottawa, is interested in development and foreign aid. Through the Glendon courses, her interests have broadened. “I hope to work in development one day or possibly in the foreign service, but as I keep learning about new fields, I try not to let any doors close either.” She echoes the general enthusiasm about the weekly colloquium whose guest speakers “have brought interesting perspectives and challenged some of my own ideas about issues such as immigration, religious freedom and the responsibility to protect.”

Francophone student Alice Gheorghiu holds a BA in communications and political science from the University of Montreal. “I was immediately attracted to the [MPIA] program,” she says. “Situated in a renowned school with prestigious faculty members, it offers courses which will undoubtedly help me reach my goals. As far as the courses and academic opportunities are concerned, they amaze and excite me with the stimulation they provide and the questions they raise.” Gheorghiu isn’t sure whether to work or do a PhD after her Glendon MPIA. “But whichever choice I make, the MPIA program is sure to provide me with a solid background that will enrich my future experiences and opportunities.”

The MPIA program offers students a chance to go on exchange for a semester to universities such as Laval University in Quebec and the University of Strasbourg in France. The possibility of completing first year at Glendon and second year in France, resulting in a double master’s degree, is also under consideration.

The school is also arranging summer internships for students in various federal and Quebec government offices. As part of her two-year mandate, Diane Morissette (right), Glendon’s first Federal Public Servant-in-Residence acts as liaison for recruitment and internships within the public service.

The students who have enrolled in this pioneering master’s program “represent the new reality in Canada, a new generation of smart young people who are at ease with the multicultural aspect of cities like Toronto, who embrace the two official languages, and are capable of offering critical reflections on Canadian myths or excesses of political correctness,” says Professor Michael Barutciski (left), colloquium programmer and chair of Glendon’s Multidisciplinary Studies Department who teaches diplomacy, immigration and international law.

Both the master’s program and the Glendon School of Public & International Affairs represent the long-standing vision of Kenneth McRoberts (right), Glendon principal, political science professor and director of the school. “This school is in direct line with Glendon’s founding mission of preparing bilingual leaders for public life,” he says, “and it is very gratifying to see it underway with such promising students.” 

Submitted to YFile by Marika Kemeny, Glendon communications officer