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Canadian Studies


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What to Expect

Canadian studies is an interdisciplinary field. That means students don't just focus on one subject, like history or political science. Instead, they study a wide range of topics.

Canadian studies students have a lot of flexibility when choosing courses. Most programs have an introduction class -- a basic overview of everything Canadian. Then it's up to the students to pick and choose Canadian content courses.

History, economy, art, literature, environment, cultural studies and political science are just a few examples of what might be offered.

David Joyce wants to become a social sciences high-school teacher. He's taking Canadian studies en route to an education program. He loves the diversity and flexibility of the program. He studies everything about Canada, from history to literature, art, politics and economics.

"You need to be open to new ideas and listening to many viewpoints," says Joyce.

Students must learn to think about Canada, its people and culture and land, through a multidisciplinary perspective.

"If you prepare for class and take an interest in your topic, whether it is the Canadian economy, history of the French in North America or Inuit Art, then any college student can be successful," says Woody Groves. He's a Canadian studies student.

Groves was raised in the U.S., close to the Canadian border. He recognized the similarities and differences between the two nations. But what really drew him to Canadian studies was a love of hockey.

"For a young kid, the excitement that Canadians generate at a hockey game really inspired me," he says.

"As I got older and became more interested in political and cultural differences between nations, not just between Canada and the United States, I began to notice that despite many similarities in the problems facing the two countries, in many instances the two nations take distinctive paths and solutions to these problems."

American students may be challenged to learn about another form of government.

"We are so used to learning about the way the United States is governed that it's hard to understand another system," says Canadian studies student Zachary Langmead.

Students can expect homework to include reading, essays and studying for exams. Assignments will differ depending on what classes you choose.

"I probably spend four to five hours doing the reading assigned for my courses on the days I have off," says Groves. He has classes three days a week. "All of my courses except one are history courses, and have an average of one to two hours of reading for each class."

Joyce and Langmead both usually study about two hours per day. "It is very important to stay up to date on your day-to-day school work and the readings," Joyce says.

Textbooks are the major additional cost for Canadian studies students. Groves says to apply for scholarships to help with costs and buy books online.

How to Prepare

Studying French in high school is a good idea.

"Considering Canada is a bilingual nation, I think it would really benefit a student to have a basic to good knowledge of the language," says Groves. Any courses from the social studies department will help to prepare you.

"While they may not offer anything like Canadian studies, taking a course on another culture will definitely help when it comes to opening up to what Canada is all about," says Langmead.


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