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Indigenous Studies

Shirley Williams standing outside in front of Gzowski College with two Ph.D. students
Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Studies


M.A. Program in Canadian Studies & Indigenous Studies

The interdisciplinary M.A. in Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies program is a collaborative effort that draws on a diverse range of Trent faculty.

Thematic areas for the degree include: the study of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada; Canadian culture, including literature, theory, the visual arts and cultural heritage; political economy, labour, social policy, community development; environmental politics, policy and natural heritage; women and gender in Canada; identities and difference, including the study of region and place, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities; Canada in the global context.

Through course work and the writing of a thesis or a major research paper, the M.A. program offers students advanced exploration of themes and debates in Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies as well as a grounding in methodological and theoretical approaches to current scholarly research and writing. Critical and engaged writing, thinking and discussion are encouraged not only through scholarly work, but also through the conferences, visiting speakers, student workshops other events sponsored by the Frost Centre.

The M.A. is offered by the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies & Indigenous Studies, established in 1982 and named for Trent’s first Chancellor and a former premier of Ontario, Leslie Frost. The Frost Centre is both a research centre and the home for two graduate programs, including the M.A. in Canadian Studies & Indigenous Studies, and the Joint Trent-Carleton PhD in Canadian Studies. The Centre strives to create a vibrant space for scholarly research, writing, and discussion about past and current debates and issues central to a critical understanding of Canada.

M.A. in Sustainability Studies

This Program leads to a Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Sustainability Studies and will carry out interdisciplinary graduate education and research that will improve our understanding of environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, and social responsibility.

The program is designed to enable students to explore the sustainability of human societies and the natural environment and will provide them with the education and training that will prepare them to be intellectual and organizational leaders within academia, government, industry and the non-profit sector.

Our graduates will also be equipped with skills in research and critical thinking that will enable them to pursue a doctorate or further academic training. Graduates from the M.A. in Sustainability Studies will help meet the growing demand for highly qualified personnel who can further environmentally and socially sustainable policies, strategies, and practices in for-profit, non-profit, government, and non-governmental organizations.

Ph.D. Program in Indigenous Studies

The Ph.D. program in Indigenous Studies was the first program of its kind in Canada and only the second in North America. It is interdisciplinary in nature and based on the integration of Indigenous and Western academic knowledge. The program seeks to ensure that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of Indigenous knowledge, as reflected in traditional and contemporary worldviews and expressed in practice, are articulated, discussed, documented, recognized and experienced. In order to achieve this vision, the Indigenous Studies Ph.D. program offers an educational opportunity at an advanced level of study within a respectful environment. Students will be engaged in learning experiences that are centred in Indigenous cultures in content and process and reflect the interaction between traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledges within the academic context. It is an interdisciplinary program developed and sustained in partnership with Indigenous communities, which seek to advance learning through creative interaction of teaching, research and experience of the highest quality. The program is a culturally based interdisciplinary program, which assumes an emic, or insider’s, viewpoint rooted in Indigenous Knowledges, spirituality, principles and cultural values. It recognizes that Indigenous knowledges are as valid as the knowledge of Western-trained academics. It seeks to blend this knowledge as expressed by Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Holders, with Western academic perspectives. To this end the program brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to study at an advanced level the historical, cultural and contemporary situation of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Holders are central to the program.

The program aims:

  • to advance Indigenous Studies as an interdisciplinary field of study through the rebuilding and recognition of Indigenous knowledge systems and the creation of knowledge which reflects Indigenous peoples’ experiences
  • to make available to students, at an advanced level, education in Indigenous Studies that will enable graduates to employ a range of experience and skills in the context of Indigenous communities, as well as in Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations
  • to explore research methodologies that reflect Indigenous knowledge systems
  • to prepare students for careers in teaching, research, administration, business and government