Glendon Campus
York University
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Toronto, Ontario
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Top Students Choose Glendon’s New Graduate School of Public Affairs

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What makes outstanding students choose a particular school or program? Relevant, interesting courses, excellent professors and a clearly defined mandate that resonates with their goals and aspirations. And that is just what Glendon’s new bilingual Graduate School of International and Public Affairs (GSPIA) promises to be. It has opened its doors this past fall to its first cohort of students – a select group of ambitious applicants with clear goals in mind, expecting a first-class education.

The GSPIA is part of a network of graduate schools in the Toronto region focussing on public policy and public administration. However, the Glendon GSPIA offers a number of important advantages not available at any other institution. The small, seminar-style classes; the interdisciplinary nature of the program, capturing a wide range of subjects and building a solid foundation for understanding public affairs today; the international context explored through studying Canadian as well as international organizations; most of all, the program’s fully bilingual aspect - all of which result in a first class Masters Program that is unique in the field.

Eighteen top students, from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, have enrolled in this elite MA program (MPIA), fully functional in both English and French and ready for the challenge of studying in both languages - submitting tests and exams in each course’s teaching language. Their first-year courses are prescribed, intended to provide them with a wide range of background knowledge and the opportunity of participating in all the offerings, whether classroom, symposium or extracurricular. By joining together daily and attending the same lectures and discussions, they have formed a cohesive group that studies and socializes together. The benefits are clear and significant.


L-R: Masters students Alice Gheorghiu, Edgar Aldrin Bartolome, Bethan Dinning and Adrienne Novak

Torontonian Adrienne Novak has earned a BA (With Distinction) in European Studies, Political Science and Sociology from the University of Toronto. She has also participated in several Summer Abroad programs, notably in Bonn, Germany; Tours, France; and Oxford, UK, which provided her with proficiency in French and German. “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.” MPIA participants are not only responsible for studying the course material, but also for directing some of the lessons, a rare opportunity and an important challenge for the students.

Edgar Aldrin Bartolome of Ottawa holds a BA in French Studies and Linguistics from Queen’s University, Kingston, as well as an International Studies Certificate from Queen’s University’s International Studies Centre at Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex, UK, and an advanced-level certificate of French proficiency from the Sorbonne. In addition to French and English, he is fluent in Filipino/Tagalog, Italian, Spanish and German and has basic knowledge of several other Filipino dialects as well. Before moving to Canada, he has lived in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, and has travelled extensively to many parts of the world. An excellent student throughout his academic career, his sights are set on a future in the Foreign Service, or other options within Canada’s federal public service.

“I am very pleased with my GSPIA courses”, says Bartolome, “and impressed with the faculty members teaching us: well-respected academics, who provide a dynamic and challenging atmosphere. 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.” Bartolome affirms that the MPIA program and the Glendon experience measure up to his expectations, offering a high quality master’s education, surrounded by friendly, talented and motivated students and staff. “It is a very enriching academic and social environment.”

Bethan Dinning hails from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. She graduated from the University of Ottawa with a BA (Magna Cum Laude) in Political Science and a second-language certification in French. An all-around person, she was a member of the 2004 Canada Games B.C. curling team, as well as the recipient of the ‘Star of the City’ Award in Ottawa for outstanding customer service in 2006. She arrived to the Glendon MPIA having already explored an interest in development and foreign aid. Through the Glendon courses, these interests have broadened to include new areas of study as a result of talking with professors and classmates. “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. Our professors leave room to allow us to research and study what interests us and to try to apply it to the classes.” She echoes the general enthusiasm about the weekly colloquium class, 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.”

Alice Gheorghiu, a Francophone student from Montreal, holds a BA from Université de Montréal with a combined major in Communications and Political Science. “I was immediately attracted to the [MPIA] program and the incredible image it presented. Situated in a renowned school with prestigious faculty members, it offers courses which will undoubtedly help me reach my goals. As all new programs, it needs time to be fully developed and we are lucky to participate in that process – it’s a unique opportunity. 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.” When asked about future plans, Gheorghiu is uncertain whether to search for a position with the federal government after her MA, or to continue on for a PhD. “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. I am happy and proud to be part of this MPIA's first-year cohort!”

An important component of the MPIA program is its offer of exchanges for a semester to top universities in Quebec and overseas, enabling students to perfect their language skills and benefit from each institution’s particular focus. Université Laval in Québec and Université de Strasbourg in France – where the European Parliament sits – are just a few examples of such opportunities. The possibility of completing first year at Glendon and second year in France, resulting in a double Masters degree is also under consideration. “Our program offers a study of public affairs with a broad scope”, says Glendon History Professor Roberto Perin (right), Graduate Program Director of the School. “We are preparing specialists, not just for government positions, but also non-governmental and international organizations, such as the U.N. and the International Red Cross.” Perin emphasizes the benefits of the close, personal contact students have with their professors. “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. This enables us to smooth out any problems which may arise.” He also points to the fact that they share the entire program in the first year, creating an esprit de corps and a positive atmosphere which they can share next year with the new cohort.

The School also arranges student internships for the summer months, adding a hands-on aspect to the academic courses. Students in the program express great enthusiasm for these positions and are eagerly awaiting the finalized offerings. Internships are currently being negotiated with the Public Service of Canada: in the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, the Learning Branch of HRSDC, and the Labour Market Policy Directorate; with Quebec’s Ministry of Canadian and Intergovernmental Affairs, and others. Glendon’s first Federal Public Servant-in-Residence on the campus, Diane Morissette is an important link in this and other activities. A high-level government executive with vast experience, her 2-year mandate is to build relationships, share talent and ideas, and act as liaison for recruitment and internships within the Public Service. “I am at the crossroads of the School’s varying dimensions - strategic, administrative, academic, social and human relations,” says Morissette. “It is exciting to contribute to the emergence and consolidation of a new organization, especially when working with people who have fresh eyes and open minds."

Associate Professor Michael Barutciski (left) is responsible for programming the much praised colloquium series, Canada and its Place in the World. In addition to his responsibilities with the MPIA program, he is also Chair of Glendon’s Multidisciplinary Studies Department and a specialist in such topics as diplomacy, immigration and international law. “The students we attract 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. Whereas previous generations fought hard for idealistic policies relating to bilingualism or multiculturalism, these students, who have benefited from these policies, are arguably in a better position to assess the new problems encountered in our societies from national, international and cross-cultural perspectives.” Barutciski brings a decade of teaching experience in similar programs in different countries to the School. Every member of the MPIA’s teaching faculty brings diverse specializations and a wealth of relevant experience to the program.

The GSPIA and the MPIA program it houses represent the long-standing vision of its Director, Glendon Principal and Political Science Professor Kenneth McRoberts (right). His aim is for the School, and for Glendon as a whole, to be a meeting point between Canadian Francophones and Anglophones, a place where they can build relationships and an understanding that will have national and global benefits. “This School [of Public and International Affairs] is in direct line with Glendon’s founding mission of preparing bilingual leaders for public life”, says McRoberts, “and it is very gratifying to see it underway with such promising students.”

Article by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on March 4, 2009