Citizenship, Political Participation and Social Change in the Global South (Canada)

Instructor: Bettina von Lieres

Citizenship, Political Participation and Social Change in the Global South is a third year undergraduate module in Political Science at the University of Toronto.

The University of Toronto's Department of Political Science


The course has three objectives: to develop an understanding of the politics of citizen participation and introduce the contesting meanings of citizenship; to expose the students to theorists and practitioners in the global South, using the materials from the Citizenship DRC research for this; and to introduce participatory pedagogies into the class room in a way that is resonant with the content of the course.

  • Students

    The students are third-year political science undergraduates. Most of the students were female, and many were first or second generation Muslim immigrants to Canada. The students have very little background or understanding of citizenship in the global south. Their academic studies had been mainly focused on Canadian politics, and specifically on institutional and legalistic understandings of politics and citizenship. When asked to bring in a visual representation of citizenship, most students brought in their passports.

  • Structure

    The course is taught over a term of weekly seminars, but rather than relying on the standard convention of lecture-discussion, the seminars are taught using participatory methods. The students, for example, develop their own research questions using a card sorting activity, and are expected to facilitate parts of the seminar themselves. This gives the students room to think autonomously in their own research.

  • Context

    The political context in which a course is taught creates different understandings of the nature of citizenship within the classroom, and in Canada legalistic and institutional understandings of citizenship appear more dominant. Therefore, this course exposed students to examples of more bottom-up citizenship, and the politically contested nature of citizenship in many countries in the Global South.

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