Concordia's Department of Political Science is buzzing with activity these
days. Its young and dynamic faculty members are publishing extensively,
enrolment is way up, and the growth spurt of recent years has been noted
by the political science community across Canada.
A sense of fresh enthusiasm is palpable in the offices on upper Bishop
St. The lively chair of the department, Dr. Reeta Tremblay, is shepherding
her flock of new recruits, who are actively drawing in new students and
Shes also publishing articles about her own specialization, South
Asia and Kashmir, and planning yet another expansion project: the creation
of a PhD program.
Its a remarkable turnaround for a department that a mere few years
ago experienced a brush with oblivion. In a wave of retirements, Political
Science lost about half its faculty in the second half of the 1990s, and
according to Tremblay, was toying with the idea of closing down altogether.
Our department was one of the worst hit, Tremblay said of
the retirements, which by 1998 saw its faculty slashed from 21 full-time
members to 11. So the choice was to close down the department or
Of course, it was decided to rebuild fortunately, as it turns out,
because now, following an aggressive hiring spree, it is felt that the
department can challenge for a spot in the top three political science
schools in Canada.
We really have a good chance, Tremblay said. We have
no problem in terms of credibility. The whole Canadian political science
community knows that weve been hiring the best. Were certainly
on the map in Canada.
Whats the secret behind the political science departments
resurrection? According to Tremblay, the complete renewal
of the department was born out of the bloodletting, because it forced
the remaining faculty to start with a clean slate.
It gave us an excellent opportunity to bring in new faculty members
with new research profiles, she said. And it really started
us thinking about how to create an ideal department.
The overhaul started with the formulation of a new curriculum, centered
on the core areas of international relations and comparative politics.
Within those areas, the department began hiring young scholars, bringing
the full-time faculty back up to 19 today. It did so before other schools
were widely advertising positions, so that Concordia had the luxury of
being able to pick and choose, Tremblay said.
Crucially, it was decided to open the departments doors to new faculty
members of many methodological persuasions, and to fill in the core areas
For instance, within the area of international relations, the department
has specialists in international human security, the theory of war, globalization
and regional integration, and international organizations.
The blend between different approaches is one of our strengths,
Tremblay said. We feel that we now have one of the strongest international
Another strength is the popular MA program in Public Policy and Public
Administration, with its option to complete an internship with the federal
government. About 90 per cent of interns end up getting jobs, Tremblay
If you go to the federal government, youll find students from
our program in almost every department.
Now, the research-oriented faculty is interested in adding a PhD program.
Its creation will be Tremblays main objective once the faculty has
been boosted to 23 or 24 members, hopefully by next year.
Meanwhile, students keep coming in ever-increasing numbers. Since the
1996-97 academic year, program students in Political Science have increased
steadily from just under 1,000 to more than 1,300 this year.
Tremblay thinks students attraction to political science has to
do with a movement away from very specialized knowledge. Political
science offers methodological rigour, and also addresses the issues which
pertain to everyday life.