Democratic constitutionalism

Democratic constitutionalism is a third field of specialization in which the Political Science department is especially well placed to offer a rigorous and unique program of study for doctoral students.

Within that field, Avigail Eisenberg writes on minorities in political theory and in Canadian constitutional law and politics. She is also one of the three organizers of The Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social and Legal Theory". The colloquium is an interdisciplinary project of the Faculty of Law and Departments of Political Science and Philosophy. It is a focal point for the intellectual activity of faculty and graduate students working on democratic constitutionalism at UVic.

Matt James brings to the Department an expertise in questions that are crucial in not only Canada but in other countries marked by histories of domination and dispossession: reparation, reconciliation, political apology, and transitional justice. He is also a student of social movements and is the author of the book, Misrecognized Materialists: Social Movements in Canadian Constitutional Politics.

James Tully is a leading international expert on Canadian constitutionalism and multi-nationalism. His books Strange Multiplicity: Politics in the Age of Diversity and (co-editor) Multinational Democracies are required reading in most graduate seminars on constitutional relations.

In relation to Europe, Oliver Schmidtke and Amy Verdun both focus on the political and legal relations between European states in a manner that clearly implicates questions of constitutionalism. Claire Cutler's expertise in international law has strong connections to the subject area as does Warren Magnusson's work on local self-government. Among our adjunct faculty, Peter Meekison and Reg Whitaker are particularly valuable resources for students working in the field.

Outside the Department, the expertise in democratic constitutionalism is similarly impressive. Jeremy Webber, a Canada Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law, and Colin Macleod, who is cross-appointed to Philosophy and Law (and an adjunct in Political Science), focus, in both their teaching and research, on questions directly related to constitutional theory and Canadian constitutionalism. They are the two other organizers of the Victoria Colloquium.

Other major figures in this field include, in the Faculty of Law, R. Michael M'Gonigle; in the Indigenous Governance program, Taiaike Alfred and Jeff Corntassel, both of whom are political scientists; and in Philosophy, Cindy Holder, who works on self-determination and like the other faculty mentioned above, is engaged in questions that are directly relevant to democratic constitutionalism.

The Political Science Department can provide significant support to students within and outside the Department who wish to do work on various aspects of democratic constitutionalism, including work that focuses on national, international, or more local understandings of the subject matter. The relevant research cuts across the boundaries of all four main fields of political science and involves other disciplines as well, especially law and philosophy.

Students concentrating in this area will typically take candidacy examinations in Political Theory (POLI 609) and Canadian Politics (POLI 616). There may be some interested in comparative questions in which case, the candidacy exam in Comparative Politics (POLI 608) might be chosen.