Canada Program

[  Canada Program Website  ]

The Canada Program, made possible by the William Lyon Mackenzie King endowment, presents rich intellectual opportunities for Canadian studies at Harvard: graduate and undergraduate courses offered by distinguished visiting Canadian scholars across the social sciences and professional schools, dissertation research grants for Harvard graduate students, thesis research and travel funding for Harvard undergraduates, a vibrant seminar series of esteemed Canadian guest speakers, and an annual faculty-led conference.

The endowment was established in 1967 following a campaign spearheaded by David Rockefeller, who wished to honor William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874–1950), a great friend of his father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. A Harvard graduate, King was deputy minister of labour in Canada when, in 1914, he was recruited as an industrial consultant tasked with brokering an agreement between management and labor workers at the Rockefeller-controlled Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. According to Harvard's Directory of Named Chairs, a dispute between management and labor had resulted in “a long, bitter and bloody strike against the company.” And, “[w]hile Rockefeller hoped King would help extricate his company from a labor dilemma which he believed had been badly handled, he had a larger purpose in urging the Rockefeller Foundation to use the Colorado situation as a means of recommending a plan of broad application to industrial relations generally.” King managed the situation, helped amend public perception of Rockefeller, and produced a book for the foundation, Industry and Humanity (1918). After a time as industrial adviser to a number of American utility and extraction firms, King returned to Canadian politics, took leadership of the Liberal Party, and went on to serve Canada as prime minister for a collective twenty-two years.

In 1967, the president of the University of Toronto, Professor Claude T. Bissell, was named the first William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Bissell’s research assistant at the time was Michael Bliss, now a distinguished Canadian historian, author, and former University of Toronto professor. Their time at Harvard was, Bliss noted, “one of the happiest years of our lives.”

Professor Krishna Pendakur, professor of economics at Simon Fraser University, joins us as the 2016–2017 William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Professor Pendakur will teach Consumer Demand Econometrics (fall 2016) through the Department of Economics.

Paul May, a postdoctoral researcher at Queen's University, and Tom Özden-Schilling, a recent graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, join us as the 2016–2017 William Lyon Mackenzie King Postdoctoral Fellows. Professor Özden-Schilling will be teaching Technology and Politics in North America (spring 2017) through the Department of Anthropology.

Professor Alison Mountz, professor of geography and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration at Wilfrid Laurier University, was the 2015–2016 William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Professor Mountz was appointed through Harvard's Department of Government and taught two courses: Border Politics: Migration, Detention, and (Il)legality (fall 2015), and Political Geographies of Violence (spring 2016).

Tracy Neumann, assistant professor in the Department of History at Wayne State University in Michigan, and Sean Graham, a recent graduate of the Department of History, University of Ottawa, joined the Canada Program as our inaugural William Lyon Mackenzie King Postdoctoral Fellows. Dr. Neumann taught North American Cities (fall 2015), and Dr. Graham taught Popular Culture in North America (spring 2016); both courses were offered through Harvard's Department of History.

Since 2008, the Canada Program has granted more than $700,000 in dissertation research funding to more than forty graduate students—some of whom are engaged in research concerning government, law, sociology, history, music, education, public health, and urban design—and nine undergraduate students, all of whom are known as Canada Research Fellows.

Eight student Canada Research Fellows will join the Program in 2016–2017, with fellows representing many schools and disciplines from the University. Research interests include urban planning and design, American studies, global health and population, history, and government.

The Canada Seminar, chaired by the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies, offers presentations by public figures, scholars, artists, and experts in various fields, and provides a forum for the lively exchange of ideas on a wide range of issues. Guest speakers of the seminar have included former Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, Hall of Fame hockey player and former Toronto Maple Leaf President Ken Dryden, Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, political philosopher Charles Taylor, and film director and producer Norman Jewison.

Helen Clayton is the program administrator. The program offices are located at 1727 Cambridge Street.

Related Links


Krishna Pendakur

William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies, Canada Program. Professor of economics at Simon Fraser University.

Tom Özden-Schilling

William Lyon Mackenzie King Research Fellow, Canada Program

Paul May

William Lyon Mackenzie King Research Fellow, Canada Program. Postdoctoral researcher, Queen’s University.

Faculty Chair

Michèle Lamont

Weatherhead Center Director; Faculty Associate. Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies; Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology; Professor of African and African American Studies, Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University. 

See also: Programs