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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 22, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Youth & Children's Studies

Youth & Children's Studies at the Brantford  Campus

What is a child? What is a youth? And what does it mean to be a child or a youth in the contemporary world? Laurier’s honours program in Youth and Children’s Studies uses these questions as the basis for an exploration into the worlds and issues of children and youth. 

In order to truly understand children and youth in the 21st century, we need to examine the many worlds they inhabit: school, home, cultural and religious groups, peer groups, neighbourhoods, media communities, and even “brand tribes.” This program looks at children and youth from many different perspectives, using tools from psychology, criminology, media studies, indigenous studies, health studies, literature, and history. The program looks at children and youth not just as objects of academic inquiry, but as subjects and agents in their own right, who engage with and impact the wider world around them.

Admission requirements 

High School Admission Requirements College Grad Admission Requirements 

4U English at 60%

Average in top 6 4U or M courses: low - mid 70s

4U English or college equivalent at 60%

Overall average upon graduation: low - mid 70s

Click here for transfer credit details 


Students will graduate with a deep and rigorous understanding of issues relating to children and youth now and in the past, and will have a range of skills that will help them approach contemporary social, cultural, educational, legal and health issues that face children, and those who work with them, today. Graduates of the program will be well positioned for a career in education, either with further study in a Faculty of Education program or in other areas that are growing due to the provincial government’s new emphasis on early child development in Ontario. Youth and Children’s Studies also provides an excellent basis for future study and work in social work, family law, social services, and children’s advocacy.

Faculty experience 

0000Brookfield.jpgBeginning in 1950 and up until very recently, North American children went door-to-door Trick or Treating for UNICEF every Halloween. Dr. Tarah Brookfield is a historian who studies the history of childhood and family, with a specialty in child welfare during wartime. “UNICEF’s Halloween campaign was one of many programs dedicated to improving children’s health and safety after the Second World War,” says Brookfield. “It represented a new international commitment to child rights and is part of a long tradition of using children to inspire charitable giving.” 

Brookfield is interested in understanding how war affects children’s lives and the definition of childhood, a concept that has fluctuated over the centuries. Students in Brookfield’s course, Children and Youth Through the Ages, will be asked to compare and contrast what it meant to grow up in Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Colonial America and present day Canada. “Of course, growing up as a Roman boy from a noble family in the 5th century BC was very different than being an enslaved African American girl during the US Civil War,” Brookfield explains. “Yet in both cases there would be a shared experience of being treated differently than an adult because of their age and size.”

0000Wood.jpgNot many professors can include playing Pokémon as part of their job description, but for Dr. Lisa Wood it’s all in a day’s work. Dr. Wood completed her PhD in English Literature, with a focus on didactic fiction
written after the French Revolution, and now specializes in children’s toys and media. It’s not as big a shift as it seems, she explains. “The didactic fiction I studied aimed to teach moral and social lessons to the ‘rising generation’ of youth through stories. Games like Pokémon transmit messages about the world to children while entertaining them.” 

In Dr. Wood’s course, Children, Toys and Media, students explore how the global children’s media and toy industries influence children, and also how children participate in and sometimes resist consumer culture. “Since children spend more time using media than in any other activity, it’s important for anyone working with children to have a thorough understanding of children’s use of television, video games, and the internet.” 

Dr. Wood is very excited about the new Youth and Children’s Studies program, which she was instrumental in developing. “Children and youth inhabit many different worlds, not just the family and the classroom. If we really want to understand their experiences, we need to look at all these different contexts using a broad range of approaches.”