Culture and Society

According to Research Infosource, Laurier is the top Canadian university in its category for social sciences and humanities publications. As such, our researchers have deep and longstanding expertise in the breadth of factors that make our society what it is. The challenge of understanding human experience has cultural, scientific, artistic and humanistic dimensions, requiring a range of integrated skills and approaches across all faculties.

Research in this cluster ranges from the ethical and religious dimensions of community and identity to the impacts of modern, imperial and postcolonial experiences on contemporary societies. Another important area of research focuses on the impacts of technology and new media on all aspects of society. Faculty members in this cluster create scholarly and creative outputs in music, film and literature.

For the Media

Crime, Security and Justice

Preventing crime, dealing with it when it occurs, and maintaining overall safety and security are fundamental issues for any society. Laurier has a wealth of researchers considering various aspects of crime, security, law and justice, including video evidence in police-involved shootings, women’s experiences in policing, interactions between police and people in mental-health crisis, crime data analysis, post-traumatic stress injuries in police forces, sex workers’ experiences, meeting the needs of street-involved people and analyzing Cold War civil defence materials.

Laurier’s Centre for Research on Security Practices is a hub for researchers interested in topics such as criminology, international security, incarceration, policing, cybercrime and security technologies. At the Balsillie School of International Affairs, the Conflict and Security cluster and Canadian Network for Defence and Security Analysis bring together experts from Laurier and partner organizations to examine conflict, defence and security.

Students in programs such as Criminology, Law and Society, Social Work and Global Governance benefit from and contribute to research on crime, security and justice, while Laurier’s Policing programs prepare students for or help them advance in public safety and policing careers. The Laurier-run Walls to Bridges program brings together incarcerated and non-incarcerated students to study university-level courses in jails across Canada.

Technology and Society

From enjoying the latest viral video to being tracked online without our full consent, we interact with technology on a near-constant basis. A number of Laurier faculty research how technology shapes society and vice versa, through topics such as creating games to fight climate change, making the internet safer without diminishing its vitality, promoting the development of technology to support healthy aging, how video games can promote new ways of learning and thinking about time, and digital technologies in learning.

Research centres and groups that investigate issues involving technology and society include the Centre for Research on Security Practices, the Brantford Games Network Lab, the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises and the Viessmann Centre for Engagement and Research in Sustainability. Student programs that examine these issues include Game Design and Development, User Experience Design, Digital Media and Journalism, and Communication Studies.

History, Arts and Culture

The way we remember and express who we are is a vital part of the way we create our society. Laurier has deep expertise in topics including the impact of war on society, Asian North American literature and culture, how viruses are portrayed in popular culture, women’s struggle for the vote, the roots of the radical right in the United States, how the Holocaust is remembered, using the arts to tell stories of residential school resistance, Canada’s role as a safe haven for war resisters, the archaeology of places ranging from Old Fort Erie to Jordan, preserving ancient rock art, using music and the arts to express Canadian identity, and more.

The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies is one of Canada’s leading centres for research, education and discussion of historical and contemporary conflict. The Centre for Memory and Testimony Studies explores collective memory and forgetting, often through the arts. Some Laurier faculty are creative artists in addition to being researchers and teachers.

Students in programs such as History (in Waterloo and Brantford), English and Film Studies (English in Brantford), Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Music and Medieval and Medievalism Studies benefit from and contribute to research in history, arts and culture.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning are essential lifelong processes, and Laurier researchers are contributing to our understanding of both. Areas of research include the role of school principals in special education, multilingualism and language learning, second-language literacy, building teaching and education leadership capacity in the global south, the use of comics in the classroom, mastering academic writing, the effects of stationary bikes in classrooms, how children learn language and math, using metacognition in teaching chemistry and music theory, chatbots as university course ‘assistants’ and how the brain processes and organizes speech.

The Laurier Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience explores various areas of thought and cognition that often relate to learning, including attention, language, memory, perception, speech and communication. The Educator and Leadership Institute engages in research and practice to build teaching and leadership capacity globally. Laurier’s Teaching and Learning office works in partnership with researchers to improve university education.

Not only do the student programs in the Faculty of Education investigate teaching and learning, so do programs in Psychology, particularly Developmental Psychology and Cognitive and Behavioural Neurosciences.

Science, Mathematics and Computing

Scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists and data scientists often work on applied solutions to real-world problems, while others do “pure” science, which also has great value in expanding knowledge without logistical constraints. Laurier faculty members have expertise in topics including quantum computing, mathematical modelling, data mining, astronomy, combining data and design, evolutionary biology, cellular energy production, liquid crystals, greener ways to perform chemical reactions, computer algebra, and more.

The Interdisciplinary Research Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Modelling in Scientific Discovery, Innovation and Sustainability (MS2Discovery) connects researchers working in mathematical and statistical modelling in various disciplines. The Computer Algebra Research Group (CARGO Lab) works on computational algebra and various topics in high-performance computing. At the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Laurier and partner researchers in the STEM for Global Resilience Research Cluster help advance evidence-based debate and decisions regarding technology, innovation, social and economic policy.

Faculty of Science departments teach and conduct research in a wide range of areas of science, mathematics and computing. Researchers in a number of other disciplines, such as Finance, Economics and Geography, also work in quantitative and scientific ways.