Meet our new research fellow; undergrad course recommendations

An item from one of our fellow Canadian organizations in the Bay Area.

Canadian Studies Announcements
In this issue:
  • Meet our new Sproul Fellow, Nicholas A. R. Fraser
  • Undergrad class suggestions with a Canadian angle
  • Upcoming event: The Politics of Coronavirus in Canada and the United States
  • External event: “Inuit: The Arctic We Want”
New Sproul Fellow Nicholas Fraser Studies Impact of Bureaucratic Culture on Government Policy
Dr. Nicholas A. R. Fraser, a political scientist specializing in the impact of organizational culture on policy application, officially joins Canadian Studies Wednesday as a John A. Sproul Research Fellow. As a visiting researcher, Dr. Fraser will assist program director Irene Bloemraad with research on migration-related topics.
Dr. Fraser received his B.A. from the University of Calgary and holds M.A.s from the University of British Columbia and Waseda University (Japan). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, where he was previously an associate at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.
Canadian Studies sat down with Dr. Fraser to discuss his past research and what drew him to Berkeley. Highlights from the interview are below: read the full piece on our website.
What sparked your initial interest in immigration?
Just before I finished my bachelor’s degree, I had opportunity to teach English abroad in Japan. That experience set the agenda for kind of research I do, because it was only by going to Japan that I realized how unique Canada is in terms of immigration and multiculturalism. I just hadn’t fully appreciated how different Canada is from other countries, even other developed democracies.
While I was over there, I had the chance to meet some foreign workers from Brazil, who told me how difficult it was to get legal status and to bring family members in. And I thought, that would be way easier in Canada, so why is it so hard here? I realized that actually, maybe I should look at the question another way – in a global sense, Canada’s immigration policy is comparatively pretty generous. I was curious where that comes from.
People often point to Canada’s history or culture as an explanation, but I think that’s a reductive way of looking at things. Australia, for instance, has a similar history, yet immigration is seen much less positively there and they have a much stricter refugee policy. So my research situates Canada in a comparative perspective to understand why we have a relatively generous refugee policy legacy.
Why did you apply to be a Canadian Studies Sproul Fellow?
I love the interdisciplinary approach here. UC Berkeley is an amazing research university, and there’s a great community here working on a number of different aspects of migration. But the number one reason is Irene. She’s a force to be reckoned within migration studies. The opportunity to work with someone that has so much influence on interdisciplinary migration studies, political science, psychology, sociology – that would be a game-changer. It’s the dream, really, getting to work with an amazing person at an amazing institution.
What will you be working on at Berkeley?
Irene and I are going to be doing a lot of things together. One project that we are considering is how multiculturalism affects legal proceedings. In court, for example, many people have a default expectation that witnesses will swear on the Christian Bible. So the question is, if you’re a juror, how credibly do you view people who choose to swear on another text, who are often religious or ethnic minorities?
This is an important issue, because we want to see if it feeds into structural biases against these groups. I’ve already done some experimental research on this topic in Canada with Colton Fehr, and I’ll be giving a talk on some of our preliminary findings in November. We’re still exploring, but my plan is to do a United States-Canada comparison, because this issue is obviously relevant to the United States as well.
Why do you think it’s important to study Canada?
Canada is a comparatively generous country when it comes to immigration and multiculturalism. As a Canadian, I think it’s important to understand why from a social sciences perspective, in an objective way, for informing better policy. Canada is not perfect – I don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture – but there are many things Canada has done right and could improve on in the future. If we have a better idea of why things worked, it makes better policy going forward.
I also think Canada doesn’t get enough attention within political science. A lot of research focuses on the US and Europe, but I think Canada is really important because it differs from those other places on important policy issues such as immigration. So I’m thrilled to be joining the Canadian Studies Program to contribute in any way I can.
Undergrad Course Recommendations: Franco-American Literature and Comparative Disability Law
Are you an undergrad still trying to fill a hole in your schedule, or just looking for an interesting class that covers a Canadian topic? Check out the following courses:
Instructor: Susan A. Maslan
In this course, students will explore the literary and cultural texts emerging from the long history of the French in North America. Throughout the semester, discussions will focus on the politics of representation, understanding the processes through which categories of “race” are shaped over time. While instruction will focus on the United States, the course will discuss New France (Quebec) and read excerpts from The Jesuit Relations.
This course satisfies the American Cultures requirement.
Instructor: David B. Oppenheimer
Comparative Equality Law uses a problem-based approach to examine how the law protects equality rights in different jurisdictions. The course will comparatively examine US and other international legal systems, including that of Canada, and provide a global overview of legal protection from and legal responses to inequalities. The course covers 5 topic modules: theories and sources of equality law; employment discrimination law; secularism, human rights and the legal rights of religious minorities; sexual harassment/violence; affirmative action, and gender parity.
Elections Matter: The Politics of Coronavirus in Canada and the United States
September 14 | 12:30 pm | Online | RSVP here
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have wide-ranging consequences on North American politics. The effect of the pandemicon Joe Biden’s 2020 win remains debated; meanwhile, Justin Trudeau hopes to use the belated success of his vaccine procurement strategy to win his party a parliamentary majority in the September 20 federal elections. How has COVID-19 shaped electoral politics in Canada and the United States as it relates to crucial recent and ongoing policy choices? Political scientist Daniel Béland will address this question while discussing the potential political and policy consequences of the upcoming Canadian elections.
Daniel Béland is James McGill Professor of Political Science at McGill University and director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. His research focuses on public policy, political sociology, and federalism and territorial politics.
Inuit: The Arctic We Want
September 14 | 1 pm ET (11 am PT) | RSVP here
On July 16-19, 2018, delegates from Alaska, Greenland, Canada and Chukotka (Russia) came together for the 13th General Assembly of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). Under the theme “Inuit – The Arctic We Want,” delegates discussed policies and developed strategies for the 2018-2022 Alaskan Chairmanship of ICC. The event culminated in the adoption of the Utqiagvik Declaration, which serves as a guide for the ICC’s work over the 2018-2022 term and as a reflection of Inuit priorities across Alaska, Greenland, Canada and the Russian Federation. Please join the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute as we welcome ICC leaders to share their perspectives on the Utqiagvik Declaration’s priorities, reflections on their implementation since 2018, and goals for the final year of the Alaskan Chairmanship.
Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley, 213 Moses Hall #2308, Berkeley, CA 94720

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.