Society, Culture and Community

Society, Culture and Community Research

Culture reflects, informs and celebrates our human experience, shifting with time and evolving within social and territorial groups. As societies grapple with expanding norms and ideological division, Laurier research contributes to the formation, adaptation and preservation of communities.

The Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada facilitates original research about the expansive, evolving and contested interpretations of Canada.

The Laurier Centre for Music in the Community connects Laurier to Waterloo Region through musical activities, community research and collaboration.

The Tshepo Institute for the Study of Contemporary Africa examines a wide range of issues related to Africa, including development, social justice, human rights and education.

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Current Research Strengths

Cultural Analysis

The field of cultural analysis examines historical and contemporary cultural phenomena and interprets cultural representations and practices in local, national and global contexts. Research in this area engages culture as a site for the transmission of everyday and specialized forms of knowledge, including norms and the values, ideas and beliefs of particular peoples, alongside examination of the social, political and economic frameworks that reflect and shape both dominant and marginalized cultures over time.

Critical Game Design and Development

Game design is a form of artistic expression that combines mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics to create forms of play with goals and structure. Researchers focus on critical game design, building games around positive values or learning outcomes in order to have an impact on the player.

Global Dynamics and Human Rights

The global and the international are rapidly changing fields of study that include international studies, global studies and human rights. There are both historical and contemporary perspectives that cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries. They reflect the significant impact of globalization and changing international dynamics on individuals and on societies. Researchers study these in both national contexts but also transnational frameworks as a result of economic and technological forces that transcend international borders. In this context, the study and preservation of human rights is an imperative, as is an understanding of the richness of human diversity. See also Indigeneity, Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Languages and Communications

Language and communication are at the core of all human interaction and the transactions of human communities. Research on language and communication looks not only to presentational modes of face-to-face engagement and understanding, but also to representational practices and technologies that mediate messages. It looks to both the tools and the structures for the transmission and reception of information. Research into language and communication looks not simply to communication competencies or tools – although this is a pedagogical concern throughout the humanities and social sciences – but to the ways that communication practices, technologies, policies, institutions, infrastructure and industries shape societies and cultures.

Leadership Studies

Leaders must operate in diverse contexts, from the local community to the global. It is essential across society from business to government to education. Leadership studies is a rapidly developing, interdisciplinary field that examines how leaders are taught and how effective programs are designed. Communication is a critical component, as are organizational structure, culture and change. Research examines the ethics of leadership and the role of values, as well as the relationship between leaders and followers.

Musical Composition and Performance

Composers and performers engage in innovative creation, curation, improvisation and dissemination of musical artifacts through intradisciplinary, interdisciplinary and technological means.

Emerging Research Strengths

Community Music

Researchers in Community Music examine music as a social practice based on foundational principles of inclusivity, lifelong learning, health and well-being, and social justice. Laurier researchers work in diverse contexts, from schools to hospitals to social services to faith organizations. Research is often collaborative, with partnerships emerging across Canada, in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. The Laurier Centre for Music in the Community, established in 2008, supports these collaborations through the mandate of disseminating research through symposia, conferences, publications and online webinars.

Digital Humanities

Research in the digital humanities includes not only the systematic use of digital resources in traditional humanities disciplines, but also analysis of their application.

Experiential Learning and Educational Leadership

Current and ongoing research has highlighted the importance of experiential learning and international experiences in elementary, secondary and higher-education contexts as an area of innovative programming.

Heritage Studies

Heritage studies comprises both history and archaeology. It is the study and preservation of records of the past to better understand the present. It uses sophisticated methodologies derived from both the humanities and the social sciences to critically evaluate written records and artefacts in light of our present perspectives on the past. It extends beyond academia to engage the public for the purposes of connecting communities with their heritage, and ensuring that historical resources are restored or protected for the benefit of future generations.

Intercultural and Engaged Pedagogies

Pedagogy is the study of how knowledge and skills are taught in an educational context, focusing on developing the full potential of the student through innovative and evidenced-based practices.

Muslim Studies

Muslim studies is an interdisciplinary field which focuses not only on textual sources and interpretive traditions of Islam, but also on the social and historical contexts of Muslim experiences.

North American Studies

This research focuses on understanding the many different aspects of North America, and Canada’s particular place on the continent. Research examines a wide range of topics including: culture and identity; Indigenous peoples; business and economy; and public policy.

Socio-cultural Change and Resilience

This field of study examines how social institutions, governance structures, cultural practices and symbolic systems change over time, and how these changes influence the ability of social groups and systems to cope, adapt and transform.


This research focuses on storytelling, cultural translation and meaning-making for the communities with whom we engage. It is both a methodology and an output.

Supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals

quality education gender equality reduced inequalities sustainable cities and communities life on land