With justice and legal issues becoming increasingly important elements of real-world problems such as immigration, racial and gender inequality, and debates over free speech, a new program at the University of Guelph aims to arm students with a deeper understanding of the legal landscapes behind these issues.

The new bachelor of arts in justice and legal studies to launch the Fall 2021 semester will provide students with a clear understanding of law and judicial processes in Canada and in the global context, enabling students to evaluate the relationship between legal institutions, society and governance.

Based in U of G’s Department of Political Science, the new program will capitalize on the expertise of faculty who contribute to the highly successful criminal justice and public policy program—one of the University’s largest undergrad programs. This new program will go beyond criminal justice to examine justice and legal considerations in other contexts.

From food security and corporate responsibility to gender equality or Indigenous land rights, law and justice issues will be increasingly important considerations for those who want to tackle these problems, said Prof. Troy Riddell, chair of the Department of Political Science.

Prof. Troy Riddell

“We have developed an expertise here at U of G in law and politics that extends beyond criminal justice, with the largest faculty complement of law and politics scholars in Canada,” he said. “We want to share that expertise with students so they understand the broader law and justice issues in the stories they’re reading about in the news every day.”

The four-year honours program consists of several core courses along with electives that provide students with a practical understanding of the operation of law and legal institutions and processes from various perspectives.

Students will then choose from five areas of emphasis to study justice and legal issues in various interdisciplinary contexts: global relations and governance, gender and sexuality, business and management, arts and humanities, and Canadian politics and governance.

“We chose areas of emphasis that are relevant today and relevant to our students but also that draw on the many other strengths of our programs and faculty here at U of G,” said Riddell.

A co-op option that includes three required work terms will also be available.

The justice and legal studies program will give students knowledge and skills required for critical analysis of legal and justice issues involving social and political topics. Some graduates may choose to move on to law school, and others will use their new understanding of law and governance to enter careers in public service, government relations, international relations, corporate management or non-profits.

“Law and justice are increasingly important considerations,” said Riddell. “This program will provide students with the ability to understand and critically analyze the legal processes that affect real-world social and political problems.”

More information can be found on the Justice and Legal Studies webpage.


Prof. Troy Riddell