The new director of the master of employment relations program hopes to raise its profile and attract a greater diversity of students to the joint offering from the Faculties of Arts and Business Administration.
History professor Dr. Sean Cadigan, who has taught a core course in labour and working-class history since the program’s inception in 2002, said its multi-disciplinary approach makes it a good fit for those coming from a wide variety of disciplines.
Students must complete core courses in business, economics, history and sociology and then may choose electives from these fields, as well as political science, psychology, social work, education and women’s studies. Elective courses focus on three broad areas: labour-management relations; human resource management; and labour market and social policy analysis.
“It doesn’t make everybody an expert in everything, but they’re exposed to all these disciplines, which have different ways of thinking about employment,” Dr. Cadigan explained. “Students get a good grounding in qualitative and quantitative methodologies, labour law, labour market economics, historical perspectives on employment in Canada and the sociology of work.”
After completing their 30 credit hours, students focus a major paper on an area of particular interest.
In its sixth year, the program maintains a steady enrolment of about eight full-time students but Dr. Cadigan said it has experienced an explosion of part-time students in recent years.
“Right now there are about 60 part-time students,” he explained. “In the course of their career, people often become interested in employment as an area of study.” These students are working in a variety of backgrounds, including the civil service, the labour movement, human resources and education.
He noted that the program has enjoyed the highest profile among those in business, although it has also drawn those who studied arts, education and even social work. That’s a trend he’d like to see continue and grow, especially because it adds an important dimension to the education. “The students as a class seem to gel very well. They have contact with others from different backgrounds and disciplines, and learn a lot from each other.”
The deadline to apply to the master of employment relations is Feb. 15 for the 2007-’08 academic year.