North-South Studies students on a class visit to the Indigenous artist-run centre daphne.

A new local stream is underway for North-South Studies


The North-South Studies Profile of the Social Science Program is working on a new local pilot stream that will provide students with the possibility to deepen their knowledge and involvement in social justice issues in Montreal.

Until now, the profile has been centred around a three-week trip to a community in the Global South in the second year for students to discover the relationship between the Global North and Global South from a historical, economic, and political perspective.

“We want to take this way of learning through experience that we’ve used to engage with the South to do something locally,” said Gisela Frias, the North-South Profile Coordinator.

“We would have two streams — the global students who travel South and the other students who won’t, but will have a comparable experience in terms of the principles and pedagogy, without the salsa dancing in Cuba,” added Gisela. The profile hopes to launch the local stream in fall 2023.

In the past, students would visit Nicaragua and later, Cuba, before the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to travels. Last year, the course sought to bring experiential learning to an online setting with a virtual trip to Cuba with Dawson’s on-the-ground partner, The Martin Luther King Centre.

Amid the ongoing travelling restrictions, the profile decided to depart from Zoom and think about an accessible solution while also creating an experience for students.

This year, Sara Louise Kendall has been exploring new methods of teaching the Field Trip course with the support of the Student Success Action Plan (SSAP), the Peace Centre, and Decolonization and Indigenization Studies, to foster meaningful relationships with local community organizations. This will serve as a first test run upon which the pilot stream could be developed.

Different but not separate

While they may be distinct, the addition of a local stream to the global stream will provide critical perspectives to understanding the world as it is, explained Sara.

“In studying global processes of colonialism, we have to understand Canada as a settler-colonial state. And in order to think about climate, we have to have both a local and global lens. The profile will remain cohesive and coherent, and the two streams represent these really important and interwoven components,” she said.

Motivated by the philosophy that “we learn by connecting to our own lives,” the projected addition seeks to support some students in having a global focus, while others engage locally with real issues, people, and movements in their own communities.

Enriching community experience

After spending his first CEGEP year online, second-year student Yimaj Baharun shares that one of the semester’s highlights has been going on class walks in the neighbourhood surrounding the college.

“I didn’t get to know the Dawson area, so getting to learn about the neighbourhood and its history was really insightful, and allowed me to understand the environment that’s been nurturing my education experience,” said Yimaj.

According to him, learning about our immediate environment is as crucial as learning about worldwide issues, and he is excited about the relationships and opportunities that may arise from the pilot stream.

“Our everyday actions affect things here as much as they might in Cuba or Nicaragua, so getting to know how they contribute to the environment around us ends up being as important as understanding the impacts around the world,” said Yimaj.

Students met over a dozen people from community groups across Montreal, including Resilience, the Kahnawà:ke Youth Delegation to COP26, and Batiment 7.

“One person I met this semester was Mostafa Henaway from the Immigrant Workers Centre,” he added. “As a student of an immigrant heritage, it was especially interesting to see someone who is as passionate as him about issues familiar to me and is working so hard on them.”

Towards a new Social Science Program

The Social Science Program at Dawson is in the midst of a ministerial revision, and the NSS Profile will be renamed.

“Going through the revision process has been an opportunity for the students and teachers within North-South to think collectively about the next chapter of this profile that has been doing really important work for decades now,” said Sara.

Last Modified: May 4, 2022