Canada Day, or Fête du Canada, is celebrated 1 July every year, and the Kennedy Center is among the many institutions and households around the world that will join in celebrating. However, many people may not be aware that the Kennedy Center's connection to our northern neighbor goes beyond admiration.
Canadian Studies is a research program at the Kennedy Center, currently headed by Kevin Shafer, a professor in the Sociology department. Unlike our academic programs, Canadian Studies does not grant degrees or offer classes; rather, it is a research and support group for faculty and students at BYU who are interested in studying the Canadian context.
Shafer describes the program as "an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students who research and study Canadian culture and society." More than 20 faculty from colleges and units across BYU are affiliated with the program.
The program provides research funds and grants for people associated with BYU doing work on Canadian issues, and each year it hosts the Asael E. & Maydell C. Palmer lecture, which brings a Canadian academic to campus to discuss research relevant to both the US and Canada. In the near future, Shafer would like to begin a study abroad program that goes to Canada.
The program also provides support for Canadian students on campus, says Shafer, who cites a surprising enrollment fact: "BYU has the most Canadian undergraduates of any institution in the United States!"
When asked why studying Canada is important for BYU students and faculty, Shafer is enthusiastic. "Canada is an amazing country that every American should know more about!" he says. "Canada is the United States’ closest ally and biggest trading partner. Our histories, futures, societies, cultures, and politics are inextricably linked to one another. Every day, events in Canada affect the United States and vice-versa. Given recent world events, it has never been more important for Americans to understand the Canadian context and for the two countries to further develop understanding and friendship."
—Emily Nelson, 1 July 2022