Canadian-American Studies program a window between neighbours

What makes Canada different from the United States?

This is a question that students in Brock’s MA in Canadian-American Studies grapple with both in class and on their way there.

“We’re so close, but so separated,” says alumna Heidi Madden (MA ’16). “You don’t understand the differences until you have to articulate them. You have to stand in class and explain who you are to someone who thinks they know you.”

The program, now in its fifth year, gives students the benefit of international experience with the convenience of having twice the resources. Students take classes at both Brock and the State University of New York Buffalo campus, and have access to libraries, resources and professors at both campuses.

The international experience was particularly important to Madden, who now works as an International Exchange Assistant with Goodman School of Business. She is passionate about international education and finds her experience helps her work with international students.

“The opportunity to study with American students and professors made the experience so much richer,” says Madden. “You’re not just learning about Americans, but you’re talking to them and hearing their side.”

Even the commute to class becomes part of students’ learning.

“You’re learning about case studies where people mention how the border was before 9/11 and how it was after, and you are experiencing that every day,” says Bernardo Pontes, who moved to Niagara from Brazil specifically for this program.

“You experience how the Canadian and U.S. relationship changed.”

The program also gives American students an opportunity to experience and study Canada at Brock. While a number of U.S. universities offer Canadian-American Studies, the Brock-SUNY Buffalo program is one of the few that lets students regularly travel back and forth between the two countries.

Paul Coleman is a SUNY Buffalo student researching special education models in Canada, and how these are being adopted by schools in Las Vegas.

“Even if things are successful in one country, they don’t always copy over,” he says. “Copying a model and putting it somewhere else isn’t always the key to success.”

The interdisciplinary nature of the program encourages students to explore the nuances of the Canadian-American relationship from many different perspectives.

“The comparative atmosphere of this program lends itself to a lot of exciting opportunities,” says Madden.

For more information on the interdisciplinary, interfaculty and international program, visit the MA in Canadian-American Studies website.

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