Centre on Foreign Policy & Federalism



Centre on Foreign Policy and Federalism

The Centre on Foreign Policy and Federalism (CFPF) is dedicated to research and outreach activities on Canadian foreign policy and federalism, from both historical and contemporary perspectives.


The Centre was established in 1982 by the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, led by John English. In the 1980s and 90s, the Centre undertook many research projects and supported individual as well as group research initiatives, producing major conferences and books. After a decade hiatus, the CFPF is now based at St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo and co-directed by P. Whitney Lackenbauer and Ryan Touhey.


We are currently in the process of revitalizing the CFPF as a hub for the study of Canadian and comparative foreign, security, and defence policy, as well as federalism. Our activities bring together experts from various disciplines, including history, political science, religious studies, geography, and legal studies. Through partnerships and joint research initiatives with other prominent national and international institutions, we also foster collaborative research and academic programming to enable local, national, and international conversations on Canadian politics and Canada’s place in the world.


Our core areas of research focus are:


Circumpolar and Aboriginal Affairs (CAA),

Canada and the Global South: Emerging Powers and Fragile States (CEPFS), and

International, National and Subnational Political Institutions and Relationships (INSPIR)


More broadly, we are interested in bridging the gap between history and contemporary understandings of Canadian foreign and defence policy, the theory and practice of federalism, and promoting local, national, and international research that is community-situated, collaborative, and action-oriented.


Our highly accomplished fellows bring a wealth of subject matter expertise to collaborative research and a strong commitment to co-creating knowledge and sharing understandings based on interdisciplinary and cross-sector perspectives. Our aim is to seek and foster new approaches to research that address complex societal challenges and opportunities. We embrace a team approach, providing high-quality research training experience for students and mobilizing our research findings for academic and non-academic audiences. Working with both private and public sector partners, we are dedicated to producing thought-provoking, relevant, and leading-edge research, and to seek out partners who value creativity and innovation.


As a centre, our mission is to facilitate research activities and networks, exchanges, publications, workshops, and conferences that bring together emerging and established scholars from various disciplines. We seek to foster collaborative research, stimulate and engage public debates, and disseminate transformational research designed to inspire the translation of knowledge into action. Through our digital outreach program, we are committed to knowledge transfer with varied audiences, from academics, to policy- and decision-makers, to the interested public.


CFPF is a student-centric research community. We believe that learning is enhanced through research opportunities and “real world” experience, and our networks of support and mentorship are designed help educate, inspire, and support emerging scholars who are well positioned to lead change. Accordingly, our activities are designed to create opportunities for high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows to contribute to society, grow professionally, and act as global citizens. Along these lines, we are developing experiential learning and community engagement initiatives to enhance the quality of students’ university experience and learning through deeper integration of leading-edge research activities outside of the classroom.  Our commitment to co-curricular research opportunities animates what we do as a centre.