Printer-friendly > Education > Research > CERN

newCERNlogoWelcome to the Citizenship Education Research Network (CERN)

Citizenship education is of primary importance to the construction of a sense of belonging and to civic participation in Canadian society.

What is CERN

CERN began as a Citizenship Education Think Tank held at the Kananaskis Field Station in Alberta, March 27-30, 1998. The thirty participants met to develop an agenda for citizenship education research in Canada; to continue the exchange among interested researchers, partners and stakeholders; and to lay the groundwork for common comparative pan-Canadian research projects. This event was organized under the auspices of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education and was sponsored by the department of Canadian Heritage.

Discussions of citizenship education research occurred at several previous conferences, including:

  • a preoccupation for democratic education within the framework of the 44th International conference of education at Geneva brought together ministers of education in 1994 to review the implementation of recommendations on peace education, human rights education and international understanding;
  • an invited conference on citizenship education held in April 1995 under the auspices of the chair of studies in Canadian citizenship and human rights at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick; resulting in the publication of a collection of articles in the journal of Canadian and International Education, volume 25, number 20, published in December 1996, with Alan Sears (U New Brunswick) and Murray Print (University of Sidney) as guest editors;
  • day-long sessions on citizenship education at the 1995 and 1997 annual conferences of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, both organized by Yvonne Hébert; with papers from the 1995 conference published and with papers from the 1997 conference published in Canadian Ethnic Studies, Volume XXIX, number 2 (1997) and in a book edited by Yvonne Hébert.
  • within the CSSE annual conference in St. John's NFLD, we held a day-long Education Domain Conference, June 13, 1997, which brought together educational researchers of the Metropolis project with conference proceedings launched at the Second National Metropolis Conference in November 1997;
  • a day of reflection on civic participation, November 23, 1997 in Montréal, organized by the Multiculturalism Directorate of the federal department of Canadian Heritage resulted in a fruitful discussion and an emerging sense of community among researchers and policy makers. A key background paper, "Civic Participation, Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills" by Jim Frideres (U Calgary), served as the springboard for a discussion group chaired by Michel Pagé (U Montréal) which developed a consensus around future research and program directions on the theme of civic participation;
  • the Second annual Metropolis Conference, held in November in Montréal, in which researchers from across the country spoke about emerging and on-going research projects.

The Citizenship Education Research Network(CERN) brings together a group of interested researchers, policy makers, practitioners and stakeholders, to carry out an agreed-upon agenda of citizenship education research in Canada. CERN responds to a need for a systematic, long-term body of research on the important dimension of social cohesion.

CERN Newsletter

October 2015

July 2015

More About CERN

Federal Interests

Meanwhile, realizing that in the next decade Canadians would face hard questions about the future of their country, five federal departments came together in 1996-1997 to share their policy and research interests and plans with respect to an overarching concern with social cohesion. Canadian Heritage, Citizenship and Immigration, Human Resources Development, Justice and Industry Canada agreed that constructive synergies could be achieved between them on a significant number of research interests.Formed in November 1996, the federal Policy Research Sub-Committee on Social Cohesion discussed long-term policy research requirements, developed a research inventory and set the stage for the development of a Social Cohesion Research Workplan (March 1997). Three research themes were agreed upon: Fault Lines, Axes of Community Identification and Implications of Changes in Social Cohesion. Within these themes, several issues were germane to the CERN initiative; these were: civic education and knowledge of Canada; Canadian values; national identity and community attachment. The common interests of researchers and a supporting federal department came together within the CERN initiative.

Making History

The resulting Citizenship Education Think Tank, held on March 27-31, 1998 at the Kananaskis Field Station of the University of Calgary, in Alberta, was a historic event. Not since 1919 had a group of concerned Canadians come together in a concerted national effort to discuss citizenship education. At that time, a major conference, organized by predominantly business interests, was held in the wake of the Winnipeg Strike of 1915 to consider the development of a stable and productive citizenry. As a result of the Kananaskis discussions, which focused on the papers, participants' interests and experiences, as well as what research was needed to guide action in this domain, four research themes emerged and were the object of group consensus at the Kananaskis Think Tank.

CERN Research Program

Overview of the Citizenship Education Research Network

A series of research projects were identified for each of the four research themes:

  • Citizenship Conceptions
  • Citizenship Practices
  • Citizenship Values and Principles
  • Citizenship Skills, Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours

Citizenship Conceptions

This theme consists of three sub-themes:

  • Studies of the historical, social and philosophical context;
  • Peoples' conceptions of citizenship;
  • Educators' conceptions.

Citizenship Practices

Another research theme, examines

  • the current state of knowledge on what citizenship education is actually being done;
  • the impact of practices and norms of institutions other than schools on citizenship education, especially on the hidden curriculum;
  • the roles of schools and other institutions for group such as students, parents, community groups; and
  • what is meant by the notion of ’best practices' of citizenship.

Citizenship Values and Principles

The priorities of this research theme, are to determine

  • the citizenship values and principles which Canadians share;
  • Canadians' perceptions of the values held by particular groups within Canadian society;
  • what Canadians do when confronted with situations to which their values apply and in which their values conflict; and
  • whether available citizenship materials reflect the citizenship values to which Canadians subscribe.

Citizenship Skills, Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours

Looking at citizen efficacy, the fourth theme on the Particular to Citizenship examines four questions:

  • What are the attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviours, not only among students, but among citizens in general, in the domain of citizenship?
  • Although it is difficult to define these, how can such research guide the implementation of "good citizen practices'?
  • How do skills, attitudes and knowledge of citizenship guide behaviour?
  • What influence do pedagogical approaches have in the transmission and acquisition of citizenship concepts? In other words, how can a sense of efficacy be developed so that students are confident that they can as citizens contribute to the evolution of society?

CERN Collections

We are pleased to announce the release of our first peer reviewed CERN Collection. 

The idea for this Collection arose from the desire to provide presenters of outstanding CERN papers at CSSE with the opportunity to revise and elaborate on the work they presented at the conference, with due consideration to the feedback received from the audience. In addition, each paper was blind reviewed by two peers. The CERN Collection will be produced annually. Presenters of papers are invited to submit their papers to the Collections Editor, Catherine Broom within one month after the CSSE conference. Those interested in serving as reviewers are also invited to email the editor.

CERN Peer Review Collections, 2011

Download the pdf here.

CERN Peer Review Collections, 2012

Download the pdf here.

CERN Peer Review Collections, 2013

Download the pdf here.

CERN Peer Review Collections, 2014

Go to the online version here

For more information, please email Collections Editor, Catherine Broom.

Note that the CERN Collections are now published as an online journal, available

CERN Executive List

  • Anthony Di Mascio: Membership Officer
  • Christina Parker: Past-President
  • Lorna McLean: President
  • Doug Fleming: Program Chair
  • Kristina Llewellyn: Secretary/Treasurer
  • Bryan Smith: Communications/Assistant Membership Officer 
  • Olenka Bilash: Graduate Student Paper Award Committee Chair
  • Joel Westheimer: Executive Member-at-large 
  • Graduate Student Representatives: Newsletter and Communications Editors

Graduate Student Representatives 

CERN Award

The CERN Award for Best Graduate Student Paper

Submissions are due by May 1st and should be submitted to Dr. Olenka Bilash (

The CERN Award for Best Graduate Student Paper presented at CSSE is awarded annually.

The award is given to graduate student author(s) of the best paper presented in a CERN session at the annual CSSE conference.  To be considered for the award, conference papers must be submitted to the Chair of CERN's Award Committee by May 1st.  (Note: in order to qualify for the paper award, a conference proposal must be submitted to CERN through the CSSE website above by November of the previous year).

Previous CERN Award Winners

2015: Jenn Bergen, University of Ottawa, “Becoming Civics Educators and Actors: Teacher Candidates and Community Service Learning.”

2014: Naomi Lightman, OISE/University of Toronto, Paper: “Caught in a Transnational Nexus: Teacher Practices and Experiences in a Context of Divergent Ties to the Homeland.”

2013: (i) Mildred Tsitsi Masimira, University of Alberta, Paper: “My home is elsewhere, but I have made peace with living here": A Cree woman understanding of citizenship.”

(ii) Alessandra Iozzo-Duval,  Paper: “Educating an ‘army of workers’: Work, Disability, and d/Deaf citizenship at the Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf, 1892-1907.”

2012: Larysa Hayduk, University of Alberta, Paper: “Intercultural Journey: Understanding Students’ Experiences Abroad.”

2011: Christina Parker, OISE/University of Toronto, Paper: “Conflictual Dialogue Pedagogies as Learning Opportunities for Ethno-Cultural Minority Immigrant Students.”

2010: Kristin Reimer, University of Ottawa, Paper: “Teachers, Administrators and Gatekeepers of Change: A Case Study of the Implementation of Restorative Justice in one Ontario Public School.”

Last reviewed shim4/5/2017 9:50:19 AM