One of the flagship initiatives of the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada is the Copp Scholars Program. Named after one of its founding directors—Terry Copp—and in the spirit of his commitment to cultivating research and learning opportunities for his students, seventeen undergraduate students were hired in fall 2020 as paid research assistants. They were then matched with fellows associated with the Centre across the Faculty of Arts to work on a variety of research projects that ranged from the Rohingya refugee crisis to the discourse of HIV-positive patients disclosing their medical status.
Before the Copp Scholars began work on their respective research projects, the Centre partnered with the Laurier Library to provide research and resource workshops for them. Greg Sennema, Hélène LeBlanc and Joanne Oud guided the Copp Scholars through newspaper resources, literature review tips and government documents, which gave them a solid foundation of knowledge and resources to embark on their various research tasks ahead.
From there, the Copp Scholars collectively worked over 2,500 hours of research assistance and by the end, produced interview transcripts, newspaper article databases, bibliographic indexes, archival finding aids, literature reviews, amongst many other outputs that faculty will eventually use in their own published research.
While these numbers and outputs are important, the real value of the Copp Scholars Program is the tangible skills Copp Scholars gained in working on their respective research projects. Many of the scholars expressed appreciation for having done research in areas far outside of the scope of their degrees and seeing the work they produced utilized outside of the classroom. At the same time, they gained an appreciation of the work required to carry out a research project and even provided deeper understandings of the issues in Canada and the world.
This year, we have hired another dozen Copp Scholars who are currently working on another set of research projects for faculty fellows at the Centre. One of the main criticisms of the program last year was a lack of community because all of the research was done remotely. We at the Centre look forward to welcoming Copp Scholars back into the facility in the New Year and building an in-person community for the students to thrive and fully enjoy their experiential learning opportunity.