Human rights dignity
Human Rights & Dignity
Human beings should be able to lead a life within society that reflects their common values and aspirations, in spite of differences and inequalities. This ethical stance requires us to find new prospects for inclusion and participation in order to advance opportunities for all people and reduce the gaps between individuals and groups. The purpose of pursuing and establishing civil, political, economic and social rights is to preserve and promote human dignity, in all its aspects and dimensions. This means that the issue of human rights is not limited to legal issues but is directly related to social justice.

Research on this theme may focus, for example, on all aspects of rights affirmation movements, including social policy and humanitarian action. In particular, the Foundation is interested in studies related to group and individual emancipation efforts or, inversely, examinations of exclusionary practices and marginalized groups. Possible lines of inquiry include violence, poverty, health, education and nurture, employment, intergenerational inequities as well as failures of recognition, failures to act and failed actions.
Other subjects will most likely gain significance in the near future, such as the social and political integration of immigrants, internal migrations, issues linked to the information society and ownership of knowledge and dematerialized value.

Finally, several issues associated with the theme of human rights and dignity are also closely interconnected with the three other Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation themes. The study of climate change, the international trade economy and public health pandemics are three such examples.
Responsible Citizenship
Responsible Citizenship
The rights and obligations conferred by citizenship are not equitably distributed. While powerful forces are pushing for integration on a planetary scale, cultural, ethnic, religious, economic and technological divisions appear to be growing stronger, with an increasing risk of loss of social cohesion. We have not yet found the practices that will allow everyone to embrace a new and intrinsically just democracy. The rights and obligations of citizenship have implications that vary at local, national and global levels; previous distinctions between private and public spheres of responsibility often blur in a global economic context. Democratic practices must concord with the pluralist environments where they will be deployed, in a spirit of tolerance and shared social responsibility.

Research on this theme may focus, for example, on political values and the exercise of democracy, taking growing social diversity into account. It would also be of interest to examine, from a historical and comparative perspective, the institutional conditions for civic involvement and corporate «good citizenship» practices. Research may also centre on the notion of citizenship and how, in modern societies, it is being redefined in a growing number and variety of political arenas.

The interaction between citizenship and responsibility in settings within and beyond the nation-state is a research area that needs to be expanded. One example of this is the urban territory, which is rife with emerging problems. Aside from these location-based issues, there is a wealth of other debates sparked by an increasingly cosmopolitan population that is contributing to the growth of ethno-cultural diversity all around the world.
Canada and the world
Canada & the World
Canada’s long tradition of responsible engagement in international affairs has become an important and integral part of our identity. Through experiences such as immigration, travel, and instant global communications, Canadians themselves have undergone a profound shift in their understanding of the world and their place in it. The new Canadian public is more apt to be aware of complex international realities, whether they relate to commerce, culture or security. Their concepts of risk, social obligation and engagement are evolving. Canada’s public international role has changed significantly in recent years. We have a clear need to rethink foreign policy and reflect on the opportunities and challenges of our role in the future. Canada’s exceptional expertise should allow us to act as a world leader in several key areas, such as environmental protection and cooperation between nations.

Research on this theme may focus, for example, on the prevention and resolution of international conflicts, with particular emphasis on points of tension such as culture, religion and the environment. Studies that examine Canada and its place in the world may also pay special attention to economic and commercial issues, as well as the process of foreign policy development. At home, it would be useful to look at the way the evolution of multiculturalism – its diversification, the growing presence of ethno-cultural groups outside of urban areas, and the links between diasporas and their home countries – has influenced our collective decisions about complex international issues.

Canada is also a preferred home base for numerous nongovernmental organizations, especially in the international co-operation sector, a role that demands closer examination. Abroad, the rise of developing countries raises questions with regard to Canada’s international standing. Will the country see its influence diminished or will it succeed in creating new strategic alliances leading to a renewed international status based on new foundations and new allies? The debate is now open.
People and their natural environment
People and their natural environment
Environmental issues are widespread and a source of concern for people all over the globe. Competition for food, water, clean air and natural resources is leading to conflict. Like other countries, Canada must acknowledge the degradation of the natural environment and the threat this poses to the health and security of Canadians. Even the most remote community in the country is not exempt. Beyond environmental protection and conservation measures, research into new ecological measures and human adaptation are other ways to reduce the risk of confrontation between different sectors of society or different countries. The notion of environmental justice will no doubt play an important role in the future, inspiring decisive changes in the economic, political and social order.

Research on this theme may focus, for example, on environmental security at the global level and on approaches for reducing the vulnerability of ecosystems, especially in regions such as the Arctic and the boreal forest. It could explore the notion of environmental justice by looking at the impact of certain decisions on the poorest segments of society, on immigrants, on people affected by major energy projects and on First Nations. The Foundation is also interested in studies of a social, economic or political nature that lead to the identification, evaluation or dissemination of sustainable environmental practices. The link between healthy ecosystems, communities and individuals is understood intuitively but would benefit from more robust multidisciplinary scientific assessments.

Among other issues related to this theme, which is likely to be at the crux of many future debates, there are questions linked to freshwater resources, the restoration of high priority ecological regions, the build-up of toxic chemicals in people and ecosystems, transportation strategies, «green» technological innovations and climate change.