The Foundation’s Leadership Development Program builds on Scientific Cycles. Hence, the three-year leadership journey of each cohort of Scholars is contextualized by a scientific theme that has interdisciplinary dimensions and reflects a timely and significant set of issues for the future of Canada and the world. The scientific theme is not a substitute for the Foundation’s Four Themes; rather, it provides the lens through which these four fundamental themes will continue to be explored.

In consultation with the Foundation’s Members and Directors, the Foundation has chosen the following Scientific Cycles for its 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 cohorts:
2024 - 2027: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: A New Constitutional Order for Canada and Model for the World
One of the key centrepieces of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s legacy is the introduction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Using the vantage point of forty years since its introduction, the Scientific Cycle seeks to capture the wisdom, knowledge, and lived experiences stemming from this seminal document which has directed the course of law and the determination of rights in Canada for two generations. At the same time, the Charter is a living document which serves as the legal benchmark in an ever-evolving society. Through this lens, the Scientific Cycle will seek to explore how the Charter’s foundational role is adapting to changing times. How does it protect rights in a new century in the face of new and emerging challenges both individually and collectively? How does it protect Indigenous rights? What has been the impact of the Charter beyond Canada’s borders? How may it influence the defence and development of rights abroad in the 21st century?
Canada in the world
2023 - 2026: Canada in the World: The Future of Foreign Policy
The 2023-26 scientific cycle Canada in the World: The Future of Foreign Policy is framed in the context of major changes taking place in the world. This pace of change has accelerated with seismic shifts in technology, an expansion of world actors and cross-regional alignments, as well as climate change, COVID-19, mass migration and refugee movements, rising authoritarianism, major political movements, a mounting global debt and the changing nature of conflict and security. Increasing political instability, unstable Sino-American dynamics, and polarization in the U.S. have propagated deeply into America’s institutions. And while the international community recently responded multilaterally to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the precariousness of political and economic cohesion has become a concern in countries around the world. These significant shifts in the global order have put into question the very foundations upon which Canadian foreign policy is based, rooted in multilateralism, collaborative initiatives like the Arctic Council, the promotion of democracy, human rights, and global trade. What are Canada’s existing strengths and opportunities that may help carve a path to modernize and reinvigorate it foreign policy and leadership on this evolving world stage?
an image of the globe and coins
2022-2025 : Global Economies
The 2022-2025 scientific cycle on Global Economies represents a crucial time in history to engage emerging leaders in one of the most important topics of our past and present. The notion of free trade came to dominate international economic relations in the 20th century, although economic interdependence and interconnectedness transcends the history of civilizations with centuries of trade routes established along the Atlantic, the Silk Road and the Mediterranean. The past two decades have further witnessed an exciting rise of the Digital Economy, creating new forms of on-demand work, health and education technology, and immersive experiences in areas of communication, arts and culture.

Globalization has contributed to an unprecedented flow of capital, trade, investment, people and ideas across borders. At the same time, the merits of our globalized economy and new digitalized platforms are mired by overly monopolistic practices to compete for resources, an emerging surveillance society, as well as devastating human rights abuses, environmental harms, and disparities between populations and countries. Recent national and international efforts to better regulate multinational foreign investment practices are promising, however, new challenges arise in coordinating efforts with economic power shifts towards states with authoritarian regimes, increasing populist movements in the West, and protectionist measures implemented within several nations. The vulnerability of an integrated global economy has also been exposed through the Covid-19 pandemic’s ripple effects and disruption of global supply chains, plunging us into a worldwide health and socio-economic crisis. It is within this compelling context that we propose Global Economies.
glob with a chat symbol
2021 - 2024: Language, Culture & Identity
Language has long confronted thinkers and leaders with many questions about human beings and their relations with each other. Today, contemporary trends like the critical situation of many Indigenous languages worldwide, technological progress in artificial intelligence, and a backlash against globalization bring new urgency or relevance to a number of language-related questions. These include: how to protect and sustain minority languages? What are the implications of artificial intelligence technologies and digital platforms for language learning and use, and for the configuration of languages globally? Are these technologies opening new horizons to understand how language learning affects cognitive predispositions or to empower people with language impairments?
image of a scale
2020 - 2023: Technology & Ethics
The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation will focus on the theme of “Technology and Ethics” in its cycle of leadership programs beginning in 2020-2021. Considering major issues raised by recent technological advances in the areas of biotechnology and artificial intelligence, our 2020 Scholars, Fellows, and Mentors will particularly focus on developments in biotechnology and on the incorporation of artificial intelligence into health care systems. How is humanity shaped by advances in these areas, and, in turn, how can we shape them on the basis of ethical principles? This is the core question that will direct our scientific cycle.
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2019 - 2022: Power & Knowledge
The 2019-2022 program cycle of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation focuses on the dynamic relationship between Power and Knowledge. Power represents authority and the ability to set and impose standards. Knowledge is understanding authority, where it is derived and through which mechanisms and structures. Knowledge also produces power effects. Understanding power-knowledge relationships and the roots of power imbalances is essential to changing situations of social injustices.