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 and 2021 cohorts:
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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.
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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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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?
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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.