Center for Canadian Studies

The Center for Canadian Studies
Canada in Washington
Donner Foundation Research Roundtables
SAIS Intrepid
Enders Lecture on U.S.-Canadian Relations

A University-Based Research Center at Johns Hopkins University's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

A series of talks by business leaders and policy makers that bring perspective by and from Canada on pressing issues. Sponsored by Global Public Affairs.

A forum for leading scholars to present research in progress to the Johns Hopkins SAIS community, part of the Johns Hopkins tradition as one of the world's leading research universities.

The Center for Canadian Studies engages in policy research that forms and essential component of graduate education.

An Online Journal featuring Analysis of Canada in World Affairs
Read the latest from SAIS Intrepid

The Thomas O. Enders Memorial Lecture on U.S.-Canadian Relations is the most important annual event on the bilateral relationship in Washington, DC

About the Center
History of the Center for Canadian Studies
Why Research Canada?
Canada in Washington series
Donner Foundations Research Roundtable series
Enders Memorial Lecture on U.S.-Canadian Relations
Policy Consulting Practicum
Sponsored Research
Connect With Us
The Johns Hopkins Center for Canadian Studies is a university-based policy research institute on Canada. The Center links world class scholarship on Canadian affairs to the study of current events and policy challenges in support of the university’s academic mission. Located in Washington, DC, the Center sponsors research and events, hosts visiting scholars, and engages outstanding graduate students in scholarship related to Canada, the challenges of US-Canadian relations and the role of Canada around the world.
The Center for Canadian Studies was founded at Johns Hopkins SAIS in 1960 by Bela Belassa and Canadian-born future Nobel laureate Robert Mundell, both members of the Johns Hopkins University faculty of Economics. The Center and its research and related activities form an integral part of the academic program in Canadian Studies, under the direction of Professor Charles F. Doran.

From its earliest days, Johns Hopkins University has attracted faculty, students, and researchers from Canada to its undergraduate and graduate schools.

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Canadian Studies was established at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in 1960 as the only graduate teaching and research institution in the United States concentrating on Canadian affairs. Robert Mundell, a Canadian and future Nobel laureate in economics, was then on the SAIS faculty and lent support to the idea. In 1969, shortly after the centennial of Canadian confederation, the generous support of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation and the William H. Donner Foundation endowed the Davis-Donner Foundations Chair in Canadian Studies. Professor Dale Thomson, born in Alberta and a former advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, was the first director of the Center. The Center attracted scholars and policymakers to join the Johns Hopkins faculty, including former Governor of the Bank of Canada David Dodge and Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa, and Johns Hopkins hosted addresses by leading Canadian political figures regularly.

In 1980, Charles F. Doran became the first American to direct the Center. A distinguished scholar of international relations and a Johns Hopkins alumnus (M.A. from SAIS ’66, Ph.D. from JHU ’69), Doran gathered an advisory board for Canadian studies that included some of Canada’s most prominent business and policy leaders. With input from these advisors, he gradually reoriented Canadian studies from a focus on Canada’s particular institutions and features to a more nuanced contextual appreciation of Canada as an energy market leader, a dynamic and durably successful commodity economy, an archetypal “middle power” managing asymmetric power relations with countries like the United States and China, a federal system that has grappled with regionalism and Quebec aspirations to independence, deeply linked with the U.S. economy and in many ways in the vanguard of Western Hemisphere integration, and a society of immigrants whose labor market challenges have lessons for the United States. This shift has opened the study of Canada to students in all SAIS departments and majors, attracting students from Asia, Europe, and Latin America majoring in American Foreign Policy, Energy Resources and Environment, and Strategic Studies to Canadian studies courses.

By incorporating Canada into the study of practical problems confronting policymakers, investors and others, Doran brought Canadian Studies into line with the three primary goals of SAIS established by the school’s founders, Paul H. Nitze and Christian A. Herter Jr.:

  • To provide a professional education that simultaneously adheres to the highest standards of scholarship and takes a practical approach to training students for international leadership.
  • To conduct scholarly research related to the concerns of public and private institutions of the United States and governments of other countries and disseminate that research to a broad audience concerned with foreign relations.
  • To offer mid-career educational opportunities for those already working in international affairs.

These goals are increasingly relevant in regard to the study of Canada as more U.S. leaders in the public and private sectors interact with Canadian counterparts on shared challenges, and as Canada is seen by more world leaders as a model or as a potential ally in addressing urgent global and regional concerns.

Canada has been the United States’ largest trading partner for more than a century, and Canada is the top foreign supplier of U.S. energy (oil, natural gas, electricity, and uranium). The two countries negotiated a series of bilateral trade agreements before working together with Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership talks. Canadians are also major investors in the United States, and since 2005 the two countries have entered into regulatory cooperation talks aimed at governing cross-border integrated supply chains covering everything from agriculture to nanotechnology.

Canada is a strategic ally, with close military ties to the United States reinforced through NORAD, NATO, and a history of battlefield cooperation from Europe to Afghanistan. Since September 2001, Canada has been the United States’ closest partner in confronting terrorism in North America, along the 5525-mile shared border and beyond: the two countries operate an array of joint cargo inspection protocols, trusted traveler and shipper programs, standing law enforcement task forces coordinating federal and local efforts in the land and maritime domains including major cities, cybersecurity measures and broad, structured intelligence sharing.

Today, nearly every U.S. federal department and agency has a direct relationship with its Canadian counterpart. The U.S. Congress debates Canadian interests routinely, and is a major focus for Canadian diplomacy. Members of the U.S. and Canadian supreme courts have even developed regular exchanges and meetings to discuss the intersection of the two legal systems. The National Governors Association and regional governors associations in New England, the Great Lakes, and the Pacific Northwest meet annually (and sometimes more often) with Canadian provincial premiers, and the Council of State legislatures now includes Canadian provincial legislators in meetings and activities.

Beyond North America, Canada contributes to international cooperation, security and development with an increasingly global reach. A leading voice in global economic diplomacy, Canada is member of the Group of Seven leading industrial economies, the G-20, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and a contributing member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank. Canada is also a founding member of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. Canadian regional diplomacy has resulted in a strong role for Canada in the Arctic Council, the Organization of American States, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the Commonwealth and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. The archetypical “middle power” Canadian diplomacy has worked to establish consensus with other governments, playing an outsized role in world affairs despite having only 34 million people.

The close ties between the United States and Canada are the product of geographic proximity, cultural similarity, and practical necessities. Yet few of the growing number of U.S. policymakers and public service professionals have an adequate knowledge of Canadian affairs; the Center for Canadian Studies at SAIS is dedicated to redressing this knowledge gap by supporting events that prompt dialogue, research that produces insight, and scholars who can be leaders.



Events hosted by the Center for Canadian Studies bring Canadian perspectives to campus and highlight the best of U.S. business and policy leadership on Canadian affairs.

The Global Public Affairs Canada in Washington series of campus talks and events intended to bring knowledge and insight to the complex inter-relationships between public affairs and business, and between Canada and the United States. The audience for the series includes graduate students and faculty at one of the world’s leading professional schools of international affairs, as well as a cross-section of business and government leaders drawn from across the Washington policy community. The campus setting and educational mission of the Center foster conversations and engagement that can be kept off the record or opened to the dynamic international media contingent that is based in the United States capital.
Global Public Affairs is a privately-held Canadian firm providing integrated government relations, strategic communications and issues management consulting services that enable clients to successfully navigate increasingly complex public policy and business environments with a growing focus on helping clients to navigate the U.S.-Canadian relationship. Known for promoting insightful conversations among business and policy decision makers across Canada, Global’s sponsorship of the Canada in Washington series extends that reputation to Washington’s business and policy communities as well.

The Donner Foundations Research Roundtable series brings leading research practitioners to the Johns Hopkins SAIS campus to discuss research design, methodology, and data related challenges in the context of ongoing work. Faculty and students are encouraged to participate and share their relevant experiences and insights.

This series is sponsored by the two Donner Foundations: The William H. Donner Foundation of New York and the Donner Canadian Foundation in Toronto. Both foundations are longstanding supporters of Johns Hopkins and the Center for Canadian Studies

The Thomas O. Enders Memorial Lecture on U.S. Canada Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University
The Thomas O. Enders Memorial Lecture is named for the distinguished diplomat who served as United States Ambassador to Canada for President Gerald R. Ford and President James Earl Carter. Enders held a number of other important posts during his foreign service career, including as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, and U.S. Ambassador to Spain. In 1963, while serving as an economist in the Bureau of European Affairs, he encountered the pioneering work on optimal currency areas by Johns Hopkins University Professor of Economics Robert Mundell, a Canadian and future Nobel Laureate in Economics who was the founder of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. The Thomas and Gaetana Enders Foundation sponsors this annual lecture on U.S.-Canadian relations with a particular focus on economic issues.
Previous Enders Lectures have been given by:
Dr. Malcolm Knight (2012-2013)
Vice Chairman, Deutsche Bank Group and former Senior Deputy Governor, Bank of Canada “Surmounting the Financial Crisis: Lessons from the Canadian Experience”
Dr. John M. Deutch (2013-2014)
Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former Under Secretary of Energy, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency “Shale Gas: Obstacles of Opportunities?”
Dr. Gary Clyde Hufbauer (2014-2015)
Reginald Jones Senior Fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Trade and Investment Policy “Canada, the United States and Trade Reforms: Best Friends, Best Partners, Best Potential Competitors?”
Hon. Rachel Notley (2015-2016)
Premier of Alberta and Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Edmonton-Strathcona. “Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan and Opportunities for Canada–U.S. Climate and Energy Collaboration”
Hon. Andrew Leslie (2016-2017)
Member of Parliament for Orléans and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Canada-U.S. Relations. “Advancing Canada’s Interests and Defending Canadian Values in Washington”

Hon. Kathleen Wynne (2017-2018)
Premier of Ontario and Member of Provincial Parliament for Don Valley West. "Ontario's View on Renegotiating NAFTA: Building Economic Opportunities and Fairness on Both Sides of the Border"

The Center for Canadian Studies has a number of ongoing research projects. For more information on specific projects, see the items below. Members of the Johns Hopkins community interested in opportunities to get involved should contact Christopher Sands. 

Each Spring, the Center for Canadian Studies organizes a graduate practicum on policy consulting with a Canadian government serving as the course client. A formal Memorandum of Understanding serves as the consulting contract, and the client provides research questions at the outset. Students in the course work as a team to organize the research, often involving review of extant studies, interviews with experts, and original analysis.

Recent Practicum teams have addressed:

Spring 2015
Topic: Retention and Expansion of the Automotive Industry in Ontario
Client: Government of Ontario | Ministry of Economic Development, Emplyment, and Infrastructure

Spring 2016
Topic: How can small markets with public health care systems regulate and participate in Gene Therapies, Biologic Drugs, and Personalized Medicines
Client: Government of Canada | Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada

Spring 2017
Topic: Societal and Policy Implications of Natural Gas Sector Development
Client: Government of British Columbia | Ministry of Natural Gas Development

Spring 2018
Topic: Federal Support Strategies for Business Innovation and Clean Technology
Client: Government of Canada | Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Center for Canadian Studies conducts research with support from governments, business, and philathropy. SAIS students are given opportunities to ehnace their graduate education in international economics and public policy at Johns Hopkins by participating as field researchers and data analysts under the supervision of a faculty member.

Current research:

Title: In Defense of North America: NORAD at 60, U.S. Northern Command at 15
Topic: The future of U.S.-Canadian defense cooperation in response to changing threats and technologies
Sponsor: Government of Canada | Department of National Defence
Partner: Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Recent research:

Title: Horizontal Review of Business Innovation and Clean Technology Support by the Government of Canada
Topic: Federal Support for Innovation in Canada
Sponsor: Government of Canada | Treasury Board Secretariat
Completed: 2017

Title: Improving NAFTA through Renegotiation
Topic: Ideas and Strategies for Canada to Advance through Renegotiation of NAFTA
Sponsor: Business Council of Canada
Completed: 2017

Title: U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation
Topic: Verifying Obstacles Government to Government Sharing of Funding and Information
Sponsors: Government of the United States | Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Managment and Budget and the Government of Canada | Privy Council Office
Partner: Dickinson Wright PLLC
Completed: 2016

Title: Intellectual Property Rights and the Promotion of Biologics, Medical Devices, and Trade in Pharmaceuticals
Topic: The Calculus of Convergence: Intellectual Property Rights for Pharmaceuticals and the Global Trade Agenda
Sponsor: The Fraser Institute
Completed: 2016

The Center for Canadian Studies
Johns Hopkins University
Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 663-5714

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