Ph.D. in Social Innovation

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  • Program requirements

The School of Social Innovation of the Faculty of Human Sciences at Saint Paul University offers a PhD in Social Innovation. This degree is conferred jointly by the Senates of Saint Paul University and the University of Ottawa under the terms of the federation agreement between them.

The PhD in Social Innovation provides a space for research and reflection aimed at understanding the dynamics and multiple impacts of social innovations, in order to assess and structure them more efficiently.

This program, which links theory with practice, is designed for people interested in contributing to the advancement of research on social innovations, collective enterprises, social movements and citizen initiatives to accelerate social change.

Candidates must meet the following conditions:

i. Hold a master’s degree or its equivalent in Human or Social Sciences or Management, with a minimum average of A- (80%).

ii. Provide the following documents:

  • Letter of intent (maximum 1000 words);
  • Two letters of recommendation from professors;
  • Curriculum vitae.

iii. Participate in an interview with the program coordinators (to verify the candidate’s goals and his or her suitability for the program).

Compulsory Courses (18 units)

INS8101 Social Innovation Issues and Theories I (3u)
INS8102 Social Innovation Issues and Theories II (3u)
INS8103 Epistemology and Methodology (3u)
INS8120 Practices and Dissemination of Research I (3u)
INS8121 Practices and Dissemination of Research II (3u)
INS8130 Planning a Research Topic (3u)

With prior approval of the director of Graduate Programs, students may take either SOC7141 Advanced Qualitative Methodology (3u) or ANT5141 Research Methodology in Anthropology (3u) offered at the University of Ottawa in equivalence to INS8103 Epistemology and Methodology (3u).

Optional Courses (6 units)

6 units from:
INS5108 Selected Topics in Democratic Management (3u)
INS5109 Selected Topics in Social Action (3u)
INS5110 Selected Topics in Critical Thinking (3u)
DVM6102 Livelihoods, Resources and Sustainability (3u) (UO)
DVM6104 Social Movements, Equity and Human Rights (3u) (UO)
PAP6102 Democratic Governance (3u) (UO)
POL7115 Political Parties and Movements (3u) (UO)
SOC7102 Migration and Mobility (3u) (UO)
SOC7103 Sociology of the Environment (3u) (UO)
SOC7109 Francophonie, Language and Power (3u) (UO)
SVS5501 Changement social et service social (3u) (UO)
SVS5533 Intervention communautaire (3u) (UO)

With prior approval of the director of Graduate Programs, students may take either a graduate course (3u) offered in another program or another university or a Directed Readings course (INS5901 Directed Readings / Lectures dirigées (3u)).


INS9997 Thesis Proposal / Projet de thèse
INS9998 Comprehensive Examination / Examen de synthèse
INS9999 Doctoral Thesis / Thèse de doctorat


INS 5108 - Selected Topics in Democratic Management

In-depth study of selected topics and contemporary issues in democratic management of organizations.

INS 5109 - Selected Topics in Social Action

In-depth study of selected topics and contemporary issues in collective action and social movements.

INS 5110 - Selected Topics in Critical Thinking

Study of a specific issue within contemporary critical theories, emancipatory projects and global alternatives to oppressive systems.

INS 5901 - Directed Readings

INS 8101 - Social Innovation Issues and Theories I

Critical study of contemporary debates in social innovation, and of the main concepts and theoretical perspectives in the field. Study of key players and strategies in contemporary social innovation.

INS 8102 - Social Innovation Issues and Theories II

Study of contemporary social, political and economic issues and their impact on citizen initiatives, social movements, collective enterprises and social innovation projects.

INS 8103 - Epistemology and Methodology

Study of the main epistemological issues, tools and methodological approaches in the social innovation field.

INS 8121 - Practices and Dissemination of Research II

Designing the curriculum of a course on social innovation, a scientific conference or writing a peer-reviewed article in order to share research results.

INS 8130 - Planning a Research Topic

Identifying a relevant research topic, defining the problem, using the appropriate methodologies, and developing a detailed work plan.

INS 9997 - Thesis Proposal

INS 9998 - Comprehensive Examination

INS 9999 - Doctoral Thesis

Courses offered by the University of Ottawa:

DVM 6102 - Livelihoods, Resources and Sustainability (UO)

Interaction between society and nature. Consideration of how power shapes the use of resources such as land, water, food, or energy, and on how livelihoods adapt to environmental change in various rural and urban contexts. Theoretical lenses include commons theory, social ecological resilience, political ecology, and political economy.

DVM 6104 - Social Movements, Equity and Human Rights (UO)

Social movements, civil society, and informal networks, their roles, actions and impacts in the struggle against the vicious cycles of inequality and vulnerability in developing countries. Themes include class, gender, ethnicity, citizenship and migration.


This seminar provides an examination of how democratic governments structure their decision-making processes for effectiveness, representation and accountability. A particular focus of this seminar is a critical evaluation of the New Public Management reforms, and an in-depth review of different models of government intervention and policy-making from a comparative perspective.

POL 7115 - Political Parties and Movements (UO)

Analysis of current issues affecting political forces in Canada: parties, groups and movements. The exact topic is announced at the beginning of the session.

SOC 7103 - Sociology of the Environment (UO)

Origins of environmental problems and conflicts; social theories of environmental degradation, controversies and disasters; perspectives on human-nature interactions.

SOC 7109 - Francophonie, Language and Power (UO)

Analysis of social group relations and linguistic practices relating to cultural affiliations and citizenship. Studies of contemporary research in this domain, particularly on the Francophonie in Canada.

SOC 7141 - Advanced Qualitative Methodology (UO)

Creation of a research project and selection of a fieldwork site appropriate for qualitative methodologies: definition of a research question and determination of a theoretical framework, selection of a qualitative approach, research ethics, development of data collection tools, collection of data, use of data organization software, vertical and horizontal analysis, submission of a final report.

SVS 5501 - Changement social et service social (UO)

À partir de certaines grandes théories du changement social, analyse des divers facteurs affectant l'intervention en service social.

SVS 5533 - Intervention communautaire (UO)

Intervention communautaire et organisationnelle en service social; émergence historique des modèles d'intervention; mouvements sociaux, bénévolat et entraide.

Contact Us

Office of the Associate Vice-Rector, Strategic Enrolment Management
Room 148
Saint Paul University
223 Main Street
Ottawa, ON
K1S 1C4

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Telephone: 613-236-1393
Fax: 613-782-3014

Hours of Operation

Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Please leave your documents in the mailbox in front of room 148 when our offices are closed.

Information for future students

Saint Paul University

223 Main Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1S 1C4


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