About the university

About the university

The University of Ottawa is the largest bilingual (English-French) university in the world. Located in the heart of Canada’s capital, we have ready access to the great institutions of our country. We offer some 40,000 students and 1,300 professors an environment at the forefront of research in Canada and around the world, and an exceptional learning experience at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels.

Ranked seventh among Canada’s research-intensive universities, the University of Ottawa attracts the best professors and researchers, and builds relationships with innovators around the world. We are firmly committed to achieving excellence in four strategic areas: the student experience, research, international initiatives and bilingualism. The University of Ottawa is at the crossroads of cultures and disciplines, where professors work together to find ground-breaking solutions to today’s challenges.

Research excellence is one of the goals of Destination 2020, the University of Ottawa’s strategic plan. Our researchers explore the frontiers of knowledge in almost all areas of human activity, including the humanities and social sciences, allowing the University to share their special expertise and new perspectives with both industry and the public sector.

Did you know?

Humanities and social science researchers at the University of Ottawa are among the best in the country. In 2012-2013, they received $11.2 million in SSHRC funding.

At the University of Ottawa, 72% of students and 70% of professors are in the humanities and social sciences.

The University of Ottawa offers original and particularly topical programs, such as the Collaborative Program in Environmental Sustainability at the master’s level, and the PhD in Women’s Studies.

In 2012, a new, 15-storey social sciences building was inaugurated. The 25,300 square meter building features a living, breathing wall made of a variety of plants. At five storeys high, it is the tallest wall of its kind in Canada and serves as an air filtration system for the entire building.

The University of Ottawa Press (UOP) is Canada’s only bilingual university press and the oldest French language university press in North America. UOP publishes works predominantly in the humanities, in both English and French.

Examples of recent prizes

In 2013, Anne Gilbert received the Ordre des francophones d’Amérique.

Also in 2013, Nathalie Des Rosiers received the Order of Canada.

The SSHRC Connection Award was presented to Michael Geist in 2013.

In 2012, Caroline Andrew received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case.

Professors Constance Backhouse and Shana Poplack received the SSHRC Gold Medal in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Research chairholders

Our many research chairholders are committed to advancing knowledge in pioneering areas of study. Two of these chairholders are featured below.

Lori Beaman holds the Canada Research Chair in the Contextualization of Religion in a Diverse Canada. She studies the role of religion in Canadian society by deepening our understanding of diverse religious traditions and their place in contemporary Canadian society.

Alvaro P. Pires holds the Canada Research Chair in Legal Traditions and Penal Rationality. He studies the foundation and characteristics of criminal justice systems in modern societies, how they have changed, and new approaches to designing them. This research will contribute to the conceptualization and understanding of the criminal justice system, and to the design of a more humane system that is better suited to today’s realities.

Research infrastructure funding

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) funds creative research projects in the humanities and social sciences at the University of Ottawa. Here are a few examples:  

Stéphane Lévesque has received funding for his Virtual History Lab. Professor Lévesque is interested in web-based educational programs, in particular those intended to teach Canadian history. He uses cutting-edge technology, especially virtual imaging, to enhance the teaching of historical events in the classroom.

Gilles Comeau created a piano pedagogy research laboratory. In recent years, Professor Comeau has implemented several multidisciplinary research groups that look at different aspects of piano teaching and learning: music reading, motivation, physiological aspects of piano performance, piano-playing health injuries and new technology-mediated teaching.

Claude Messier is studying the brain adaptations needed to supply adequate energy to neurons when they are active. These adaptations include the development of new blood vessels and an increase in the number of transporters that bring nutrients from the blood to the brain.

Bilingualism and Canadian Francophonie

Research excellence is especially strong in the areas of bilingualism and Francophonie, another of  University of Ottawa’s Destination 2020 goals. Canada’s commitment to bilingualism is fundamental to our national identity. The University of Ottawa has also nurtured this vision of bilingualism.

The University of Ottawa is breaking new ground with eight Research Chairs in Canadian Francophonie. Lucie Hotte, who is one of these chairholders, is studying the nature of minority writing and, more precisely, the critical reception this type of literature gets. The goal of Linda Cardinal’s research stimulates new thoughts and theories on the creation of public policies and the empowerment of linguistic minorities at a time of globalization and redefinition of national identities. 

In addition, the University of Ottawa has two centres and specialized research institutes  working on bilingualism and the Francophonie. The Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture (Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française or CRCCF) is interested in the societies and cultures of North America’s Francophone communities, both past and present. The CRCCF conducts research activities and disseminates knowledge in addition to conserving and highlighting their rich collection of documentation. The Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) is an integral part of the University of Ottawa’s vision for the future, where academic excellence and innovation complement the institution’s commitment to bilingualism. As a new Canadian standard bearer for official languages and bilingualism, OLBI strengthens, develops and promotes education and research in the fields of teaching, evaluation and language policy design.

International initiatives

France Martineau is leading a massive international study on the evolution of French in North America over the past 400 years. Her team includes 13 co-researchers and 88 partners and agencies from Canada, the United States and Europe. For more information, click here.

Ghislain Otis is leading a research project on the State and Aboriginal legal cultures entitled “État et cultures juridiques autochtones : un droit en quête de légitimité.” The project will bring together 14 universities from seven countries and partners from Aboriginal communities around the world. For more information, click here.

Ranked in the top 200 universities in the world (according to Times Higher Education), the University of Ottawa is constantly enriching its activities and international partnerships.