Category: Field Seminars

Indigenous Histories of Turtle Island

The Tri-University Graduate Program in History has one of the largest concentrations of graduate faculty in Indigenous history in the country, offering expertise on gender, environmental history, health and wellness, cultural performance, public history, Indigenous-settler relations, resource and urban development disputes, Indigenizing/Indigenized identities and activism, histories of settler colonialism, Anishinaabe feminism, and Indigenous research methodologies, pedagogies, and decolonizing practices.

Indigenous Histories of Turtle Island covers the history of Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada and the United States. The term Turtle Island signals an Indigenous label for this geographical place. It also highlights Indigenous historical understandings and is culturally relevant to the Indigenous peoples—Neutral, Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee—on whose traditional territories all three universities involved in the Tri-University Graduate Program in History are situated.

World History field

The Tri-University Graduate Program’s World History Ph.D. field draws upon the expertise of a wide range of scholars and their research in our program. World history differs from other historical studies in addressing a wider range of topics, specifying previously neglected connections among arenas of human experience, tracing broad patterns in the past, and clarifying relationships among different scales of the world’s events and processes. World history studies aspects of historical change that transcend single nations or regions, including the environment, religion, ideology, labour, migration/diaspora, industrialization, colonialism and imperialism, social movements, slavery, racism, human rights, class, gender, science and technology, popular culture, trade and finance and demography.

War and Society field


The Tri-University Program is one of the few doctoral programs in Canada offering specific supervision on topics relating to war and its impact on the wider society. The field combines the research of leading scholars in military history with a large faculty group interested in the ways in which armed conflict and insurgencies alter society. The field involves historians in Canadian, American, modern European, African and Asian history.

The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS), which is affiliated with the program, adds further depth to our scholarly activity. The Centre’s interests are multi-disciplinary, emphasize the Canadian experience, and support scholarship relevant to strategic and operational studies, arms control and international negotiation.

Scottish field

Map of Scotland

Tri-University faculty have a wide variety of interests in the history of Scotland itself and in the history of the Scots in Canada. Their research spans the period from the late Middle Ages to the early twentieth centuries. Faculty in this field are committed to interdisciplinary work and students can benefit from the expertise of members of other departments who are part of the interdisciplinary Scottish Studies program at Guelph.

Students also have the opportunity to participate in the production of an academic journal, The International Review of Scottish Studies, and give papers at the semi-annual conferences organized by Scottish Studies. The University of Guelph Library has an excellent collection in Scottish history and this is complemented by some superb archival holdings.

Modern European field

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

“The Tri-University Program benefits from wide-ranging faculty expertise in German, French, Russian, Polish, and British and Irish history.  Particular faculty research interests include Nazism and the Holocaust, Cold War Germany, family and gender history, international relations, tourism, military history, the history of medicine, the history of crime, and the history of sexuality.”

Medieval field

Since 2010, the Tri-University Graduate Program in History has offered a field in Medieval History. The European Middle Ages has long attracted the interest of graduate students in history. This universal trend is particularly visible in the three Tri-University Graduate Program. The central research focus of the medieval historians in the Tri-University is the latter portion of the Middle Ages. This fits with a fairly recent trend in medieval historiography to explore a previously neglected era. For a long time, and with the exception of Italy, the late Middle Ages was wrongly perceived as a period of decline. For this reason, the Tri-University Program is particularly well equipped to supervise doctoral students interested in the latter portion of the Middle Ages. By focusing doctoral supervisions on a particular era within the Middle Ages, the Tri-University History Program Medieval Field is distinct from other broad Medieval history programs.

Early Modern European field

The research interests of the faculty range over the entire spectrum of social, political, intellectual and cultural history of the period, including: family history, explorations, women and gender issues, urban history, power and authority, peasant uprisings, popular culture, religious dissent and the theological and ideological debates of the Reformation.

The library holdings are especially rich. The University of Waterloo and Conrad Grebel University College libraries have some of the most substantial ‘radical’ Reformation holdings in Canada. The Laurier library has an excellent collection in Lutheran and Humanist studies, while Guelph has a special Scottish collection for this period.

Cold War History

Red Army Chorus

The Tri-University Program is one of the few graduate programs in North America with a field in Cold War History. The Cold War era has the benefit of comparatively crisp opening and closing dates, and a defining core conflict. The new history of the Cold War is a fascinating example of how experts – often working across national and disciplinary boundaries – are able to use newly available information to refine, or in some cases overturn, old images and interpretations. Not surprisingly, it has become one of the chief areas of interest for history students today.

The Tri-University faculty includes scholars in post-1945 US and Soviet history, Canadian foreign relations in the cold war era and communist era Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This makes our major field in Cold War history unique in North American graduate programs.

Canadian History

At the center of the Tri-University Program is one of the largest complements of Canadian historians in the world. Our faculty’s work covers a vast range of topics from pop culture to the geological survey, from immigration and the contribution of ethnic minorities to the urban and rural experience, from women and children to foreign relations, from public health and medicine to military history.

Field Seminars

Major Fields

All Major Field Seminars are offered by the program each year. The seminars are designed to prepare students for teaching and research in the area of the major field. Students choose one major field seminar in their first year of study. Major fields are completed by a qualifying exam, in the same subject as the major field seminar, taken in the fourth term of registration. Teaching of the seminars rotates among the campuses each year. Students should select their campus of application not on the basis of the location of the major field seminar, but on the basis of the location of their preferred thesis advisor.

Immigrants enter the United States at Ellis Island, NY in this 1908 photo by Lewis Hine

Major Fields

Minor Fields

The minor fields represent each student’s secondary areas of concentration; they are designed to provide students with a supplementary teaching area and a comparative understanding of works in their dissertation research area. Students fulfill their minor field requirement by successfully completing two minor field seminars, normally in their first year of study. The topics of the seminars are established in consultation with the student and every effort is made to provide students with a list of the minor field seminars prior to their acceptance of an offer of admission. Successful completion of the seminars constitutes completion of the fields as there are no minor field examinations in the program.

Examples of Minor Field Seminars Offered in the Past

  • Sports History
  • Medieval History
  • International History
  • Economic History
  • Family & Gender History
  • Modern American History
  • Film & History
  • Legal History
  • Indigenous History
  • French Revolution
  • History of Science
  • Canadian Rural History
  • Mennonite History

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