CSDC History and Mission

What is the CSDC?

The Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship (CSDC) promotes excellence in scientific research in an essential niche by supporting research, the training of the next generation of scientists, and knowledge mobilization on the functioning of democracy. It is an unparalleled cluster in the Quebec ecosystem of scientific research by approaching democracy from the angle of citizenship, the political role that individuals play within their society and the capacity of institutions to meet their needs and desires. It also stands out for its strength in methodology, an element that is all the more crucial as the ways of doing research are transforming at lightning speed with the emergence of new tools and large sets of digital data.

The CSDC brings together researchers from several disciplines, at various stages of their careers and active in several regions of Quebec. It currently has close to fifty faculty members spread across 10 universities and one college, and approximately 200 student and postdoctoral members.

The research themes and projects that constitute the CSDC’s scientific program are grouped around three axes: learning democratic citizenship; the practice of democratic citizenship; and citizen representation and governance. This program integrates several essential elements for the proper functioning of democracy, from the development of the qualities required by a democratic culture to the capacity of institutions to respond to the expectations expressed by citizens, including the diversity of practices through which individuals build and express their political preferences. In societies characterized by socioeconomic inequalities, plural identities, emerging issues, an expanding digital environment and political institutions called into question, democratic citizenship is a complex phenomenon. It is critical to understand it in order to act and address the cultural, economic, environmental and social challenges that the population faces.

The CSDC facilitates and promotes high-caliber scientific research on fundamental issues relating to democratic citizenship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, notably by playing a leadership role in the development of large-scale national and international research projects. It provides an enriching training environment with high added value for the next generation of scientists. It facilitates the contribution of Quebec scientists to debates on public policies in order to strengthen democracy here and elsewhere. The CSDC also helps achieve these objectives by creating leverage to support the efforts of its members to obtain additional resources aimed at supporting research, training and the transfer of knowledge to practical and user environments, research as well as the general public.

The Centre was founded in 2008 by Professor Elisabeth Gidengil of McGill University, when it was awarded initial funding as a strategic cluster. She assumed leadership until the summer of 2013, when Professor Dietlind Stolle took over. In September 2020, Professor Frédérick Bastien of the Université de Montréal became the third director of the CSDC.


The CSDC’s mission is to be a leading research centre in Quebec and Canada, and one of the best centres in the world for research, training and policy development on complex, urgent and important issues concerning democratic citizenship from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Specific objectives:

  • To promote scientific research of the highest national and international caliber on fundamental questions relating to democratic citizenship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives;
  • To contribute to political debates on strengthening democracy at home and abroad;
  • To take a leadership role in the development of large-scale (trans) national research projects;
  • To provide an enriched training environment for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.