Skip to main content

What is Work and Labour Studies?

Most of us will spend the majority of our lives working. Our identities, our material security, our ability to fulfill our personal goals and contribute to community life all depend on the kinds of work we engage in and the relationships we encounter once there. Today, in a globalizing world, the availability and organization of work is being dramatically transformed.  Given how important work is to the quality of our lives, the study of these changes is crucial to our future and more important than ever

Work and Labour Studies is an interdisciplinary program focused on this rapidly changing world of work and its impact on workers.  Placing contemporary developments into historical perspective, Work and Labour Studies critically examines:

  • the organization and experience of paid and unpaid labour
  • workers' rights, in Canada and around the world
  • labour markets, education and training
  • labour and employment law
  • collective bargaining
  • public policies on work and the economy
  • occupational health and safety
  • workplace equity
  • working class culture and communities
  • the labour movement

Work and Labour Studies also places particular emphasis on the role that workers, unions and other social justice movements have played in making workplaces, communities and political and economic life in general more democratic, representative and egalitarian. By critically exploring historical and contemporary efforts to improve work, the program inspires and empowers students to intervene in their workplaces and communities to that everyone can benefit from the world of work.

Study in the program opens students up to multiple opportunities for research and engagement. Within York, Work and Labour Studies faculty have active, cutting-edge research programs and are linked to a number of other departments and research centres throughout the University. Beyond York, Work and Labour Studies faculty maintain active links with Canadian trade unions, skills training bodies, government departments, NGOs and international advocacy networks, broadening the world of study and employment opportunities for our students. The program also combines the strengths of academic study with experiential forms of learning: our 4th year Labour Relations Simulation and Labour Studies Work Placement course allow students to extend and apply knowledge from the classroom in practical ways that deepen their understanding of the dynamics of work and labour.


Career Paths

The Work and Labour Studies Program prepares students for employment in the labour movement, private industry, community and advocacy groups, government service in Canada and internationally, journalism, public or private administration, social work, law, or teaching. Work and Labour Studies students who have earned an Honours degree often continue studies in graduate school or professional programs.  Depending on the student's academic background, a graduate degree may be pursued in Work and Labour Studies or a variety of professional fields and disciplines such as law, industrial relations, occupational health and safety, public policy, global studies, human resource management, political science, sociology, history, environment studies, women's studies, communications or psychology.




featured videos
Watch Stephanie Ross Video