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Ethics, governance, and social organization

Université Laval professors and their research teams are actively involved in ethics, sound governance and social organization. Through their researchs, they contribute to the evolution of society towards collective well-being.

Background and issues

Sustainable health, northern sustainability, intelligent communities, sustainable resource management, culture and creativity, human development: in each of these spheres UL professors are leveraging their expertise in the name of social progress and the achievement of greater collective well-being. All of these areas have one thing in common—a need for governance, which is inseparable from the notion of ethics and a social organization that respects the rights of individuals and communities. One of our greatest present and future challenges is rethinking togetherness in a society shaped by immigration, which inevitably raises the issue of value pluralism.

The field of ethics, a normative branch of philosophy that addresses real-world problems, has undergone extensive development in recent years. Université Laval professors are doing valuable ethics research to elucidate contemporary ethical issues in areas ranging from political philosophy and economics to agrifood and health.

Strategic priorities

  • Elucidate contemporary ethical issues
  • Analyze in greater depth the foundations of governance, including risk management and entrepreneurship
  • Promote citizen participation in democratic life
  • Envision ways of living together harmoniously in societies shaped by immigration
  • Integrate an international dimension into the study of social organization

Expertise at Université Laval

Renowned UL professors are working to define the foundations of governance by studying the functioning of private, public, and community organizations, corporate governance and, more broadly, issues related to entrepreneurship and takeover entrepreneurship. New light is being shed on emerging issues in finance and accounting, such as environmental accounting, and human resources management in its broadest sense.
In a context where trade and other forms of exchange between countries are growing at every level, international relations are of vital importance. Université Laval is home to leading professors in the field, particularly in the fields of political economy and sustainable development.

Many UL research groups, centres, and chairs take an interest in sustainable development issues: no less than 48% of UL research chairs are involved with an aspect of sustainable development.


Researchers are examining the importance of citizen participation in democratic life by studying parliamentary institutions and how they respond to public opinion. In doing so, they are developing management and participatory governance models and looking at the emerging role citizen science has come to play.

The work of 175 professors and their teams from 8 different faculties demonstrates the strength of Université Laval’s commitment to the study of ethics, governance, human resources management, and social organization.

The Institute for Advanced International Studies (HEI) exemplifies Université Laval’s vision and strategy applied to the study of ethics, governance, and social organization.

Université Laval has always been at the forefront in international studies. In 1970, faculty members from various disciplines founded the Centre québécois des relations internationales and launched Études internationales, a scholarly journal. In 1987, Université Laval introduced the first French-language interdisciplinary master’s degree program in Canada. And in 1994, new ground was broken when teaching and research programs were grouped together within HEI.
Since its foundation as a graduate teaching and research institute, HEI has grown steadily. Its mission is to contribute to the advancement of knowledge on international affairs through an interdisciplinary approach and help train experts who can understand, debate, and effect change on the major issues facing the world.

Interdisciplinarity is woven into the DNA of the students and scholars who call HEI home. The interdisciplinary approach adds value to HEI’s work, and is the only way to achieve a nuanced understanding of international phenomena. Researchers study border mentalities and logic in an ongoing quest to reach beyond them in the name of social progress. Although appealing and fertile, interdisciplinary practice is constantly tested by the structural logic that governs university life. That’s why examination and promotion of interdisciplinarity and the search for best practices are the focus of ongoing efforts at the institute. 

Graduate students at HEI follow a rigorous program of study that includes strong foundations in law, economics, management, and political science, supplemented by work in areas such as geography, history, and sociology. Research groups bring together researchers who put their expertise to work to understand major international issues. Most of HEI’s over 60 members are UL professors. There are 9 research groups affiliated with HEI, including 3 Canada Research Chairs established in partnership with university faculties. Their areas of expertise include international security, terrorism, trade, environmental issues, sustainable development, the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and North Africa. HEI also publishes the academic journal Études internationales and organizes some 50 scientific events each year.

HEI researchers are making meaningful contributions to knowledge on global security, environmental, economic, humanitarian, and cross-disciplinary issues. Études internationales is a French-language voice for international affairs research heard all around the world. The summer schools organized by HEI are open to the public, offering interested people a crash course in many of the most pressing issues of the day.


  • Raise Université Laval’s profile
  • Diversify funding sources
  • Increase knowledge transfer of research findings to potential users