Interview with Grace Skogstad

How did you get interested in Political Science?

My father was very interested in politics and had a lot of views about what was wrong with governments and conventional political parties. He was also an activist in farm politics. When I went to University, it was almost in my DNA to study political science.

What are you working on right now?

I have two projects that I’m working on now.  The first, a long-standing interest, is Canadian federalism and its impacts on different Canadian public policies and the state of governing in Canada.  The second examines the role of policy paradigms (embedded ideas about feasible and desirable public policies) in shaping public policies with respect to renewable fuels policies in Canada, the United States, the European Union, and Brazil. This project addresses how different countries deal with the tension between environmental sustainability and energy security: arguably one of the more consequential tensions of our time.

What do you bring to the undergraduate class room?

I hope I bring expertise to the courses that I teach. I understand my role to be giving students the analytical skills they need to develop an understanding and critique of political issues and politics that is cognizant of the political constraints and incentives of elected politicians.  I help students develop their analytical skills by giving them a substantive and historical knowledge of Canadian politics and public policy.

What is one helpful tip you’d like to share with your students to help them succeed at UTSC?

Go to class and to tutorials.  There are two reasons. One is not to throw away your money.  Currently, your tuition fees translate into about $50 per lecture. If you don’t attend class, you might as well be dropping a 50 dollar bill on the street. The other is that there are unique opportunities to learn in the classroom, not just from the professor but also from other students. When the professor or students say things that don’t sound quite right to you, you are forced to think about what you believe in and to defend your views. To me, this exercise is the most important function of a University education. The added benefit is that the exercise of self-defense gives you the confidence of your views and equips you for a career that builds on your skill set and interests.