Nicole Bernhardt

Nicole Bernhardt
Assistant Professor
Building HL 562


Nicole Bernhardt is an Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Her research focuses on human rights policy as a response to structural racism. She received her PhD in Politics from York University for which she was awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and the Abella Scholarship for Studies in Equity. Nicole has worked as a policy advisor for the Anti-Racism Directorate and as a human rights officer for the Ontario Human Rights Commission. As a human rights researcher & practitioner, Nicole has served as an expert panelist for Lancaster House, a faculty member for the Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development Program, and an international researcher for Equal Rights Trust. Nicole teaches courses on Canadian government and public policy, and currently serves on the executive for the Black Canadian Studies Association and the Feminist Alliance for International Action.

Research Interests

Her research interests include public policy, human rights law and institutions, race and racism, and state-driven equity measures. Nicole’s research program assesses the promise of human rights policy for combating social inequalities and advancing anti-racism, and addresses the question: how can the institutional powers built into the Canadian human rights system be mobilized to respond to problems of social inequality?


Journal Articles:

Hall, A., Hall, R. and Bernhardt, N. (2022). “Dealing with ‘vulnerable workers’ in precarious employment: Front-line constraints and strategies in employment standards enforcement.” Economic and Industrial Democracy. 43(1): 469-494.

Bernhardt, N. and Pin, L. (2018). “Engaging with ‘identity politics’ in the Canadian social sciences. Canadian Journal of Political Science. 51(4): 771-794.

Smele, S., Siew-Sarju, R., Chou, E., Breton, P. and Bernhardt, N. (2017). “Doing Feminist Difference Differently: Pedagogical Practices in the Context of the Neoliberal Diversity Regime” Teaching in Higher Education Vol. 22: 6.

Bernhardt, N. (2015). “Racialized Precarious Employment and the Inadequacies of the Canadian Welfare State.” Sage Open: Journal of Workplace Rights. Vol 5: 2.

Book Chapters:

Bernhardt, N. (2023). “Equality Instituted? Gender Equity, Women’s Rights, & the Systemic Functions of Human Rights Commissions.” Chapter in Feminism’s Fight: Challenging Politics and Policies in Canada since 1970, co-edited by Barbara Cameron and Meg Luxton. UBC Press.

Bernhardt, N. (2024). “Being ‘Reasonable’ (whilst Feminist and Black) within the Neoliberal University.” Chapter in Feministing in Political Science, co-edited by Alana Cattapan, Ethel Tungohan, Nisha Nath, Fiona Macdonald, and Stephanie Paterson. University of Alberta Press. (Forthcoming).