Carleton student Amanda Clarke has been awarded a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship worth $180,000. Clarke was one of 15 Canadian and international doctoral candidates to receive the coveted scholarship.
“The Trudeau Scholarship  is much more than financial support,” says Clarke. “The foundation’s Public Interaction Program will allow me to work with passionate, engaged and bright researchers and public figures tackling today’s most pressing public policy concerns.”
This fall, Clarke will begin work on her doctoral studies in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences at Oxford University. She has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Carleton. Her research, Reforming Public Governance in the Digital Age: Learning from e-consultations in Canada and the United Kingdom, will evaluate how the Internet affects the relationship between public servants, political leaders and the people they serve.
“The need to rethink this relationship is especially apparent given the low rates of voter turnout and soured popular perceptions of politics that undermine the quality of Canada’s representative democracy today,” Clarke says.
She believes that the ubiquity of the Internet brings with it a potential for unprecedented levels of democratic engagement. That said, her work about Canada’s government has led her to question whether or not our public institutions are capable of living up to the promise of online political participation.
To help answer this question, Clarke’s doctoral research will examine “the role of online consultations in the policy processes of governments and legislatures in Canada and the U.K.” With this work, she will spell out the cultural, institutional and behavioural changes required to develop a model of governance that moves beyond the rhetoric of many “digital democracy” strategies, and instead, provides legitimate opportunities for citizens to shape the policy process via the web.
“In both programs, I benefited from small classes and innovative programs that are really unique to Carleton,” she says. “Moreover, I am incredibly grateful for the generous funding offered by Carleton University throughout my studies,”
Created in 2003, the Trudeau Scholarships are awarded to just 15 students each year. The foundation provides the largest scholarships for doctoral studies in the social sciences and humanities.
“Trudeau Scholarships not only accelerate the careers of those who receive them, but also enable recipients to make a significant contribution to Canada and to Canadians. We reward excellence and provide doctorate students with the best conditions to ground their work in the real world,” said P.G. Forest, president, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.