About

Why Study Work & Labour Studies?

Most of us will spend an enormous portion of our lives working. Our identities, our material security, our ability to fulfill our personal goals and contribute to community life all depend upon the kinds of work we get and the relationships we engage in 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, it only makes sense to study these changes.

Work and Labour Studies (WKLS) 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, 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, and the labour movement. Given its location in Toronto, Canada’s most diverse city, the program pays special attention to the experiences of different groups of workers.

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 both historical and contemporary efforts to improve work, Work and Labour Studies hopes to inspire students to intervene in their workplaces and communities, so 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 research programs and are linked to a number of programs 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, non-governmental and community-based organizations, and international advocacy networks, broadening the world of study and employment opportunities for WKLS students. The program also combines the strengths of academic study with experiential forms of learning: our 4th year Labour Relations Simulation and Labour Studies Placement courses allow students to extend and apply knowledge from classroom study in practical ways that deepen their understanding of the dynamics of work and labour.