BCPSA 2024 Call for Proposals

The British Columbia Political Studies Association
Annual General Meeting
May 2-3, 2024, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo Campus  

We are thankful to be able to convene on the unceded lands of the Snuneymuxw, Quwutsun, Tlaamin, Snawnawas and Qualicum First Nations.

Trust and Leadership

People have to trust each other, at least on some level, if they are going to work together. If we cannot trust our political leaders, we cannot confidently delegate decision-making powers to them and we cannot engage in successful collective actions that serve the needs and interests of our communities or countries. At the same time, democracy has always relied — and thrived — on healthy doses of distrust. Democratic leaders must be subject to criticisms, skepticism, and opposition to keep them accountable and, indeed, trustworthy. As such, in robust democracies there is always an interplay between trust (which is passive and deferential, at least to some degree) and distrust (which is active and critical). At times, countries and communities are more distrusting than trusting. At other times, it is the opposite.

In the past few decades, several liberal democracies of the Global North, most notably, the United States, have seen public trust in governments and political leaders significantly erode. Even Canada, which has consistently been ranked as one of the strongest liberal democracies in the world, has not remained immune to this erosion of public trust, as the 2022 freedom convoy protests revealed. These developments raise several questions: How are trust and distrust to be conceptualized? What are different types of trust and distrust? How can trust and distrust be measured? When does eroding trust become healthy and productive distrust? When does eroding trust become unhealthy or unwarranted distrust? How can distrust be turned back into trust? What are some historical or contemporary examples of changing trust situations in British Columbia, Canada, or elsewhere that can shed light on our understanding of political trust and leadership?

In the current context of the “polycrisis” — that is the juxtaposition of multiple crises whose serious social, economic, and environmental consequences are being felt around the globe — it is timely and relevant to examine the issue of leadership when analyzing the erosion of public trust. What does effective leadership require, especially during times of crisis? Empathy? Confidence? Decisiveness?  Deference? Trust? Or distrust and critique?  How can effective leadership contribute to restoring and maintaining public trust? To what extent have provincial leaders in Canada and British Columbia been able to effectively address major challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, homelessness, and the health-care crisis?

We invite scholars, graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and practitioners from political science and all related disciplines to submit paper, panel, poster, and roundtable proposals that explore trust or leadership in Canada and across the world from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives.

We strongly encourage proposals examining trust and leadership in the present era of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and, in particular, the extent to which the reconciliation initiatives and policies of the Liberal government have or have not rebuilt trust with Indigenous leaders and communities. 

Other topics pertaining to electoral and movement politics, public policy, Indigenous scholarship and decolonization, and experiential learning are very welcome.

Paper, panel, poster, and roundtable proposals (including title, 250-word abstract, and participants’ names and institutional affiliation) are due February 29, 2024.

Accepted papers and posters are due April 15, 2024 (8,000 words maximum).

Please submit all proposals, accepted papers and posters to: 2024BCPSA@viu.ca.

All conference participants are required to register by March 31, 2024 on Eventbrite BCPSA 24

Information about accommodation and Nanaimo will be posted shortly on the websites of Vancouver Island University’s Political Studies Department (https://socialsciences.viu.ca/political-studies) and the British Columbia Political Studies Association (https://www.bcpsa.ca/)

Questions about the conference can be sent to Jocelyne Praud: Jocelyne.Praud@viu.ca

The British Columbia Political Studies Association is grateful to the Faculty of Social Sciences and Department of Political Studies of Vancouver Island University for support to hold these events.

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