A Cultural Study of Poverty and Homelessness

Code: CS200
Apply this course towards: Canadian Studies

Course description

This online course invites students to consider the apparent homelessness crisis through the lens of Canadian social policy formulation. The focus is on the connections between policy decisions of the last half century and current problems, as well as evaluation of current policy solutions. The course will contextualize the Canadian experience with that of Western Europe, the United States and applicable experiences and experiments in other G20 countries. Overall themes will include the racial, gender and age determinants of poverty and homelessness in Canada past and present; the rise in inequality since 1970 and the debate over relative poverty; the relatively recent growth in homelessness and addiction into a national crisis, and an assessment of current models. 

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • historicize Canadian homelessness and poverty
  • explain the debate over poverty in Canada, the discussion about addiction, and how this influences policy solutions
  • analyze the role of legal doctrines and decisions, and past policies to the problem and solution of homelessness
  • evaluate the promises of harm reduction as an ideology and its efficacy in practice
  • assess the potential of rehabilitation and recovery through current practices
  • assess the potential of rehabilitation and recovery through experiments elsewhere, such as the San Patrignano therapeutic community model
  • evaluate the debate over choice theory and its possible relevance to homelessness and addiction
  • assess the promises of legalization
  • interpret the role of marketing and malpractice by ‘big pharma’ and health care providers in addiction and homelessness
  • differentiate between temporary and sustainable solutions to poverty and homelessness
  • demonstrate a knowledge of the racial and gendered aspects of poverty, addiction and homelessness


  • Permission of Program Coordinator. Please call 250-721-8458 for more information.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate competence in English.

How to register

If you are interested in taking this course, either for credit or on a non-credit basis, please call 250-721-8458 for more information. Please note that if you wish to take the course for credit, and you are not currently a UVic student, you will need to apply to the University of Victoria for admission.

RELATED TOPICS: Canadian Studies