A Cultural Study of Poverty and Homelessness

Code: CS200
Apply this course towards: Canadian Studies

Course description

This course explores the homelessness crisis through the lens of Canadian social policy formulation focusing on connections between past policy decisions and current problems. We will evaluate policy solutions and contextualize the Canadian experience with that of other jurisdictions. Themes include mental illness and addiction; racial, gender and age determinants of poverty and homelessness past and present; Indigenous homelessness; neoliberalism; inequality and the politics of defining and measuring poverty.

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 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.