The Employment Relations program enjoys a long history within the university. It consistently attracts students who are interested in learning the theory, policy and legal frameworks behind the employment relationship, and how these can be applied should they choose to work in the field.
The overarching goal of the undergraduate program in Employment Relations is to offer an interdisciplinary learning opportunity in which to study the employment relationship in a Canadian and global context from the perspectives of economics, history, law, management, political science and sociology. The Employment Relations program is built on the premise that knowledge and skill acquisition progresses through the 200, 300 and 400-level courses in the program, based on the acquisition of required foundational knowledge in Employment Relations (via WDW244H1 Labour Relations and WDW260H1 Organizational Behaviour). These two courses expose students to the two avenues of study and inquiry within Employment Relations: Industrial Relations and Human Resources. WDW240H1 Introduction to Employment Relations will provide students with an overview of the areas of practice, theory and research in Employment Relations. These three courses expose students to the most important concepts and theories in Employment Relations.
Students are required to take a 100-level course in Sociology (or a combination of a 100-level course in Sociology and Psychology) and either ECO100Y1 Introduction to Economics or ECO105Y1 Principles of Economics for Non-Specialists, and WDW430Y1 Employment Law. Specialists are also required to take WDW339H1 Labour Markets and Public Policy. These Economics and Sociology courses link the field of Employment Relations to the labour market context (and thereby identify the impact it can have on organizations and their employees), as well as the influence of socio, political and demographic variables on key employment factors such as workplace ethics, diversity, and values, for example. In sum, these courses reinforce the interdisciplinary lens of Employment Relations. Altogether these courses expose students to the literature and theory required (as well as build competencies) for further study in the 300 and 400-level courses in the program.
The 300+ level courses build on material covered in the foundational courses by delving into the topics in more depth and breadth. Upper level courses are also designed to pursue core topics such as Compensation and Recruitment and Selection since these are areas required for students interested in becoming a professional in either labour relations or human resources. 400-level courses require much more active participation from students whether in terms of class discussion, field research and writing assignments. Senior courses are designed to stretch and further build students' core competencies, such as their strategic thinking.
University of Toronto’s Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources
Students in the program benefit from the resources of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. The Centre, which is located adjacent to Woodsworth College, was founded in 1965 and has become a leading centre for graduate research in the field. The first Master of Industrial Relations (MIR) program at an English language university in Canada was established at the Centre in 1975, and was followed by a Ph.D. program in 1986. The faculty at the Centre are known internationally for their research, and have written major textbooks in Canada in the areas of labour economics, human resource management, union-management relations, industrial relations and research methods. The faculty have also been involved in many significant policy initiatives in industrial relations in Canada and are active in major international organizations. This involvement in research and in national and international activities is reflected in their teaching in the Employment Relations program.