Active Citizen Project

Active Citizen Project

The Active Citizen Project leverages the research and teaching resources of the University via the Guelph Lab, linking them with initiatives at the City that engage citizens in the governance of the city – from policy making to service design/delivery and budgeting.


The City of Guelph is undertaking a number of reforms under the auspices of the “Open Guelph” initiative. The Open Guelph initiative is part of a larger public debate about the role and nature of governments and citizens in the 21st Century. The University of Guelph participates in this same debate through its research and teaching. Just as the City is developing new practices and approaches, the University is creating new knowledge (theory). The Active Citizen Project will allow City staff to access research and teaching capacity and link the work of students and faculty at the University to practitioners in the community.


Building on recognized expertise in Guelph, the Active Citizen Project will include a range of research and teaching projects, all designed and delivered in partnership with the City and other community members/organizations.


Projects can include:

  • primary research (interviews, surveys, etc)
  • “desk research” (reviewing existing information/research)
  • short (e.g., rapid response research completed in 2-6 weeks) or much longer (months or multi-year)
  • completed by students (undergraduate, graduate or doctoral) or by faculty.

These scholarly activities are designed to meet the need of the community / City partner but can be completed with more or less participation from that partner.


Undergraduate student course projects. Often 4th-year students and conducted as part of/within a 12-week course. An example might be a review of existing research evaluating “Open Government” or a comparison of existing practices in other jurisdictions.

Research Shop projects. These are delivered by graduate students, outside of their courses, and supervised through the Research Shop. An example might be a “rapid response” scan of existing engagement initiatives being conducted by the City or by other municipalities.

Graduate student research projects. These are often a piece of original research completed over 3-4 months and linked directly to the student’s research work. These projects are supervised by faculty. An example might be interviews with young people about the City services they use, or the development of evaluation metrics on “Open Government”.

Faculty-led research projects. These projects tend to be longer in development and are completed over longer time periods. They often generate peer-reviewed papers in addition to other documents/products (reports, presentations etc.). An example might be the careful documenting of the emergence and development of new ways in which different kinds of citizens are engaged/engaging with the City.

Learning Events

Learning events can include speaker series, lunch and learns, workshops etc.. From large public events to smaller, more targeted audiences. A sample of the topics / expertise available includes: digital politics, the role / use of social media, collaborative governance, engaging marginalized groups in policy making, engagement and collaboration in local government.

Project Partner(s): 
City of Guelph