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Backgrounder / April 4, 2001 / Project number: BG-01.009


The Security and Defence Forum (SDF) is a program of the Department of National Defence. The program was established in 1967 to develop a domestic competence and national interest in defence issues of relevance to Canada's security. Since its inception, the SDF has helped establish a body of Canadian expertise and an independent capability to analyze defence issues. This program also contributes to the public policy debate through research efforts at various Centres of Expertise and through the individual contributions of faculty and students.


The mandate of the SDF is to:

develop and support a strong Canadian competency in contemporary defence and security issues;
contribute to public education and the public policy debate; and
enhance communication between the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Forces and the academic community.

The SDF is composed of four elements: Centres of Expertise, a Scholarship and Internship Program, Special Projects, and the Chair of Defence Management Studies.

The Department of National Defence awards SDF grants to 12 Centres of Expertise at Canadian universities. Each Centre draws upon various faculties and disciplines including strategic studies, international relations, political science, history, mathematics and economics. In many cases, the SDF provides the core financial commitment to the Centres around which other research and teaching is developed. The Royal Military College of Canada is not funded by the SDF, but takes part in its activities on an informal basis.

The current Centres of Expertise are:

Dalhousie University,
Centre for Foreign Policy Studies

Université Laval,
Institut québécois des hautes études internationales

Université de Montréal and McGill University,
Groupe d'étude et de recherche sur la sécurité internationale/Research Group in International Security

Wilfrid Laurier University,
Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies

York University,
Centre for International and Security Studies

University of British Columbia,
Institute of International Relations ·

University of New Brunswick,
Military and Strategic Studies Program

Université du Québec à Montréal, Centre d'études des politiques étrangères et de sécurité

Royal Military College of Canada, War Studies Programme Interdepartmental Programme in Defence Management and Policy

Carleton University,
Centre for Security and Defence Studies

Queen's University,
Centre for International Relations

University of Manitoba,
Centre for Defence and Security Studies

University of Calgary,
Strategic Studies Program

The Scholarship and Internship Program is another vital component of the SDF. The Scholarship Program supports graduate and post-graduate studies in Canadian defence and security issues. The Internship Program assists recent Master of Arts graduates in these fields obtain related work experience. It funds one-year placements in research or related positions in Canadian organizations (excluding universities and government departments or agencies), in Canadian government offices outside Canada, and international organizations.

The Special Projects component of the SDF provides modest funding for projects that help develop a domestic competence in security and defence issues. This funding is normally provided to individuals or institutions for endeavors such as conferences, seminars, research projects and papers.

Renewal of the SDF Program

The Government of Canada recently approved an annual funding level of $2 million for the SDF program, representing an increase of $300,000 per year over the previous funding level. An independent Selection Committee, appointed by the Minister, considered proposals for Centres of Expertise and the Chair of Defence Management Studies from universities across Canada and recommended which should be funded.

Additional Information

For additional information on the Security and Defence Forum, visit

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