Graduate Student Symposium

Please note that the CDA Institute is no longer accepting abstracts for the 2018 Graduate Student Symposium.

Thank you for your interest.  See you in 2019!


Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC) 
Kingston, Ontario
September 30-October 2, 2018

The Graduate Student Symposium (GSS) is the CDA Institute’s annual graduate student-focused event for students who are working toward their master’s or doctoral degrees in the fields of security and defence. This year, 2018, will be its 22nd edition. It is acknowledged as a significant conference that provides an interdisciplinary platform for emerging scholars to develop and share new knowledge and innovations with respect to Canadian security and defence issues, as well as an opportunity to network with their peers and established leaders of the security, defence and academic sectors, broadly interpreted.

The GSS is the signature component of the CDA Institute’s Student Engagement Programme, contributing in various ways to the cultivation of the next generation of Canadian security and defence scholars, as well as future public service leaders. Its purpose is to engage with them on their topic to raise the calibre of their thesis and develop their confidence in working as a part of the expert community, as well as building their presentation and communication skills.

In 2018, the GSS will consist of a two-and-a-half day conference held at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, over the course of which approximately 20 graduate students and emerging security and defence experts will be given the opportunity to present their research centred on Canada’s security and defence interests during a series of panels. Presenters will then be questioned by the audience and an expert moderator, and also receive feedback from both the moderator and a panel of esteemed judges drawn from the defence and academic communities. The event will feature two keynote speakers chosen for their expertise in security and defence, one from the Canadian Armed Forces and one from the Department of National Defence; they will address issues relevant to Canada today and into the future.

Graduate Student Symposium Highlights and Agenda

NEW FOR 2018

Pre-Symposium Development Workshops – Sunday, September 30, 2018



Lead Facilitator: Chris Ford, BGen (Ret’d), President of “Generally Speaking”

So, you’re an expert in your chosen field! You’ve done the research, thought critically about your thesis, received copious advice from well-intentioned friends and colleagues, you’ve written, revised, edited, maybe cried a bit, and re-written your paper countless times. You submitted it with some trepidation and great hope, and – lo and behold! – it’s been accepted for presentation at the GSS. Now it’s show time!

Your work may be the greatest, but unless you can effectively communicate your ideas in real time to others in a public forum, the relevance and importance of your efforts may not achieve the desired effect. Sure, you can post your paper to a website, write a blog, send your PowerPoint presentation via e-mail, publish in a learned journal – all good! – but in the process you lose the Power of You.

This interactive workshop will help you develop the confidence and competence you need as a presenter to complement your advanced research and academic skills. Topics to be covered include:

  • Audience analysis
  • Logistics
  • Preparing your presentation
  • Delivering your presentation
  • Audio-visual aids
  • Body language and gestures
  • Using a microphone
  • Handling Q&A
  • Speaking “off the cuff”
  • Speaking “under fire”
  • Practical participation exercises



Lead Facilitator: Dr. Allan English, Queen’s University

This workshop is designed to help graduate students improve their networking skills to increase their chances of finding paid employment in non-academic jobs. It is divided into two parts: Part 1 consists of a facilitator-led discussion of the basic principles and best practices for effective networking for non-academic jobs; and Part 2 consists of activities that give participants an opportunity to apply those principles and best practices in creating individual networking plans.



CWO N.E. Belanger, MMM, CD

Formation Chief Warrant Officer/Adjudant-chef de la Formation

Canadian Defence Academy/ Académie canadienne de la Défense

CWO Belanger enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1988 as a Military Policewoman.  Throughout her career she has served in all three environments, working at the Base/Wing, Formation and Headquarters levels, both nationally and internationally, fulfilling a variety of Military Police and CAF CWO positions. Promoted to her current rank in 2011, she has held the position of the Strategic Joint Staff CWO, the CWO for the Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct in support of Operation Honour, the 16 Wing CWO and is currently the Canadian Defence Academy Formation CWO, in Kingston, ON.  CWO Belanger has been published in the Canadian Military Journal and the Royal Canadian Air Force Journal.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree, with grand distinction, from the Royal Military College of Canada, a certificate in military studies, and a college diploma in Law and Security Administration from Loyalist College of Applied Arts. She is also a graduate of the Officer Professional Military Education Programme, Canadian Security Studies Programme, and the Executive Leadership Programme. In 2016, she was appointed as a member of the Order of Military Merit.

Emanuele Sica, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor History  | Professeur adjoint affilié, Histoire 

Royal Military College of Canada | Collège militaire royal du Canada

Emanuele Sica is an Assistant Professor in European and Military History at the Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario. He successfully defended his PhD thesis on the Italian Military Occupation of France during the Second World War at the University of Waterloo, 2012. His book, Mussolini’s Army in the French Riviera, has been published in 2016 by University of Illinois Press and has been published in Italian, and a French edition is forthcoming. He is also the main editor along with Richard Carrier of a collective volume Italy and the Second World War: Alternative Perspectives (Brill Publishing, 2018). Aside from collaborating with the Italian Defense Ministry Historical Section and writing several essays on the First and Second World War, he has lectured at Italian, French and Canadian universities and at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

Richard Evraire

Lgen à la retraite

 Ancien des Collèges militaires du Canada et de l‘Université McGill en génie civil, il est détenteur d’une Maîtrise en Administration publique de l’Université Queen’s et d’un Doctorat (honoris causa) du CMR du Canada.  Retraité des Forces armées canadiennes après 42 années de service, il est l’actuel Colonel honoraire du Royal 22e Régiment et membre, depuis 2014, du Conseil d’administration de la Fondation de l’Hôpital Montfort.  Pendant 28 et 10 ans  Gardien et Gardien chef du Camp 12 du Rituel de l’Engagement de l’ingénieur, il est maintenant Gardien honoraire du Camp 12.  Il est également paroissien et membre du comité des finances de la Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Ottawa.

Richard Evraire

LGen (Ret’d)

 A graduate of Canada’s Military Colleges and McGill University in Civil Engineering, Richard holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Queen’s and an Honorary Doctorate from RMC of Canada. He retired in the rank of Lieutenant General after 42 years of military service.  Richard is the current Honorary Colonel of the Royal 22e Regiment (Vandoos) and, since 2014, serves on the Board of Directors of the Montfort Hospital Foundation.  For 28 and 10 years a Warden and a Chief Warden, Richard is now an Honorary Warden of Camp 12 of the Ritual of the Calling of an engineer.  He is a parishioner and a member of the finance committee of Notre Dame Cathedral of Ottawa.


Relevance to Symposium Theme

The symposium theme is communicated to potential presenters who are invited to participate based on the relevance of their chosen subject. The judges therefore should look for an indication, in the presentation, of a statement of relevance of the subject to: “Canada’s Security and Defence Interests”.

Structure, organization, clarity and logic

Presentations should be organized in a clear and logical way in order to facilitate audience understanding. The quality of content should also be considered.

Quality of Deliver/Presentation

Presenters should understand and apply microphone dynamics and speak clearly and at a reasonable pace in order to facilitate audience comprehension. This requires that the text be rehearsed and adjusted for time. Optics also matter. A presentation can be enhanced or ruined through the use of visuals. Finally, personal impression (a confident manner and eye contact) can enhance audience receptiveness.

Depth of Research

Through the judicious use of references (name of authors or title of sources, offered orally or in writing through the use of visuals), judges can discern the depth of knowledge of the subject exhibited by the presenter. As in written material, appropriate references must be used.

Responses to Questions

Following the presentations, the presenters will participate in a 10-15 minute Q & A, the purpose of which is to establish their relative (to other presenters) assurance, ease and ability to think ‘on their feet’, as it were, and respond to questions from the audience on issues raised in their presentation. Judges are thereby given an additional opportunity to discern the depth of the presenter’s knowledge of his/her chosen subject.


The judges will rank presentations comparatively based upon the above criteria; all cash prizes will be awarded upon this comparative ranking. The weight given by the judges to each of the above evaluation criteria is not revealed to the presenters.

Moderators’ Comments

Once the Q & A period is concluded, the three judges will step out of the presentation area to discuss, and the moderator will be afforded ten minutes to provide individualized constructive criticism meant to advance the presenters’ research. Moderators will not compare individual presenters and their comments will play no role in the awarding of cash prizes.

Agenda is subject to modifications

Students are reminded that all presentations must be no longer than 15 minutes in duration at the absolute maximum.  In order to keep the symposium on schedule, the moderators will stop all presentations at the time limit, regardless of where students are in their delivery. The ability to stay on time is, in fact, one of the criteria that the panel of judges will assess.


Student Rate – Complimentary
Students will be granted full access complimentary registration to the GSS including the workshop, symposium, all meal and networking events.  Register today and bring proof of student enrollment to the onsite registration desk.

Government Rate: $50
Full symposium access including all meal and networking events.

Public Rate: $75
Full symposium access including all meal and networking events.


Canada in the World: Where are we now? 

The Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDA Institute) will hold its 21st Annual Graduate Student Symposium between Sunday, 30 September and Tuesday, 2 October 2018 at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario.  

For two days of presentations, discussions and networking, plus an afternoon of professional skills development, this impressive and well-attended Symposium draws together Canadian and international MA and PhD students; members of the Department of National Defence; members of the Regular and Reserve components of the Canadian Armed Forces, including officer cadets; as well as scholars, defence industry stakeholders, government officials and leaders from throughout Canadian society. 

The overarching theme of this year’s Symposium, entitled Canada in the World: Where are we now?, is an examination of Canada’s global position following the 2017 release of the nation’s new defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged. Suggested (but by no means exhaustive) presentation/panel topics may include: future threats, challenges and opportunities; Canada and alliances; peace operations in an unstable and dangerous world – back to the future or a new approach?; the institution of defence – defence industry and procurement; defence personnel – policies for millennials and beyond; emerging operational environments – cyber, space and terrorism/radicalization; Canadian military campaigns and operations – past and present; the north and NORAD; the UN and NATO. 

Cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 will be presented to the top three presenters. The top three presenters will also be given the opportunity to work with the CDA Institute Director of Research and Senior Editor to develop their work for publication as Vimy Papers. If the papers are accepted for publication, they will receive an additional honorarium of $1,500 each. A further prize of $750, the Colonel Peter Hunter Award, will be presented by the Royal Canadian Military Institute (RCMI). The recipient of this award will also be offered the opportunity to develop the paper into an RCMI publication. 

New to this year’s Symposium is a skills development workshop to be held the Sunday afternoon (30 September) that will offer attendees advice on networking for non-academic jobs, as well as oral presentation skills; it will also afford an additional opportunity to network with colleagues. 

Abstracts of proposed presentations (200-400 words) from Master’s and Doctoral students, including recent graduates (i.e., those who received or will receive their degree in 2018), in the realm of security and defence will be accepted until 3 September 2018. Proposals for complete panels (with 3 panelists, less a moderator) will also be entertained. Between 15 and 20 proposals will be accepted for presentation at the Symposium. Abstracts must clearly demonstrate how the proposed topic relates to Canada AND its security and defence interests broadly interpreted; those that fail to do so may not be accepted. Please send all presentation abstracts with your institutional affiliation and contact information by email to Marta Skowerska.   

Applicants will be notified of the result of their submission within 5 business days, but likely sooner. The final draft of complete presentation papers (maximum 4,000 words), including final PowerPoint presentations if applicable, must be submitted no later than 21 September 2018 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their abstracts as soon as practicable in order to qualify for a limited number of travel grants (amount to be determined, but $500 minimum) that will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.  Applicants are asked to indicate, as part of the abstract submission, whether travel assistance is required and from where the travel will begin. Consequently, ‘the early bird has a better chance of getting the worm’. 

Presenters are responsible for their own travel and accommodations; however, block booking will be made available at a Kingston hotel at a later date. More information regarding accommodations will be provided soon.   

Please ensure as wide a distribution as possible of this CFP. 


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