Graduate Student Symposium
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.

The Captain Nichola Goddard “Gamer Changer” Award

The 2018 GSS will also afford the CDA Institute the opportunity to present for the second time the Captain Nichola Goddard “Game Changer” Award, a newly-created award that recognizes a young Canadian that has already made a significant contribution to discussions of Canadian security and defence and who possesses the potential for a long, productive and remarkable career.



Theme: Canada in the World: Where are we now?

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

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.


Sponsor the Graduate Student Symposium

The CDA Institute is a charitable status organization and is also looking for Corporate Sponsorships for this prestigious event in support of Canada’s emerging young leaders in the realm of security and defence. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact


Looking for Accommodations while attending the GSS?

Please click here to see hotels located near the Royal Military College of Canada.


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.

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