About

Seneca’s Government Relations program is the only one of its kind. Endorsed by the Public Affairs Association of Canada (PAAC) and the Government Relations Institute of Canada (GRIC), this eight-month graduate certificate program features specialized practical government relations training that will prepare you for a career in government relations.

You will learn to work with organizations and clients to co-ordinate and support their efforts to monitor, analyze and shape government action on existing and proposed legislation and regulation.

Government Relations professionals establish long-term relationships with government policy makers, utilizing strategic planning, issue analysis, lobbying, and stakeholder engagement skills to shape public policy and regulatory issues.

Skills

Throughout this program you will develop the following skills:

  • Issue analysis
  • GR campaign planning and design
  • Strategic communications
  • Stakeholder management
  • Ethical and regulatory requirements
  • Enhanced presentation techniques
  • Basic research skills

Welcome!

Joe MacDonald
Program Coordinator
GR Grad-Certificate Program
Seneca College

 

Hi! My name is Joe MacDonald and I’m the program coordinator for the GR graduate certificate program at Seneca College. I’d like to welcome you to this blog. Well, actually, it looks more like a website, but that’s simply because there’s much to share with you about the program.

The GR graduate certificate program at Seneca College opened its doors to students in January 2014. Since then, 187 students have studied GR here at Seneca. They belong to a select group of people – people who have taken advantage of the first opportunity to be formally trained in the fundamentals of Government Relations practice. Our graduates are now working for associations, as consultants, as senior political staff, and in the corporate sector.

What you see here in this blog/website represents the evolution of the program since 2014. I encourage you to look around and, in a virtual way, meet our current faculty, and our graduates. Check out our course offerings, explore our transfer pathway with George Washington University in Washington DC, and read the FAQs to learn more about GR, the program, and the application process.

Like most other post-secondary program today, we've moved our courses online. This isn't the best for anyone, but in these times we're doing everything we can to provide the best learning experience possible. All our course will stay online in the fall, but we hope to be live, in the classroom in January, 2021.

The COVID-19 situation will have significant long term effects on what governments do and what citizens will demand they do. Government Relations professionals will be at the forefront of these changes, representing the public policy interests of their organizations, institutions, associations and corporations. This is an unprecedented opportunity to become involved with the issues that will shape our future.

Finally, I hope to provide information about the industry as it responds to increasing calls for accountability, transparency, and ethical responsibility.

Again, welcome to this in-depth look into a unique program available only at Seneca College.

Career

As a graduate, you'll have the fundamental tools needed to advance your employer's government relations and public affairs goals. The Government Relations program prepares you for entry-level positions as public affairs/government relations practitioners with non-profit organizations and associations as well as professional service firms. Opportunities may also be found working as political staff for individual politicians and/or their parties.

Success finding a job depends very much on the effort and job-search skills of the individual graduate. Our graduates find employment with businesses, corporations, professional and other (non-profit) associations, sometimes political parties, and in the broad-based advocacy world.

Within five to six months after graduation, eight out of ten GRM graduates are employed.

Student Alma Maters

Brock University
Brock University
Carelton University
Carelton University
Concordia University
Concordia University
University of Delhi
University of Delhi
University of Eastern Finland
University of Eastern Finland
State University of New York at Fredonia
State University of New York at Fredonia
Georgian College
Georgian College
University of Gottingen
University of Gottingen
Guelph University
Guelph University
Guru Gobind Singh Indraprasha University
Guru Gobind Singh Indraprasha University
Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar)
Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar)
Humber College
Humber College
University of Karachi
University of Karachi
Laurentian University
Laurentian University
University of Madras
University of Madras
Mahatma Gandhi University (Kerala)
Mahatma Gandhi University (Kerala)
McGill University
McGill University
McMaster University
McMaster University
Nottingham Trent University
Nottingham Trent University
Odessa National "I.I. Mecnikov" University
Odessa National "I.I. Mecnikov" University
Ontario Tech University
Ontario Tech University
University of Ottawa
University of Ottawa
Queen's University
Queen's University
Pontifica Universidad Javeriana (Bogata)
Pontifica Universidad Javeriana (Bogata)
Ryerson University
Ryerson University
Seneca College
Seneca College
Sikkim Manipal University
Sikkim Manipal University
St. Thomas University
St. Thomas University
Stavropol State University (Russia)
Stavropol State University (Russia)
Thammasat University
Thammasat University
University of Toronto
University of Toronto
Trent University
Trent University
University of Waterloo
University of Waterloo
Western University
Western University
University of the West Indies
University of the West Indies
Wilfred Laurier University
Wilfred Laurier University
York University
York University
University of Youande II
University of Youande II

Courses

SEMESTER ONE REQUIRED COURSES:

This course introduces students to the basic theories, actors and contexts for the practice of government relations in Canada. Interest groups, governments, and how they interact will be described and students will analyze key strategies and tactics employed by government relations practitioners for their clients, associations, unions and corporations.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify the central actors in government relations and their roles;
  2. Recognize and analyze government relations issues as they emerge on the public agenda;
  3. Identify key government structures as points of “entry” for communicating with policy makers;
  4. Describe the broad framework of fundamental government relations strategies;
  5. Demonstrate the ability to integrate basic government relations tactics into fundamental government relations strategies;
  6. Discuss the basic components of a government relations plans;
  7. Create a government relations plan;
  8. Become familiar with the ethical issues involved in government relations.
This course is the prerequisite for GRM805, GRM809 and GRM811.

Government Relations practitioners are advocates for an employer/client and, must be able to write accurately in a range of styles that are clear, and concise. The practitioner must consider the possible outcomes of the proposed message to relevant publics and the employer/client. GRM701 helps prepare the students to make decisions about what information a message should contain in a given set of circumstances with regard to a variety of audiences.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Apply critical thinking and government relations strategy to the writing process;
  2. Identify how messages, communications channels, employer/client needs, public need, and social and political conditions interact to produce effective written communications;
  3. Write precise, grammatically correct messages tailored to specific publics within realistic time frames;
  4. Exhibit professional attitudes as demonstrated by positive involvement (courtesy, attentiveness, and participation in class activities) and effective time management (punctual attendance and completion of assigned tasks).

This course explores the use of web-based platforms for the development, management and integration of online campaigns in support of government relations and public affairs objectives. Students will learn the underlying principles, theories and strategies used to shift public opinion through digital media; the use of digital and social platforms to persuade audiences and gain support; and strategies for achieving government relations goals through building awareness and support online. Students will sharpen their ability to make informed strategic and tactical decisions and understand the link between ideas and action.

This course is designed to establish baseline knowledge of the tools, tactics, strategies and efficient utilization of digital technologies and platforms to support government relations objectives through public affairs campaigns.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Be familiar with practical “tools of the trade” for digital GR and public affairs professionals;
  2. Utilize digital and social platforms to identify and communicate with target audiences;
  3. Link online campaign techniques to overall government relations strategies;
  4. Learn to assess the value and return on investment of tactics deployed;
  5. Learn to distinguish between “persuasion” and “acquisition” campaigns online;
  6. Exercise presentation and group work skills;
  7. Develop a professional attitude to class work and responsibilities.

This course is the prerequisite for GRM817.

In Government Relations, every conversation is a presentation. Every time you speak to others, every meeting, every one-to-one – virtually and face-to-face, you’re presenting. Whether the setting’s formal or informal, internal or external, being a skilled presenter is a must-have, not a nice-to-have – it’s essential. Mumbling in a monotone or simply reading from slides isn’t acceptable or professional.

The effective communication of complex information is a hallmark of successful Government Relations. Policy analysis, strategic research data, campaign and program plans are just some of the information clients, policy makers, and senior management require. Success often depends upon being able to present ideas concisely and clearly with confidence and conviction – whether it’s a regular team meeting, a major client presentation or an update to senior management.

This course will introduce students to industry-standard presentation tools, as well as techniques for creating, developing, and delivering professional quality Government Relations presentations. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Learn to use industry standard presentation software;
  2. Understand basic presentation techniques and how to use them;
  3. Develop and apply clear communication objectives for GR presentations;
  4. Analyze audience structure to aid in the appropriate delivery of content;
  5. Cultivate effective non-verbal presentation skills showcasing development of vocal power, body language, projection, pace, tone and eye contact;
  6. Understand the art of persuasion, and the importance of establishing subject matter expertise.

Professionals responsible for the government relations function must know how to develop and manage government relations programs integrating a range of concurrent activities including: research and analysis, measurement and evaluation, advice and counsel, internal communications, media relations, writing, financial communications, community relations, stakeholder relations, issues management, crisis communications, events and others.

GRM718 discusses how strategic communications planning helps organizations achieve their objectives, and how the planning process aligns corporate communications with organization GR goals. Topics include research and analysis, measurement and evaluation, objectives, strategies, messaging, tactics, budgeting, and plan formatting.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Apply the principles of planning to creating and executing productive, organizationally relevant government relations communications plans;
  2. Apply good planning skills;
  3. Create a government relations communications plan;
  4. Write government relations communications objectives that are specific, stakeholder focused, and achievable within a stated time;
  5. Create government relations communications strategies that state how the communications objectives will be achieved.

This course gives students an overview of the role media plays in the Government Relations (GR) landscape.  GR and communications/PR often work side by side.  Understanding what media relations is, how to work with media, who the key media are in politics and public affairs is crucial to the role you will play in conveying your message to your audience. In media relations, the goal is to obtain the desired coverage at a reasonable cost in time, money, and effort.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the role media relations plays in the overall GR function through the development of key messages related to specific GR programs and activities;
  2. Prepare media relations documents that highlight key messages relevant to GR stakeholders (these include press releases, backgrounds and fact sheets, remarks and speeches, Q&As);
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the media landscape and the role journalists play (includes GR press, parliamentary press gallery) and know the difference between paid media and earned media;
  4. Engage GR stakeholders by adapting language, tone and presentation style to the GR purpose, situation, audience and channels.

This course introduces students to the skills used for interpreting, conducting, presenting, and analyzing strategic research in government relations. Over the course of the term, students will learn which research method to employ, how original research is conducted (complete with data collection and analysis), and how to present research findings to colleagues and clients. The goal at the end of this class is to help students understand how quantitative and qualitative research can be useful in professional government relations settings.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe and assess the logic of strategic GR research;
  2. Comprehend the basic concepts, steps, and design involved in the research process;
  3. Identify the correct data collection method to fit a given research question;
  4. Analyze data to determine variance and dispersion;
  5. Interpret sample data to reveal patterns of association between variables;
  6. Prepare graphs of data patterns to create a presentation on research findings;
  7. Adopt a professional approach to academic and professional behaviour.

Government Relations at Seneca prepares graduates for entry-level positions coordinating and supporting organization/client efforts to monitor, analyze and shape government action on existing, and proposed, legislation and regulation.

To help students gain important background experience, they must accumulate 120-plus volunteer hours in the office of an MP, MPP, or City Councillor. Volunteer hours are tracked, progress is monitored by the Program Coordinator, and students complete two assignments related to some aspect of their volunteer work.

Students must complete the Practicum Experience in order to graduate from the program.

SEMESTER TWO REQUIRED COURSES:

The government relations function exists to help organizations shape and respond to the actions of government and its regulatory function so they may have a say in their business environment. The function accomplishes this by developing and executing plans and strategies, and by employing tactics that help the organization to maintain a constructive dialogue and relationship with government at all levels and stakeholders.

Managing alliances and stakeholder relations is a critical element in advancing government relations goals.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the general theory and practice of stakeholder management;
  2. Recognize and use models of engagement as part of a government relations plan;
  3. Understand the role of strategic alliances for successful stakeholder engagement;
  4. Identify different types of stakeholders to advance specific government relations interests;
  5. Understand the ethics of stakeholder engagement.

While government relations practitioners share similar skill sets across sectors, much of what they do it shaped by, and reflects, the nature of their work environment. This course examines how the GR function is managed in different environments, from the business/corporate sector, to private consultancies ranging from local sole practitioners to regional, national and international service agencies and “issue” and non-profit associations.

The course also explores the underlying rationale behind the ethical and legislative constraints on certain types of actions to which all participants – politicians, political staffers and party supporters at all three levels of government – in the process are held accountable.

Employing cases and examples as the foundation for understanding and analyzing the intersection between principles, theory and practice, this course explores the underlying management and ethical expectations to which management, or clients, hold GR practitioners.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand how different client needs and expectations are anticipated and managed;
  2. Identify how business models driving public affairs consultancy work affect the work environment;
  3. Identify the ethical choices driving public affairs in the private sector and consultancies, and their impact on managing the GR function;
  4. Recognize and understand the principles and standards of ethical behaviour required in the Government Relations function at all three levels of government;
  5. Understand the relationship between ethical and legal theory and practice in overseeing a Government Relations function;
  6. Identify and assess the role of independent officers of Parliament and the provincial legislatures as they affect GR activities;
  7. Understand and identify when GR practitioners may be placing themselves and their employers or clients or political contacts in breach of ethical requirements;
  8. Analyze strategic choices and tactics and their application when making appropriate ethical choices.

There is more than one way to execute a government relations program or campaign. Through lectures, guest presentations, required readings, facilitated discussion and research, students will be exposed to the important strategic and tactical considerations for creating and launching effective government relations campaigns and programs.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the essential strategies and tactics used in government relations programs;
  2. Understand the difference between a “campaign” and a program;
  3. Assess the likelihood of program success given the context, resources, policy goals and strategic/tactical decisions involved;
  4. Develop strategies for staying current on GR issues, trends;
  5. Exercise presentation and group work skills;
  6. Develop a professional attitude to class work and responsibilities.

 

GRM700 is a prerequisite for this course.

Often ignored, the municipal level of government continues to grow in size and importance across Canada. Unlike both the federal and provincial systems, most municipal governments tend not to involve party structures, allowing individual Councillors to act as they see fit, issue to issue. The unique policy and decision-making structure of municipal government requires an active, involved, and nimble government relations approach.

Integrating lectures, guest presentations, research and direct exposure to policy making in Canada’s largest municipal environment, this course will introduce students to the dynamic structure and processes of municipal government. Key access points and the political and bureaucratic decision-making streams will be identified and described. Strategy, tactics, and the use of the most effective GR tools will be introduced analyzed and applied in both group and individual course work.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand key decision-making structures in municipal government;
  2. Learn to access basic municipal background information to aid in issue research;
  3. Understand the key difference between Municipal GR and GR at the Provincial and Federal levels of government;
  4. Select the most effective GR strategies and tactics for successful Municipal GR;
  5. Learn to prepare draft motions and briefing notes;
  6. Learn the ethical requirements for lobbying at the Municipal level in Ontario;
  7. Exercise presentation and group work skills;
  8. Develop a professional attitude to class work and responsibilities.

 

GRM700 is a prerequisite for this course.

The federal structure of the Canadian political system puts unique pressures of government relations practitioners. Public policy development and application often involves both the federal and provincial governments, requiring a multi-jurisdictional approach to government relations. Although the structures of the federal and provincial governments are similar, there are significant differences that must be accommodated for successful GR practice.

GRM811 will introduce students to the key access points at both levels of government; explain and identify the impact of the division of powers as they affect the creation of public policy and GR responses; identify and discuss how to implement the most appropriate GR strategies and tactics for successful GR activity; and recognize and understand the central issues affecting the management and coordination of multi-jurisdictional GR files.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Be able to identify the key access points for GR at the federal and provincial levels of government;
  2. Discover how the application of the constitutional division of powers to federal and provincial public policy issues affects GR planning;
  3. Identify and select the most appropriate GR strategies and tactics for successful federal and/or provincial GR activities;
  4. Apply, and assess the implications for GR strategies, of competing models of federal and provincial government regulation;
  5. Recognize the central issues affecting the management and coordination of multi-jurisdictional GR files;
  6. Develop and exercise presentation and group work skills;
  7. Adopt and employ a professional attitude to class work and other responsibilities as assigned.

GRM700 is a prerequisite for this course.

This course builds on GRM707Digital Advocacy, where students established a. In GRM817, students will put the baseline knowledge of digital tools, tactics, and strategies and skills developed in GRM707 into practice.

In the Digital Campaign Lab students will create, develop, and execute digital campaign ideas and experiment with digital tools, tactics, and strategies in order to learn how to run people-powered advocacy campaigns that support government relations objectives.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Craft campaign strategies that incorporate best practices in digital tools and tactics;
  2. Demonstrate an ability to write clear, concise, and persuasive digital copy that drives readers to take action;
  3. Design and implement digital rapid response campaigns that link to an overall government relations campaign;
  4. Practice using a full set of digital platforms and tools including acquisition funnels, action platforms, databases and analytics platforms;
  5. Assess and improve digital campaign performance by setting meaningful metrics, tracking tactical return on investment, and testing campaign concepts against overall campaign goals;
  6. Exercise presentation and group work skills.

GRM707 is a prerequisite for this course.

This course is a continuation of the Introduction to Government Relations Research presented in the first semester.  Students will learn how to interpret, and present strategic research in government relations. Over the course of the term, students will understand how and why research is used to support a GR campaign, how research data is interpreted and presented to a client and which research method (quantitative and qualitative) is more useful in telling the GR story.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe and assess the logic of strategic GR research;
  2. Comprehend the basic concepts, steps, and design involved in the research process;
  3. Identify the correct data collection method to fit a given research question;
  4. Analyze data to determine variance and dispersion;
  5. Interpret sample data to reveal patterns of association between variables;
  6. Prepare graphs of data patterns to create a presentation on research findings;
  7. Adopt a professional approach to academic and professional behaviour.

 

GRM747 is a prerequisite for this course.

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