Anna Kopec

Assistant Professor - School of Public Policy and Administration

Carleton University

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I am an Assistant Professor in Public Policy and Inequality at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University. My research centres around questions of inequality, democratic participation, and poverty.Originally from Edmonton, Alberta I worked as a community support worker with children and adults living with cognitive and mobility disabilities before moving to Ontario. I earned a PhD in Political Science at the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science and International Development at the University of Guelph.


How do everyday interactions with the welfare state and its many appendages affect political participation?

My broader research agenda examines how marginalized communities participate to bring about changes to failing policies, the limitations to the influence of the participation of such communities, and the barriers they face as a result of the policies that reinforce inequalities.How inequalities influence policy, political agency, and research guides my research agenda. As a qualitative researcher I consider not only the utility of lived experience for policy and equality, but also for research. How we as researchers work with marginalized communities is vital to the relationships we build and the future of research centred around reciprocity and reflexivity.My current book project outlines the results of my dissertation research where I asked how the policies individuals experiencing homelessness access influence their political participation. Through 118 interviews with individuals experiencing homelessness, service providers and policymakers in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada, I observed a causal mechanism that connects policies with political participation. Policy characteristics vary in their effects on inclusion, and I find there are specific characteristics that interact with one another and those of other policies to influence participation. Marginalized populations face barriers to participating, however the policies they access have effects on their political agency and subsequent influence on policy change. This research speaks to public policy literature as well as policy design. Democratic values need to be reflected in policies, and this research offers important policy design implications for policymakers.

Beyond the book project, my other research projects explore similar ideas of homelessness, democracy, urban governance, and public policy

  • I recently conducted a media analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic responses in three Canadian cities. Utilizing the critical juncture and path dependence literature, I characterize the various responses taken during the pandemic as mechanisms of change or path dependence. Find an abstract of the working paper here. Full paper available upon request.

  • In an article I coauthored with Byron Sheldrick (University of Guelph) published in the Canadian Journal of Urban Research, we explore the adoption of the dimensions of open government in Canadian cities using a nationwide survey with municipal government officials. Click here for a copy.

  • In another paper, published in Local and State Government Review and coauthored with Sara Hughes (University of Michigan) and Andrew Dick (University of Toronto), we ask how rational or predictable state interventions are in local financial distress, and the implications of these interventions on public services. Click here for a copy of the abstract, full paper available upon request.

  • To examine how, and from what perspective, homelessness has been studied, Alison Smith (University of Toronto) and I have written a paper that maps homelessness research in Canada. We recently presented this working paper at the Canadian Political Science Association Conference in June 2021. The abstract can be found here and the full paper is available upon request.

  • In a working paper Kristen Pue and I explore the role of nonprofit homeless shelters in democracy promotion. You can find an abstract of the working paper here. Full paper available upon request.


I teach courses in public policy, inequality, and qualitative methods at the School of Public Policy and Administration at the undergraduate and graduate levels.In 2022-2023, I am teaching
• PAPM 3000 – Policy Research
• PADM 5120 – Modern Challenges to Governance
• PADM 5125 – Qualitative Methods for Public Policy




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