Across Canada – The Metropolis Project

Immigration affects most aspects of public policy. Consequently, immigration policy issues must be dealt with horizontally, taking into account economic, cultural, health and other perspectives. From its inception the Metropolis Project has addressed this demand, organizing itself as a consortium of nine federal departments and agencies (soon to be 12). These constitute the project’s principal partners, but Metropolis also involves stakeholders, including provinces, municipalities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Metropolis Project was launched in 1996 with the objective of improving policies for managing migration and diversity, especially in major cities. It seeks to enhance academic research capacity on this topic while focusing the research on critical policy issues and options. And in the policy world, Metropolis promotes the use of research in decision making. Fundamentally, Metropolis strives to effect a change in culture among the project’s academic and policy-making partners.

The Metropolis Project has used various means to facilitate knowledge transfer between academic research and public policy, such as its annual conferences and Metropolis Conversations series. Currently, Metropolis is developing an exciting new tool for knowledge transfer: the Program of Migration and Diversity Studies, to be launched through the Metropolis Institute in the fall of 2002. There are 13 courses in this comprehensive curriculum, with topics ranging from smuggling and security to educational issues. The material is based on academic research and policy and community experience, and will be available to civil servants — such as policy analysts and program officers — from the three levels of government and NGO leaders.

In Canada, the federal consortium provides core funds to four university-based Centres of Excellence in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Each Centre is a partnership involving a total of 15 universities. The four Metropolis Centres of Excellence have emerged as leading think tanks in the immigration field, with more than 200 active Metropolis researchers.

Metropolis is also a project with international bearings. It is the largest policy-research network in the world dealing with migration and integration, and involves 5,000 partners from over 20 countries coming from government, academe, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, (e.g., European Commission, Migration Policy Group, International Organization for Migration). The international network is extremely active. The seventh International Metropolis Conference will take place in Oslo, Norway, September 9-13, 2002.

On April 1, 2002, Metropolis began a new five-year phase for the project. Under the project’s new mandate, the Centres of Excellence have agreed to focus part of their grant monies to a set of pre-determined federal policy priorities. These are posted on the Metropolis web site. In phase two, Metropolis also hopes to help create a fifth Centre of Excellence in the Atlantic Provinces based in Halifax and Moncton.

The Metropolis network of web sites at provides information about the Metropolis Project, its Centres of Excellence, its forthcoming Institute, and current or past activities.