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Innovations in Democratic Leadership (formerly The Institue for Future Legislators) is a 6-Week program that seeks to engage thoughtful community members who are interested in exploring not only what today’s legislatures look like, but what could be - particularly those from groups underrepresented as legislators today. Innovations in Democratic Leadership welcomes anyone who wants to understand what it looks like to be elected to office, leading with authenticity grounded in values, and transforming political representation. That includes people who may not see themselves or their aspirations reflected in today’s legislators, those who want to create change, and those who want to better understand how our governments work. 

The Faculty of Arts hosts Innovations in Democratic Leadership annually. This innovative leadership program for aspiring legislators and advocates was inspired by the highly successful program developed by the University of British Columbia’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions (external link) .

Over three weekends participants will 

  • learn about political processes and the pathways to becoming an elected official
  • engage in an experiential learning simulation in the House of Commons
  • build critical skills required in democratic leadership
  • gain a deeper understanding of the work of elected officials
  • enhance their public speaking skills

Change is possible-let’s do democracy differently.

Sitharsana Srithas
Sitharsana Srithas, IFLR 2019 participant

“Over the course of the program, we met with practitioners in the media, charity and non-profit organizations and of course, elected representatives from across party lines to learn about democratic reform, advocating on behalf of constituents, media communications, and the role of public servants. To put our knowledge to test, the program culminated with a parliamentary simulation in Senate Chambers in Ottawa!”

Institute Leads 

  • Pam Sugiman, Dean, Faculty of Arts 
  • Amy Peng, Associate Dean, Innovation in Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Arts
  • Peggy Nash, Senior Advisor, Faculty of Arts
  • Sara Singh, Special Advisor, Faculty of Arts
  • John Beebe, Program and Outreach Senior Advisor, Faculty of Arts


  • Gerry Baier, Academic Director, Centre For The Study Of Democratic Institutions
  • Rebecca Alegría Monnerat, Project Manager, Centre For The Study Of Democratic Institutions