Establishing a UNESCO Chair in Canada

The role of the Canadian Commission, as directed by UNESCO, is to carefully consider and evaluate proposals for the establishment of new UNESCO Chairs in Canada. To this end, the Canadian Commission is responsible for selecting a small number of high quality proposals each year to put forward to UNESCO for consideration, with its endorsement. 

Please note that the Canadian deadlines for proposals are not the same as the deadlines for the UNESCO Headquarters. Due to the high interest in the Programme from Canadian institutions, proposals received outside these deadlines will not be considered.

*Proposals submitted directly to UNESCO will be returned to the Canadian Commission and will not be processed.

Step 1: Contact the Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Canadian institutions looking to establish a UNESCO Chair in Canada should contact the Canadian Commission for UNESCO Secretariat at the earliest possible opportunity to express their interest in the Programme.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO will give priority to: areas not covered by existing UNESCO Chairs in Canada and to proposals in fields that are currently under-represented. To support the diversification of the programme, please note that from now on, applications from higher education institutions with more than two existing UNESCO Chairs will not be considered.

Contact information: 

Pauline Dugré, Programme Officer, Education (Acting), 613-566-4414 Ext: 4558

Step 2: Submission of a letter of intention to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

The following documents should be sent to the Commission’s attention before September 30:

  • An official letter of support from the head of the host institution (Vice-Chancellor or Principal) endorsing the intention of developing a Chair proposal and demonstrating the full understanding of the investment involved (place, time and money)
  • An outline of the project with expected funding in the development phase.  (Interested institutions must carefully review UNESCO’s major priorities included in the UNESCO’s Draft Medium Term Strategy 2014-2021 (37 C/4) prior to preparing and submitting an outline or detailed proposal.)

The submission of an outline proposal and/or the Canadian Commission’s invitation to submit a full proposal does not constitute an agreement on behalf of the Canadian Commission to submit the proposal to UNESCO. Please note that only few institutions will be encouraged to develop a full project proposal.

Step 3: Submission of a full proposal to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

Only the proposals encouraged by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO after Step 2 must prepare a detailed proposal according to the Canadian Guidelines and submit it to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO for its consideration before the end of January.

All full proposals will be evaluated by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO through a peer-review process. Please note, that not all detailed proposals will be invited to continue the application process. Only selected proposals will move on to the following step.

Step 4: Submission of the revised proposal to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

After evaluation, selected institutions will be invited to submit their revised proposal to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO taking into consideration the recommendations of the peer review.  All proposals must respect the Guidelines and procedures for the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs programme and be submitted before March 25th.

*Please note that only revised proposals (corrected as requested following the peers’ assessment process) will be selected for endorsement and submission to UNESCO.

Step 5: Submission of the final proposal to UNESCO headquarters for review by UNESCO

Final proposals will be sent to UNESCO for the Organization’s consideration in time for the UNESCO Headquarters’ annual deadline of April 30th. 

It should be noted that UNESCO will pay particular attention to proposals from: least developed countries (LDCs), Africa, small island developing states (SIDS), post-conflict countries and E-9 (high-population developing countries); countries having no UNESCO Chair/UNITWIN Network or only a few UNESCO Chairs; those which involve future-orientated research in the various UNESCO sectors; and those which are educationally innovative in relation to new paradigms (future challenges) and forms of intervention (e.g. open universities). In its efforts to promote gender equality, UNESCO also encourages the nomination of women as UNESCO Chairholders and UNITWIN Network Coordinators.