Research Institutes & Centres

Exploring enduring questions through partnerships

CBU has developed a diverse collection of research institutes and centres. Faculty members are dedicated to forming the kind of research partnerships that make it possible to explore enduring questions within academic discourses while working with the community.

Research institutes

Alexander Graham Bell Institute
This institute is dedicated to the memory and work of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. Committed to maintaining Bell’s high standards of principle, practicality and social conscience, the institute continues to work on the study “Mining for nuggets,” while also developing new applied research projects.


Bras d’Or Institute for Ecosystem Research
The Bras d’Or Institute for Ecosystem Research is focused on finding the best ways to operationalize ecosystem-based management of human activities within the Maritime communities of Cape Breton. We partner widely with all levels of government, NGOs and the private sector.


Community Economic Development (CED) Institute
The Community Economic Development Institute offers a wide variety of services, including:
• community economic development training
• policy advice and evaluation
• organization and community strategic planning
• information about community consultative processes


International Institute for Tourism Development
In consultation with the Advisory Board of Cape Breton University, which is made up of faculty, research fellows and industry stakeholders, the International Institute for Tourism Development is CBU’s contribution to the promotion, encouragement and support of the area’s tourism development.


Institute for Integrative Science and Health (IISH)
This institute views science in a culturally inclusive way that uses Two-Eyed Seeing—a guiding principle that combines Western scientific knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing. We believe that science is dynamic, based on patterns and shared through stories.

Institute for the Development of Energy and Sustainability
The Centre of Excellence in Petroleum Development, provides dedicated resources for the establishment of infrastructure, creation of academic programs and contributions to the business community.


Louisbourg Institute
A joint venture between CBU and the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada, The Louisbourg Institute supports a range of collaborative projects that:

  • highlight the wonders of the Fortress of Louisbourg
  • promote innovation and excellence in teaching and research
  • enhance learning experiences

Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Institute (SMEI)

This institute assists faculty and students working on projects in the small and medium-sized enterprise sector. Through the institute, Cape Breton University students can gain direct, hands-on experience in business operations and the entrepreneurial process and culture.


Tompkins Leadership Institute

Named for Dr. Jimmy Tompkins (1870-1953), a pioneering leader of Cape Breton’s movement for dignity, development, and community enterprise, the Tompkins Institute does applied research and continuing education with the goal of more effective community-based organizations.

2015-2016 projects:

  • Co-organized (with the National Trust for Canada) Regenerating Places of Faith Conference, including a demonstration “green audit” for places of faith in Cape Breton;
  • Co-sponsored Cape Breton social enterprise workshop (affordable housing renovations) with Marty Donkervoort (Winnipeg Inner City Renovations);
  • Pro bono workshops and consulting on “Leading Community Organizations” (governance, conflict resolution, marketing, and fund-raising)

In 2015, Dr. Tom Urbaniak ( succeeded long-time director and social entrepreneur Dr. Greg MacLeod (professor emeritus).


Research Centres

Abraham Centre for Religion and Society
Formed in 1999 by a group of faculty and community religious leaders, the activities of the Abraham Centre for Religion and Society draws on the rich traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Through research and public education events, we apply the values and insights of these traditions to problems facing contemporary society.

Centre for Cape Breton Studies
Home to the Rotary Music Performance and Analysis Room and a digitization room, the Centre for Cape Breton Studies is committed to promoting and preserving intangible cultural heritage by working within the local community and a wider international arena.


Centre for Natural History
The Centre for Natural History develops and promotes research on the natural history and biodiversity of Cape Breton Island and provides a base for students and researchers studying Cape Breton natural history. Currently, the major focus of activity is the Cape Breton University Herbarium.


Centre for International Studies
The centre promotes internationalization and global awareness within Cape Breton University and in the community by coordinating and supporting educational programs related to development, the environment, multiculturalism, human rights, and peace.


Children’s Rights Centre
Mandated to conduct research on children’s rights and issues, further public knowledge around these topics, and monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Canada, The Children’s Rights Centre also provides a place for students researching children’s rights.

Philosophy and Religion Centre (PAR)
We co-sponsor the Philosophy and Religion series of the Value Inquiry Book Series (VIBS), an international publisher of scholarly books. Our director, a VIBS senior editor, publishes scholarly research that takes a philosophical approach to topics arising from a spectrum of religious traditions.


Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy & the Environment
The VCSEE is a research, development and demonstration service provider for Clean Tech Solutions. Commercially focused and contractible, The VCSEE is mandated to find innovative and sustainable solutions to energy and environmental issues, and is uniquely positioned to address these challenges.