Community Studies (Area of Study)


On behalf of the faculty and staff within Community Studies, thanks for your interest in our Community Studies courses and the variety of program options available through the Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) degree. The BACS degree has a unique position in the history of Cape Breton University in that it was the first degree to be offered at the campus. Since the first graduate walked across the stage, BACS students have gone on to careers and leadership roles across Canada and beyond.

In assessing the fit between your educational interests and the BACS degree, which includes the core COMS courses you should consider the following questions: Are skills like problem solving, critical thinking and self direction important to you? Do you like “hands on” learning while working with a small group of your peers? Do you want an academic program that connects your education and your career aspirations? 

If any of these features suit your learning style or interests, we encourage you to learn more about us by exploring this website. 

Dr. Pat Maher                    Dr. Emily Root

Dr. Jane Connell               Dr. John Hudec

Dr. Bettina Callary          Dr. Leigh Potvin

About the Department

The Department of Communities and Connections houses the core Community Studies courses for the BACS degree. These courses are all about “Connecting with Communities” as active citizens. The courses are facilitated through group process and focus on problem-solving, critical and appreciative thinking, community-engaged research, self-directed learning, reflection on the learning process, and inter/intra personal skill development. Learning is rendered authentic through experiential work placements and community action projects.

Since 1975 Community Studies students, through their community learning, have effected real change that continues to inspire community well-being on Cape Breton Island. This impact also has national and global reach as students transfer skills to other places and as they build a sustainable model for other communities.

The Community Studies core and interdisciplinary lens makes the BACS degree unique to Cape Breton. These core courses progress in a meaningful way across every year of the BACS degree. Community Studies courses offer excellent flexibility in subject and career interests, as well as modes of delivery. Community Studies courses are designed to meet the needs of diverse learners with courses available onsite, online, and in some cases course in community away from Sydney. Courses are also offered in the evening, and in the spring/summer semester. Community Studies offers customized and integrated programming linked to many other disciplines, such as Business, Communication, Music, Political Science, Psychology, and Sport and Physical Activity Leadership.

The program has longstanding transfer agreements in place with institutions such as the Nova Scotia Community College, the College of the North Atlantic and the Atlantic Police Academy to better serve students with specific careers interests or those who have taken a ‘round about’ path to a university education.



Pat Maher
Associate Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-D

Phone: 902.563.1230

Jane Connell
Assistant Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-A

Phone: 902.563.1222

Bettina Callary
Associate Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-C

Phone: 902.563.1452

John Hudec
Assistant Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-E

Phone: 902.563.1982

Sue MacKenzie
Part-time Instructor, Community Studies

Phone: 902-371-3473

Emily Root
Assistant Professor, Community Studies

Office: B-268-B

Phone: 902-563-1889

Pam Seville
Part-time Instructor, Community Studies