Anna Kopec

Assistant Professor - School of Public Policy and Administration

Carleton University

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I am an Assistant Professor in Public Policy and Inequality at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University. My research centres around questions of inequality, democratic participation, and poverty. I teach courses in comparative public policy, governance, and qualitative research methods.Originally from Edmonton, Alberta I moved to Ontario to pursue graduate school. I earned a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science and International Development from the University of Guelph.


How do everyday interactions with the welfare state and its many appendages affect political participation?

My current book project examines how marginalized communities participate to bring about policy change. I consider how policies influence participation, including how and where populations participate.My book outlines the results of my dissertation research where I asked how the policies individuals experiencing homelessness access influence their political participation. Through 118 interviews with individuals experiencing homelessness, service providers, and policymakers in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada, I observed several nuances in the relationship between policy and participation. Through the case of homelessness - an often understudied population in existing policy feedback and political science literature - I found that policy characteristics vary in their effects on inclusion and they interact with one another and those of other policies to influence participation. This not only includes if individuals participate but also how and where they do so. This project has three main contributions to policy feedback theory: it considers how policy design elements interact with one another and those of other policies, it teases out various effects of specific policy characteristics as a result, and expands the investigation of political participation to include those specific to a marginalized population. The project does so from the perspective of individuals experiencing homelessness themselves, including their lived experiences accessing policies and expressing their political agency.How policy influences inequality, political agency, and research guides my broader research agenda. As a qualitative researcher I consider not only the utility of lived experience for policy and equality, but also for academia. How we as researchers work with marginalized communities is vital to the relationships we build and the future of research centred around reciprocity and reflexivity.

Beyond the book project, my other research projects explore similar areas of homelessness, democracy, urban governance, and public policy

  • In a recent article published in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods I consider the benefits of more qualitative research with marginalized groups for policy feedback theory development. I present three areas of theory development qualitative research designs stand to contribute and conclude that more mixed-method designs with careful inclusion of lived experiences of marginalized groups will benefit policy feedback inquiry and theory. The paper is Open Access and can be found here.

  • In a recently published paper in the Journal of Public Policy I share the findings from a media analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic homelessness responses in three Canadian cities. Utilizing the critical juncture and path dependence literature, I characterize the various responses taken during the pandemic as mechanisms of change or path dependence. The paper is Open Access and available here.

  • In paper for the American Review of Canadian Studies Alison Smith (University of Toronto) and I examine how and from what perspective homelessness has been studied in Canada. We share results from a systematic literature review with an analysis of the authors and their disciplines, the research questions, and the recommendations commonly found in existing homelessness research and argue for more research from a political science perspective. The paper is Open Access and available for download here.

  • Kristen Pue and I recently published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research that explores the role of nonprofit homeless shelters in democracy promotion. We share results from a survey with Canadian shelters, along with ideal types we created, to analyze the role of nonprofit shelters in three areas of democracy promotion: support for political participation, internal democratic governance, and representative voice. You can find the paper here.

  • My other research, including pieces published in Local and State Government Review and the Canadian Journal of Urban Research can be found in my CV.


I teach courses in public policy, inequality, and qualitative methods at the School of Public Policy and Administration and Arthur Kroeger College at the undergraduate and graduate levels.In 2023-2024, I am teaching
• PAPM 1001 – The Policy Cycle
• PAPM 3000 – Policy Research
• PADM 5120 – Modern Challenges to Governance
• PADM 5125 – Qualitative Methods for Public Policy


Reports & Media


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