As a late-entry woman who began doctoral studies at 53 years old in 2010, I have been focusing my research on detailing my experiences as well as those of other ‘late-entry women’ in academia not only here in Montreal, but across Canada as well. Some of the questions that have guided my research thus far are as follows: Are our Canadian universities truly welcoming places for older students? How do the various life experiences that older women have affect our studies? Do we feel our voices are being heard? Or is there an unspoken or tacit understanding that our presence is not valued? Are there barriers, sometimes spoken, sometimes culturally engrained in our psyche, that have prevented mature women from even contemplating a return to higher education? This research is positioned within qualitative research methods, namely, Narrative Inquiry – including photovoice, narrative writing workshop and individual interviews. The methods are aimed at helping late-entry women articulate what is helpful to our success and acceptance in the university. Women who have completed their studies as late-entry women, as well as women who are currently studying have participated in my research.
Brian’s doctoral research looks at the development of Quebec’s popular culture over the last two decades through the use of television media. Factors such as Quebec’s position as a minority in North America and its sparse population has made it a very rich case study for the influence of certain television shows on its national identity.
Benoit, Brian. “Social Justice and Education in Quebec.” Spain Initiative for Critical Pedagogy [Conference], The University of Granada, Granada, 14 Nov. 2010.
Benoit, Brian (2009, March), Private media constructing the new curriculum. Paper presented at the McGill Education Graduate Students conference, Montreal, QC.
Benoit, Brian. “Improving Student success in Quebec Schools.” Baeza Conference for Critical health and well-being. [Conference], The University of Baeza, Baeza-Jaen, 17 Sep. 2009.
Integrated Studies in Education – Masters in Education and Society
Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies – Collaborative program with Women and Gender Studies
I am currently examining how Quebec’s educational policy (QEP), which highlights the importance of play in the preschool curriculum, has influenced early childhood educators’ use of play in the classroom. I am interested in childhood play because I have found, throughout my teaching experiences, that it is often gender segregated. Consequently, as girls and boys tend to play with different toys and within different play spaces, they are exposed to different knowledges and practice different skills. My thesis work aims to uncover how teachers’ perceptions of gender shape the play discourses and expectations in their classrooms. More broadly, however, I am interested in examining the hidden curriculum in elementary schools and the ways in which it facilitates gender discrimination.
2014 SSHRC – CGS-M
2013 McGill Entrance Award
Graduation: May 2015
Continuing on to Ph.D. Studies, September 2015.
A teacher by profession, and bringing with him years of experience in the field of peacekeeping training and education, Jules is currently studying the role of teachers in post-war peacebuilding. His doctoral research focuses on the use of inexpensive technologies – cellular telephony and radio – for helping teachers in Liberia improve their professional skills, particularly as they relate to the affective side of teaching, and the management of conflict in the classroom. Parallel to this, he also founded and now edits an online journal called Conflict and Education, which is dedicated to promoting the study of educational delivery in conflict-affected societies. Jules holds an MA in International Education from the University of Sussex.
SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2011-13), Jackie Kirk Fellowship (2010-11)
Sisk, J.G. (2005). Can Education Cause War? A framework for analysing the relationship between schools and civil war. New Era in Education, (86:2).
Lara worked for several years as an early childhood educator and community artist. Her doctoral research explores experiences of displacement and conceptions of children’s agency in the context of global inequalities created by neoliberal economic policies and experiences of colonization. In particular, she is examining access to social rights for children with precarious legal status, children’s educational futures and life trajectories, and the ways in which grassroots mobilizations by (and in collaboration with) ‘non-status’ children have induced policy reforms.
Kyung-hwa (Kay) Yang is currently a postdoctoral student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, where she continues exploring participatory video after defending her dissertation entitled Participatory Research and Reflexivity: The Experiences of Eight Adult Learners, in October 2012. She has been organizing participatory media courses for socioeconomically disadvantaged inner city adults in USA since 2008 (https://sites.google.com/site/videotelling/).
Herschel and Christine Victor participatory or Fellowship
Yang, K. (2013). A reflection on a video project: Possibilities and challenges for promoting participatory cultures among adult learners. The Urban Review, online first.
Yang, K. (2012). Reflexivity, participation, and video. In E-J Milne, C. Mitchell, & N. de Lange (Eds.), The handbook of participatory video (pp. 100-114). Lanham, MD: AltaMira.
Yang, K., Gabrile, N., Melgoza, A., Garcia, M., Canellada, I., Johnson, S., Kelly, B., & Padilla, C. (2012). Is the heath care system good for people? CES4Health [online publication]. Retrieved from: http://www.ces4health.info/find-products/view-product.aspx?code=3M35GY5G.
Didin recently completed his dissertation at McGill University, entitled “In search of citizenship education model for a multireligious Indonesia: Case studies of two public schools in South Jakarta”. Didin earned his BA in Arabic language education (State Islamic University [UIN] Jakarta), and his MA in Islamic Studies at McGill University. His research interests focus on education for democracy and justice in diverse societies, Islamic education and citizenship, interreligious education, teacher education and excellence and equity in higher education. Didin is presently a lecturer at the Faculty of Education at The State Islamic University (UIN), Jakarta, and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) UIN Jakarta. Some of Didin’s previous research positions include working with the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) and Asian Development on improving quality basic education (1998-2000); Director of University Quality Assurance, UIN Jakarta (2004-2006); and, as a consultant on teacher education and quality assessment of Muslim community schools in AUSAID (2007 & 2008).
TYLE-University of Leiden Research Fellowship, Leiden-Netherland (2010).
Islamic-European Intercultural Dialogue on education, in Germany (2006).
Fellowship on intercultural studies, CIDA-McGill- UIN Jakarta, in Montreal, Canada (2005).
“Isu-isu Pendidikan Civic di Pesantren” (Civic education Issues in Muslim community schools), PPIM UIN Jakarta, 2010
With Baedowi, “Madrasah dan ujian nasional” (Islamic school and national exam), Media Indonesia, 2008
Thesis M.A. The principles of Ibn Taymiyya’s Qurʾanic interpretation
Thesis Ph.D. In search of a citizenship education model for a democratic multireligious Indonesia: Case studies of two public senior high schools in Jakarta
Xuan Thuy Nguyen
Xuan Thuy Nguyen’s areas of research include educational policies, disability studies, visual studies, and inclusive education. Her thesis, Policy, power, and the paradigm shift in the Vietnamese discourses of disability and inclusion, focuses on the critical aspects of inclusion and exclusion underlying the political agenda of inclusion in Vietnam, and the implications of its discourses on disability issues in educational arenas.
International Ford Foundation Program Fellowship (IFP); Fonds de researche sur la société and la culture (FQRSC) Post-Doctoral Grant to pursue her post-doctoral program at the School of Health, Policy, and Management at York University in 2012-2014.
Nguyen, T. X. T (2010). Deconstructing “Education for All”: Discourse, power, and the politics of inclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 14(4), 341-355.
Nguyen, T. X. T. & Mitchell, C. (2011). Picturing Policy and Social Change: The Use of Visual Methodologies in Educational Policy Research. Paper presented at the Annual Conference, American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2011, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Zainul Sajan Virgi
Commencement: 2006; Graduation: 2011
Mozambican girls living with poverty speak out: a case of using participatory methodologies with very young adolescent girls to identify barriers to alleviating poverty
Decision makers at every level of society, local, national and international, along with NGOs and civil society are committed to alleviating abject generational poverty. In the context of what many refer to as the ‘feminization of poverty’, my dissertation focuses on girls during their early adolescent years in order to uncover the barriers that are present and which prevent them from exiting a life of poverty. By using participatory methodologies, in particular photovoice, we hear directly from ten girls between the ages of 10 – 14 who describe their experiences of living a life of poverty. In my engagement with the girls what became apparent is the impact of pre-determined roles and responsibilities on girls living with poverty. Many of these are noticeably absent in capacity building, poverty and gender related literature. Also absent in discussions related to girls living with poverty and capacity building is a spotlight on the influential role of cultural and societal norms resulting in the lower status of girls. Comprehensive data is often missing which includes specific barriers that emerge in a girl’s life including attending school, achieving optimum health, accessing diverse economic opportunities, as well as achieving independence and empowerment. In this study, the importance of obtaining data directly from girls living with poverty becomes evident. For example, girls living intimately with poverty will identify barriers which may not be readily visible to researchers and decision-makers who do not share the same life experience. Only by understanding the diverse barriers that are present in young adolescent girls’ lives that prevent them from accessing capacity building opportunities like education and literacy will decision makers be able to develop capacity building policies that will have a higher probability of being relevant, meaningful and high-impact.
Commencement: September 2009; Graduation: Spring 2011 (Dean’s Honour List).
Continuing on to Ph.D. Studies, September 2013.
Commencement: Sept. 2005; Graduation November, 2010.
New teachers for new times’? a participatory evaluation of a school-university partnership to improve novice teacher education in rural South Africa in the age of AIDS
New teachers for new times?’: a participatory evaluation of a school-university partnership to improve novice teacher education in rural South Africa in the age of AIDS is an evaluation of the Rural Teacher Education Project (RTEP), a school-university partnership between University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and two rural higher secondary schools in the Vulindlela district in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This thesis attempts to explore what difference the school-university partnership can make in preparing new teachers in the troubling context of rural schools typified by HIV and AIDS, poverty, and the sense of isolation. Drawing on the participatory evaluation of the three phases of RTEP (2007-2009), my thesis investigates how student teachers as a Community of Practice’ self-reflect upon their: professional development, identity creation, pre-conceived orientation about teaching and learning in rural schools, and teacher preparation as per their perceived challenges in rural schools. In addition, I also looked at how a school-university partnership can influence the broader education discourse in rural schools, especially teacher education. This includes investigating what spaces the partnership has provided to the schools in rural areas to reflect on their practices, include their voices in the dominant teacher education discourses and improve their capacities/ understanding to address the challenges. Given that schools are usually considered as weak partners’ in school-university partnership discourses, the focus of the partnership in the thesis is to ascertain how the partnership is beneficial or problematic from the standpoint of the schools. The study also raises the question of how these spaces can be sustained over time and what school-university partnership with limited resources can contribute in an era of growing disparities, missed opportunities and worsening inequalities in post-apartheid South Africa.
Thesis Ph.D. New teachers for new times’? a participatory evaluation of a school-university partnership to improve novice teacher education in rural South Africa in the age of AIDS
Thesis M.A. Islam, politics and ideology in Indonesia : a study of the process of Muslim acceptance of the Pancasila Email
Commencement: 2006; Graduation 2010.
Girls don’t do wires: an exploration of adolescent girls’ media production
Girls make up 50 percent of all high school students in computer classes yet only account for 17 percent of the computer science placement test-takers (Kearney, 2006). Of those only 13% end up working in the U.S. as computer programmers (EKOS, 2004), part of a nexus of an established patriarchy that supports normative view of a male dominated media culture. This teacher-researcher study explores causes for the low percentage of high school girls continuing on to higher education and/or careers in media production through a qualitative analysis of thirteen high school girls and four boys, drawing in particular on data collected as part of a video production unit in several secondary classrooms. The study makes use of a cultural studies analytic framework that looks at the primary texts (the actual videos produced in the media class), the producer texts (through surveys, questionnaires, journals and interviews with the student producers), and the environmental text (where the videos are produced). An analysis of the films produced indicates a general aptitude in girls using new media to produce film, but an accompanying lack of interest in pursuing careers in media production. A second finding was that there were notable differences in the productions made by girls and boys and evidence indicates girls tended to tell their narrative via interviews, relying on others to tell their story, while the boys were more likely to use simple, plot-driven narratives, primarily meant to amuse. The interest of the girls in this genre suggests a need to focus more on reflexive interviewing practices in school in order to encourage girls in creating reflexive productions (as well as traditional narratives), and in so doing to support and strengthen interest in media production.
Ethnography-in-motion: neoliberalism and health in Durban’s shack settlements
Commencement: 2005; Completion: 2010.
AIDS in the shack settlements of Durban, South Africa, takes on all kinds of forms. In this thesis I tell the stories of a mother facing her death from AIDS-related illnesses, an HIV-positive orphan left to die in the shacks, a group of young women documenting their lives on video, a social worker overwhelmed by the lack of resources to do her job, a student under fear of arrest, a volunteer home-based care giver knitting together the meaning of community resistance, and an emergent social movement full of contradictions, all who try in different ways to navigate their lives in the face of the increasing disparities between the rich and poor in post-apartheid South Africa and the relentless AIDS pandemic. Throughout, this research investigates the barriers, frictions, collaborations and agencies that are formed in response to HIV and AIDS in shack settlements in Durban. What are the ‘life strategies’ people living in the settlements use to access health – thought of in a broad sense which includes socio-economic health- and how do these strategies intersect with the rise of neoliberalism in post-apartheid South Africa? While this research has not attempted to draw conclusions, it is clear that the deepening of the AIDS crisis is inextricably tied to the complex links between health, liberalism, the market and everyday practices. Using an ethnography-in-motion, I hope the research will contribute insights into the limitations and successes of approaches to AIDS programs, prevention and treatment. The study has further implications for opening up new avenues of thinking around praxis in areas such as anthropology, critical pedagogy, visual methodologies and activist ethnography, through taking seriously knowledge produced by people living through, and against, the impacts of neoliberalism.
Commencement, January, 2009’ Completion: June, 2010.
Blogging as critical praxis: becoming a critical teacher educator in the age of participatory culture
This self-study of becoming a critical teacher educator extends the research on blogs as a vehicle of critical self-reflection in teaching and teacher education. While the primary focus of this thesis is a self-study of the process of becoming a teacher educator, the author presents findings based on discursive data collected from blogs produced by teacher candidates in two case studies, which inform this process of becoming. The case studies are represented as two “strands”: one carried out in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, at McGill University, and the other carried out near Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Like prior studies involving the use of blogs in teacher preparation, this study examines pre-service teachers’ critical engagement with topics and issues endemic to their current field experiences and future careers in K-12 classrooms. The instructional techniques deployed in the case studies adhered to principles of modeling technology integration in order to transform teaching and learning activities by facilitating a learning environment for pre-service teacher candidates informed by the tenets of critical pedagogy. In this vein, this study examines the implementation of a particular instructional strategy, problem-posing pedagogy, as a practice that integrates the use of blogs to aid the achievement of pre-service teacher candidates’ “critical self-engagement” as well as contribute to the author’s development as a critical teacher educator.
Not so common-sense: using critical theory to improve strategies to do public education for social change
This thesis constitutes an overview and analysis of social justice oriented non-formal education. It draws together research on four distinct social justice educational projects in which the author was involved. Reading multiculturalism, citizenship education and global education against the grain, the author describes the limitations of projects and discourses that are easily appropriated into the logic of neo-liberalism that is dominant in our era. In a case study of the educational strategy of economic and political literacy, the author also provides an analysis of pedagogy that distinguishes between didactic and dialogic approaches to community based education.
What whiteness has to do with looking at UNICEF visual images? an autoethnographic exploration by a development practitioner
This auto-ethnography is framed within three main theoretical underpinnings: post-colonial theory, critical race theory and concepts of whiteness, and explores ways in which visual images are used by international organisations (in particular UNICEF, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund) to organise and influence public discourse on development and how they shape donors’ perceptions and interpretations of the “colonised other” (Fine, 1998, p. 70). Data in this thesis are derived partially from personal narratives and stories in which I have been the leading character, in my capacity as Chief of Child Protection in several UNICEF Country Offices from 2005 up to now. The findings suggest that visual images of childhood could be read in a very loaded political manner and could be manipulated in such a way to influence policies and public discourse on development while perpetuating hegemonic notions that – in light of post-colonial and race theories – can reinforce normative raced and classed stereotypes. The conclusions that can be drawn from this auto-ethnography is that a critical discourse on development issues and agendas can create opportunities for more thoughtful encounters between the colonised and their erstwhile colonizers, while foregrounding notions of inferiority, and classed and raced biases that are still so evident in interactions between donors and recipients of aid. As development practitioners we need to stop taking things for granted and question the status quo in the most honest, but lenient way possible, through the contestation of an epistemology of childhood in development that is paternalistic and condescending..
Using visual ethnography to address sexuality, HIV and AIDS, and Chinese youth
Commencement: September. 2005; Completion, 2009.
Worldwide, young people are the most vulnerable population to the HIV infection. In China, college students have been identified as the latest addition to the AIDS high-risk group due to their practices of unsafe heterosexual intercourse. Effective intervention work to protect these young college students needs to be based on a better understanding of the socio-cultural dimensions of the transmission of HIV/STIs (sexually transmitted infections) among them, and on an adequate conceptualization of youth sexuality in terms that go beyond the bio-medically-oriented and positivist explanations. This dissertation is a qualitative study of the sexuality and the embodied experiences of college students in China in relation to HIV and AIDS that uses visual-based participatory action research methodologies. In 2007, a photovoice project was initiated with 25 first-year students (10 male and 15 female), 18-19 years of age, in a university located in an urban area of China. Photovoice blends photography, research, education, and action not only as a strategy for collecting data for this qualitative exploration but also as a means of intervention and education by engaging the study participants in social issues related to HIV and AIDS, sex, and sexuality. Other qualitative methods such as in-depth qualitative interviews, focus groups, and participant observation also were used to provide triangulation, and thus, to obtain a complex picture of the sexuality and bodily experiences of college students in China. Data from the study suggest that young Chinese students hold somewhat contradictory attitudes toward traditional Chinese and Western sexual discourses, and therefore experience a state of tension when trying to decide whether to embrace Western ideas of sexual liberalism or to comply with traditional Chinese sexual norms, and whether to adhere to traditional sexual morals or attempt sexual liberation.
Linda Van Laren
Integrating HIV&AIDS and primary mathematics education
University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Commencement: February, 2005; Completion, May 2008.
Knowing my place: learning through memory and photography
Commencement: September. 2002; Completion: February, 2009.
This arts-informed inquiry uses auto-photography, rephotography, interviews, memory work and writing about the photograph as tools to draw out of the archive an understanding of the self-in-place. I focus on memory and photography in an autotopographical (following Heddon) exploration of topographical intimacy as it relates to childhood and current landscapes, known and unknown spaces. Using place as common ground, I interview my siblings to excavate our shared childhood place memories. I then photograph/rephotograph these remembered childhood places, looking to identify the influence of place on childhood identity. This research with siblings was a rich and storied resource. I also enter two public spaces with my camera, the Architectural Garden of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and the Jim Everett Memorial Park in Vancouver, to map both the place and my relationship with/in it, and in so doing, to engage with photography itself. By creating what one might call place photo albums, I attempt to create an involvement with previously unknown spaces, hoping to link past and present places. I explore the evidential and embodied usefulness of photography in establishing topographical intimacy with/in place and confirm the importance of using place as a means of exploring identity. Photography’s use as an active device of memory and its value in documenting place for inquiry is made explicit.
Thesis M.A. Learning the body voice : body memory work with women
Thesis Ph.D. Knowing my place: learning through memory and photography
Reading a life: Our rural selves
Commencement, 2002; Completion: 2008.