Updates from SJRI’s Acting Director | David Butz

Dear SJRI affiliated members:

As Acting Director of the SJRI for the next six months while Janet Conway is on sabbatical leave, I’m writing to wish you a Happy New Year and a successful Winter Term, and to update you on recent and upcoming SJRI activities, initiatives and opportunities.

As Janet noted in last term’s update from the Director, the Faculty Steering Committee has developed a short, medium and long-term plan that orients all SJRI activity around a core mission of producing world-class, transdisciplinary social justice scholarship. In addition to scholarly knowledge production we are attending to SJRI’s long-term organizational stability and financial viability; meaningful engagement of SJRI members; mentoring of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows; and building appropriate and enduring community partnerships. The items outlined below stem from this planning process.

These include: (1) Upcoming Events, Activities and Initiatives; (2) Ongoing Programs, Services and Endeavours; (3) Current Preoccupations; (4) Congratulations and Recognition; (5) Thanks and Praises.

Upcoming Events, Activities and Initiatives

  • Niagara Social Justice Forum 2015 – Putting the Act in Activism: SJRI is a sponsor of this year’s Niagara Social Justice Forum, which will be held Saturday January 31. Registration information and a detailed schedule may be found here. SJRI will have an information table at the Forum, and is coordinating one of the afternoon sessions, titled Community Arts Zone: Hopes, Pitfalls and Lessons Learned in Community Engagement. The Forum is an important aspect of SJRI’s cooperative relationship with the Social Justice and Equity Studies MA Program, and a productive site of community engagement, so please participate if you can.
  • Brock Research Celebration 2015: The third annual Brock Research Celebration will be held on Tuesday, February 10, in the Guernsey Market. Its purpose is to highlight the range of research excellence at Brock. The Transdisciplinary Hubs, including SJRI, will feature prominently. More information may be found here. Our Projects Facilitator, Rachel Hirsch, is assembling an SJRI display, which may be viewed between 8:30 and 3:15. Rachel and I will be on hand between 1:00 and 3:00 to speak with celebration attendees. Please drop by the display to join us in representing SJRI, or simply to chat.
  • Follow-up From SSHRC Partnership Grants Workshop: In late November SJRI held an educational workshop to advance our members’ understanding of the SSHRC Partnership Grants program, and its potential for funding the collaborative research of SJRI affiliates. SJRI’s Projects Facilitator, Rachel Hirsch, is coordinating a follow-up meeting with any SJRI affiliates who are interested in exploring SSHRC Partnership Grant possibilities further. Please indicate your interest and availability to meet for this purpose by responding to this doodle poll or replying directly to Rachel (rhirsch@brocku.ca).
  • SJRI Brown Bag Series: We are looking for 2-3 research talks being presented on campus this Winter Term by SJRI affiliates, which we could co-sponsor and promote. We are seeking to create spaces for intellectual exchange across disciplines on social justice scholarship, especially among our members. If you are giving such a talk and want to be on our roster, send details to SJRI’s Administrative Coordinator Maria Callaghan (mcallaghan@brocku.ca). SJRI will also co-sponsor and help fund (to a maximum of $50) social-justice related talks, workshops or panels you may be organizing that involve speakers who are not SJRI affiliates; send requests to Maria.
  • Call for New Affiliates and Annual General Meeting: In early March we will circulate a Call for New Affiliates in anticipation of SJRI’s Annual General Meeting, which will be held in April. The Annual General Meeting is a forum for approving new affiliates, finalizing next year’s Faculty Steering Committee composition, and passing any motions that require a vote by the affiliated membership. We also hope to organize a substantive social justice-oriented activity, discussion or presentation as part of the AGM. Please contact me or Projects Facilitator, Rachel Hirsch, if you have questions, ideas, or would be like to be involved in organizing something for the AGM.  I look forward to seeing you there.
  • SJRI Thematic Symposium October 2015 – Consuming Intimacies: Bodies, Labour, Care and Social Justice: In the Fall Term SJRI affiliates were invited to submit notices of interest to organize a transdisciplinary symposium for October 2015 around an intellectually-significant problematic relevant to social justice, and tied to a special issue of the journal Studies in Social Justice. We received notices from three teams, and asked one of them to develop a fuller proposal around their proposed theme of Consuming Intimacies: Bodies, Labour, Care and Social Justice. The proposal – submitted by Andrea Doucet, Robyn Lee, Alana Cattapan and Lindsey McKay – was approved at our most recent Faculty Steering Committee meeting. You may expect to receive more detailed information and a Call for Papers by mid-February. The symposium will be one of SJRI’s main initiatives for 2015. (Any affiliates who would like to explore the possibilities of SJRI support for organizing their own social justice-related symposia should contact our Projects Facilitator, Rachel Hirsch, at rhirsch@brocku.ca.)

Ongoing Programs, Services and Endeavours

  • SJRI Grants Program: We will soon announce our Winter competition for SJRI Seed Grants ($7000) and SJRI Local Engagement Grants ($2000). The deadline for applications is April 30. Our Projects Facilitator, Rachel Hirsch, will circulate information about a grants workshop she is planning for late February. Click here to learn more about SJRI’s Grants Program.
  • SJRI MA Fellowship Program: Each year the SJRI awards two fellowships of $2,000 each to incoming full-time Masters students whose field of study is related to social justice. This year the fellowships will be matched by the Office of Graduate Studies, for a total award value of $4,000. Please promote the SJRI Graduate Fellowship to any students being offered entrance to a Masters program in your department whose research interests relate to social justice. More information and an application form will be sent soon in a separate email, and will be posted on the SJRI website. Applications are due March 15. We think these fellowships are an excellent way both to encourage students to accept offers of admission, and to help support them financially as they pursue social justice-related research.
  • Studies in Social Justice: Since July 2014 SJRI has been home to the transdisciplinary on-line, open access journal Studies in Social Justice with me as managing editor. Two guest-edited special issues are in preparation, focusing on the relation of scholarship to activism; they will be published in Spring/Summer 2015. Meanwhile, I am working with SJRI staff to expand the journal’s transdiciplinary reach and capacity to encourage dialogue between academics and other social justice practitioners. This involves updating the journal’s look, adding new sections, and enlarging its editorial team. An official “re-launch” of Studies in Social Justice at its new SJRI home will be organized after these changes have been completed, probably in late Spring. Please stay tuned for further developments including a call for editors and editorial board members, and please consider submitting a manuscript for review.

  • Projects Facilitation: Rachel Hirsch, SJRI Projects Facilitator, is available to work with you on your research proposals and grant applications (ext. 6624; rhirsch@brocku.ca), including applications to the SJRI Grants Programs. She would also be happy to discuss possibilities and potential benefits of formal SJRI involvement with or collaboration on your grant applications and research projects. Rachel is developing a brochure that highlights the services she can provide to SJRI affiliates as Projects Facilitator. This will be distributed soon.

Current Preoccupations

  • SJRI’s E-Communications Practices: Feedback relating to SJRI’s decision to circulate via email a “call for action” regarding the Haudenosaunee Deer Hunt at Short Hills Provincial Park made it clear that for many of our affiliates and others, forwarding information about events through SJRI forums or from an SJRI email address implies SJRI endorsement of those events. We think it is important to avoid this automatic implication of SJRI endorsement in the future, especially in cases (such as this) where SJRI affiliates have conflicting perspectives on the issue in question. SJRI’s Faculty Steering Committee is in the process of refining SJRI’s e-communications practices, especially in relation to what information we circulate, and to which of our several e-forums. Please be assured that our refined e-communications practices will continue to be shaped by a commitment to nurturing productive dialogue relating to a broad range of social justice interests and initiatives. We will circulate SJRI’s revised electronic communications policy in due course, for your information. Meanwhile, my apologies to those affiliates who have been copied on unwanted communications related to SJRI’s circulation of the call for action mentioned above.
  • Seeking Visuals that Represent Affiliates’ Community Engagement Activities: We would like to assemble on the SJRI website a gallery of photographs and other visuals showing the community engagement activities of SJRI affiliates. These could simply be visuals of you or your community-involved research in action, or they could be photo essays that tell something more substantial about your research or approach to community engagement and collaboration. Please send photos and captions to SJRI’s Projects Facilitator, Rachel Hirsch (rhirsch@brocku.ca), or contact Rachel to discuss assembling a photo essay.
  • SJRI and Reporting to the University: Brock’s Transdisciplinary Hubs are required to report to the University on an annual basis. That means that we will be asking for your CVs and Annual Reports each year, and we deeply appreciate your cooperation and good cheer as we address these reporting requirements. The University has become especially interested in information regarding community collaborations; therefore, SJRI is likely to be asked to provide a complete list of its affiliates’ community collaborators and partners. This may require us to approach you for information beyond what is included in your CVs and Annual Reports. We will try to keep these request to a minimum.

Congratulations and Recognition

  • Congratulations to the  Fall 2014 SJRI Grants Recipients:

SJRI’s Fall 2014 Seed Grant recipients are:

Margot Francis (De-colonial Pedagogies: Troubling the intersection of Indigeneity, Race and Settler Colonialization in the Classroom);

Lauren Corman/Karol Orzechowski (Kin: Animal Rights at the Global Intersection of Social Justice).

Local Engagement Grants were awarded to:

Jennifer Rowsell (Connecting Community through Literacy);

Stefan Dolgert (Broad Based Organizing in Niagara: Considering the Possibilities for an IAF Affiliate);

Keri Cronin/Lauren Corman/Kendra Coulter (“My Dog is My Home”: Community Outreach in Niagara).

  • Thanks and Praises: Thanks to you all for your continuing interest and involvement in SJRI’s endeavour to nourish advanced social justice scholarship at Brock. I wish to extend special recognition to the following individuals:
    • Our 2014-15 SJRI MA Fellows: James McBride and MJ Deschamps;
    • The members of the 2014-15 Grants Adjudication Committee (whose names will remain confidential until they have finished their term);
    • SJRI’s excellent and hardworking staff: Maria Callaghan (Administrative Coordinator) and Rachel Hirsch (Projects Facilitator);
    • The indefatigable members of the 2014-2015 SJRI Faculty Steering Committee: Janet Conway, June Corman, Keri Cronin, Andrea Doucet, Rebecca Raby, Mary-Beth Raddon, Jennifer Rowsell, Elizabeth Sauer, and Sue Spearey.

I look forward to interacting with you all over the course of my six months as Acting SJRI Director. Meanwhile, best wishes for a happy and productive term.

David Butz

Acting Director, Social Justice Research Institute
Managing Editor, Studies in Social Justice
Professor, Department of Geography

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