Research Café to highlight careers in social justice


Five graduates from Brock’s MA program in Social Justice and Equity Studies (SJES) will return to campus on Tuesday, Nov. 19 to participate in a Research Café called “Degrees of Difference.”

Associate Professor Mary-Beth Raddon, program director of the SJES program, has assembled a panel of graduates with varied education, personal and career backgrounds beyond SJES to share perspectives about their work in social justice causes.

“The panel explores the value and relevance of social justice education and scholarship,” Raddon says.

“For our graduates and current students, it’s about the difference their degree makes in their ability to analyze the workings of power in culture and society. The degree is about understanding the roots of marginalization, violence and social inequality. It’s also about learning to apply the skills of critical analysis and research toward projects or movements for rights, equality, fairness or justice.”

The five panelists – one from each of the first five cohorts of the program (2002 to 2006) – include:

• Kate Zavitz, ombudsman investigator, Office of the Ombudsman, City of Toronto
• Allison Burgess, sexual and gender diversity officer, University of Toronto
• Lysanne Louter, a producer/director for CBC’s the Fifth Estate whose most recent report “Made in Bangladesh” exposed the Canadian connection to the Rana-Plaza garment factory collapse
• Cheryl Athersych, project co-ordinator, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Ontario
• Terry Trowbridge, doctoral student in York University’s Socio-Legal Studies program and a long-time advocate for street-level sex workers

The panel reflects the many paths that the program’s 72 graduates have followed, Raddon says. The majority of graduates go on to PhD degrees or professional degrees. The largest employment field for SJES graduates is the public and non-profit sector followed by work as consultants, advisors teachers and researchers in the post-secondary sector.

“We currently have a cohort of 23 students studying full time and part time in our program. As they complete their studies, they are looking for concrete ways to apply and deepen what they learned in their MA, whether through further research, advocacy, creative work, community organizing or through a profession,” Raddon says.

By hearing the panelists’ stories, Mike Plyley, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies says we become more attuned to what it’s like to be part of ongoing work for social justice at many levels.

“The Research Café will open a conversation about the kind of social justice issues that everyone encounters. Some touch you personally and others you connect to through media coverage,” he says.

The event is co-sponsored by the Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI). The SJRI aims to establish Brock University as a Canadian and international leader in advanced transdisciplinary social justice scholarship, innovative knowledge mobilization strategies, and community-university partnerships. There are more than 40 Brock faculty affiliated with the institute, including many SJES faculty.

SJRI Director Mary Breunig, says events like the research café create synergies between the social justice research of faculty and graduate students. Such research activities give substance to the commitment to social justice Breunig sees in Brock’s Integrated Plan.

“The Research Café is a valuable opportunity for those committed to social justice to gather together and share their scholarship and its impacts,” she says.

This free event runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., in Pond Inlet, and is open to the Brock community and general public. The café is part of a line-up of events leading to the Mapping the New Knowledges Graduate Student Research Conference on Monday, April 7, 2014.

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