With 20 years of experience as an LGBTQ parenting activist, educator, and researcher, Rachel Epstein has extensive experience working with LGBTQ communities.
Epstein recently took a leave from her position as co-ordinator of the LGBTQ Parenting Network at the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto to complete a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral fellowship here at Brock.
Her project, entitled “Breakups, Breakdowns, and Reconfigurations: Narratives of Conflict and Change in LGBTQ Families,” has her working closely with Dr. Andrea Doucet in the Department of Sociology, the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Social Justice Research Institute.
“The complexity and creativity involved in LGBTQ family formation can sometimes lead to unique challenges when familial relationships change,” Epstein explains. “For example, there might be tensions between biological and non-biological parents, between primary parents and sperm donors, or in multi-parent families.”
She said the aim of the research project is to explore some of the particular dynamics of LGBTQ family conflict, including the continuing impact of the trauma and loss associated with LGBTQ custody cases of the 1970s and 80s, in which many LGBTQ people lost custody of their children.
In addition to building on academic scholarship in this area, Epstein hopes that her research will produce information, resources, and ways of thinking that will be helpful to LGBTQ people who are experiencing family conflict and change, as well as to mediators, lawyers, and psychotherapists they might encounter in the process.
Epstein was one of two Banting Postdoctoral Fellows to join the Faculty of Social Sciences this year.
In the Department of Geography, Patrick Brouder is working with Chris Fullerton and Jeff Boggs on his project, “Tourism development paths in the Niagara Region: Why embracing complexity will lead to resilient rural communities.”
“In Niagara, tourism has always been an important part of the regional economy, but in recent years, there has been a shift in focus away from the Niagara Falls urban entertainment district and towards the rural parts of the region,” Brouder points out.
“With this shift, a change in focus for tourism development is also emerging—away from generating bed nights and tax dollars and towards helping communities to survive and to thrive.”
The project assesses the evolution of tourism across Niagara and shows that embracing the complexity of tourism in the region will lead to more resilient communities going forward, he says.
Brouder and Fullerton recently presented their preliminary research to the Niagara Tourism Network. Brouder will also give a public talk on his research Friday, Nov. 13, from noon to 2 p.m. in MCC405, part of the ongoing Speaker Series hosted by the MA in Geography.
Tom Dunk, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, believes that Epstein and Brouder along with their faculty advisors, are supporting Brock’s commitment to the economic, social, and cultural development of local, national, and global communities.
“The presence of two Banting postdocs speaks to the positive reputation of our faculty members. We are thrilled to have such accomplished scholars committed to research that engages directly with real world issues joining us in Brock’s Faculty of Social Sciences,” Dunk says.
Paul Adachi, one of the Faculty’s newly minted PhDs from the Department of Psychology, also began a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship this year at the University of Rochester.
Epstein, Brouder, and Adachi were among 70 recipients nationwide of Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, a federal government program to foster postdoctoral talent. Under the program, recipients receive $70,000 per year for two years of research. All three researchers are funded under the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) category of the program.