Humanities champions honoured at spring symposium

It’s not uncommon to find Jason Hawreliak going above and beyond for his department, Faculty and the University.

His ongoing commitment to the Centre for Digital Humanities (CDH) made the assistant professor a fitting choice for a new award meant to honour outstanding faculty members for their passion and dedication.

Hawreliak became the inaugural recipient of the Faculty of Humanities Distinguished Service Award at the annual Humanities Research Institute Spring Symposium on April 17.

The award aims to recognize the service work taken on by faculty members that is often an undervalued aspect of faculty workload but an important part of university life.

Hawreliak is part of a number of committees within the Faculty and across the University, and is also Chair of the CDH Graduate Planning Committee.

He was the lead author on the initial Statement of Intent and Program Proposal Brief for a new Master of Arts in Game Studies. If approved, the MA program will be the first of its kind in Canada, positioning the Centre of Digital Humanities and Brock as national leaders in research and graduate training in game studies.

“I’ve found my service duties to be deeply rewarding,” says Hawreliak. “They’ve allowed me to contribute to the direction of our programs and the University, and given me opportunities to work with a number of community partners.

“Even when I was the most junior faculty member on a committee, I always felt that my voice mattered. The collegial atmosphere here is one of the things that makes Brock such a special place,” he says.

Since arriving at Brock in 2014, Hawreliak has sat on departmental committees overseeing hiring, budget, admissions, curriculum and program decisions. He also serves on the Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD Program Committee, which is the Faculty’s only PhD program.

In addition, Hawreliak has worked with organizations across the Niagara region, such as Niagara College, the Generator at One and DSBN Academy, as well as local game developers, to showcase Brock’s Interactive Arts and Science program.

“Professor Hawreliak is one of the faculty members who can always be counted on to step up when volunteers are needed,” says Carol Merriam, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

“He takes on jobs that position Brock and Humanities for future success, as is demonstrated by his leadership role in creating the proposed MA program in Game Studies. Jason sees the need for service to the academy and lives up to the concept of the University as a self-governing community of scholars. He’s an ideal first recipient of the Humanities Distinguished Faculty Service Award.”

Also recognized at the symposium was Associate Professor Keri Cronin, who received the Faculty of Humanities’ Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity. The award is given each year to recognize a faculty member’s consistent track record of outstanding research or creative achievements appropriate to the nominee’s discipline.

Associate Professor of Visual Arts Keri Cronin (right) received the Faculty of Humanities Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity from Associate Dean Michael Carter (left) in recognition of her contributions to the study of animals in visual culture at the Humanities Research Institute Spring Symposium on April 17.

Cronin was recognized for her significant contributions researching the use of animal imagery in visual culture. Her book on this subject, Art for Animals: Visual Culture and Animal Advocacy, 1870-1914, was released in May 2018. In 2017, she was made a Fellow with the prestigious Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, an international group of scholars working contributing new knowledge to the field of animal ethics.

As a leader in the field of Animal Studies, Cronin’s work is exemplary in bridging theory and practice, said her nominators, Associate Professor Derek Knight and Assistant Professor Amy Friend. She contributes a unique combination of extensive knowledge of visual cultural, nuanced interpretation and advocacy for social justice to her field, they added.

In addition to her work teaching in the History of Art and Visual Culture program, Cronin is also a founding member of Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute.

Cronin’s current research explores how representations of animals in the 21st century connect to changing ideas about how people live with and relate to animals.

Two symposiums are hosted each year — in spring and fall — by the Humanities Research Institute, which supports the development of research programs in the Humanities and encourages awareness of faculty members’ expertise and creativity. The events allow Humanities faculty and graduate students to share their ongoing research in an interdisciplinary setting.

Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD students Julia Polyck-O’Neill, Miroslav Zovko and Camila Pugan presented research papers as part of the Humanities Research Institute Spring Symposium. This year’s theme, Springs to Mind, explored idea of narrative and voices in literature, as well as philosophy and epistemology.

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