From the role of community in youth justice to the role of civil society in the courts, two new researchers are bringing fresh perspectives to Brock’s Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice (FPAC) program.
FPAC is a transdisciplinary program that draws on courses from the Departments of Psychology, Political Science and Child and Youth Studies. Launched in 2021, the program recently welcomed Assistant Professors Kaitlin Fredericks and Danielle McNabb.
Fredericks, in the Department of Child and Youth Studies, is a community-engaged researcher focused on youth success and community programming for justice-involved young people. She seeks to centre the voices and rights of young people in her work.
“Thinking about programming, it’s important to understand how young people talk about and experience success so that we can support them in prevention and intervention efforts,” she says. “In doing so, we can understand how young people think and feel and what they value in order to effectively support their well-being and development.”
Fredericks adds that this is true not only in her research but in the classroom, where many FPAC students who volunteer or work in the field can offer insights during discussions of course material.
“I continue to be inspired by our students who are already working in the field and are able to share stories about recognizing little wins and positive outcomes while doing frontline work with young people,” she says.
McNabb, in the Department of Political Science, studies the intersection between law and politics.
“One of my current projects looks at a mechanism at the Supreme Court of Canada called intervening, a process where ordinary citizens, organizations, interest groups or even governments can participate in legal cases that they are not directly involved in,” she says. “I look at cases that involve the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and think about how these different actors try to influence how the Supreme Court will decide, which can have big consequences for Canadian democracy and for human and civil rights.”
Another of McNabb’s current areas of interest stems from her work on the Special Investigations Unit of Ontario, the civilian oversight agency that handles allegations of criminal activity by police officers in the province. Her recent study on police-involved sexual violence was included in a piece about Newfoundland law enforcement in The Walrus.
McNabb, who says completing an undergraduate honours thesis was crucial to her own journey, hopes to supervise thesis students as the first FPAC cohorts move toward fourth year.
“I did an honours thesis and I think that it’s an awesome opportunity for students to get to work one-on-one with the faculty member to explore, in depth, a particular element of the criminal justice system,” she says. “I would be delighted to supervise students on topics like policing, police oversight, and legal and political responses to sexual violence.”
Fredericks and McNabb say they are excited to connect with students who share their interests in the many dimensions of criminal justice research.
“It makes my teaching a lot of fun to feel like I can relate on an interest-based level with my students, especially those who are passionate about youth criminal and social justice,” says Fredericks. “There is nothing I love more than interacting with students who I know are going to make a difference in the field.”
Professor Voula Marinos, Director of FPAC, says she is pleased to welcome Fredericks and McNabb to the program.
“Drs. Fredericks and McNabb reflect the importance the FPAC program places on rich and diverse research that centres on individuals, experiences, systems and justice,” she says.