A graduate student standing at a podium with a power point screen behind them. The words on the screen are “The Mental Health of Staff in Assisted Community Living. Alexa Oakley. Brock University”

Philosophy and History

Aligning with Brock’s strategic goals of inclusion and community engagement the C.A.P.A. will support and educate students, provide training and development to community members and provide consulting and research opportunities that support the spirit of inclusion. This is an extension of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and the work of its faculty and staff in reciprocity with the local community and its experts and beyond.

C.A.P.A. was born from an idea that inclusion as a guiding principle offers opportunities for authentic engagement with diversity. With this in mind, and with 20 plus years of inclusive service to thousands of diverse individuals in Niagara, we propose ‘outing’ ourselves as a leading centre in this field both within the province and across the country, and aim to offer relevant services to students, community members and professionals.

With the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act targeting 2025 as the year Ontario must have significantly improved accessibility standards for mental, developmental and physical disabilities, the time to support the advancement of this statute is now. This creates an excellent opportunity for Brock University to move into this space as leaders in the field, which works to improve student recruitment and the student experience, community engagement, research and a better world for all through enhanced accessibility.

Our circle of community partners has allowed us to become attentive listeners. We abide by the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ and this includes Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, aging citizens, 2SLGBTQ+ participants, people who experience disability, and participants who experience under-resourcing and poverty. Further, we understand the compounding nature of intersected oppression and have anticipated a variety of supports, including consultative interviews, subsidies, flexible program application methods, equitable representation on decision making bodies, equitable representation of culture and identity in promotional materials, pedagogies, programming and training, and ongoing engagement with groups and individuals for continuous improvement of our inclusion practices.


Prospective research projects in the first two years include examining the effects and consequences of COVID for under-researched and underserved populations; examining the effectiveness of online delivery of activity programming; engaging in an exploration of an adaptive component at the 2022 Canada Summer Games; Describing the Impossible Choices of Caregivers in Relation with People with Complex Bodies. Longer term projects include examining lifespan quality of life for unconventional and underserved bodies and the development of protocols and best practices for research with under-researched and excluded populations. And, of course, there is the ongoing work into best practices in the preparation of practitioners and capacity building in interprofessional collaboration.

SOTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) opportunities exist for faculty, staff, students and community partners who wish to be involved in projects that actively examine authentic inclusion processes in courses, workshops, coaching, presenting, instructing and mentoring and that follow through with development and implementation of these processes.

SOLE (Scholarship of Leadership in Education) opportunities exist for faculty, staff, students and community partners who wish to be involved in projects that actively examine authentic inclusion processes in leadership development and that follow through with development and implementation of these processes.

Faculty, staff, students and community members who would like to be involved in research in formal and informal ways should contact Maureen Connolly or Elyse Lappano.

A graduate student standing in front of a research poster.

Research and Scholarship

In 1990, Ernest Boyer’s research findings on scholarship in North American Universities broke onto the post-secondary landscape and simultaneously confirmed and unsettled the scholarly projects and practices of researchers employed by academic institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Boyer’s analysis disclosed a spectrum of scholarly orientations which suggest that research is not monolithic, not a singular, unified, reified, unchanging, homogeneous, ‘one size fits all’ scholarly process or outcome. Indeed, Boyer’s research on research was descriptive and critical at a time when the intended audience of research was expanding (some might say, exploding) in terms of reach, assess, relevance, reciprocity,  and, perhaps most importantly, accountability. The role and the look of research have changed and continue to change even as more traditional roles and looks continue to be refined and deepened. Boyer’s findings indicate that not only is there room for the full spectrum, but also warn that artificial policing of that spectrum is ultimately destructive to the very scholarly and academic pursuits the policing claims to protect. This preface foregrounds the C.A.P.A.’s scholarship whose scope is inclusive of all four of Boyer’s  categories:  scholarship of discovery ( more traditional looks of journal articles, book chapters, conference presentations ), scholarship of application (using disciplinary knowledge to address important individual, institutional  and societal problems and to communicate to diverse audiences and collaborators), scholarship of integration (when disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge is synthesized, interpreted and connected)  and scholarship of teaching and learning (undertaking systematic evaluation and action research on one’s own teaching to improve both teaching practices and learning outcomes, and making these findings public).

In keeping with our philosophy and our research approaches, the objectives of the Centre include: Student experience, training and professional preparation; Professional development for community partners ( formal and informal; school boards; disability and community service organizations);Community Consulting; Research on adaptive approaches for 1:1 and greater support populations; inclusive data collection and analysis with unconventional participants; sensitized family based research; research on mentoring; research on alternative forms of program delivery and research on program participants.

Community engagement with programming, training and research has been ongoing for many of our existing initiatives; however, community engagement IS ITSELF an innovative form of research, and research ON best practices of collaboration with community partners is also research. Further, the opportunity to construct and enact participatory, culturally sensitized research projects advantageously positions members of the C.A.P.A. for strategic funding initiatives based in inter and trans-disciplinary approaches and blended designs.


Maureen Connolly, Karen Patte, Jae Patterson and Colleen Whyte are the inaugural faculty members associated with the C.A.P.A.. These four scholars have a combined funding record of over $4,000,000.00 over the past five years, as well as hundreds of publications and conference presentations. Additionally, they have a combined total of 150 plus undergraduate thesis supervisions, 150 plus masters’ supervisions and 10 plus PhD supervisions. Clearly, the Centre is well positioned in its potential for published work, funding, ongoing research, knowledge translation and mentoring. These faculty members also have versatile research profiles in terms of methodology, approach, and focus. There is immense potential for trans-disciplinary and interdisciplinary work as well as qualitative, quantitative and blended designs. The disciplinary compatibility is also noteworthy: motor learning and fundamental movement skill development, concussion education regarding return to learn and return to play, mental health and activity connections, healthy behaviours, service learning, meaningful active leisure, lifespan engagement, stressed embodiment, and anti-ableist, anti-racist and anti-ageist orientations.

Please see the center’s researchers’ full profiles at their respective links at the FAHS website.