In the community

The Faculty of Social Sciences and the researchers and scholars who make up our community are committed to engaging with the broader community beyond Brock. Finding ways to collaborate, support, and mobilize knowledge are key priorities for the Faculty.

Ingrid Makus presents award to Karen Brown

Karen Brown (BA ’91) made history in August 2021 when she became the first Black president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the largest public sector union in Canada, representing some 83,000 members. At Fall Homecoming, Ingrid Makus presented her with the Distinguished Faculty of Social Sciences Graduate Award for 2022. Read more.

Kate Stewart in red phone booth

Kate Stewart (MA ’22) of the MA in Geography has developed a Sustainable Indigenous Heritage Trail within the Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark. The ‘trail’ highlights Indigenous trade routes from 1770, sites of historical significance, museums, education, and history, highlighting all landscapes and counties within the Geopark Boundary.


Associate Dean and Professor of Sociology Kate Bezanson has been seconded to serve as a special advisor on gender, rights, and social, economic and legal issues to the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

portrait of Monique Badiola

Former co-op student Monique Badiola (BA ’22) completed her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration and was able to turn her final work term at Public Health Agency of Canada into a full-time career.

Joanne Heritz presents from a podium with a screen showing Brock's campus behind her

In June, the Niagara Community Observatory and community partner YWCA Niagara Region hosted an event on affordable housing for women at Brock. The researchers produced a fact sheet and later a full policy brief on their findings.

event poster with portraits of Adam King, Angella Macewen, and Jim Stanford

In late May, the Department of Labour Studies and the Canadian Association for Work and Labour Studies hosted “Prices, Profits, Power: A People’s Guide to Inflation.” The virtual panel discussion featured Senior Researcher in Social and Economic Policy at the Canadian Labour Congress Adam King, Senior Economist at CUPE National and Broadbent Institute Policy Fellow Angella MacEwen, and Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work Jim Stanford. Watch the recording.

Ukraine flag with text overlaid: "Three Perspectives: Exploring the Ukraine-Russia Conflict"

In early May, the St. Catharines Public Library hosted a virtual panel discussion to provide further insight, context, and background information into the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. Livianna Tossutti in the Department of Political Science moderated the panel, which featured Stefan Dolgert of Political Science as well as Brock researchers Aaron Mauro and Gregor Kranjc.

plaque and two shovels in dirt next to tree trunk

Students in GEOG 2P08 – Climate Crisis, a second-year course in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, recently raised funds to plant a tree as a mitigation measure against their own carbon emissions. Instructor Jayson Childs and Chair Michael Pisaric were among those present at the tree-planting and plaque installation, which took place on Earth Day, April 22.

student holds out pile of seeds on two hands

Master of Sustainability candidates Alexandra Cotrufo (shown) and Madison Lepp of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) recently helped create Brock University’s first seed library with support from a Go Wild School Grant from WWF-Canada. The seed library launched on April 19 through the James A. Gibson Library at Brock and allows people to “borrow” seeds for planting.

Ingrid Makus, Elisabeth Zimmerman, and Lynn Wells stand in front of Oakdale Commons

During a virtual event on Friday, March 4, Brock University and the YWCA Niagara Region formalized their partnership by introducing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to move forward with a common goal: empowering local women and improving the lives of their families. Dean Ingrid Makus (left), Executive Director Elisabeth Zimmerman of the YWCA Niagara Region (centre), and President Lynn Wells (right) were joined by others from the Brock community for a panel discussion to launch the MOU. Watch the recording.

Tefari Bailey

Congratulations to Tefari Bailey (BA ’19) of the Department of Economics on his recent win on Dragon’s Den. Tefari is building Hutsy, an online neo-bank with no transaction or cash advance fees and a credit-building program for people struggling to make ends meet.

Jonathan Davey

Jon Davey (BA ’05) of the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film was recently recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, which honours outstanding young achievers in Canadian business who are inspiring others and giving back to their communities for his work supporting the Indigenous communities he’s rooted in.

Brennor Jacobs

Brennor Jacobs (BA ’19) of the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film is the 2021 recipient of Brock University’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award, an annual award granted by the Brock University Alumni Association.

Brock University alumnus Mario De Divitiis (BA ’06, MA ’08), Chief Executive Officer of Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario, has been recognized for his outstanding dedication to community engagement through his professional and voluntary roles.

Mario De Divitiis (BA ’06, MA ’08), a graduate of the Department of Political Science, is the 2021 recipient of the Brock University Alumni Association Award for Community Engagement. De Divitiis is Chief Executive Officer of Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario and is being recognized for his outstanding dedication to community engagement through his professional and voluntary roles.

Two fourth-year Business Communications students worked as Research Assistants with Kate Cassidy in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film to develop the Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) policy brief, “To be, or not to be, remote? Examining the essential factors needed for ongoing remote work success,” which was presented at a public event in October of 2021. In December, more than 75 people from across the agriculture and policy-making community attended the presentation of the NCO’s latest brief, “Growing Agri-Innovation: Investigating the barriers and drivers to the adoption of automation and robotics in Ontario’s agriculture sector,” written by NCO Research Fellow Amy Lemay, NCO Director Charles Conteh of Political Science, and NCO Associate Director Jeff Boggs of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies. Recordings are available on the NCO web site.

BA Social Sciences major Natasha Adams and Geography and Tourism Studies minor Meagan Johnston were among six Canadian students who shared their takes on battling climate change with Maclean’s in October of 2021.

Hannah Willms (BA ’18), current graduate student in the MA in Geography, received the LMCH Housing Policy Research Award in November 2021. The London Community Foundation Housing Policy Research Award supports students engaged in graduate-level research on social housing in Canada. Her thesis is entitled “Is Airbnb affordable?: A critical analysis of the relationship between Airbnb and affordable housing in Niagara Falls, Ontario,” supervised by Michael Ripmeester.

cross-section of tree trunk with text overlaid

In December, third-year Geography student Joshua Hutten had a public installation of Our Oak at the Brock LINC. Our Oak is a one millimetre-thick veneer from a white oak tree originally slated for lumber in New York state. Within the veneer, each year of the tree’s life is visible — creating a blank slate for 104 years of undocumented stories. Hutten photographed and digitalized the veneer and will project a large-scale version for the community to see as part of the exhibit.

portrait of Kailene Jackson

Kailene Jackson (BA ’20), a graduate of the Department of Political Science, received the Young Professional Award at the 21st annual Women in Business Awards luncheon in November for her work with CiviConnect, a non-profit she started while still a student.

Madeleine Jones-Aceituno

In early 2020, as part of her POLI 4P95 winter internship placement, Madeleine Jones-Aceituno (BA ’20) of the Department of Political Science helped lay the foundation for The Living Library, a project that would see stories of social housing and homelessness shared with the Niagara community. Two days prior to the event date, the COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a halt, but Jones-Aceituno was on hand to see the virtual launch in November.

portrait of Felisia Milana

Felisia Milana (BA ’20, MA ’21) of the Department of Political Science received the Board of Trustees’ Spirit of Brock Medal at Fall Convocation in October 2021.

Photovoice project

In September of 2021, Laura Mullins in the Department of Applied Disability Studies presented a two-night virtual event for Niagara Falls Museums’ NOT @ The Museum Thursdays, sharing research on Voices Lost in the Crisis: Persons with IDD share their lived experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both sessions are available for viewing online. Watch part one and part two.

The Lifespan Development Research Institute’s series of virtual talks featuring Brock researchers, many of whom are homed in the Faculty of Social Sciences, continued this year. These talks are recorded and many are available for public viewing. Topics in 2021-22 included:

The Board of Trustees’ Spirit of Brock Medal is given in acknowledgment of a graduating student’s leadership, courage, innovation, inspiration and community involvement. The Medal was awarded to three FOSS students in 2020-21. Carly Magnacca (MA ’20) of Applied Disability Studies received the honour at Fall Convocation, while Madeleine Pontone (BA ’18, MA ’21) of Applied Disability Studies and Hope Tuff-Berg (BA ’21) of Political Science were recognized at Spring Convocation.

Carly Magnacca
Carly Magnacca of the Department of Applied Disability Studies
Madeline Pontone
Madeline Pontone of the Department of Applied Disability Studies
Hope Tuff-Berg
Hope Tuff-Berg of the Department of Political Science
August 2021
  • Toronto teacher and Child and Youth Studies alumna Karen Brown (BA ’91) made history when she was elected the first Black president of a teachers’ union in Ontario. She was named president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) during the organization’s annual meeting in August. Read more.
June 2021
  • Jessica Blythe in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, received a Niagara 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Award at a ceremony on June 23. Read more.
May 2021
  • Crystal Vella (BA ’10), a graduate of the Tourism and Environment program now housed in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, was recently recognized with a Canada’s Clean50 Emerging Leaders award for her work at Walker Industries. Learn more.
March 2021
  • Award-winning filmmaker Roy Wol (BA ’06) of the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film is starting important conversations about trans identities through his work. He brought that meaningful discussion virtually to the Brock community when Brock’s Pride Week kicked off with a special screening of Wol’s film, The Garden Left Behind followed by a Q&A featuring the filmmaker and other guests.
  • The Department of Labour Studies and the Canadian Association for Work and Labour Studies welcomed Teen Vogue columnist Kim Kelly – writer, editor and self-described troublemaker – for a free, virtual discussion on youth, work and the future of the labour movement.
  • The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre hosted a special Earth Day event as part of its partnership with Niagara Parks featuring Robyn Bourgeois, Associate Professor in the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies and Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement. Bourgeois delivered a talk entitled “Land, Body, and Sovereignty: An Indigenous Perspective” addressing, among other topics, how violence against Indigenous women is an environmental issue. Sustainability Science and Society students Allison Clark and Savannah Stuart summarized their key takeaways from the talk on the ESRC blog.
January 2021
  • Kendra Coulter of the Department of Labour Studies was appointed to the Coordinating Committee of the Canadian Violence Link Coalition (CLVC), a body dedicated to advancing awareness and policy development related to the violence link, or the link between the abuse of people and animals. Read more.
December 2020
  • The Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies, in collaboration with Human Rights and Equity and Brock University Gender and Sexual Violence Support and Education, presented events in honour of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women on December 6th, in memory of the fourteen young women who were brutally murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989. These events were also part of the University’s participation in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
November 2020
  • In November 2020, Kendra Coulter in the Department of Labour Studies was appointed by the Ontario government to the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Advisory Table, a multidisciplinary advisory table to provide ongoing advice to improve animal welfare across the province. The Advisory Table includes leading academics and experts as well as organizations representing multiple disciplines including advocacy, industry, agriculture, sheltering, veterinarian care and enforcement.
October 2020
September 2020
  • The Department of Child and Youth Studies virtually welcomed Cindy Blackstock, Professor of Social Work at McGill University and renowned advocate for Indigenous children and youth, to speak on Colonialism in 2020 as part of their Colloquium Speaker Series.
  • A new web site created by Kendra Coulter in the Department of Labour Studies, provides province-by-province resources and contacts for reporting suspected cruelty, programs to support animal caretakers, investigations and legal resources in Canada. The web site,, was developed by Coulter as part of her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded research project on animal protection work and policy.