New SSHRC research funding announced for Mount Allison

23 Sep 2016

Psychology, religious studies, politics and international relations, and Canadian studies all receive new funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

SACKVILLE, NB — Several Mount Allison University professors and their students in the arts and social sciences received new research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The news came as part of a national announcement made by SSHRC this September.

“The quality and variety of SSHRC-funded research projects at Mount Allison is remarkable, ” says University Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research Dr. Jeff Ollerhead. “I wish to congratulate all our recipients this year and look forward to hearing about their findings.”

Mount Allison University Psychology Professor Dr. Nancy Garon received a SSHRC Insight Grant, valued at $123,727 over five years for her study, “Building Models of the Social World.”

Working in conjunction with Dr. Isabel Smith from Dalhousie University, Garon and her research team, which includes several honours psychology students at Mount Allison, will be investigating two psychological systems that help children develop early socialization skills — reactive and predictive. The studies will take place over five years at daycares in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia with children ages 2-5.

“Our goal is to assess these behavioural systems, seeing how they are used in different types of social situations,” says Garon. “We also plan to look at shifts between reactive and predictive systems in children and the possible connections to some early developmental conditions, such as anxiety or autism.”

Garon and Smith plan to publish several academic papers around the various stages and aspects of their work as well as a resource handbook for parents and early childhood educators, which will be available publicly.

Three researchers received Insight Development Grants from SSHRC, focused on supporting short-term research projects for up to two years. Mount Allison recipients include:

Dr. Andrea Beverley, Canadian Studies and English, “Women and Words: A Case Study in Canadian Feminist Literary History” ($26,577 over two years)

Beverley’s project focuses on Canadian literature and history related to feminism. Over two years, she will study archives of the influential Women and Words conference, held in Vancouver in the 1980s. This pan-Canadian conference was the first of its kind in Canada with nearly 1,000 female writers, academics, and journalists convening to share their work and ideas.

“While this is a well-known conference in my area of study, few people have looked at the archives of this event, which are stored at Simon Fraser University,” says Beverley. “I plan to review these documents through a few different lenses, specifically looking at the audio-visual resources available and the East Coast and Québécois connections of this national event.”

Along with her own research in the SFU Archives, Beverley will also have up to six Mount Allison students working with her over the two years, giving them valuable first-hand research and academic experience as part of their undergraduate education.

“We’ll be looking at the impact of this conference in Canadian culture and literature,” says Beverley. “Many important figures, including Margaret Atwood and the late Carol Shields, were part of Women and Words, making it a significant event in Canada.”

Beverley and her students hope to present their findings at future conferences, as well as submit their work for consideration in both academic and mainstream publications.

Dr. Barbra Clayton, Religious Studies, “The Ethics of Gross National Happiness (GNH): Buddhism and Bhutan’s Approach to Sustainable Development” ($31,959 over two years)

With this new funding, Clayton will be examining alternative policy development in Bhutan, which has garnered international attention for its innovative approach to environmentally sustainable governance. Clayton is looking at the influence of Buddhism on this policy. She participated in meetings on this topic at the United Nations several years ago.

“I will be examining the ethics, economics, and environmental factors of GNH and how Buddhist principles play into these,” she explains.

In addition to academic presentations and publications, Clayton plans to host a number of public workshops in the Maritimes, working with Mount Allison University students and community groups such as Sackville’s Open Sky Co-operative.

Dr. Mario Levesque, Politics and International Relations, “Fostering the Next Wave of Disability Leaders” ($47,886 over two years)

Levesque’s project will examine disability program implementation and the working relationship between governments and disability groups in the Atlantic region. His work, which will involve several Mount Allison student researchers, will focus on non-profit organizations with a core mandate dealing with disabilities and their provincial government counterparts.

“Nothing about us without us; this is the philosophy that guides persons with disabilities in Canada. But one of the larger questions is ‘who is us?’ As part of this study we will be looking at leadership styles for these non-profit groups,” says Levesque. “Many of these positions, both in the non-profit sector and the government, require various skills and styles of leadership. Determining these styles can help these groups work together and assist with policy and program implementation to benefit their clients and the public.”

Through this two-year study, Levesque hopes to help identify key skills for the next generation of disability leaders as well as foster future disability scholars by engaging his students in the process.


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