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Karilee Whiteway: 1960-2018

Karilee Whiteway

Karilee Whiteway, a research administrator for the School of Computing, died Feb. 5. She was 58.

Ms. Whiteway had a lasting, positive impact on her friends and colleagues at Queen’s and will be greatly missed.

During her time at Queen’s she was honored with the Special Recognition for Staff Award and the inaugural Queen’s School of Computing Distinguished Service Award.

A brief obituary is available online.

Gaining real-world, international experience

  • Student team for International Planning Project course (SURP 827)
    Led by Ajay Agarwal (School of Urban and Regional Planning), this year’s group of students traveling to India as part of International Planning Project Course (SURP 827), was the largest yet at 12.
  • Villagers taking collaborate with International Planning Project course (SURP 827)
    Women from one of the villages in the greenbelt surrounding Auroville draw pictures in an effort to overcome the language barrier with the student planners.
  • Student team for  International Planning Project course (SURP 827)
    Ajay Agarwal (School of Urban and Regional Planning), front, second from left, led a team of 12 students as they took on a planning project for the city of Auroville, India.
  • Villagers taking collaborate with International Planning Project course (SURP 827)
    Students meet with officials from Auroville. The team was tasked with creating a growth management framework for the greenbelt surrounding the intentionally-planned community.

The School of Urban and Regional Planning’s International Planning Project course (SURP 827) is a learning experience like no other.

Each year, Ajay Agarwal has taken a group of planning students from Queen’s to the Indian city of Auroville, where, in a period of just two weeks, they are tasked with creating a project report of professional quality that can be used by the community.

For the students who take part in the course, it is an opportunity to be part of a consulting team while gaining real-world and international experience at the same time.

It is also an exercise in resilience, adaptability and resourcefulness, all vital tools for future planners, Dr. Agarwal points out.

This year the team was tasked with creating a growth management framework for the greenbelt surrounding the intentionally-planned community. There are a number of villages within the protected area and their population growth and development has placed increasing pressures on the greenbelt.

“The concern is that if that development is left unchecked the very purpose of the greenbelt will be lost,” Dr. Agarwal says. “So the people of Auroville wanted us to suggest ways to ensure that any development that takes place inside the greenbelt is in harmony – and harmony being the key word – with Auroville’s vision for the future.”

Starting the course in September, the student team has three months to conduct research, collect information and make initial contacts before heading to India in early December.

Once the 12-member team was assembled in Auroville, Dr. Agarwal quickly put them to work. Several students only had time to take a shower before taking part in the initial presentation.

It was a tough schedule for sure but a realistic one when it comes to consulting and planning for an international client. Time, as the students learned, is at a premium.

The first week was mostly dedicated to conducting interviews with stakeholders and gathering information, points out Meghan Robidoux, who acted as the project manager for the team. With data gathered from 19 interviews and two focus groups, they quickly learned that much of the earlier research was not really applicable. Nothing can substitute for direct engagement and interaction, they found out. Thankfully they were prepared for such an outcome.

“At the end of our first week we sat down and kind of redefined the scope of our project based on all the information we collected and the feedback from that initial presentation,” she says. “So much changes once you get there. We knew that from the beginning that would be the case. Ajay prepared us very well. We knew that was going to happen and that was okay.”

The team also quickly learned that working in India is very different from Canada. The culture is very different and communicating can be difficult. Internet connectivity is spotty and they initially had no working cellphones.

Yet they were able to find solutions – resilience, adaptability and resourcefulness.

“We went old school,” Dr. Agarwal says. “We had a giant poster on the wall with a timetable and Post-Its with everybody’s name on it. So everybody, including me, was supposed to keep checking the schedule throughout the day. It kept changing every hour.”

The team quickly determined that working together was the only way to succeed.

“This was a large group, so that was a challenge at times, trying to make sure that we were using everyone to the best of their ability and taking advantage of so many people’s assets and skill sets,” Ms. Robidoux says. “In so many ways it was great because we had such a talented team. I feel strongly that every member really contributed in important ways to the project. So managing the team wasn’t a problem in that sense, it was more of making sure that everyone had the opportunity to share their opinion and group meetings took a long time.”

As a member of that team Jennifer Smyth found the international course to be the experience she was looking for and she is certain that it will help her now and in the future.

“One of the major planning lessons that I’ve taken away from this is learning in a foreign context. I know for some team members it was a challenge to go to this place where they have beliefs that we couldn’t necessarily understand or agree with. But as a planner acknowledging those beliefs was so important,” she says. “Just planning for a project with so many unknowns was a huge learning experience, maintaining an objective stance among so many varying perspectives and finding balance. I think this experience really helped us learn how

Now in its sixth year, Dr. Agarwal has seen the course grow in popularity and become one of SURP’s key learning experiences. Both Ms. Smyth and Ms. Robidoux were drawn to Queen’s specifically because of the international opportunity offered through SURP 827. With 12 participants, this year’s group was the largest to travel to India.

For his work in creating and continuing the course Dr. Agarwal received the 2016 International Education Innovation Award, which recognizes excellence in the internationalization of curriculum in programs or courses. It is one of the six Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards.

For more information about the course or to obtain a copy of the full project report, contact Dr. Agarwal.

A crusader for mental health

Queen’s University professor Dorothy Cotton has been awarded the Order of Ontario for her work with law enforcement and mental health agencies.

Queen’s University adjunct professor and mental health advocate Dorothy Cotton has been awarded the Order of Ontario, the highest citizen honour in the province. For more than 30 years, Dr. Cotton has been working with police organizations to help them change the way they respond to people with mental health challenges.

“This is more than just recognition of my work,” says Dr. Cotton, who works within the federal correctional system and has taught at Queen’s since 1986. “I’m symbolic of the huge amount of work that has been undertaken between police and mental health agencies. I didn’t invent the field but my approach brought people together.”

Dorothy Cotton (Psychology) has earned the Order of Ontario.

Dr. Cotton has worked as a clinical and correctional psychologist whose primary interest is in police psychology. She provides a variety of services to police organizations including pre-employment and fitness for duty assessments, program development, and research consultation. Dr. Cotton is also well known for her work in the area of police interactions with people with mental illnesses and received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in this area.

Dr. Cotton says one of her proudest accomplishments is developing the TEMPO model (Training and Education about Mental Illness for Police Organizations). It provides a blueprint for Canadian law enforcement officers to help them interact with people with mental health challenges in the field.

She also talks about her work in early 2000 that brought together law enforcement and mental health professionals into one room. “We convinced the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to get involved and we hosted our first conference that featured half police officers and half mental health workers. It resulted in new programs and strategies for working with people with mental health challenges.”

The official Order of Ontario ceremony is set for February 27 and Dr. Cotton admits the whole process has been a bit overwhelming. “The whole experience has been very hard to get my head around. I’m just a normal person. Receiving this honour is very exciting.”

The Order of Ontario recognizes individuals whose exceptional achievement in their field have left a lasting legacy in the province, in Canada and beyond. Order members come from all walks of life, represent diverse professions, and have played an important role in shaping our province. Members of the Order are a collective of Ontario’s finest citizens whose contributions have shaped – and continue to shape – the province’s history and place in Canada.

For more information visit the website.

Music of champions: How CBC and NBC Olympic themes shape our differences

This column was originally written for and published by The Conversation Canada, which provides news and views from the academic and research community. Queen’s University is a founding partner. Queen's researchers, faculty, and students are regular contributors. Visit theconversation.com/ca.

File 20180210 51694 13h2n03.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Fireworks explode behind the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, (AP Photo/David J. Phillip,Pool)

What role does music play at the Olympics?

Audiences are usually aware of the moods music can evoke during emotionally heightened moments, like national anthems at medal ceremonies. Yet we rarely consider the Olympic theme music used by major media networks as something that helps to frame sports coverage.

It’s the theme music that fills our ears before and after commercials and quietly accompanies their intimate athlete profiles. That theme music can actually have an impact on the way we view sports.

I compared the music of NBC and CBC — the official Olympic networks in the United States and Canada — to explore what might be revealed in the differences of the cultures of sounds between the two countries.

NBC’s Olympic theme is arguably the most memorable in sport. To understand why it is so unforgettable, we first must consider the musical catalogue of its composer, John Williams. Williams has been credited for writing “the soundtrack of our lives.”

Since the 1970s he has written the movie soundtracks for generations of Western movie goers — giving many of us music to accompany our lives. These movies include hits like Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, E. T., Indiana Jones, Home Alone and Harry Potter. Williams not only captured the American film score sound, he defined it.

When we listen to the Olympic Theme we must consider this music alongside his previous scores — all those movie scores that that have trained our ears to respond to particular musical gestures as moods and emotions.

Musical gestures can be gendered

So what are these musical gestures and how are we trained to respond? There are numerous means by which we can analyze these gestures and their associations. By examining the scores and noticing how all aspects of the music — the themes, orchestration, stylistic decisions, etc. — consistently align with particular characters and events, certain patterns begin to emerge.

Let’s consider how musical codes can be gendered. Musicologist Phillip Tagg has analyzed how, musically speaking, masculinity and femininity have been represented since the 1970s.

Female leads are often depicted by flowing melodies dominated by strings and woodwind instruments. For example, have a listen to Williams’ score for the Lois Lane’s theme from Superman:

Male characters, meanwhile, tend to be more consistently associated with music that is more up tempo, with more staccato articulation and shorter note lengths. The melodies for male heroes tend to have more leaps, and the instrumentation is dominated by brass and percussion. This description, not coincidentally, applies to the music for Superman himself:

Because these musical codes for “femininity” and “masculinity” are continuously repeated within popular culture, including across Williams’ scores, we have been trained to hear them as “soft” and loving" (female) or “strong” and “determined” (male). Gender becomes musically audible.

Olympic themes through the years

Williams wrote the NBC theme for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games. The work lasts almost four minutes, and contains several sections.

It opens with Leo Arnaud’s “Bugler’s Dream”(0:00 to 0:46); at 0:46, Williams moves into his first fanfare in the trumpets — a striving, strenuous, leaping idea which we hear three times before they finally reach their melodic goal on the fourth attempt — the highest note they play in the entire work.

A snare drum then leads us into the “Olympic Theme” (at 1:06), marked by a flowing melodic idea with smooth articulations in the strings and horns. This section is more closely aligned with Williams’ lead female characters from his previous scores. At 1:52, we move into a more syncopated, livelier melody, eventually leading us back at 2:55 to the louder, “active” fanfare, after which the theme and the fanfare are heard together.

Williams’ Olympic music is a dramatic soundtrack that offers both soft, legato string melodies and active brass fanfares that have then been used by the network to shape tele-visual moments (like female or male athlete profiles) according to the emotional affect they sought to create.

The NBC Olympic mini-soundtrack as a brand is largely unchanging: While NBC “mines” the soundtrack to produce shorter excerpts appropriate for their coverage, the piece otherwise is not altered.

CBC’s attempts to adapt

How does this short soundtrack compare with the music used for CBC’s Olympic and Paralympic Games coverage? The CBC Olympic Theme, written by Marc Cholette, has been used since 1988; it is infused with trumpets and percussion which signify strength.

Unlike Williams’ music, however, there is only one theme; it is “active,” the dynamics are consistent throughout, and there is no dramatic change of orchestral colour between families of instruments. While the music builds to the theme’s highest pitch at the end (thus symbolizing achievement), never do the instruments push to their limits through extreme range or technical demands, never going beyond their comfort zones to what is just beyond reach.

Given Williams’ ubiquitous soundscapes within which most Westerners have been musically “earwashed,” it is perhaps understandable why listeners might hear the CBC theme as less dramatic.

But what really distinguishes the CBC theme from Williams’ music is what happens to it every two years: The CBC adapts it to incorporate the musical styles of the country.

Melding disparate musical sounds into one new work is part of the CBC’s mandate. In the early 2000s, the network was under pressure to make their programming more multicultural and so they shifted their focus to incorporate more “fusion programming.” This involved bringing together musicians from different cultures, styles and languages to see whether they might be able to find new ways to collaborate.

While the CBC’s intentions may have been good, the results have been mixed. According to ethnomusicologist Rebecca Draisey-Collishaw, the musical output has not served to reflect creative and multicultural “meetings” between different musical traditions. Instead it more often represents — musically — cultural minorities being assimilated into mainstream, white, Anglo codes that serve to reinforce the status quo.

A contemporary version of “multicultural fusion” is evident in the CBC’s music for the upcoming 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The updated theme, written by composer Tim Weston and staff at creative audio agency Grayson Matthews, opens with a voice accompanied by synthesized strings; at 0:09, the composers add a janggu (a Korean drum) and a gayageum (a 12-string zither-like instrument). The janggu and gayageum are perhaps the traditional Korean instruments most familiar to Westerners.

At about 0:22, listen for how the Korean instruments are “assimilated” into a Western framework of meter, chord progressions and catchy syncopation.

Finally, the piece closes with a modified version of the CBC Olympic Theme:

The NBC and CBC Olympic themes are markedly different. The American network uses a soundtrack that is both unchanging and grounded in codes developed within movie soundtracks over the last half century.

The CBC theme, meanwhile, is less dramatic but celebrates itself as a fusion of musical traditions. Unlike American audiences, Canadians travel sonically beyond their borders. While an admirable project, on closer analysis, this music — like many of the CBC’s previous fusion experiments like Fuse, a national radio program that aired between 2005 and 2008 — seems to appropriate sound to “add spice” to Western sonorities. Case in point: They even describe the theme as “Korean flavoured” on the website.

By choosing traditional Korean instruments, they limit the representation of South Korea as a society that is traditional and dated, and perhaps less modern than Canada.

Over the next two weeks, I invite you not only to watch the Olympic coverage but listen to it and consider how music — a seemingly benign medium — does its ideological work.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Learning Indigenous languages

Practice your “Boozhoo” (how the Anishinaabe say “greetings”) and “Miigwetch” (“thank you”) and learn about Indigenous cultures in a new Queen’s program.

Mishiikenh (Vernon Altiman) leads an Anishinaabemowin class. (University Communications)
Mishiikenh (Vernon Altiman) leads an Anishinaabemowin class. (University Communications)

A new certificate program will provide students with an introduction to three Indigenous languages, while also deepening their knowledge of Indigenous cultures.

Launching this fall, a new Certificate of Indigenous Languages and Culture will provide an introduction to Mohawk, Inuktitut, and the Anishinaabe language – known as Anishinaabemowin, meaning ‘language of the people’.

The certificate brings together existing Indigenous language courses at Queen’s plus new Anishinaabemowin training into a program which can be completed through full-time studies in one year, or part-time over two years. The existing language training tends to attract both Indigenous students seeking to learn more about their history, and non-Indigenous students hoping to better understand Indigenous culture.

“Offering this type of program helps us respond to both the needs of our community and the broader responsibilities we have as an institution,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “This certificate will assist in revitalizing Indigenous languages and fostering greater understanding of Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing.”

Professors in this program include Mishiikenh (Vernon Altiman), an Elder-in-Residence and Cultural Counsellor at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, who teaches Anishinaabemowin; Thanyehténhas (Nathan Brinklow), Lecturer and part-time Chaplain at Queen’s, who teaches the Mohawk language; and Noel McDermott (PhD'15), an Assistant Professor who teaches Inuktitut.

In addition to helping students recognize the three languages and grasp them at a beginner level, the certificate will also include exposure to Indigenous ceremonies, traditions, and contemporary issues. For instance, weather permitting, each Anishinaabemowin class begins with a smudging ceremony held outside Kingston Hall. 

Students introduce themselves in Anishinaabemowin to start each class. (University Communications)
Students introduce themselves in Anishinaabemowin to start each class. (University Communications)

The creation of this certificate program supports the recommendations of both the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report and Queen’s own TRC task force report, both of which call for the creation of “credentialed Indigenous language programs” at post-secondary institutions.

In the future, the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is working with Tsi Tyonnheht Onkwawenna Language and Culture Centre (TTO) to launch a Mohawk language certificate within the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. The two-year program would intensively focus on language instruction and would aim to help revitalize the language among the Indigenous community as well as their understanding of the rich Mohawk culture.

“I am very excited by the recent unanimous Senate approval of this new certificate program, and by the prospect of the collaborative certificate in Mohawk Language and Culture,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill). “I am very happy to see the university taking up the Call to Action and the recommendation in our very own Extending the Rafters report through the further development of Indigenous language offerings. Further, ensuring these programs are credentialed by the university ensures student eligibility for financial assistance and makes these important programs more accessible.”

Applications for this certificate program will open in May. It is expected to attract approximately 10 to 15 students annually. 

Researching rock and roll at the BISC

An English castle, Jimi Hendrix, and a dive into sixties counterculture; all in a day’s work for one Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellow.

The images of a sunny English castle and sixties rock and roll may not normally spring to mind when thinking about undergraduate research, but for Jena Hudson (ArtSci’18), it was the setting and theme of her summer research project.

Ms. Hudson spent 12 weeks at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in East Sussex through the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF). She assisted Dr. Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the BISC, with researching his second book on Jimi Hendrix, of whom he is a leading expert.

“Hendrix spent the most important time of his career in London, so being in England for this research was perfect,” says Ms. Hudson. “Being able to access primary resources, and conduct interviews with people in London who were actually there in the sixties, was such an incredible experience.”

From left to right: Doug Kaye, former neighbour of guitarist legend Jimi Hendrix, Dr. Christopher Lloyd, Academic Director of the Bader International Student Centre, and Jena Hudson (ArtSci’18), USSRF fellow, sit on Jimi Hendrix’s bed in his former apartment while conducting a research interview.
From left to right: Doug Kaye, former neighbour of guitarist legend Jimi Hendrix, Dr. Christian Lloyd, Academic Director of the BISC, and Jena Hudson (ArtSci’18), USSRF fellow, sit on Jimi Hendrix’s bed in his former apartment while conducting a research interview.

For Ms. Hudson, the most exciting part of the summer was conducting an interview with a man who knew Hendrix, in Hendrix’s apartment.

“The apartment is now part of the Handel & Hendrix in London Museum,” says Ms. Hudson. “It was recreated to look as it did when he lived there. The man we interviewed, Doug Kaye, worked in the restaurant underneath the apartment, and that’s how he and Hendrix got to know each other. Getting to interview him in that space, with audio playing around us from recordings from the sixties, was surreal.”

Ms. Hudson also researched issues in the counterculture that Hendrix was part of in London in the sixties. Hendrix spent the most important time of his musical career in London, and the final years of his life there before his death at the age of 27.

“I looked at how sexism, racism, and consumerism existed within that idealized time period,” says Ms. Hudson. “There are reviews in IT, an underground newspaper that was a pioneer at the time, which describe Hendrix as ‘the wild man of Borneo’, based on his race. In Hendrix’s life, he gave interviews that show he had some sexist views towards women. Even though the hippie culture at the time had an image of anti-consumerism, they were kind of a wasteful bunch, buying very cheap clothes and throwing them away.”

One of the unique ways for Queen’s students to engage in research, the USSRF is a paid fellowship available to continuing undergraduate students in the social sciences, humanities, and creative arts interested in developing research skills under the guidance of an eligible faculty researcher. It also provides meaningful opportunities to engage in discovery-based learning and to develop research and presentation skills. Students on main campus work with their supervisor to develop a project, while students going to the BISC select a project from those offered by faculty.

To learn more about the USSRF, visit the Queen’s University Research Services website. The application deadline for the 2018 summer program is March 9, 2018.

Queen’s professor earns 3M honours

Richard Ascough is the universitys ninth faculty member to be named a national teaching fellow.

Richard Asccough
Richard Ascough has been selected as a 3M Teaching Fellow.

Queen’s University professor Richard Ascough has received the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE).

Founded in 1986 through a partnership between the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada, up to ten Canadian academics annually are named fellows, in recognition of excellence in educational leadership and teaching in the post-secondary sector. Dr. Ascough (School of Religion) is the ninth Queen’s professor to be made a 3M Fellow following James Fraser (Physics) in 2017.

 “I find it both humbling and exciting to be selected as a 3M Teaching Fellow as it recognizes my commitment to actively engaging students in their learning contexts and experimenting with innovation in the classroom,” says Dr. Ascough, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning).

A recent D2L Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning winner, Dr. Ascough has always approached teaching with innovative and unique ideas. In the 1990s, he embraced online learning and has been a change-maker in regards to attitudes towards online course design.

 “Dr. Ascough has been at the leading edge of technology-enhanced learning, leaping into online teaching in the late nineties when instructors had to accept their role as digital pioneers, contending with clunky platforms and sometimes severe skepticism from their academic peers,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “He has never been satisfied with simply using technology, but has continually pushed the limits of the medium to ensure deep, transformation learning.”

In the classroom, Dr. Ascough creates imaginative, interactive exercises that ignite his students’ passion for learning. Long before active learning classrooms were being constructed, Dr. Ascough began developing exercises that draw students out of their comfort zone and create excitement about learning. Participatory exercises are one of the hallmarks of Dr. Ascough’s teaching.

“Dr. Ascough embodies Queen’s mission as a research-intensive university with a transformative student learning experience,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “In my experience, every institution has those few individuals who are hugely influential to so many, yet never seek acclaim. Richard is one of those special leaders.”

For more information on the 3M National Teaching Fellowship visit the website.

Fellowships profile new generation of Indigenous scholars

The Faculty of Arts and Science has launched a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship program to recognize outstanding scholarship among Indigenous PhD candidates.

The Faculty of Arts and Science has launched a new Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for Indigenous Students. Those wishing to learn more should attend an upcoming Feb 15 webinar. (Supplied Photo)
The Faculty of Arts and Science has launched a new Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for Indigenous Students. Those wishing to learn more should attend an upcoming Feb 15 webinar. (Supplied Photo)

A new program aims to bring some of Canada’s most promising Indigenous doctoral candidates to Queen’s for a year to further their learning, and allow Queen’s to learn from them.

A prestigious Pre-Doctoral Fellowship program, one of the first of its kind in Canada, has been created as a way of recognizing up and coming Indigenous scholars and enhancing their academic profile. The Faculty of Arts and Science is offering four spaces in this Fellowship program, which provides the recipients with a $34,000 annual stipend, teaching wages, and funds for research and conferences.

“We are proud of our continuing dedication to life-long learning and reconciliation efforts, and of the many academic and personal successes of our Indigenous students, faculty, staff and alumni,” says Lynda Jessup, Associate Dean (Graduate Studies and Research) with the Faculty of Arts and Science. “After working with Erin Sutherland (PhD’16), an Indigenous student who had received a pre-doctoral fellowship at another university, I was inspired to develop this program as a way of supporting culturally relevant learning opportunities both for Queen’s and for Indigenous students.”

To be eligible, students must have Indigenous heritage, must be enrolled in a doctorate program at another Canadian university, and must relocate to Kingston for the year. During the year, the PhD candidate would teach a course within the Faculty of Arts and Science, which would help Indigenize some of Queen’s curriculum, and they would engage with local Indigenous peoples and communities.

The candidates would also have the chance to broaden their scholarly network by working with Queen’s faculty members and researchers, thereby improving their career opportunities. Most importantly, the Fellowship would support the successful completion of their doctoral studies.

“The pre-doctoral fellowship I received gave me time, space, and support to finish my dissertation, and it gave me a new community to share my ideas with, to learn from, to be with,” says Dr. Sutherland. “The community helped me to develop ideas which ended up being central to my dissertation. Specifically, my time spent with community – both at the University and outside of it – supported my learning and discussion of Indigenous methodologies. Most importantly, it better prepared me to deal with change and how to work in and adapt to a new academic and community environment.”

Applications are being accepted to this pilot program until Sunday, Apr. 1. A webinar is planned for Thursday, Feb. 15 to share more information about the program with potential applicants. For more information on this new program, visit the Faculty of Arts and Science’s website.

An opportunity to build bridges, strengthen ties

Lisa Guenther, Queen’s National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies
Lisa Guenther, the Queen’s National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies, is cross-appointed to the Department of Philosophy and the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies. (University Communications)

Lisa Guenther’s academic career has taken her around the world. Now, the Queen’s National Scholar program has brought her back home to Canada.

Arriving as a joint appointment in the Department of Philosophy and the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies this winter term, Dr. Guenther is the Queen’s National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies. Established in 1985, the objective of the QNS program is to attract outstanding early and mid-career professors to Queen’s to “enrich teaching and research in newly-developing fields of knowledge as well as traditional disciplines.” 

Dr. Guenther’s research, she explains, is at the intersection of phenomenology, political philosophy, and critical prison studies, with further specializations in feminism and philosophy of race.

Her career path is just as varied – from New Zealand, to the United States, and a brief stop in Australia. Each place, Dr. Guenther says, has had a significant influence on her research.

After completing her PhD from the University of Toronto – having written her dissertation at an isolated cabin in the Yukon – her first academic position took her to New Zealand where she taught for nearly five years at the University of Auckland. 

Moving halfway around the world was a massive change, but it also provided an opportunity to immerse herself in something new, yet familiar. She was intrigued that the Indigenous Maori culture and language is far more integrated into the mainstream than it is in Canada. 

“Moving to Aotearoa New Zealand was a huge shift, but it was a really exciting place to live and I am really thankful for that opportunity. It challenged me to think about issues and questions I might not have encountered if I stayed on a more narrow academic track within Canada,” she says. “Seeing how Indigenous ways of being and knowing shape the university, the public school system, and national politics there was incredible. It opened my eyes to different forms of settler colonialism and different pathways to decolonization.”

At the same time she also made connections with a number of feminist philosophers in Australia, which also influenced her areas of specialization.

While she enjoyed her time at the University of Auckland, Dr. Guenther felt a need to be closer to home and accepted an assistant professorship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. The next decade would be formative years for her career.  

Very quickly Dr. Guenther recognized that the communities surrounding her – the university, her neighbourhood, the city of Nashville – were clearly segregated based upon race and class. She began to read and research about the legacy of slavery and urban space.

In the midst of trying to come to grips with what she was witnessing, political activist and scholar Angela Davis arrived at the Department of Philosophy for a month-long seminar on slavery which Dr. Guenther audited. Davis began the seminar by explaining that the 13th Amendment abolishes slavery except for those duly convicted of committing a crime. 

“To this day slavery is not formally abolished for people in prison,” Dr. Guenther says. “Learning this changed the direction of my research and my life in many ways. I started thinking and writing about prisons, mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and in particular the effect of extreme isolation on people’s capacity to think clearly and to perceive the world around them. This resonated for me as a phenomenologist because it raised questions about the nature of perception, experience and consciousness. Why is it that when we are deprived of a regular experience of sharing a space with other people that we don’t just get lonely or bored but we actually, in many cases, lose the capacity to keep track of one’s boundaries of one’s self?”

As she explored further, Dr. Guenther says she felt she needed to be in contact and accountable to those in prison. As a result she started volunteering in prisons in Nashville and eventually set up and facilitated a discussion group for men on death row. Initially the focus of the discussion was on philosophy but broadened to collective inquiry on themes such as restorative justice, radical pedagogy, and friendship. 

However, once again she was feeling the call to return to Canada and the Queen’s National Scholar program provided the opportunity.

At Queen’s she is bringing all the experience she has gained outside of Canada and will apply this lens to her homeland. 

“On a personal level I have wanted to come back and live in Canada for many years. But also in a philosophical sense and in a political way it’s really important to me to grapple with the history that made me who I am,” she says. “So seeking to understand the way that colonial power and carceral power work together in Canada is also part of my own process of becoming accountable for my own position within those networks in power.”

As a Queen’s National Scholar, Dr. Guenther sees an opportunity to build bridges and to strengthen the ties that are already established between Queen’s, community groups, and community members who are affected by prisons. She also hopes to help strengthen the network of scholars and activists working on these issues. 

For more on the Queen’s National Scholar program, visit the QNS page on the website of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research).


Introducing our new faculty members: Felicia Magpantay

Queen’s has committed to hiring 200 new faculty members over the next five years. Meet Felicia Magpantay, one of the new members of our community.

Felicia Magpantay is one of the 41 new faculty members hired in 2017-18 as part of Principal Daniel Woolf's faculty renewal plans. The Principal's five-year plan will see 200 new faculty members hired over the next five years, which will mean approximately 10 net new faculty hires per year.

This profile is the first in a series which will highlight these new faculty members, like Dr. Magpantay, who have recently joined the Queen's community. She sat down with the Gazette to talk about her experience so far and how she made it to Queen’s.

[Felicia Magpantay]
Felicia Magpantay joined Queen's in the summer of 2017 as an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. (Supplied Photo)

Fast facts about Dr. Magpantay

  Department: Mathematics and Statistics

  Hometown: Metro Manila, Philippines

  Research area: Delay differential equation and mathematical biology

  Recent books Dr. Magpantay has enjoyed: Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith, and The Return by Hisham Matar

  Favourite quote:Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa kanyang paroroonan.” “He who does not look back at where he came from will never get to where he is going.”

  Dr. Magpantay's webpage

Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to get into teaching.
I grew up in the Philippines. Before I came to Canada my only experiences abroad were traveling to Bali and Taipei for the International Physics Olympiad. Meeting so many people from around the world encouraged me to dream about going abroad for my university degree.
I didn’t really think it would happen, but I applied to schools in Canada and received an international scholarship to attend Trent University. I majored in math and physics and eventually decided to go to graduate school in applied math. I went to Western for my masters and McGill for my doctorate. I did a one-year post-doc at York, and two years at the University of Michigan. I accepted my first faculty position at the University of Manitoba in 2015, then moved to Queen’s in 2017. I really enjoyed being in Winnipeg, but Queen’s was overall a better place for me for many reasons including personal reasons.
My father is a retired physics professor in the Philippines. He grew up in a squatter’s area, the 11th of 11 children. His parents did not complete much schooling, but they always understood the value of education. He was able to go to school on science scholarships and eventually completed his PhD at Purdue University. He went back to serve as a professor in the Philippines in the 1980s.
Tell us a bit about your research.
My PhD dissertation was on delay differential equations and numerical analysis. While completing my postdocs, I started working on mathematical biology – basically using mathematical tools to study biological problems.
My current research looks at how diseases spread in a population. This helps us find ways to explain how control efforts, such as mass vaccination with different types of vaccines, can have different ramifications for the population.

Right now I’m still more comfortable teaching smaller classes where I can use the blackboard, and check in with the students during a lecture to make sure they understand – working at their pace, going through the theorems, and using a lot of examples.

Dr. Magpantay writes on a blackboard in Jeffery Hall
Dr. Magpantay writes on a blackboard in Jeffery Hall. (University Communications)
What is your proudest accomplishment so far?
Getting here! When I became a professor in Manitoba, a friend wrote an article celebrating my hiring. It is not very common for Filipinos to become professors.
A common joke is that Filipino parents all want their kids to go into something stable, such as nursing. Many Filipinos also come to Canada through the Live-In Caregiver program. Both of those professions are very honorable and provide important services to society. But there are lots of different jobs out there and so, while I was reluctant to be featured as a ‘role model’ in that article, I recognized the importance of showing people that Filipinos can have a whole variety of careers, including academia.
Dr. Magpantay writes on a blackboard in Jeffrey Hall. (University Communications)
Dr. Magpantay writes on a blackboard in Jeffery Hall. (University Communications)
Tell us about your teaching style.
In the fall term, I was assigned to teach a calculus class of more than 600 students. That was by far the largest class I had ever taught and it was quite a challenge. I think it will be an asset to learn how to teach such big classes and how to manage that many students. I am still learning.
Right now I’m still more comfortable teaching smaller classes where I can use the blackboard, and check in with the students during a lecture to make sure they understand – working at their pace, going through the theorems, and using a lot of examples.
Anything you do to unwind?
I used to dance salsa and I haven’t since moving to Kingston – there was too much to do and it takes me a while to adjust to a new place. I also used to dance tango and ballet recreationally. Hopefully once I am more settled in I can resume that in the future.
What do you feel most grateful for?
I come from the Philippines, which is still a developing country, and my whole family is still there. I was lucky to be born into a middle-class family who supported me and taught me to value my education early.
I am lucky to be here – most people in the Philippines would not have the chance to pursue the path I did.

Faculty Renewal

Principal Daniel Woolf has identified faculty renewal as a high priority for reinvestment by the university in support of the academic mission. The five-year renewal plan will see 200 new faculty hired, which nearly doubles the hiring pace of the past six years and will result in approximately 10 net new hires per year.

Faculty renewal supports Queen’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by giving the university the opportunity to seek proactively representation from equity-seeking groups such as women, people with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and visible minorities. It will also build on Queen’s current areas of research strength.

To learn more about the Principal’s faculty renewal plans, read this Gazette article. Stay tuned for additional new faculty profiles in the Gazette.


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