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Stepping up to help others

Queen's student Ampai Thammachack named one of the Top 22 Under 22 Most Inspirational College Women in the World by Her Campus.

[Ampai Thammachack]
Ampai Thammachack, a third-year kinesiology student, was recently named one of the Top 22 Under 22 Most Inspirational College Women in the World by Her Campus. (University Communications)

Ampai Thammachack went through some large challenges in her life. However, she says she is proud of them because she has been able to turn negative experiences into tenacity and determination.

Now, in a better place thanks to some key mental health support and her own resilience, the third-year kinesiology student is using her experiences to help others.

As a result, Thammachack was recently named one of the Top 22 Under 22 Most Inspirational College Women in the World by Her Campus, a U.S.-based website.

She is the first Queen’s student to be named to the list.

As a teen in Bedford, N.S., Thammachack struggled with her self-worth and suicidal thoughts. Eventually she received the help that she needed and regained balance in her life.

Looking to help others in similar situations, she founded two charities that have grown and made a difference in numerous lives. A key message that she wants everyone to realize is that when it comes to mental health, help is necessary – and that’s all right.

Being recognized has been a wonderful experience, she says.

“I am still so shocked. It still feels so surreal and I am so over the moon happy about knowing that what I’ve started is starting to make the difference I hoped it would,” she says. “It makes me so happy because it makes all the bad things that happened feel so much more worth it. I went through a lot and it was so painful. It’s the type of thing that you feel that you will never come out of it. You feel like your life will never be normal again.”

Yet, her life did become normal again, once she got the help she needed.

Thammachack started her first charity at the beginning of her Grade 12 year. Called the Glass Slipper Organization, the group collects donated prom dresses and then gives them away to high school students who cannot afford the $200-$700 price tag for a new dress.

“The whole point of starting this organization was to try to make a girl feel special, to make a girl feel like her community has her back,” she says.

In the past three years, the Glass Slipper Organization has given away more than 500 dresses across Nova Scotia and is looking to expand across Canada.

[Step Above Stigma]
Ampai Thammachack started up Step Above Stigma, which is aimed at eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health issues. (Supplied Photo)

After finishing high school, Thammachack then started up Step Above Stigma, which is aimed at eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

The key problems, she says, are that people are too afraid to get help and that many mental health organizations are severely underfunded.

“I thought that the best way to help out was through a project that could simultaneously solve both problems,” she explains. “So I designed socks – because who doesn’t need socks – that say Step Above Stigma on the bottom, and then they have the mental health symbol, which is the semi-colon with a heart, on the leg. The socks are sold across Canada and they make mental health more normal by having people wear this symbol on the socks and hopefully start conversations about what they mean.”

All the funds raised go to mental health organizations working directly with patients, to help fund projects. Step Above Stigma also does countless advocacy events and campaigns throughout the year to help end the stigma on Queen’s Campus.

The Step Above Stigma team has now grown to 18 executives and 50 volunteers and there are now branches at universities, colleges, and high schools across Canada.

Read Ampai Thammachack’s profile at HerCampus.com.

The Conversation: In the post-truth era, documentary theatre searches for common ground

Reality-based theatre is one way artists are challenging the lies put out by politicians who exploit our contemporary insecurities.

[Porte parole]
Based in Québec, Porte Parole led by Annabel Soutar has toured and run several documentary theatre shows. Pictured here, The Watershed, a docudrama about the politics of water in Canada. (Photo courtesy Porte Parole)

With the onslaught of “alternative facts” or “fake news,” it can feel as though the ground has become almost liquid.

One strategy to confront the ongoing public lies has been to embrace journalistic principles and aggressively fact check statements. Reality-based theatre is also inspired by this same desire, tapping into the contemporary zeitgeist for authenticity.

In Canada and the U.S., we have been experiencing a flourishing production of reality-based theatre (also called “documentary drama”). Sometimes, it takes the form of an autobiographical performance where the performer and the character are the same people. Other times, it is a verbatim theatre where playwrights cull the script from interview testimony and archival documents. Plays created by the Montréal-based company Porte Parole, led by playwright Annabel Soutar, are a great example of verbatim theatre.

Yet, this quest for authenticity is an impossible dream.

Poststructuralism shattered our singular reality

Poststructural theorists from the 1980s and 90s like Jacques Derrida and Judith Butler rejected binary ways of thinking and instead asserted that our “realities” are made up of performative constructions. In other words, there is no absolute real; there are only representations of, or performances of, reality.

But poststructuralism has not just been about negating the idea of a singular reality. With its world-creating power, poststructuralism has been a potent feminist political tool used by feminist theorists, activists and artists to shatter monolithic conservative ideology. It was a way for many to strike against patriarchy, against conventionality, against strict norms, and was used to create space for otherness, for feminism, for LGBTQ identities.

Fredy is Annabel Soutar’s documentary play about the tragic death of Fredy Villanueva who was shot by a Montréal police officer in 2008. It premiered March 2016 at La Licorne in Montréal, directed by Marc Beaupré. (Photo courtesy Porte Parole)

However, since the performative power to generate alternate worlds is ideologically neutral, it has also been used in the interest of climate change deniers and the extreme right.

The poststructuralist genie is out of the bottle and we cannot put it back in: simply demanding aggressive fact checking and asserting a return to “capital-T” truth will not work. Given that realities are multiple and shifting, reality-based performances can help us to navigate the political landscape of “fake news.”

Embracing insecurity

The nostalgic-driven desire for security manifested in the 2016 Trump campaign, “Make America Great Again” and the Brexit slogan “Take Back Control” is directly linked to poststructuralist liquid uncertainty. These movements are stimulated by a flood of insecurity in the face of globalization, mass migration, social fluidity, the transience of traditions and conventional value systems.

As a researcher of Canadian theatre, I have observed that contemporary documentary plays that deal in reality and facts consistently conclude that nothing can be known.

On the surface, theatres of the real offer authenticity and certainty in their attachment to reality. But watching one of these plays does not produce a secure experience of truth. The closest we can get to an objective reality is the feeling of real, replacing fact with feeling.

Come from Away is an example of theatre based on reality.

Researchers Meg Mumford (Australia) and Ulrike Garde (Germany) coin the term “productive insecurity” in their work on verbatim theatre. They say that when artists intentionally display multiple points of view, it generates a sense of insecurity for the audience about what is true. This insecurity can be productive for the audience.

These feelings of insecurity are not just something to be endured but they should be embraced and fostered. The plays challenge established ways of knowing, urging us to be humbly aware of our limitations in the face of complex problems.

Theatres of the real do this. They provide emotionally and intellectually engaging environments and scenarios in which we can safely experience that insecurity. Theatres of the real give us a chance to develop the capacity for recognizing and managing our vulnerability.

Multiple truths?

Attention needs to be focused not on whether something is objectively valid as true, but on how that reality has come to be seen as true. What makes a truth true? Rather than pressing for an impossible singularity, documentary theatres of the real embrace multiplicity.

Rather than claiming direct access to the world as it is, these plays ask audiences to be thoughtful about how these staged realities came to be. What is selected? What is omitted? How is the narrative of a documentary world constructed? Often these plays deliberately expose these mechanisms of truth-making and knowing.

We can only ever partially know the world: we are surrounded by hybrids and multiplicities, creating more rather than fewer worlds. Breaking away from the rigidity of binary views: real/not-real; red!/blue!; we are better off with more perspectives, not fewer.

In moving the positive embrace of multiple realities from theory into practice, reality-based documentary theatre makes visible the processes of reality creation.

Searching for shared perspectives

In Lily Tomlin’s one-woman play The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, the character of Trudy the bag lady says, “After all, what is reality anyway? Nothin’ but a collective hunch.” Focus here on the word “collective.” To have reality, we need to have community.

Lily Tomlin in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the UniverseLilyTomlin.com

Linguist J.L. Austin, author of How To Do Things With Words, asserts a performance is only “felicitous” if there is “uptake;” that is, ideas presented in performances can only be valid if other people agree that they are valid. The need for uptake can slow down the creation of new dramatic worlds, restricting innovation. So change can be slow.

But we need to listen to each other as we work together to create a larger territory of shared perspectives. We need to rebuild social connections, so that more people can agree together on what constitutes reality. We don’t need to agree about content, only about process.

To doubt is to question appearances; to doubt is to contemplate and weigh. Doubt impels us to engage insecurity and question how representations are made.

When conspiracy theories flourish and lies are indifferently accepted, the thread between our lived experiences and our cartography of that world breaks. Returning to the first principles of how “reality” comes to be is a necessary first step.

Does what I see represent my local experience? Does my experience of reality align with other people’s? Are these the realities that we want? Instead of being fearful, insecurity makes me hopeful.The Conversation


Jenn Stephenson is a professor at Queen's University's Dan School of Drama and Music. She is the author of two books: Performing Autobiography: Contemporary Canadian Drama (UTP, 2013) and Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real (UTP, 2019).

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

Physicist receives Humboldt Research Award

Queen’s professor garners competitive international research honour.

Queen’s University physicist Stephen Hughes has been awarded the Humboldt Research Award, also known as the Humboldt Prize, which is granted to a maximum of 100 recipients worldwide, across all disciplines, each year.

The award recognizes Hughes’ significant contributions to optics and nanophotonics research, including quantum nanophotonics, research that is on the cutting edge of new quantum information technologies that work by manipulating light particles called photons.

The award, and a cash prize of 60,000 euros, is given to those whose research discoveries have had a significant impact on their own discipline, and winners are invited to spend up to one year in Germany cooperating on long-term research projects with specialist colleagues at research institutions in the country.

Dr. Hughes joins several Queen’s Humboldt Research Award laureates, including 2017 winner Tucker Carrington (Chemistry).

“A competitive international honour, the Humboldt Research Award recognizes researchers at the peak of their careers.” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “My sincere congratulations to Dr. Hughes and his team.”

During his time in Germany, Dr. Hughes will be working with nominator Andreas Knorr, and his group, at the Institute of Theoretical Physics, Technical University of Berlin. Dr. Knorr’s research team is one of the leading groups in the world in nonlinear optics and quantum electronics of nanostructured solids. Along with several planned trips to Germany over the next few years, Dr. Hughes will welcome Dr. Knorr to Queen’s for a six-week research stay in 2019.

“In my field of research, collaboration is essential, and the level of research going on in Germany is really world class,” says Dr. Hughes. “We will be able tackle several projects together that are particularly exciting and timely, mainly in the field of quantum nanophotonics and extreme quantum optics – which hold much promise for fundamental discoveries as well as emerging technologies. I am very grateful to Dr. Knorr and other colleagues in Germany for the nomination.”

One of the open questions for theoretical physicists in this field is how to quantize light in such extreme nanoscale geometries, and Dr. Hughes and Dr. Knorr have already initiated such a project together that could have a telling impact on fundamental quantum optics and emerging applications in quantum technologies. Just as electronic computers had world-changing effects in the last century, Dr. Hughes says he is confident that fundamental photonics research and emerging quantum technologies will have the same effect in the coming century.

The award will help to showcase Queen’s international research portfolio in optics and nanophotonics and will also advance the university’s goal of increased international collaboration in research. For instance, in addition to partnership with the Technical University of Berlin, Dr. Hughes will also collaborate with researchers at the Humboldt University of Berlin, and the Technical University of Munich. The Humboldt Research Award will also play a key role in boosting the profile of the recent Canada Foundation for Innovation-funded Queen’s Nanophotonics Research Centre.

For more information on the award, visit the website.

BISC students’ films go global

Students at the Bader International Study Centre submit 10 short films to the Crossing the Screen International Film Festival.

Students at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), Queen's campus in the UK, screened short films as part of the Crossing the Screen International Film Festival in Eastbourne, Sussex on Sunday, Dec. 2. 

[BISC students at film festival]
BISC students Claude Sun, left, and Gabrielle Oei, right, pose for a photo with volunteers at the Crossing the Screen International Film Festival. (Supplied photo)

Among the 90 features, shorts, and documentaries from over 30 countries, were 10 three-minute films made by students at the BISC, located in Herstmonceux Castle, as part of the Sussex 24 hours Panel, shown at Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery.

“The Castle has experiential learning opportunities as part of its focus,” explains Professor Robert Hyland who teaches Film 104 at the BISC. “There’s also been a recent push to create workplace simulations, so I thought this could be an avenue of creating volunteer positions for film students.”

Festival organizer Domenico Della Valle said part of the purpose of the festival is to promote emerging and local talent. He had been talking with local colleges looking for film submissions, and the Castle seemed an appropriate fit. 

“We don’t teach practical film at the Castle, so the students have no access to equipment or facilities, but I thought I’d give it a go, and set the students to the task,” Dr. Hyland says. “They were only three-minute films after all, so what harm could it do?”

Students immediately began writing scripts and creating storyboards for their short films. The class also worked closely with the festival, with Della Valle holding a workshop at the Castle to give tips on how to finalise their work. 

Dr. Hyland was amazed by how seriously the BISC students took to the challenge. In the end, there were 12 films made, with 10 being screened at the festival.

“It was quite surreal for me, to see the student work being viewed in an art gallery by industry professionals, filmmakers and distributors.” he says.

Not only were these Canadian shorts shown at this UK film festival, but Dragoon, a film that details one students’ fears about standing apart from a crowd, won the prize for best local student short. Filmed on location at the BISC and made by a team comprising Queen’s students Harriet Wright, Amelia Cockerham, Daisy Boyle, Cassie McMeekan, and Gabrielle Oei, Dragoon tells the story of a student (Nicholas Isaacs) struggling to rationalize his gender identity with the pressure to conform to social norms. The film explodes into colour when Nick decides to put on the drag persona Harlotte Webbs. The film was inspired by Nick’s own personal journey of self-discovery. 

“Attending and volunteering at the festival was a very rewarding experience,” says Amelia Cockerham, a first-year Arts and Science student who edited Dragoon. “It was fulfilling to see our film on the big screen and be recognized for our efforts.”

Other films by the BISC team included a film on the pressures of social media, a piece on the psychological effects of bullying, and a personal essay film recreating a day in the life of a student living with a mental health issue. 

“I didn’t know our films were in competition, let alone getting an award,” says Dr. Hyland. “The other winners were big budget films from Romania, Mexico, South Africa and Finland, and there was our Gabrielle on the stage receiving an award for a film shot on a telephone.”    

[Dragoon film by BISC students]
BISC student Nicholas Isaacs performs as alter-ego Harlotte Webbs in Dragoon, created by BISC students Harriet Wright, Amelia Cockerham, Daisy Boyle, Cassie McMeekan, and Gabrielle Oei. The three-minute film won for best local student short at the Crossing the Screen International Film Festival in Eastbourne, Sussex. (Supplied photo)

A musical first for Queen’s student

[Kento Stratford and Kingston Symphony Orchestra]
Kento Stratford follows along during the final rehearsal by the Kingston Symphony Orchestra. (Supplied Photo)

Kento Stratford, a fourth-year composition student in the Dan School of Drama and Music, knows that his recent experience in writing his first orchestral piece was a rare and special opportunity.

Stratford was not only commissioned by the Kingston Symphony Orchestra to create the piece but was also paid to do it through an internship with the Canada Summer Jobs program during which he was mentored by Queen’s professor and award-winning composer, John Burge.

After months of work, Stratford’s musical journey recently came full circle when the piece was premiered by the Kingston Symphony Orchestra at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Sunday, Dec. 2.

It was an experience that will stay with him, he says.

[Kento Stratford and Evan Mitchell]
 Kento Stratford is congratulated by Evan Mitchell, Music Director for the Kingston Symphony Orchestra, on the debut of his first orchestral composition, at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Supplied Photo)

“To hear the piece, it just blows you away. It’s only seven minutes of music but it took months to create,” he says. “So it’s almost like a child that you’ve nurtured and this is the product now. A huge orchestra is performing your work and I don’t know if there is a better feeling than that. As a composer that’s what I look for. Hopefully this is to be my life.”

Stratford’s journey first started with the application and interview process. When that was completed he not only had his commission, a real rarity for an undergraduate student, but he was also going to be paid via the internship.

With this support secured, it was time to get to work composing his first orchestral piece.

It would be a monumental task.

“I put in months of sketching but it’s my first orchestral piece. Orchestral pieces actually take a lot of vision, a lot more than say a piece for piano or choir,” he explains. “You have to think about everything and the music has to fit the orchestra. You have to create music that is actually molded to the orchestra and not the other way around. You can’t make the orchestra fit the music. That was hard.”

After months of sketching he was at an impasse and ended up throwing away a stack of paper “about an inch thick.” However, his breakthrough was just around the corner.

In July Stratford traveled to Casalmaggiore, Italy, for a piano study opportunity and found inspiration in the ornate decorations of the small town’s massive basilica. Inside the 18th-century church each wall is decorated with murals that basically create a timeline from its initial construction to now. He was left in awe.

“So what I did in my piece is I took this kind of grandeur of the cathedral and I tried to set it in different lights,” he says. “On each wall they had a different idea and I tried to find a new way to express the sense of awe that I had in walking into this place. What came through, I think, is not only the grandeur but the intricate details of the church itself, some of the textures, some of the decorations.”

Looking back on the finished piece he also notices that he had another influence – the beautiful countryside of the Lombardy region.

“That seeped in subconsciously,” he says.  “Writing the piece I didn’t realize I was doing that at all. But it does sound sort of pastoral in parts and that’s something that I really like about the piece, the kind of overview of my experience in that part of Italy.”

Returning home, he quickly settled into writing the composition. And the process went much more smoothly.

“I came back with that inspiration and I manage to write a sketch in the following two weeks and I was really happy with it,” Stratford says. “So then I started orchestrating it.”

During this stage he was guided by Dr. Burge and worked closely with the staff at the Kingston Symphony Orchestra, who, he says, were extremely helpful.

“That whole experience was a really positive one. Working with musicians, learning how to work with an organization that has a specific sort of vision for the project in mind, how to mold my creative process that actually fits what they’re looking for,” he says. “Overall it was a really, really positive experience. “

That’s a sentiment echoed by Evan Mitchell, Music Director for the Kingston Symphony Orchestra.

“It was wonderful to be able to make use of the Canada Summer Jobs program to facilitate this composition,” he says. “Kento was mentored by Dr. Burge throughout this process and the result was a really fun, interesting piece which the orchestra enjoyed performing. The sense of surprise and discovery which comes with every first performance of a new work is always so exciting, and we look forward to that feeling every time we premiere a new piece.”

The Conversation: The impact of climate change on language loss

Approximately 7,000 languages are spoken in the world today, but only about half are expected to survive this century.

[Sulawesi village]
The coastline of Sulawesi, Indonesia, where languages and cultures are threatened by climate change. (Photo by Anastasia Riehl) 

Images of extreme weather and alarming headlines about climate change have become common. Last month, dire predictions about our warming planet from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were reported as distressing scenes from a devastating tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia were still in the news.

[The Conversation]As residents of Sulawesi villages mourn their losses and rebuild their neighbourhoods, scientists and policy makers seek to better understand and prepare for the effects of climate change. Often overlooked are the effects on the world’s languages.

Global loss of languages

While approximately 7,000 languages are spoken in the world today, only about half are expected to survive this century. A number of factors contribute to this loss: increasing globalization, which pushes countries and individuals to shift to national or international languages for economic reasons; lack of support for regional languages in educational systems and mass media; persecution of minority linguistic groups by governments and disruption of communities during war and emigration.

It is difficult to predict the future for any particular language. While some minority languages will thrive for generations to come, many of the world’s languages are moving towards extinction within a generation.

One stressor that may be the tipping point for some communities is climate change. Many small linguistic communities are located on islands and coastlines vulnerable to hurricanes and a rise in sea levels. Other communities are settled on lands where increases in temperature and fluctuations in precipitation can threaten traditional farming and fishing practices.

These changes will force communities to relocate, creating climate change refugees. The resultant dispersal of people will lead to the splintering of linguistic communities and increased contact with other languages. These changes will place additional pressures on languages that are already struggling to survive.

[Harbour Market in Manado, North Sulawesi. Anastasia Riehl]
Harbour Market in Manado, North Sulawesi. (Photo by Anastasia Riehl)

Sulawesi’s languages are disappearing

I spent many months in Sulawesi in the early 2000s, recording languages of the northern and central regions. The island, shaped like a giant starfish with massive limbs unfurling in the Pacific Ocean, is home to dozens of distinct languages, many of these spoken by only a few thousand people in a handful of villages each.

Moving from one bay or valley to another often means entering a different linguistic community. The people living at the mouth of the long, narrow bay, where the tsunami’s waves first began to gather force, speak a different language than the people living at the base of the bay, where those 20 foot waves stormed inland.

When people learned that I was in Sulawesi to study the languages, they would excitedly engage me in discussions of the languages of their region. This frequently happened when I was out for a walk in a village and had attracted a small group of residents curious about my presence. Inevitably someone would hold out their hands and use their fingers to list off the names of languages in the area. As I became better acquainted with an area’s languages, I would join others and call out the names along with them, a sing-song game that ended in laughter.

These conversations never took place in one of the local languages, however, but rather in the country’s national language, Indonesian. Despite the great pride in linguistic diversity that I witnessed, many of those eager to discuss the regional languages with me knew only a handful of words in their own community’s traditional language. Sulawesi’s languages, increasingly relegated to the oldest generations and most isolated communities, are disappearing.

Sulawesi’s story, both of linguistic diversity and of language endangerment, is the story of Indonesia more broadly, a country of over 600 languages, many of which are vulnerable. Indonesia’s story is, in turn, a global story.

[A flooded market in Sulawesi. Anastasia Riehl]
A flooded market in Sulawesi. (Photo by Anastasia Riehl)

Loss of language, loss of data, identity

When a language is lost, the result can be a loss of identity, one that may impact the health and vitality of a community for generations to come. The importance of the connection between language and identity can be seen here in Canada.

Indigenous communities are struggling to overcome decades of persecution and discrimination, the traumatic legacies of residential schooling and, increasingly, environmental challenges. Alongside efforts to secure equal access to education, health care and infrastructure, communities are making substantial investments in the revitalization of their languages, viewed as a critical part of healing the past and securing the future.

The loss of a language is also a loss of data needed to better understand human cognition, as happens when a language disappears before its structures and patterns have been documented. It is a loss of knowledge about the world as well, as when descriptive names for plants or practices — still unknown outside a local area — are forgotten.

Some of climate change’s effects are easy to see and to fear: homes destroyed by a wildfire, people swept away in flooded streets, crops withering in a drought. Other effects, like language loss, are less tangible and more complicated but also devastating.

As I read the harrowing forecasts of the consequences of rising temperatures, and as I fear for the fate of friends in villages overtaken by the tsunami’s mudflows, I also worry about the future of Sulawesi’s languages — and of the world’s languages more generally.

The IPCC report warns us that if the world does not come together to prevent a projected global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees, the future will be one of loss: loss of land, of food and water supplies, of lives and livelihoods.

It will also be a loss of languages, of the knowledge and cultures they embody, and of the diversity and richness of human experience that they represent.The Conversation


Anastasia Riehl, is the director of the Strathy Language Unit at Queen's University. In this role she pursues and supports projects that explore variation in Canadian English and the role of English in a multilingual society. Her other areas of research and teaching include the phonology-phonetics interface and endangered language documentation. 

The Conversation 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. 

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Queen’s remembers Malcolm Griffin

A former professor of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Dr. Malcolm passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Queen’s University regrets to inform the community of the death of Malcolm Griffin.

[Photo of Malcolm Griffin]
Malcolm Griffin

Dr. Griffin passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 28, surrounded by family, after a five-year battle with cancer. Dr. Griffin earned his PhD at Queen’s in 1965 studying algebra under Paulo Ribenboim, and returned to Queen’s in 1969 to assume a faculty position in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He soon switched his area to statistics and is remembered for his passion for teaching, his zest for life, his inquisitive mind, his efforts to protect the environment, and his compassionate concern for justice.

Dr. Griffin was the beloved husband of Sharon Thompson and father to Matthew (Britta), Daniel (Kim), and Timothy (Cora). Malcolm was the grandfather of Theo, Odile, Evelyn, Tessa, Vivian, Emanuel, Mari and Alora who live spread across Canada and in Germany and all of whom will miss him greatly.

Dr. Griffin had strong tri-colour roots, with his wife Sharon (Arts’65, BFA’83), and his son Daniel (Artsci’94, Ed’95), and his late father-in-law, Elwood Thompson (BSc’33), all Queen’s alumni.

A celebration of life honouring Dr. Griffin was held on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Flags on campus were lowered on Saturday, Dec. 1 in memory of Malcolm.

In lieu of flowers and in recognition of Dr. Griffin's environmental commitments, memorial contributions may be made to Eco Justice, Land Conservancy KFLA or the charity of your choice. 

The Conversation: How sex and gender influence how we vote

Men and women are not unified voting blocs. We must consider how voters identify themselves in terms of gender to truly understand how women and men think about politics.

Neither men nor women vote in blocs, and gender identity helps explain voting patterns. (Photo by photo by Arnaud Jaegers/Unsplash)

Leading up to the recent midterm elections in the United States, pundits predicted women voters and candidates would alter the race.

There were, in fact, historic changes as more women than ever gained seats in U.S. Congress, breaking the 100-seat barrier. The winners included two Muslim women and two Native American women, both historic firsts.

However, as we unpack and explain voting patterns, the narrative must move beyond stereotypical and biologically grounded explanations that focus on men and women as voting blocs. Instead, we must ask how gender orientations condition men’s and women’s politics.

Several lessons from our ongoing research are instructive: First, gender strongly conditions the impact of sex on the vote. By “gender,” we mean the extent to which men and women identify with masculinity and femininity as sets of roles, traits and ideals.

The impact of gender on the vote differs from the effect of sex alone, in part because sex does not determine where you place yourself on a masculinity/femininity continuum.

Why some men are more liberal

Our work on measuring sex and gender in survey research, published last year in Political Behavior, shows that men who do not strongly identify with hypermasculinity are equally or more liberal than women on various issues, from same-sex marriage to social spending.

This implies that moderately masculine men, so to speak, are not in the Republican orbit because they do not share the party’s positions on the issues that defined the 2018 midterms: Immigration, gun rights, Brett Kavanaugh and the backlash against so-called “identity politics.”

In fact, all respondents whose gender self-placement veers from the most masculine or feminine endpoints of the scale tend to be more politically moderate than the hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine identifiers.

This means that highly feminine women — those who possess very traditional gender identities — are more conservative on some issues, including workplace discrimination, and are indeed open to the Republican platform.

Neither men nor women vote in blocs, and gender identity helps explain voting patterns. (Photo by Mirah Curzer/Unsplash)

The general message here is not novel in its recognition of multiple and cross-cutting identities and their importance to voting. Race, socioeconomic status and religion, for example, are other important influences on the vote.

What is novel about our research is that it identifies the patterns from an overlooked aspect of identity — gender. Sex and gender tend to be treated as synonymous both in “real life” and in research. Disentangling them is revealing the ways that our biology affects our behaviour less than previously thought.

Gender not a factor for some

The second big message coming from our research is that we must stop automatically treating gender as a “first-order” or “meta” identity that eclipses all other identities. For some voters, gender is not a strong pull on the vote or on political attitudes. Our research published last year in the Canadian Journal of Political Science finds that there are few male-female gaps in attitudes, and presumably voting, among people for whom gender is not important.

It’s only among those for whom gender is highly salient (and this is the case for a lot of people) that sex and gender have the potential to create gaps in attitudes and votes, producing a chasm in the electorate.

In the context of the 2018 midterms, a key observation is that sex and gender are more prominent in some campaigns than others.

Sometimes gender-based issues are at the top of the agenda, or high proportions of women candidates run. This can cue voters to think about gender issues when making their vote choices, a process called priming.

This helps explain the large partisan gaps between men and women and the unprecedented showing of women candidates in 2018. A record number of women candidates ran and won, and media, think tanks, researchers and political parties spent a lot of time discussing the anticipated “pink wave.”

#MeToo movement in play

What’s more, voters went to the polls soon after a Supreme Court confirmation process fought nearly exclusively over allegations that nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted several women. And this came after a year of intensive public action by the #MeToo movement, which has illuminated the widespread sexual violence and harassment faced by women.

It’s clear the electoral environment contributes to the politicization of social divisions. When campaigns focus on other issues or other types of candidates, different electoral divides define the vote, and sex and gender may take a back seat to partisanship, race or religion.

Traditionally, we talk about women voters as if they are unique and act as a bloc. But not all women vote the same, and women don’t uniformly feel the same about issues, parties or candidates over time.

Context matters. It activates identities in the minds of voters, and campaigns provide cues for the types of considerations that will influence voters at the ballot box. The 2018 midterm election campaign activated sex, but it also activated gender, and the strength of a voter’s masculinity and femininity no doubt had a discernible impact on how they cast their ballots.The Conversation


Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant is an associate professor the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University, director of Queen’s Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, and director of the Canadian Opinion Research Archive. Amanda Bittner is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The Conversation 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. 
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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Supporting future success

New apprenticeship program gives Queen’s University graduates a boost in their job search.

New Queen’s University graduates have been given a unique opportunity for employment thanks to a donation from benefactor and parent of a Queen’s Arts and Science graduate, Alan Rottenberg. The funding has been used to create the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston program.

Employers who commit to a one-year, full-time job with training built in for a new graduate are reimbursed for four months of the gross salary to a maximum of $4,000 per month. The ultimate goal is that the employees will continue on after the completion of the apprenticeship. In 2019, the program will provide funding for 35 new apprenticeships.

The apprenticeship program designed for arts and humanities graduates is a joint effort between Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Science and the Kingston Economic Development Corporation. The objective of this innovative program is to help new graduates launch their career while retaining skilled talent in the Kingston community to support business growth.

”These students are talented, and Kingston businesses can benefit from keeping them here and helping them launch their careers. It really is a win-win for everyone,“ says Rottenberg. ”The pilot proved a great partnership that delivered amazing results and that is why we are ready to make it even bigger this year.”

The program was piloted last year with eight students starting their careers in Kingston with organizations such VIVA Productions, Make Hay Media, Keilty International, BBD, and Meta Innovation Technologies. The average starting salary was $43,166. The participants graduated from various programs such as Film and Media, English, Psychology, and Global Development Studies.

”We know we have good students, so when Alan approached us about this idea of an apprenticeship program I said absolutely, let’s make it happen. And now, here we are poised to triple the program this year ensuring that our students are successful not only in the classroom but after they leave,” says Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science.

Interested employers are encouraged to contact the Kingston Economic Development Corporation to have their job positions posted to the Queen’s University Job Board. The interview process will take place in early 2019 with successful candidates starting their jobs by the end of May.

“The Kingston Economic Development Corporation is very excited to support this incredible program. We are grateful that our partners recognize the importance of investing in new graduates and actively building Kingston’s vibrant workforce of the future,” says Donna Gillespie, CEO, Kingston Economic Development Corporation.

For more information visit the website.

A ‘noteable’ day for Queen’s and Canada

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science Barbara Crow and Professor Jonathan Rose were members of an expert panel that selected Viola Desmond to adorn the new $10 bill.

The new $10 bill, featuring the image of Viola Desmond, entered circulation on Monday, Nov. 19, marking the completion of a project that involved the work of two Queen’s faculty members.

Desmond is the first Canadian woman to be featured on a regularly circulating banknote. She is best known for her refusal to accept racial segregation in a Nova Scotia movie theatre in 1946. She was also an entrepreneur and civil rights activist and over the years, her defiance has resounded with Canadians and was an inspiration for racial equality.

Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, and Jonathan Rose, a professor in the Department of Political Studies, were members of an expert panel in the selection process. Both say this note marks a turning point in Canada’s narrative.

Front and back of $10 bill, featuring Viola Desmond - Bank of Canada photo]
The front of he new $10 bill features an image of Viola Desmond, while the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is on the back. (Bank of Canada) 

“A currency is a public expression of national identity so it’s only appropriate that citizens should have an important role in deciding who should be on it,” Dr. Rose says.

Dr. Crow adds that the appearance of a woman, and importantly a woman of color, on Canada’s $10 bill will have a profound effect on Canadians as a people.

“What I think is incredible about the choice is that all of us can stand up to injustice, and she did. Every single Canadian can stand up,” she says. “The other women (who were considered), they had lots of expertise, deep expertise, in something that not all of us can attain but all of us can stand up to injustice.”

Both Dr. Crow and Dr. Rose say the process was an excellent exercise in altering Canada’s conception of itself, involving wide public consultation, for which Dr. Rose praised Governor of the Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz (Artsci'78). Dr. Rose says the civic engagement around which woman should be on Canada’s new banknote set a precedent for how meaningful engagement should happen, especially when considering such an important part of Canada’s national identity.

“Of all the projects I have been involved with, this was probably the most exciting and really I felt privileged to be part of it, so it’s nice that Queen’s has had such an important stake in it,” he says.

As a feminist and gender studies scholar, Dr. Crow says that having the conversation about women, and their centrality in Canadian history, spill into workplaces, coffee shops, and schools, is essential to understanding how important standing up to injustice is, something we should all aspire to and can do.

Desmond’s sister, Wanda Robson, was the first to make a purchase with the iconic bill in Winnipeg at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, also featured on the new note.

Both Dr. Crow and Dr. Rose say they are excited to see their research contributions touching the hands of Canadians, and look forward to joining Robson very soon in spending their first ‘Desy.’

To learn more about Viola Desmond and the new features of the $10 bill, visit the Bank of Canada website.


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