Profiles of some of our recent and current students

 

Douglas Armour

Growing up in Windsor Nova Scotia, I consider myself to be a local student. I completed my undergrad in history and philosophy at Acadia University. Being one to always enjoys learning about many different topics, when I heard that Acadia offered a Masters Program that was a combination of Politics, Sociology and Philosophy I signed up right away and have not been disappointed.  This unique program has given me the chance to explore topics from a fresh point of view.

The academic flexibility of this program has allowed me to pursue a thesis on Corruption in American politics, that  would not fit neatly into another Masters program. The program is still new and developing, but I am enjoying the program and thank all the SPT faculty and my fellow students for their guidance, motivation and support. 

 

Karen Asp [Graduated 2013]

I was drawn to the SPT program at Acadia because I wanted to gain a deeper, more critical understanding of various theoretical aspects of contemporary environmental politics. The SPT program supported this endeavor of mine in three important ways. First, the program offered a selection of core courses that provided me with a solid basis in the philosophical dimensions of, and theoretical approaches to, a range of contemporary biopolitical and ecological issues. Second, I was able to take elective courses that corresponded to my interests in ecological political theory and critical theory. And third, for my thesis I was allowed to undertake in-depth research into certain theoretical concepts associated with critical theorist Theodor Adorno, whose work is, I think, very useful for thinking about the social and political dimensions of ecological crisis, and the crisis of environmentalism. Between the course work and the thesis, the SPT program provided me with an excellent, scholarly foundation for the PhD research I am now pursuing at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, Toronto.

 

Colin Bowers

I am a second-year student in the SPT program at Acadia University.  I was attracted to the program because of the diverse questions I was able to pose, the scope and depth of subject areas covered, and the small seminar sizes that promised working closely with program faculty and my fellow students. My research interests span: the relation of self/subject and society; the history of ideas, the history of broad movements for social change, and the intersections between ideas and action in social change; and the postmodern/poststructuralist break with modernity.  The program has exceeded my expectations and continues to challenge me in new and unexpected ways.

Some of the thinkers and theoretical paradigms I find myself returning to again and again include: psychoanalysis and Marxism, Freud, Adorno and Horkheimer, Slavoj Zizek, Fredric Jameson, Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott. My thesis will trace the dialectical drama between 'human nature' (stage?) and history (scene?) in Adorno's lectures and in Negt and Kluge's more recent works.

When I am away from my reading, I enjoy travelling, tasting the wines and gobbling the delicious food of the Annapolis Valley, and... more reading.  My current obsession is the upcoming Canadian election, the most critical of my lifetime.

 

Cameron Brown

I grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island called Lake Cowichan. I have had a passion and interest in social justice since high school. Eventually this would lead me to do a Political Science degree and Social Justice Studies diploma at University of Victoria. There I developed a deep appreciation for critical theory and interdisciplinary approaches to social analysis. My first year in the Social and Political Thought program here at Acadia, has greatly magnified these interest. It has also expanded my tools and understandings for such an analysis exponentially. My admiration for critical and interdisciplinary approaches has only grown over the summer, working as a community organizer for ACORN Canada.

I am deeply interested in social movements. My areas of focus are forms of political production that develop outside of the nation state. Particularly ones notions of citizenship (as in rights, obligation, and inclusion). As well as, alternative forms of production and exchange that are often omitted in liberal understandings and analysis of political-economic relationships.

 

Tiffany Doucet

I started the Social and Political Thought Masters Program in 2012. The SPT Masters is my program of choice because it offers me an interdisciplinary education that I found great value in during my undergraduate education. I completed my undergraduate degree in Great Ideas and Political Science at St. Thomas University. There I was able to gain an appreciation for the application of abstract theories on   everyday issues. I was able to contextualize understandings put forth by big thinkers and understand how their theories shaped our society and continue to influence it today. Coming into the SPT Masters program my main focus areas are justice, international law, cosmopolitanism, and globalization theories. I want to explore the ideas of a world citizen and the implications that such an idea has on developed norms of community and state. When applying to graduate schools, I understood that it was only through an interdisciplinary program that I would attain the correct guidance and knowledge to further my interests.

 

Adam Foster (Graduated 2014)

Born and raised in Moncton, New Brunswick, I came to Acadia in the fall of 2012 after finishing my undergraduate work in English and Political Science at the University of King's College in Halifax, NS. During my first year at King's, I completed the school's Foundation Year Programme; an interdisciplinary survey of the history of western thought in its entirety. FYP proved to be both immensely enjoyable and incredibly rewarding, and I can credit it for starting me down a road that lead to Acadia's Social and Political Thought master's program. SPT has allowed me to continue to explore interdisciplinary critical thinking, and apply it to real world issues.

My current research interests are centred around contemporary philosophy of the continental tradition – more specifically French post-structuralism – and its relationship in understanding the contemporary world. My thesis will attempt to understand the means by which emotions are radicalized and mobilized into political events through notions of affect developed by Spinoza, Gilles Deleuze, and Brian Massumi, as well as the philosophies of William Connolly, Michel Foucault, and Sigmund Freud.

 

Emily Lutz

I am native to the beautiful Annapolis Valley and home of Acadia University. I began the SPT program in 2012 after a challenging and rewarding year completing the Nova Scotia Municipal Internship Program in Cumberland County. This internship was integral to inspiring my research topic, as I developed a fascination with the topic of municipal politics and the ways in which they differ from the other levels of government in Canada. Previous to that I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Great Ideas at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I became very involved in Model United Nations.

My research interests include municipal government, citizen engagement, creative governance, and innovative municipal planning strategies (both urban and rural). My thesis will examine the connection between the level of citizen engagement in a municipality and the quality and accountability of its Council and staff. I will do this by using examples of corruption in municipalities as evidence of a failed engagement of the citizenry, and look at ways in which cities are starting to creatively engage their populations through public space, reciprocal communication, progressive politics, etc., and the positive effects this has on the quality of municipal governance.

 

Randy Nowlan

I joined the Master of Social and Political Thought programme to force into formal dress the thoughts that have heretofore been free loading in pyjamas, commenting but not contributing, eating cheesies in the basement of my mind.   While earning a living, barely, as a lawyer and a legal assistant, I have lived vicariously through the minds, books, and ideas of others, taking a B.A. in the History of Science and Technology, an LL.B. in Canadian Law as seen from the wild lands north of Toronto in the wild days before the Charter, and an LL.M. in Constitutional Law.   After making friends with my stroke I taught myself to talk, walk and think again, while continuing to dream of typing and playing the piano.  I like it in Wolfville, and am glad that Acadia has accepted me now as it accepted my Grandfather a century ago.

 

Robert Pantalone

I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and first came to Wolfville in 2010 to complete an undergraduate degree in Politics with a second major in Spanish. During my BA I developed a passion for critical thought and a curiosity for exploring wide-ranging topics.  I chose to remain at Acadia after graduating in 2015 because of the close relationships with my professors and opportunity to pursue a rigorous interdisciplinary program. Specifically, I am looking forward to interrogating contemporary issues using critical theories and in turn seeing how those issues shape our understanding and appreciation of those theories.

My research interests at this early stage of the program include the construction and valuation of knowledge through language, specifically the development of computer-aided language, the development of (post) neoliberal narratives, as well as indigeneity and the importance of place. While I have not yet decided on a thesis topic, I hope to be able to refresh, expand and challenge current theoretical approaches through an engagement with current experiences.

 

Charlotte Rogers [Graduated 2013]

Originally from the UK, I did my BA in English at Loughborough University. I spent the second year of my undergrad on exchange at Acadia and loved it so much that I returned in 2011 for my Master’s. Looking for a change from English, I was attracted to SPT because of its interdisciplinary approach and its emphasis on critical thinking.

My research interests were quite vague when I started, but the first year gave me an excellent grounding in some of the key topics and theories of political science, sociology, and philosophy. The courses often provoked me, sometimes overwhelmed me, and constantly reshaped my world view. Eventually I pinned down a topic for my thesis (after a few discarded ideas!). I’m examining the democratic legitimacy of judicial review in the United States, comparing the legislative and judicial branches of government in terms of their representativeness, decision-making procedures, and accessibility.

Mahmood Mamdani, a favourite author I discovered in my first year, voices the driving force behind my SPT experience with the following exhortation: “I suggest that, even before the whistle blows, we ceaselessly try to know the world in which we live and act” (Saviors and Survivors, p. 4).

 

Danielle Rodrigue-Todd

Raised in Quebec and the Northwest Territories, I completed my undergraduate degree in Politics and Governance at Ryerson University in Toronto. I then went on to complete a Research Methods program at Humber College as well as the Refugee and Forced Migration Issues program at York University.  Through these programs I developed a very strong interest in the relationship between conflict, migration, and the human, and was given the opportunity to volunteer with several organizations providing refugee services.

Initially, I found it difficult to find a Master’s program that allowed me to engage with my interests in a creative and progressive way moving forward, until I found the Social and Political Thought program at Acadia. The program’s theoretical orientation fosters a distinct analytical skill set for examining social and political issues; and its interdisciplinary curriculum ensures that students are able to truly customize their educational pursuits. The foundation courses in Critical Theory provided a variety of theoretical frameworks for analyzing and assessing my areas of interest, which are presently situated around Refugee and Forced Migration Issues, Cosmopolitanism and Human Rights, Sovereignty, and the War on Terror. Currently, I am specifically interested in examining how Sovereignty and Migration are situated within the context of a possible tension between Cosmopolitanism and Religious Fundamentalism.

 

Sonja Sapach [Graduated 2013]

As someone with a passion for intellectual challenge, interdisciplinary collaboration, and expanding my horizons, I eagerly began my SPT experience in 2011. Having completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Queen's University in 2004, and having experimented with a wide variety of career paths, I was anxious to continue my education. This program has allowed me to explore and expand upon my current interests in classical and contemporary sociological theory, the nature of religious experiences, and video game studies. My SSHRC funded thesis - “The WoW Factor: The Development of Social Solidarity in Azeroth”, is an ethnographic study of the video game World of Warcraft, where I explore the social connections created through in-game interactions and experiences. During my time here, I have had the privilege of participating in the unconference Great Lakes THATcamp 2012 in London, ON, and presenting a paper at the annual meeting of the Canadian Game Studies Association during Congress 2012 in Kitchener-Waterloo ON. My goal is to take what I have learned here and use it as the foundation for my ongoing educational pursuits.

 

Ryan Shuvera (Graduated 2014)

My main research interests include urban sociology, critical theory, cultural theory and social movements.  I completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy with a minor in political science at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  I started the SPT program in the fall of 2011 and took interest in analyzing issues of public space related to the Occupy Nova Scotia movement that was based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  However, the main focus of my current research is on the social and political nature of the preservation of material culture.  Looking specifically at the history of Pier 21 and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, I am analyzing the role that the process of material preservation plays in shaping and challenging narratives that represent the history and people commemorated by the museum.  The SPT program has provided me with many opportunities for intellectual advancement in a number of different areas of thought.                    

To balance the academic lifestyle I also host the Canadian Music History Hour on Axe Radio and work for The Athenaeum (Acadia’s student newspaper).  Winnipeg born and Ontario raised, I have come to enjoy the fruits of the Annapolis Valley and Canada’s East Coast.

 

Brooke Southcote

I have been pulled in numerous directions throughout my university education, enrolling in the Life Sciences and Fine Arts programs at Queens; and the Bio-Medical Science, Environmental Science, International Development and Anthropology programs at the University of Guelph.  Upon completing the Anthropology degree, I attended the Law program at Dalhousie before discovering the SPT program at Acadia.  I immediately knew that the program's interdisciplinary approach was exactly what I needed, allowing me to utilize and embrace my diverse interests and experiences.  Despite my varied academic background, I lacked experience in some of the key fields of the program, having never taken a course in political science or philosophy.  This definitely made the coursework much more challenging but also more rewarding. 

I entered the program with an interest in environmental politics from a legal perspective, which quickly gave way to a more theoretical way of thinking and seeing.  After sifting through multiple ideas and proposals, I am now completing my thesis on the social construction of wilderness, utilizing the theoretical framework offered by Jeffrey Alexander in the "Civil Sphere".  My thesis is best understood to be situated within inquiries that seek to generate a better understanding of the social, political and economic relationship between humans and their environment, emerging out of the nexus between political ecological constructivism, critical theory and symbolic anthropology. 

 

Lyndsay Sprado

Originally from Peace River, Alberta, I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta Augustana Campus in Camrose, Alberta. I did a BA in Global Development Studies, where I spent a year on the award winning Rural Development Exchange (RDX) in AB and Central Mexico. I also participated in the Augustana in Cuba exchange, where I studied at Universidad de Oriente in Santiago de Cuba, along with being very active in the first ever Model United Naitons course and competition in New York City. My undergraduate thesis topic was on local environmental volunteer engagement on the Augustana Campus. I then spent five years working in student recruitment for the University of Alberta visiting high schools all over Canada, the USA, and Latin America.

As a mature graduate student I am so glad I waited to figure out what my questions were. I didn't know what I wanted to study immediately out of my undergraduate experience and my work experience really influenced the areas I am interested in researching. The MA SPT program is the perfect blend of interdisciplinary work and thought, one that I find challenges me in the perfect way. Theory is not my strongest suit, but I find the faculty to be very supportive and encouraging. They help me apply my practical experience to the theory. My research focus areas include globalization, development, post-secondary education, liberal arts, social change, class mobility, and social justice.