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. 

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.

Niall Buryk

On the first day of class of Grade 12 history, my teacher wrote on the blackboard: "Homework: What is a right? One page." We were in a classroom in downtown Toronto, in a school that was built on the 150 year old foundation of Lucy and Thornton Blackburn’s family home. The Blackburn’s had come to Toronto from Louisville, Kentucky, where they happened to be born in to slavery. Their escape to Canada sparked riots in Michigan and letters from the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. In Toronto, they started that city’s first taxi company, and with the proceeds built a house that became a well worn stop on the underground railroad, and later, the foundation of my high school.

Spurred on by this deseptive question of rights, and all the big questions that followed, I earned an honours degree in Political Science from Mount Allison University. I then worked for 5 years as a general contractor, flipping houses in Toronto, Ontario, before enrolling in the SPT program at Acadia. My experience on the tools helped inform the direction of my research, which asks broadly “What is the relationship between work and politics?” My thesis compares the political philosophy of Hannah Arendt with the political theory of Jacques Ranciere, and in doing so explores the axiological foundations of equality and democracy, the unarticulated presuppositions of political philosophy, and the modes and methods of subjectivization that help determine whether or not a wife and husband are free to lay the foundation for the emancipation of the young, or whether they will suffer the tragedy and injustice of human slavery.

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.

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.

Justin MacLeod

I am originally from Truro, Nova Scotia and have spent the majority of my life in this beautiful province. I obtained my undergraduate degree at Acadia with a double major in Politics (hon) and History. Currently I am beginning my second year in the SPT program, but my first year was eventful to say the least.

Having come through the Politics department in my undergrad, I knew that I would be exposed to a rich academic environment, and I was not disappointed by the variety of intellectual exploration provided by the program. For example, SPT offered me the opportunity to work in a non-traditional TA role where I helped our faculty plan the 11th Popular Culture and World Politics Conference. I also participated in a faculty led committee which put together a SSHRC connections grant application for a proposed conference that seeks to unite the Canadian SPT programs and faculties in an effort to push the boundaries of what it means to study theory.

My thesis will look at the societal existence of animals in both the liberal tradition and posthumanism. We see in the animal/human relationship the formation of borders that do not simply imply a binary of master-slave, but a multiplicity of understandings of different forms of life including animals as pets, food and entertainment. My thesis will also look at the work of the psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva and her concept of the border where societal borders are created to separate accepted subjects and from those deemed abject. I hope that in exploring the animal through both posthumanist and psychoanalytic approaches that animals may be placed in a different context, and that I also may be able to distinguish how boundaries are created in relation to both humans and animals.

My hobbies include cheering on my Toronto Maple Leafs, golfing and watching films with friends.

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

Born and raised in Calgary, I completed an undergraduate degree at Acadia University with a double major in Politics and Spanish. During this degree, Acadia offered me uncommon academic opportunities including a year-long exchange in Spain and the chance to work on a documentary film with Elder Elsie Basque. Most importantly, Acadia’s small size put me in close contact with a supportive group of professors. These teachers encouraged an interest in critical inquiry guided by theory, which I have pursued in the SPT program.

My thesis focuses on the politics of cryptography. The project eschews the conventional understanding that cryptography is political because it distributes privacy and security. Instead, I argue that the history of cryptography is closely entwined with the emergence of a world in which politics takes place through surveillance and management. This suggests that encryption functions are politically significant in and of themselves. Through an examination of cryptography, I argue that these processes are political because they enact relationships of power. Finally, I examine the emerging technologies of blockchain, including the popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which make cryptography into an apparatus of governance. I argue that these technologies fail to realize their goal of unfettered political freedom because they universalize a form of control which makes politics pathological. During my time in the SPT program I have also served as the editor for the program's graduate theory journal, To Be Decided*.

Jason Penney

Originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland, I completed my undergraduate degree in Social/Cultural Studies, an interdisciplinary program in Anthropology, Folklore and Sociology, at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University. In the latter half of my undergraduate degree, the questions I began to pose were inherently political and thus my undergraduate thesis took an interdisciplinary turn towards the political. I am currently a second year student in the Social and Political Thought program and was drawn to the program because of its interdisciplinarity. Coming out of an undergraduate program focused on mixed methods and cross-cultural analysis, I was drawn to social and political thought for its critical and rigorous theoretical approach to studying truth and reality, an area of scholarship I have always been intrigued by and felt was best suited for the questions I was asking.

My research interests include alternative politics (including the question: “is there no alternative?”), classical and contemporary anarchist thought/practice, sociology of performance and performativity, particularly applications of performativity akin to everyday life. My thesis, therefore, interrogates anarchy in everyday life and questions whether it is possible to deviate from macro-ideological understandings of anarchism in order to investigate anarchy as it exists in practices of everyday life. Other research interests of mine include applications of Mark Fisher’s mental health studies, recruitment and mobilization tactics of online social movements, the literature of Ursula Le Guin, and contemporary debates in political sociology.

Outside of academia, I am a competitive 5-pin bowler; I have represented both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia at the national level. I am also a recreational darts player and I recently started golfing. In my free time, I enjoy drinking coffee, participating in fantasy sports leagues and watching Stand-Up Comedy.

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.

 

Past Students (Selected)

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.

Adam Foster (Graduated 2014)

I came to Acadia after my undergraduate work in English and Political Science at the University of King’s College. To say that Social and Political Thought was a nice extension of what I learned during my undergraduate degree would be to put it lightly. It absolutely was, but philosophy and theory were also starting to become a major part of my life (in the final semester of my undergraduate degree, not having any courses in political theory, to unwind at the end of the day I’d draw a hot bath and read Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization). This wasn’t just a continuation of an education that began and undergrad; this was what I wanted to do with my life. Acadia allowed me to do that. The program in Social and Political Thought allowed me to grow as a thinker and a theorist in a small, supportive environment that is unparalleled to other graduate programs housed in larger schools.

I defended my thesis in the fall of 2014, and am now a doctoral student at the University of Hawai’i  at Mānoa in Political Theory. My masters work focused on affect theory in the work of Gilles Deleuze, bringing it into conversation with the liberal tradition and its account of rational subjectivity. Locating myself within the tradition of post-structuralism, Acadia proved to be a phenomenal school to undertake my research.

Patrick Hergott (Graduated 2018)

I’m originally from Chilliwack, BC, and completed my undergrad (Political Science and History) at the University of the Fraser Valley. I was drawn to Acadia because of its beautiful campus and the interdisciplinary nature of the SPT program. Upon my arrival, I realized just how theoretical the program truly is, which was a shock to me. Nonetheless Dr. James Brittain and Dr. Rachel Brickner did an incredible job of supporting me during my coursework and thesis research, and with their help I managed to finish rather quickly.

My research focused on anti-racist resistance by Black athletes in North American professional sports, and mobilized the work of Antonio Gramsci, Harry Edwards, Gamal Abdel-Shehid, and others to do so. The actions of Colin Kaepernick made my thesis a timely one, and it will be very interesting to see what happens in the near and distant future as other athletes leverage their positions as highly paid but exploited (and, in the case of Black athletes, racialized) workers to address issues near and dear to them. The time spent researching and writing my thesis also made me realize just how important the foundation laid by the SPT program’s courses is - even though that same coursework may have seemed strenuous at the time, it allowed me to write a thesis that drew from theory far more effectively than it would have otherwise. I’m not sure what’s next for me now that I’m done an MA, but I feel as if I’m a better thinker because of my time in the program, and that should help with whatever I wind up doing.

Danielle Rodrigue-Todd (Graduated 2017)

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.

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).

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.