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.
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.
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.
I came to the Social and Political Thought program in 2019 after completing my undergraduate degree at Carleton University in political science. My undergrad concentration was in political theory, so I saw the SPT program as being a natural extension of my undergraduate degree. I also came into the SPT program with an interest in researching anarchy, with additional questions surrounding how rule and order function within society. This research interest in anarchy stems from previous research I completed while writing my honours research essay (undergrad thesis) on how the anarchist theories of Peter Kropotkin fall into a political spectrum along with well-known political theorists such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The SPT program – through a small and supportive environment of both peers and professors – has so far broadened my horizons of thought and I now look to incorporate political aesthetics and deconstructive methods into my research.
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.
I decided to do an MA in Social and Political thought at Acadia to augment my practical experience with an academic perspective after many years of working in animal behaviour and conservation. I received a BSc in biology, but my interest always lay in hands on and field work as opposed to the lab. Initially, my focus was on animal behaviour, more specifically primate rescue and rehabilitation, but through my work with various grassroots organizations in community conservation I have become increasingly interested in the political and socio-economic dynamics that are the driving force of conservation issues and solutions. I find that the Social and Political Thought Masters offers a unique opportunity to approach the topics I’m interested in from an interdisciplinary and theoretical perspective. I am very drawn to the connectedness of theory and praxis and am grateful that this program allows me to engage with and explore the topics that interest me the most.
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.
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.
Niall Buryk (Graduated 2020)
Before coming to Acadia University, I spent 5 years working as a general contractor. I chose this profession because I was fascinated with how the material world is constructed. When I chose to enter the field of social and political thought at Acadia, it was because I was equally fascinated with how the ideological, conceptual, and theoretical world is constructed. Without a doubt, Acadia helped me indulge this fascination.
My focus at Acadia was in the field of democratic thought, and my thesis delved into the tacit assumptions and unarticulated presuppositions that surround and inhabit the idea of work. What is work? How is it defined? How does it define us? How does it factor into lived inequalities? I carried out this project through a close reading of Hannah Arendt and Jaques Rancière, two thinkers who hold very similar yet importantly different understandings of the concept of work, and in doing so, I gained the ability to understand and parse out subtle distinctions in complex theoretical problems. Coming out of the program, more than anything, I am thankful for the level of familiarity, patience and support that the professors at Acadia were willing to give me, and I will always value the time I spent there.
Tiffany Doucet (Graduated 2019)
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)
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 feel as if I’m a better thinker because of my time in the program. I will be attending UVic Law starting in Fall 2019.
Emily Lutz (Graduated 2020)
As someone born and raised in the Annapolis Valley, the Acadia SPT program was the perfect choice to “come home to” once I had completed my BA at St. Thomas in Fredericton and a year-long internship in municipal government in Amherst. I had explored philosophy, sociology, and political science through the Great Ideas program at STU and followed it up with local government work experience, and the SPT program at Acadia helped me to expand on both of those experiences and also allow me to see how theory can be applied in the “real world”.
Through the classes, I was exposed to theorists, academics, and intellectuals (both through their writing and in person) that thoroughly tested my academic viewpoints, and helped me to value theory not just as a tool for thinking about the world, but as a catalyst for changing it. I loved the idea that theory could ignite us to think about things in radically different ways than we have been programmed to, and tried to follow the wise advice of one professor who cautioned us not to “fall in love with the first theorist we understood”. The colloquium portion of the course was very meaningful, and allowed me to forge connections with fellow students, other professors both within and outside of Acadia, and actually participate in dialogue which shaped other people’s work and enhanced my own ideas and writing abilities. It made me feel confident as a thinker and graduate student and was key to my successful completion of this degree.
I cannot understate the influence that my degree has on my ability to participate in challenging debate, analyze complex ideas, and critically examine the world around me. During my thesis writing years I was elected as a municipal councillor, and I ended up focusing my thesis on local government decisions about land-use planning, and whether these decisions can mitigate the homogenizing effects of capitalism on community. It felt so good to produce a piece of work that not only contributed to enhancing thought about a particular theory, but that could also contribute to the dialogue around development of my own local community.
Robert Pantalone (Graduated 2020)
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 (Graduated 2020)
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. I was drawn to Social and Political Thought for its critical and rigorous theoretical approach to studying truth and reality. Upon arriving at Acadia, I learned that the program’s interdisciplinarity offered far more than I could have ever imagined.
My research interests during my time at Acadia included alternative politics (including the question: “Is there no alternative?”), collective and direct action, classical and contemporary anarchism, sociology of performance and performativity, the intersections between theory and fiction and the literature of Ursula K. Le Guin. These interests led to completing my MA thesis entitled “A Performative Theory of Anarchism: Doing Direct Action with Judith Butler, John Holloway and Ursula K. Le Guin.” Other research interests included applications of Mark Fisher’s mental health studies, recruitment and mobilization tactics of contemporary and new social movements, contemporary social theory, and contemporary debates in political sociology.
Since graduating from the SPT program, I have returned to activism in the streets, advocating for improved mental health resources, epilepsy awareness, and rights to education. I have also returned to Memorial University to pursue a Bachelor of Education degree. My latest hobbies include reading Stephen King novels, being a part of the #bookstagram community, cross-country skiing, golfing and 5-pin bowling.
Danielle Rodrigue-Todd (Graduated 2017)
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.