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Two New Canada Research Chairs at Trent University to Advance the Study of Social Justice and the Environment

How do we get to the root of Canada’s youth homelessness problem? Or begin to imagine a post-carbon future? Two new Canada research chairs (CRC) at Trent University – Dr. Anne Pasek, CRC in Media, Culture and the Environment, and Dr. Naomi Nichols, CRC in Community-Partnered Social Justice – will seek answers to these fundamental contemporary questions while advancing Trent’s reputation for conscientious, future-focused research.

“Professors Pasek and Nichols will be tackling serious challenges as they lead social justice and climate politics research at Trent,” said Dr. Cathy Bruce, acting vice-president of Research and Innovation at Trent University. “With these appointments, our Canada Research Chair program grows again – we are hosting an impressive number of research chairs in areas of expertise that move the needle at Trent and are significant on an international scale. Professors Nichols and Pasek will further infuse energy, leadership and community engagement into Trent’s interdisciplinary research efforts. Importantly, they also have a keen interest in supporting students.”

The Tier II CRC positions will provide Professors Nichols and Pasek with a combined $1.2 million in federal funding. Our new CRCs have been also been awarded $203,874 and $47,481, respectively, from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) with funding through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

Dr. Naomi Nichols, Canada Research Chair in Community-Partnered Social Justice

As Canada research chair in Community-Partnered Social Justice, Prof. Nichols will build on a decade’s worth of research into youth homelessness. With a focus on driving institutional change for Canada’s most vulnerable youth, Prof. Nichols’ research is developed collaboratively alongside youth with lived experiences with homelessness in Montreal and in Peterborough.

Adding to Trent’s long-standing reputation as an institution with strong social justice expertise, Prof. Nichols will also lead the creation of a lab dedicated to community research for social change – which allows a diverse range of activist and advocacy groups the ability to engage in social research, access and own their data, and participate equitably in evidence-based decision making.

“It is an opportunity to create new ways of understanding, and redress the root causes of Canada’s most entrenched social problems – including homelessness and housing. But this is only true if the work is understood to be inherently political and values-driven – rather than a rational and objective means of understanding and governing social life,” notes Prof. Nichols, a Trent alumna who joined the Department of Sociology this summer. “I hope that my research continues to support young people with access to internships and other opportunities to build social networks to become passionately engaged and to make a future that they can be excited about.”

Dr. Anne Pasek, Canada Research Chair in Media, Culture and the Environment

As a cross-appointed professor within the School of the Environment and the Department of Cultural Studies, Canada research chair in Media, Culture and the Environment, Prof. Pasek will study climate communications and how, specifically, carbon is represented in different contexts and conversations about the planet and its energy futures. Prof. Pasek’s research also utilizes a self-reflexive lens, exploring what climate change means for academics and how decarbonizing society will impact future scholarship and research methodologies.

Building on Trent’s expertise as one of Canada’s top postsecondary environmental institutions, Prof. Pasek will create a low carbon research lab at Trent to explore low carbon research and dissemination methods and engage students who are interested in the intersection of climate change and media production.

“Climate change isn't just a scientific issue,” explained Prof. Pasek. “It's also deeply tied to cultural norms and the media by which we learn and communicate about this problem and each other. This means that we need to think creatively and socially about what's holding us back and what could move us forward.”

Canada Research Chairs

Trent’s Canada research chair holders advance research, teaching and learning through their leading edge explorations in diverse disciplines, and include the following:

  • Dr. May Chazan, CRC, Feminist and Gender Studies
  • Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer, CRC, Study of the Canadian North
  • Dr. Dennis Murray, CRC, Integrative Wildlife Conservation
  • Dr. Naomi Nichols, CRC, Community-Partnered Social Justice
  • Dr. Anne Pasek, CRC, Media, Culture and the Environment
  • Dr. Ian Power, CRC, Environmental Geoscience
  • Dr. Mark Skinner, CRC, Rural Aging, Health and Social Care
  • Dr. Aaron Slepkov, CRC, Physics of Biomaterials
  • Dr. Paul Szpak, CRC, Environmental Archaeology

The Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) stands at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world's top countries in research and development. It invests approximately $295 million per year to attract and retain a diverse cadre of world-class researchers, to reinforce academic research and training excellence in Canadian postsecondary institutions. The CRC program has positioned Canada as an international leader and destination of choice in research and development.

Learn more about the research that Dr. Nichols and Dr. Pasek will conduct through the CRC program.

About Trent University

One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.

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