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Navigating Anti-Colonialism in Education: An Interview with Aneet Kahlon

This post is the second in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives.

The first post featured an interview with Silas Krabbe, GAA representative on GPACC.

Aneet Kahlon Banner

Today I am thrilled to introduce Aneet Kahlon (she/her/hers), a MA student and student representative in EDST. Aneet graciously took the time to share insights into her academic journey, research interests, and experiences within EDST.

Map of Calgart

From Science to SCPE

Aneet’s background before coming to EDST was in science learning. Coming from Calgary, AB Aneet earned her Biological Sciences degree at the University of Calgary, as well as a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta.

Originally wanting to come to UBC to study Marine Biology straight out high school, Aneet instead joined the Educational Studies department in fall 2022.

Finding Her Niche: SCPE and Anti-Racism 

In her pursuit of a Masters degree, Aneet found EDST’s SCPE (Society, Culture and Politics in Education) a wonderful fit, focusing on anti-racism and educational policy. Much of her previous university experiences were large, lecture-format classes, so she has really enjoyed the switch to smaller classes and the ability to talk about and engage in coursework with others.

Getting Involved as a Student Representative

Aneet is currently the student representative on the Scholarships and Awards Committee. While she hasn’t had the chance to meet with the committee this year, she is no stranger to volunteering in the department. Last year she was a SCPE student representative, and found it was a great way to meet people in EDST and get to know more about the inner-workings of the program.

People's Shadows (clipart)

Aneet shared her motivation for joining committees as a student representative, in that she aims to expand her involvement beyond classroom learning, emphasizing the importance of understanding the program’s decision-making processes.

Life Beyond EDST

When asked about hobbies, Aneet shared that she is learning to draw. In addition to taking drawing lessons, Aneet also enjoys doing other arts and crafts like embroidery, creative writing, journaling and poetry.

Aneet is hoping to incorporate her newfound passion for drawing into her thesis through the inclusion of family photos she has been drawing. She described how the process of carefully studying the small details of family photos has been a moving process which has allowed her to feel more connected to her grandparents and family memories. She credits one of her supervisors, Hartej Gill, for encouraging her to integrate creative outlets into her thesis, as she had incorporated creative writing into her own dissertation.

Around Vancouver

When asked about her favorite spots around Vancouver, Aneet shared that one of her favorite peaceful getaways is New Brighton Beach near Powell Street.

Another favorite spot is Main Street, particularly Caffe Artigiano. She might often be spotted browsing at a nearby bookstore before settling in to study at Caffe Artigiano with one of their delicious oat milk chai lattes. Aneet also enjoys immersing herself in Vancouver’s live music scene and appreciates the diverse range of local artists and the vibrant energy of the music scene.

Aneet’s Research and Experience with EDST

Aneet’s primary focus is on education policy research, specifically delving into anti-racism policy through an anti-colonial lens. Her thesis, titled “Anti-Colonial Content Analysis of Surrey School District’s Racial Equity Strategic Plan,” will examine how policy production impacts students, teachers, and communities. Her research is driven by a desire to challenge the status quo and advocate for anti-colonialism in education, aiming to create inclusive spaces where diverse voices are valued and heard.

As Aneet reflects on her journey, she’s grateful for the supportive community and the diverse perspectives she’s encountered in her time with EDST.

Thanks to Aneet for sharing her story!

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This blog post was the second in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives. Click here to learn more about EDST’s committees and opportunities to get involved.

Are you a student representative interested in being featured on the EDST blog? Click here to reach out to our blog editor, Jessica Lussier.

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Navigating Education and Community: An interview with Silas Krabbe

This post is the first in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives.

Banner that reads "EDST Student Rep: Silas Krabbe"

Silas Krabbe (he/him/his) is a PhD student in UBC’S Educational Studies department. Silas was born and raised in Calgary, AB, but moved to Fraser Valley in 2007 for college. In 2013 he moved to Vancouver to begin his graduate studies, and in fall of 2019 he joined EDST to earn his MEd in SCPE (Society, Culture and Politics in Education).

In 2021 Silas rejoined EDST to begin his PhD in Educational Studies.

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His research interests include violence, pedagogy, and philosophy of education. Some of his recent work includes:

In addition to these recent publications, Silas is currently co-editing a special issue on “antifacist education” for the journal Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies.

Silas currently serves as a GAA in the department, as well as the GAA research representative on the Graduate Programs Advisory and Curriculum Committee (GPACC). He chose to become an EDST representative to gain a better understanding of the department, and to learn more about where the department is heading.

Typically meeting once a month, the GPACC advises on all matters related to graduate education within EDST. Members review, advise, and assess the department’s educational philosophy, and curriculum development, as well as coordinate student enrolment, and organize student orientation and graduation activities.

For example, Silas shared that currently the GPACC is processing course approvals and reviewing syllabi for the summer terms. The other current discussion taking place in the committee is the topic of how many future courses ought to be offered in online, hybrid, and in-person modalities.

“One goal I try and keep in mind as a student rep is trying to consider how the decisions being made will effect the experience of EDST students in terms of having something of a learning community throughout their course of study.”

Starting his PhD program in the fall of 2021, Silas understands the importance of learning communities for EDST students, and shares:

"This goal is rooted in my own belief that education is best done with others and not in isolation.”

Beyond academia, on winter weekends Silas can found downhill skiing, while in the summers his free time is spent sailing around the Salish sea. Around the city, Silas might be found taking a walk through Pacific Spirit Park or at a Vancouver bar called “The Narrow.”

Interested in learning more about Silas’ work?

Silas will be presenting at EDST’s Doctoral Colloquium series, 

12-1:30pm, Thursday, January 11th.

Click below to RSVP for this catered event!

Banner describing Silas' Doctoral Colloquium event

Clipart of question and answer bubbles

This blog post was the first in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives. Click here to learn more about EDST’s committees and opportunities to get involved.

Are you a student representative interested in being featured on the EDST blog? Click here to reach out to our blog editor, Jessica Lussier.

EDST Blog: Call for Papers (and Introduction to Editorial Board)

The EDST blog editorial board is pleased to invite EDST students, staff, and faculty to submit contributions to the EDST blog.


Department head André Mazawi described EDST as our “common home,” “in the sense of a space we all share in the pursuit of our work, studies, and contributions.”

The EDST blog serves as an extension of this shared space, where authors can:

  • Start conversations and raise questions
  • Reflect on university life and student issues
  • Discuss others subjects within education

Watch the video below for more details, then scroll to the bottom to this post to find the full call, and introduction to the blog’s new editorial board!

Questions about submissions can be directed to Jessica Lussier at

Call For Papers


Introducing the Editorial Board

Many thanks to previous GAAs and EDST students who volunteered as the blog’s editorial team. The blog warmly welcomes Silas Krabbe and Yotam Ronen as new members of the editorial board.


Silas Krabbe is a PhD student in EDST working within the philosophy of education. His research attempts to understand unintended cognitive violence between the educator and educatee, through the lenses of race, phenomenology, and theology. When off campus, you probably won’t find him; he’ll be out skiing or sailing with his wife and daughter.


Yotam Ronen is a PhD candidate at EDST. His research focuses on how radical educators during the early 20th century used education to realize their ideology of a free, egalitarian, and cooperative utopian society. He is also a bass player, currently playing live all over Vancouver with the Sam Rocha Trio, and bakes way too much bread.


Questions around Community

  • How are communities formed?
  • What does it mean to live, work, learn, or educate in community?
  • What goals might educative communities hold in common?
  • How does the research you are currently doing shape how you understand community


EDST students, faculty and staff are invited to share further questions they’d like to pose around the theme of “community” below in a shared Padlet.
Instructions to post: You can click on the plus sign to add a message, your name and a visual if you wish. 


Part 4: Working Students

By Alison Taylor
In these posts so far, I’ve addressed issues I’m aware of from my personal life, teaching, and thoughts as a citizen. In this post, I turn to our current research[1] on working undergraduate students at UBC and U of T. I find it troubling that although we (instructors) engage with students in our classes, we often don’t know much about the circumstances of their lives. When I was the Graduate Advisor in EDST, I became aware of some of the complex home-work-study situations faced by many of our graduate students, usually when they had reached a crisis point.
Our Hard Working Students[2] research study, now ending its second year, explores the situations of working undergraduates at UBC over their programs. From our quantitative survey of undergraduates in 2018 and 2019,[3] we learned that over half of full-time students work part-time during the academic year. In 2019, the average number of hours they worked per week was 16 (equivalent to the time spent in class for many). Perhaps not surprisingly, those from lower SES backgrounds were more likely to be working. Most work off campus and a large proportion of students reported stress or anxiety (68%) and fatigue (58%) as problems at work in 2019.
I’m getting a sense of why fatigue and anxiety are prevalent as I read transcripts from students’ self-interviews as they traveled to and from work and classes in winter/spring of 2019. Many students are engaged in both paid and unpaid work, as well as student clubs and organizations, on top of their four to six-course load. The ease with which students manage their workload varies by individual circumstances. We know that balancing school and work is particularly anxiety provoking, for example, for those students who must pay their rent, food, tuition, and other living costs without support from families. Many of these students feel this part of their life is invisible to the university.
As the COVID-19 lockdown began, we emailed our participants to see how it’s impacting their lives. So far, we’ve heard from 13 students[4] and hope to hear from others over the summer. Responses suggest that most students’ plans have been seriously disrupted by the pandemic (only two of thirteen are continuing to work as usual). A couple are still working, but express concerns about safety at work since they’re in contact with customers or other workers. Plans for Study Abroad, internships, or cooperative education experiences are cancelled or on hold. Job offers are being rescinded and students are being forced to be even more flexible and adaptable than usual. Most students have decided to take summer courses in the event they can’t find work. Beyond work changes, some international students and out-of-province students have moved back home with parents.
What is to be done? In response to the immediate COVID-19 situation, the federal government has responded with the Canada Emergency Student Benefit program, intended to offer financial assistance to students who can’t find work over the summer, and the Canada Student Service Grant program, to provide some support students who choose to volunteer in the fight against COVID-19. Special support is to be provided also for Indigenous students. In addition, the government is involved in summer job creation activities. However, like responses to the elderly and those living in poverty, the pandemic shines a light on broader issues in the higher education system.
First, concerns the globalization of higher education. In addition to international student recruitment, higher education, now more than ever, encourages student mobility and internationalization initiatives based on global knowledge networks.[5] For example, our study suggests that the financial pressures on international students are significant because of their much higher tuition costs and lack of job hunting networks. The number of domestic students negatively affected by the pandemic in terms of international opportunities is striking too. More generally, questions around who can access ‘extra-credential’ opportunities and what student supports are available will continue to be topics for discussion.
Second, is the problematic nature of human capital discourse in higher education. Students are acutely aware of labour market returns on different degrees, and the need to be employable upon graduation. Many students now feel pressured to not only get a degree, but also to get relevant work experience, to demonstrate leadership in student clubs, and to include career-relevant volunteer work on their cv’s by the time they graduate. However, as the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates, individual employability not only involves personal attributes and competencies, but also factors less within students’ control, including the rules and institutions that govern local, national, and international labour markets (e.g. employment standards, regulation of occupations, etc.), economic changes (e.g., shifts in demand), as well as personal circumstances (e.g. child or elder care responsibilities).[6] Employability therefore needs to be located in a dialogue between multiple stakeholders, including providers, learners and communities as well as business and government.[7]
Third, and related to a broader view of employability, is the importance of understanding working students’ lives. In Canadian society overall, COVID-19 has increased our awareness of the vastly different circumstances of different workers, where some are able to “weather the storm” while others are being dashed on the rocks. Students also face very different situations, and universities therefore need to be more attentive to the most vulnerable students. This includes considering who is unable to enroll in the (for financial reasons), who is barely subsisting once in programs, and who is dropping out for reasons that are largely non-academic. Although the proportion of university students who work has steadily increased over time, universities have not always responded.
To cite the conclusion to our report:
The typical undergraduate student continues to be seen by the university as a non-working student, despite evidence to the contrary. Such a student is seen as devoting 100 percent of their time and energy to their studies, prioritizing learning in the classroom, demonstrating concern about achieving high grades, and participating in extra-curricular activities on campus to become well rounded.
In contrast, our study results confirm the image of the working student as a juggler, trying to keep all the balls in the air – paid and unpaid work, attending class and studying – while trying to preserve a few precious moments for self-care, family, and friends.
Universities must recognize that many students are not working by choice, and that students working in precarious conditions may require accommodations and additional supports.
[1] The research team includes Hongxia Shan as well as colleagues in Ontario. See our blogsite:
[2] See our blogsite:
[3] See our report of survey findings:
[4] See a sampling of quotes on our blogsite:
[5] See article by Altbach & de Wit in University World News on April 4, 2020:
[6] See article about employability by McQuaid, R.W. and Lindsay, C. (2005), The concept of employability, Urban Studies, 42, 2, 197-219.
[7] See article about employability by McGrath, S. (2009), What is employability? Learning to support employability project paper, 1, 15