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 edstblog.editor@ubc.ca.

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. 


“On Public Facing Scholarship” by Itamar Manoff

Have you written a paper you are proud of?

Are there aspects of your research you are excited to share with others?

Do you want to learn how to communicate your work to a broader audience?

This blog post will offer some tips and ideas on how to get your work out there and how to translate your research into prose that is public-facing and accessible. Included at the end are some opportunities to get support for public scholarship projects.

-Itamar Manoff

“Research” in education is a complex matter.
Educational Studies as a field is unique in its multi-disciplinary and multi-perspective approach, which derives from the very heart of educational practice as a meeting place for people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and lived experiences.
On the level of research and scholarship, this is apparent in the broad array of disciplines and theoretical perspectives that come into conversation in educational research: education involves research in sociology, history, philosophy, Indigenous studies, gender studies, queer theory, psychology, ecology, and more.
So, how do you go about showcasing your work in different settings and to different audiences? What are the nuts and bolts of public facing scholarship?
Here are some practical tips and resources that can help you move your project, idea, or research into the public domain:


First Steps: Knowledge Translation

One good way to start is by trying to communicate your work to people outside your field of research. This can be as simple as having a conversation with a friend or a relative, or someone in the community who might be interested in your work (e.g. students, teachers, administrators), in which you explain your basic ideas, the research questions or arguments that you have thought about, and their significance.


It might be a good ideaimage portrays five people, engaging in conversations with one another. to record your conversation and take notes of questions, responses and ideas your interlocutor has. These can help you “translate” your work into public-facing, accessible, and relevant language. For some more ideas on how to effectively tell your research story, check out this article from the University Affairs website.


Dip your toes in some public-facing writing or speaking

Now that you have some sense of how to communicate your ideas to a broader audience, it’s time to get out there and share your ideas! Here are some ideas for engaging in some public facing work:

1. Submit an entry to the EDST blog!

The EDST blog is a supportive and friendly space to showcase your work, create connections with other EDST students and faculty, and get some feedback on your public-facing writing.
Check out blog editor Jessica Lussier’s blog post on academic blogging for more information and keep an eye out for a call for submissions coming soon!


2. TAships

TAships can be a great opportunity to practice presenting in front of an audience. If you are working as a TA (or planning to), it might be a good idea to consult with the professor to see if there are any opportunities to make a short presentation about your work, research, or topics you are passionate about.


3. UBC’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

If you are working on your thesis or dissertation, and are looking for an opportunity to communicate your research to a broader audience, try applying to UBC’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which is a fun and exciting chance to practice your public presentation skills, and gain experience engaging with a non-expert audience.
Click here to view this year’s 3MT presenters.


Explore public-facing scholarship

Now that you’ve engaged in knowledge translation and polished your presentation and public writing skills, it’s time to explore some exciting opportunities to take your public-facing scholarship to the next levels. Here are some possible avenues to explore:
    • Explore the world of public scholarship! In recent years, there has been an explosion in research on public scholarship, its significance, and the ways in which to successfully engage in it. Check out this resource list to explore current research on public scholarship.
    • The Conversation Canada is a platform that brings in academic researchers from across the country to contribute public-facing, engaging and accessible writing, based on academic research. The site is free and open-source, and encourages high-quality writing and journalism from academic writers on issues relevant to the wider public. Check out this Atlantic article on similar initiatives to make academic research accessible to the public.
    • Apply to the UBC Public Scholars Initiative (PSI). This initiative brings together doctoral students from different faculties in UBC to foster and support them in becoming public scholars. The program provides students with a network of students and faculty members who work collaboratively on public scholarship initiatives, provides academic support to students in the program, and offers up to $20,000 in funding to support members’ innovative projects. For more information on the program, application procedures and information about current PSI scholars and their work, check out this link.

A ‘Hidden’ Crisis: The Cost of Power

Jed Anderson

“Technique has penetrated the deepest recesses of the human being. The machine tends not only to create a new human environment, but also to modify man’s very essence.”
-Jacques Ellul[1]
The Technological Society
On a starless night in August, I drove with a clergyman friend through a lightning storm into what seemed like hell on earth.
Racing through a downpour on the backroads near Worsley, Alberta, my hope of catching a glimpse of a starry sky was obliterated by a black blanket of clouds and offset by blinding lightning. This was an exciting alternative to stargazing – fireworks of a different sort. Our route through Treaty 8 Lands passed through the traditional territories of the Dane-zaa and Woodland Cree, through family farms carved out of boreal forest. I chose it for the lack of light pollution.
After a day spent reading books along isolated lakes, watching moose plough through muskeg, avoiding roadside deer, and drinking beer, I had hoped for a glittering quiet drive across the invisible border into British Columbia. Instead, the glow of apocalyptic red flames began to light up the undersides of the clouds, even as forks of blue-white lightning continued to lance down around our small Volkswagen, occasionally hitting so close that we needed to brake as thunder rattled the windows.
Passing into BC, we were treated to the reality of fracking and the LNG economy.
In a landscape devoid of natural light other than lightning, the belching flare-stacks gave everything the character of Tolkien’s Mordor. Flames from metallic towers licked the sky and the stench of petroleum and chemical by-products was heavy in the air. None of these sights, sounds, and smells were alien to me. I have lived in the Peace Country before, although typically it’s grainfields and boreal forest that define the norm. This aesthetic combination of fire and thunder, after years spent in the numbing cocoon of Vancouver, was a brutal reminder of the ongoing crisis. It was an education from the land, a sort of fever nightmare that affected the rest of the trip.
The next day we walked along the edge of the valley which the half-constructed Site C Dam will eventually submerge, obliterating an entire landscape. Protest signs from First Nations and local ranchers line the highway, pleading for someone to “Stop Site C”, but the trees are already being clear-cut. Concrete pilings and towers for a future bridge rise in a farmer’s field, soon to be underwater.
We then went to look at the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, which provides between a quarter and a third of BC’s electricity. The construction of the dam in the 1960s flooded the homeland of the Tsay Keh Dene First Nation, broke up caribou herds, altered whole ecologies, and ended a way of life for thousands of people. The W.A.C. Bennett reservoir is one of the largest in the world and the scale of the destruction its creation wrought is disturbing.
Travelling south from the dam, we passed open-face coal mines, logging operations, and pulp mills. I’m a bit numb to these industrial operations. I live several blocks from the Parkland Refinery in Burnaby, where Vancouver gets most of its gasoline. But it has been some time since I’ve been pressed up against the full reality of raw resource extraction in BC, since I’ve smelled hydrocarbons burning off from active wells, heard the buzz of thousands of hydroelectric gigawatts, or seen the reality of large-scale coal mining in progress. In northern BC and Alberta, one is confronted with the hungry mouth of capitalism chewing through the land, rather than the flatulent residue of consumption and digestion that we tend to witness in Vancouver.
The solution to the crisis which we are most commonly sold is to remove that flatulence.
The electric car, for example, will give us cleaner skies. But last month, Elon Musk’s calls for nickel production were answered eagerly by Vancouver-based Giga Metals, which owns the proposed Turnagain Mine, 70 kilometers east of Dease Lake, BC. Vancouver’s air will be cleaner, at the expense of another tailing pile, another road, another leachate pond. Giga Metals promises a cutting edge environmentally conscious mine, British Columbians would be wise to be suspicious.
All of these things are a ‘hidden’ crisis – both environmental and human. BC casts judgment on Alberta while committing equal or worse acts of environmental destruction. These acts are kept far from the eyes of those who might otherwise take action against them. Indigenous people in northern BC have seen little to no return from the billions of dollars siphoned off from these lands, and non-indigenous communities have had their entire essence oriented to the extractive economy.
It is not an accident that Vancouver is the ‘mining capital of the world’, with hundreds of firms here, many with dubious operations in nations with poor human rights or regulatory oversight. We have had practice on ourselves. UBC is funded with the tax proceeds of fracking, mining, and logging, but can revel in its green leafy malls far from the unattractive sights of such exploits. A huge portion of the power that lights our homes and classrooms is derived from the flooding of another people’s homeland. We’re doubling down on this destruction with Site C, new pipelines, and new mines.
This is a crisis.
In Jacques Ellul’s book, The Technological Society, he describes the nature of technique and the technical society we all live in. It is an unsettling picture of a disturbing monism, where everything in our world is made to serve ‘the machine’, where centralization is an inevitable outcome of technique. Ellul suggests we have made a Faustian bargain for a taste of power and in the hope for a technological ‘paradise’. It was just this type of exchange I was reminded of, as I rolled past small country churches, through darkest night, into silent sulphurous flames, and a stench that the mythological figure of Charon would have enjoyed.
[1] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), 325.
Jed Anderson Bio:
Jed Anderson is a PhD candidate (ABD) in the department of Educational Studies at UBC. He is studying higher education in northern British Columbia and is interested in similar cases in other northern regions in Canada and Scandinavia. Jed is curious how non-metropolitan, rural, and peripheral institutions are created and how higher education relates to regionalism and northern development. His research at UBC has led to a greater focus on the role imperialism and individualist-oriented capitalism plays in maintaining spatial inequality in BC.

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: https://blogs.ubc.ca/hardwork/researchteam/
[2] See our blogsite: https://blogs.ubc.ca/hardwork
[3] See our report of survey findings: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/73374
[4] See a sampling of quotes on our blogsite: https://blogs.ubc.ca/hardwork/2020/04/30/what-ubc-students-are-saying-about-the-impact-of-covid-19/
[5] See article by Altbach & de Wit in University World News on April 4, 2020: https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20200402152914362
[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

Part 2: People living in poverty

By Alison Taylor

Moving to Vancouver from Edmonton, one of my first impressions was about the obvious divide between rich and poor. One only has to walk from Yaletown to the downtown eastside to register this disparity. Researchers who have studied rising neighbourhood inequality over time in Canada find there has been a significant rise in inequality in Vancouver over time (as in Toronto and other major cities). The percentage of low-income individuals (more than 20% below average) in Vancouver grew from 10% in 1970 to 29% in 2015.[1] Over the same period, the percentage of high-income individuals grew from 12% to 20%. At the same time, low-income people are being displaced, with middle-class gentrification “nibbling around the edges of the traditionally low-income inner city neighbourhoods, including the downtown eastside, Gastown, Chinatown, Strathcona, Grandview-Woodland and Mount Pleasant.”[2]
In Vancouver’s downtown eastside (DTES), the COVID-19 crisis is layered on top of an overdose epidemic that has been going on for years. More than 5,000 people in BC died as a result of illicit drug toxicity between 2016 and 2019.[3] Addiction is a health emergency, and is related to other social vulnerability factors.
The level of homelessness and insecure housing in the DTES community has required quick action with the arrival of the pandemic. As Richardson writes, “How can you wash your hands frequently if you don’t have access to a sink in your room or don’t have shelter at all? How do you stay two metres away from people when you live in extremely close quarters?”[4]
The city responded by converting Coal Harbour Community Centre and Roundhouse Community Centres into housing for homeless people. Meanwhile, the province has committed to moving people in Oppenheimer Park into temporary housing by May 9th.[5] It remains to be seen whether this is sufficient to address both crises.
Advocates hope that low income residents in the DTES and other parts of Vancouver will be eligible for federal COVID-19 benefits, and the provincial government has announced an increase in income assistance for individuals not eligible for these benefits. But lack of digital access to information and help with completing applications (e.g., from librarians, adult English Second Language and literacy educators, and settlement workers whose offices are now closed) introduces additional barriers for low-income people.[6] The loss of Chinatown businesses in the downtown eastside between 2009 and 2015 partly because of gentrification[7] may also be exacerbated by COVID-19.
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on “wicked” issues that are longstanding—poverty, racism, homelessness, and addiction. How does Canada compare with other countries in terms of income inequality? The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of the distribution of income or wealth within a population. Comparisons of this measure across OECD countries for 2014-15 suggest Canada is below Nordic and Western European countries, and is slightly above the OECD average in terms of income inequality.[8]
So, what is to be done? Interestingly, the pandemic has opened up conversations about guaranteed income support and basic income. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh recently called for Universal Basic Income program to be introduced, and researchers like Diane Pohler (University of Toronto) have proposed a Targeted Basic Income program.[9] In a recent article, Pohler and colleagues write,
“A targeted basic income is a feasible, efficient, and equitable option for addressing income precarity during the ongoing health pandemic. It would provide a direct economic stimulus by putting money into the hands of the people most likely to spend it, and more importantly, into the hands of those most likely to need it. And once the pandemic is over, we can discuss how to make the policy permanent. As Canadians will increasingly come to understand, people can fall into poverty through no fault of their own.”[10]
A different approach to drug use is also necessary. If addiction is seen as an illness, then access to health services, access to safe supply, and decriminalization of drugs for personal use are all part of this new approach. The people most affected by this health crisis are doubtless in the best position to contribute to solutions, like many social problems. [11]
Questions related to the displacement of low-income residents and Chinese seniors in the downtown eastside are also important to keep on the table as the effects of the pandemic reside. If we don’t want a return to a society where some members are seen as disposable, actions need to be taken now.
[1] See 2017 presentation by Dr. David Hulchinki (University of Toronto): http://neighbourhoodchange.ca/homepage/vancouver-1970-2015/
[2] See Globe and Mail article by Kerry Gold: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/vancouver/how-income-inequality-is-reshaping-metrovancouver/article37196565/
[3] See report by CTV, February 24, 2020: https://bc.ctvnews.ca/overdose-crisis-nearly-3-people-per-day-died-last-year-in-b-c-1.4825008
[4] See story by UBC researcher Lindsey Richardson: https://www.arts.ubc.ca/news/when-crises-collide-covid-19-and-overdose-in-the-downtown-eastside/.
[5] See information at: https://globalnews.ca/news/6868608/oppenheimer-park-housing-response/
[6] See article by Suzanne Smythe at: https://www.policynote.ca/digital-equity/
[7] See article: Declining Chinatown food businesses in Georgia Strait: https://www.straight.com/food/958126/declining-chinatown-food-businesses-neglected-vancouver-civic-policies-report-finds
[8] See 2017 presentation by Dr. David Hulchinki (University of Toronto): http://neighbourhoodchange.ca/homepage/vancouver-1970-2015/
[9] See Global news story: https://globalnews.ca/news/6804097/canada-basic-income-policy/
[10] Find article at: https://www.cirhr.utoronto.ca/news/targeted-basic-income-equitable-policy-response-covid-19
[11] For more information about the opioid crisis from the perspective of drug users, see podcast “Crackdown” about drugs, drug policy and the drug war led by drug user activists in Vancouver: https://crackdownpod.com/