Updates from SJRI’s Acting Director | David Butz

Dear SJRI affiliated members:

As Acting Director of the SJRI for the next six months while Janet Conway is on sabbatical leave, I’m writing to wish you a Happy New Year and a successful Winter Term, and to update you on recent and upcoming SJRI activities, initiatives and opportunities.

As Janet noted in last term’s update from the Director, the Faculty Steering Committee has developed a short, medium and long-term plan that orients all SJRI activity around a core mission of producing world-class, transdisciplinary social justice scholarship. In addition to scholarly knowledge production we are attending to SJRI’s long-term organizational stability and financial viability; meaningful engagement of SJRI members; mentoring of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows; and building appropriate and enduring community partnerships. The items outlined below stem from this planning process.

These include: (1) Upcoming Events, Activities and Initiatives; (2) Ongoing Programs, Services and Endeavours; (3) Current Preoccupations; (4) Congratulations and Recognition; (5) Thanks and Praises.

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SJRI affiliate explores green care | Toronto Star

Green care aims to cross rural-urban divide

Dr. Kendra Coulter confronts the need for decent jobs every day.

As a professor at Brock University’s Labour Studies Department, she routinely polls her students about what they want out of the workplace. Time and again, she gets the same answer: a stable paycheque, but also a sense of pride.

“They want to do good with their work,” she says.

Making that a possibility is at the heart of Coulter’s research. She has written extensively about how to improve working conditions in the retail industry. Now, she’s exploring an as-yet-unheard-of sector in Canada. It’s called green care, and Coulter believes it holds the potential for more jobs and better work.

“Too many jobs are bad for people, animals, and the environment,” says Coulter. “We have a lot of critiques in the academic literature of what’s wrong — but not enough research on alternatives and on solutions.”

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Now in Paperback: Revolutionizing Retail by Kendra Coulter

Revolutionizing Retail

Workers, Political Action, and Social Change

Kendra Coulter

Retail workers are a large labor force, yet their jobs are generally devalued and dominated by low wages, precarious conditions, and disrespect. Coulter draws on three years of comparative research on retail workers and political action, including fieldwork in Canada, the United States, and Sweden, to explore what is needed to improve workers’ wellbeing and transform retail work. The only book of its kind, Revolutionizing Retail explains the strategies being used to improve retail jobs and retail workers’ quality of life, including diverse forms of organizing, public policy, and good management. Coulter analyzes the degree to which current efforts are succeeding, and what lessons they offer about the present and future of work, forms of agency, and class, gender, and race relations. The power of culture, emotions, and workers’ personal experiences of political action are at the heart of this engaging discussion of the challenges and possibilities of social change.

For more info or to purchase the book…

Brock News interview…

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CFP [Due - Jan 31]: Social Movements and Contentious Politics

Conference Announcement: Call for Papers and Workshop Participants

The Comparative Politics Student Group presents: “Social Movements and Contentious Politics: Theories and Methods of Local Protest and Global Activism

7-8 March 2015, Multifaith Centre, University of Toronto

Since the turn of the 21st century, the rise of violent and non-violent protests, increases in popular mobilization, and the proliferation of social movements has led to an increasing understanding of the shared strategies and symbols of dissent. As calls for social justice, human rights, and democracy proliferate traditional and social media, shared strategies and symbols of dissent signify ever-greater connections between local protest and global activism. The increasing awareness of local protest and global activist movements calls for a (re)evaluation of new and existing theories and methods that academics employ to examine contemporary social movements and contentious politics. The Comparative Politics Student Group (CPSG) of the University of Toronto is organizing a morning of workshops, and an afternoon of panel presentations, that address social movement and contentious politics from multi-disciplinary perspectives. We invite participants and presenters to attend the workshops and deliver papers on the following themes:

  • Protest movements and the interconnections between different local, regional, and international symbols and strategies of resistance;
  • The moral and legal implications of political action and dissent in democratic and authoritarian contexts;
  • Social movement theories and methodologies, as well as lessons “from the field;”
  • Comparisons between varieties of contentious episodes.

Other topics that address the broad theme of social movements and contentious politics are most welcome.

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Geography Talk [Jan 23]: Feminist-Intersectional Analysis of Urban Spaces in a Neoliberal Era

MA Geography Speaker Series

A Feminist-Intersectional Analysis of Urban Spaces in a Neoliberal Era:  Emerging Subjects and Subjectivities

Dr. Ebru Ustundag
Department of Geography, Brock University

Friday January 23, 2:00-4:00, MC C405
(light refreshments will be served)

Abstract: Over the last decade, neoliberal, neoconservative and patriarchal discourses have  transformed urban landscapes, altering the formations and contestations of subjects, subjectivities and subjection in and through urban spaces. Feminist inquiry and praxis have been influential in mapping out the tensions, paradoxes, and contradictions that have arisen in this period of neoliberalization and neoconservatism. Continue reading

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Call for Applications [Closes Feb 4]: Young Workers and Youth Activist Training Program

Taking Charge of Change

Applications are open for Winter 2015!

Taking Charge of Change (TCC) is an intensive eight-week activist training program for young workers and youth activists (age 30 and under) who want to lead, build and organize for change. This program takes place in a participatory online learning environment.

This program will help you:

  • build leadership skills to engage and mobilize young workers;
  • build knowledge about the issues affecting young workers in the union, workplace and community;
  • deepen your understanding of past and present labour and social justice issues using an anti-oppression framework;
  • develop organizing skills for building a movement; and
  • Bonus! Build solidarity with other young activists across the country!

TCC 2015 will be held live online – where you will learn with other young activists from coast-to-coast-to-coast. This is your opportunity to learn, share, and hone your skills as a labour and community activist. We will cover topics like worker’s history, inequality and human rights, political campaigns, radical organizing & creative action, social movement building, inter-generational organizing, and more.

Find the application, along with more information, on our website.

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Witnessing Transdisciplinarity in St. Catharines | Rachel Hirsch

Art, Archives and Affinities: Exploring Social Justice across Disciplinary Boundaries

A public event hosted by the Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI) “Art, Archives, and Affinities” was held at the Mahtay Café Thursday, December 4, 2014 in downtown St. Catharines to celebrate the diversity of social justice research at Brock University.

Special guests at this event included Christine Kim and Gregory Betts. Christine Kim has been involved in social work with the homeless for the past six years, focusing on the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles. Though her work, she has found that, although an estimated 10-25 per cent of the homeless have animals, there are only a handful of shelters in the U.S. designed to take in interspecies families. Her project, “My Dog is My Home: The Experience of Human-Animal Homelessness,” is a multi-media online and offline exhibition displayed at Mahtay Café in St. Catharines.

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Student Funding Opportunity [$4500+] | Office of Research Services

Brock Research Ventures

The Opportunity


‘Research Ventures’ is a stream within the new Brock ‘match of minds’ program, the latter being a co-curricular program available to all Brock students, with the aim of providing them with research experiences at the various stages in their student life. The Research Ventures stream seeks to provide the opportunity for students to develop a social, commercial or technology venture in partnership with a Brock professor (or member of staff) and at least one external mentor. (The external mentor can be an individual or a representative of a company or not-for-profit organization.)

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SJRI Co-Sponsored Talk [Jan 20]: Indian Policies and the Anishinaabeg Borderlands

White Facing: Indian Policies, State Growth, and the Anishinaabeg in the Upper Great Lakes’ Borderlands

Guest Presentation by Karl Hele
Director, First People’s Studies, Concordia University
Member of the Garden River First Nation of Anishinaabeg

Date | January 20, 2015
Time | 5:00 – 7:00pm
Location | Sankey Chamber at Brock University

Snacks Provided by Fed Up – All Welcome

Presented by the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies with support from the Council for Research in the Social Sciences (CRISS)

Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology, the Department of History, and the Social Justice Research Institute

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CFP [Submissions Open - Jan 19]: Visible Evidence

Visible Evidence, the international conference on documentary film and media, now in its 22nd year, will convene August 19-23rd, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. Hosted by the Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto; the School of Image Arts, Ryerson University; and the Department of Cinema and Media Arts, York University, Visible Evidence 22 will address the history, theory, and practice of documentary and non-fiction cinema, television, video, audio recording, digital media, photography, and performance, in a wide range of panels, workshops, plenary sessions, screenings, and special events.

Registration begins May 1, 2015.

Call for Papers

Proposals for pre-constituted panels, individual papers, workshops, and screenings are invited according to the following guidelines.


While proposals may address any aspect of documentary screen cultures, histories and practices, potential presenters should be aware that the conference will highlight the following themes:

1. Documenting the North. With Visible Evidence XXII hosted in one of the world’s largest polar countries, it seems fitting to consider anew the long and contested tradition of cinematic documentation of the North, which has played such a generative role in the evolution of the documentary medium. For the past several decades, the “North” has been talking back in films and videos produced by First Nations film and video artists and activists across the polar regions; who have eagerly and ingeniously embraced new digital technologies, satellite transmission and the Internet as key modes of self-definition crucial to the preservation and documentation of evolving cultural identities.

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