The important role of research on campus was once again celebrated as faculty from across disciplines presented their work during the 2019 StFX Faculty Research Day held March 22 in Bloomfield Centre.
Throughout the day, visitors could take in a number of research poster and oral presentations that included topics such as “Politics of ocean planning in the Gulf of St. Lawrence” to “The reach and effectiveness of a diabetes prevention program: small steps for big changes;” from “The permafrost carbon cycle feedback to climate change & the Paris accord: Are we already committed to 1.5 C of warming?” to “Economic policy uncertainty and bank stability.”
Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Academic Vice President & Provost, speaking in opening remarks, noted today is a day to celebrate the outstanding research culture we have at StFX.
“Thank you for coming out to share your research and to hear about the research of others,” he said.
At StFX, he says, faculty are dedicated to teaching, which is so important, and also have outstanding research programs, where they get grants, publish in top-ranked journals and provide opinion and commentary in a number of outlets.Faculty research day Kevin Wamsley.jpg
Dr. Kevin Wamsley delivers welcoming remarks during StFX Faculty Research Day
“As a university, we value the opportunity to celebrate this.”
The day’s facilitator was Dr. Richard Isnor, Associate Vice President Research and Graduate Studies, whose office sponsored the event.
New this year, Faculty Research Day also included a Lunch with Arts, Health Research Panel with colleagues from four universities across Canada and an Arts/Health Research Workshop, both hosted by StFX sociology professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) Health Equity & Social Justice Dr. Katie Aubrecht.
StFX’s 17th annual Student Research Day was also held the night before, March 21, in Bloomfield Centre, and Dr. Isnor says holding the two events back-to-back over consecutive days in the same location is meant to encourage sharing across both groups.
The event concluded with a research reception in the McNeil Gallery, Schwartz School of Business to celebrate major research accomplishments from the past year.
From studying disadvantaged youth and academic success to investigating estuarine plant survival in pre-industrial boat harbour sediment, StFX’s 17th Annual Student Research Day presented a vast, varied and impressive array of student research.
Over 100 research posters and oral presentations highlighted the annual event held this year on March 21 at Bloomfield Centre.
Student Research Day gives students the opportunity to showcase their research or advanced studies, and the community the chance to learn about and discuss the work.
Research topics, representing a wide mix of disciplines, ranged this year from ‘twitter on trial: public and journalists’ perceptions of twitter generally and live-tweeting specifically from the courtroom’ to ‘taking personalized medicine into the clinic: a preliminary review.’
“It was tremendous to see the quality and diversity of oral and poster presentations at the 17th Annual Student Research Day, as well as the great turn-out and participation of the StFX community. Student research at StFX has a distinct impact on a wide range of issues and our student researchers participating in Student Research Day have again demonstrated a high level of confidence and quality for which they should be proud,” said Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies.
A new dimension this year included holding the annual Student Research Day and the annual Faculty Research Day back-to-back over consecutive days in the same location in Bloomfield Centre to encourage students to come see and talk to faculty and staff about their research and for faculty and staff to do the same, talking to students about their research projects.
“It’s meant to share across both groups,” Dr. Isnor says.
A number of awards were handed out following the event These included:
Best Oral Presentation – Science (Co-Sponsored by the StFX Campus Store and the Research Services Group): Patrick O'Brien, PHYSICS, Invariant Centre of Mass of the Upsilon(2S) Meson
Best Oral Presentation - Social Sciences and Humanities (Co-Sponsored by the StFX Campus Store and the Research Services Group): Alejandra Torres, ENGLISH, "Recommended for You": Netflix's Basic Algorithm for Racism
Best Poster Awards (Co-Sponsored by the StFX Campus Store and the Research Services Group):
Gold: Jessie Doyle, PSYCHOLOGY, The Role of Anxiety Sensitivity and Influence of Anxious Attachment in Borderline Personality Disorder
Gold: Amy Rowe, ECONOMICS, Economic Benefits of English Medium Instruction: A Cross-Country Analysis of Linguistic Distance
Silver: Liam Elbourne, ECONOMICS, The Impact of the Financial Crisis on the Yield and Volatility of Canadian Bank Stocks
Silver: Emma Hennessey, HUMAN KINETICS, The Impact of your next move: X Fans in Training on Waist Circumference, Body Weight, and BMI in Overweight and Obese Men
Silver: Evan Davison-Kotler, BIOLOGY, Development of a dermal protein scaffold for the treatment of full-thickness skin wounds
Silver: Kirsten Gallant, ECONOMICS, A Dynamic Model of People Who Inject Drugs and the Role of Different Interventions in Overdose Prevention
Silver: Sydney Silver, BIOLOGY, Salinity tolerance of Halocladius variabilis (Diptera:Chironomidae) larvae from the rocky intertidal zone of Nova Scotia, Canada
Outstanding Community Engaged Research Project, sponsored by StFX Service Learning Program: Sarah Comandante, HUMAN KINETICS, The Power of Play: A Qualitative Examination of Parent's/Guardian's Perceptions of the Fit 4 Tots Program
Angus L. Macdonald Bibliography Award, sponsored by the Angus L Macdonald Library: Kendra Barry and Brianna Gottschall, HEALTH, Taking Personalized Medicine into the Clinic: A Preliminary Review
Local Undergraduate Research Award in Physiology (LURAP), sponsored by The American Physiological Society: Evan Davison-Kotler, BIOLOGY, Development of a dermal protein scaffold for the treatment of full-thickness skin wounds
After weeks of preparatory research to apply insights from Northern history, Canadian studies, and international law to a simulated crisis in Canada-United States relations, five senior undergraduate students from Trent University travelled to Nova Scotia this past weekend. On March 16th, they faced off against student counterparts from StFX in an all-day mock re-negotiation of the response to the Polar Sea crisis of 1985-86—a tense round of bilateral discussions after a US Coast Guard icebreaker transited the Northwest Passage (which Canada considers its historic internal waters subject to its full sovereignty) without Canadian permission.
The Trent students, mentored by Canadian studies professor and Canada Research Chair in the Study of the Canadian North, Whitney Lackenbauer, played the role of the Canadian delegation, while nine undergrads from StFX represented the United States. The StFX students were mentored by Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Maritime Security Policy at StFX.
The two sides debated fine points of international law, maritime security, shipping and development opportunities, and Inuit historic sea ice use and occupancy in a back and forth exchange the spanned several hours of intense discussion.
Their deep and nuanced understanding of this complex problem impressed the “impartial” moderator Dr. Peter Kikkert, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy at StFX.
“Students who had focused their preparatory readings on legal affairs carried on a spirited debate over applicability of Canada’s historic waters claim, its straight baselines, and an alleged international strait running through the Arctic Archipelago,” he noted.
Others “displayed a broad understanding of global security concerns, sought ways to sidestep sovereignty issues to meet Canadian environmental regulatory needs without denying American freedom of navigation, and debated questions of Inuit usage and human security that anticipated the debates leading to the creation of the Arctic Council in 1996.”
The organizers say the point of the exercise was to energize students and encourage them to explore scholarly literature and debates on Canadian sovereignty and the myriad issues surrounding it, including security, transportation, economic, environmental, and Indigenous dimensions. Then they applied their knowledge to a historical scenario, engaging in discussions and crafting proposals to simulate how negotiators might overcome competing priorities and interpretations of law in real-world deliberations.
“The students’ success in the exercise was best demonstrated by their organic development, over multiple break-out sessions with their peers, of a series of compromises and proposals which closely tracked what Canadian and American negotiators actually tried in the late 1980s,” Dr. Lajeunesse observed. “Both sides equally understood their respective nations’ ‘red lines’ and each of these proposals failed in light of those immovable national requirements.”
He says in the face of repeated and frustrating failures to arrive at a compromise, the American (StFX) delegation brashly threatened sanctions and aggressive naval challenges. The Canadians (Trent) dared the Americans to take them to the International Court of Justice. “Just when it looked like the negotiations were doomed to collapse,” Dr. Lackenbauer recounted, “the two parties abruptly changed course and decided to set aside irreconcilable differences so that they could pursue a more practical and pragmatic arrangement.” After a rapid series of back-and-forth concessions and offers, students produced a framework for Arctic cooperation which mirrored, in a surprising number of respects, the Arctic Cooperation Agreement that Canadian and American diplomats agreed upon in 1988, Dr. Lackenbauer said. That neither team had been given this document or had seen it going into the event highlighted just how thoroughly they had assimilated their respective national positions, needs, and requirements.
Drs. Lackenbauer and Lajeunesse hope that this will become an annual or biennial event, with students exploring different scenarios that encourage them to explore the complex interaction of political, environmental, socio-economic, legal, and cultural variables in international negotiations.
“As the US Coast Guard begins to rebuild its icebreaker fleet, the American security community is now speaking freely about new ‘freedom of navigation voyages’ through the Arctic waters,” Dr. Lajeunesse notes. “If this summer or next we do see a renewed challenge to Canadian sovereignty we can only hope our representatives show the same level-headedness as our students!”
To the StFX Community,
As Chair of the StFX Board of Governors, I write to inform you that after five years as President of StFX University, Dr. Kent MacDonald has decided to not renew his contract of employment which is scheduled to end on July 31, 2019.
Kent has dedicated himself tirelessly to leading StFX and has done a tremendous job in the role as President. His strengths are many, yet one that stands out for me has been his ability to personally connect and communicate with our students, a group that he cares deeply for. This was reflected in his decision to create and launch the Xaverian Fund – a $50 million endowment for student scholarships and bursaries which, in part, has increased access to higher education for those who could not afford such an opportunity. In addition to his commitment to students, Kent and his team have had many significant accomplishments during his tenure -- establishing the university’s 2017 – 2022 Strategic Plan; supporting the development and launching of new academic programs; launching the $110 million Xaverian Commons Project to improve academic and social spaces on campus; bringing the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government to fruition; and, most recently, balancing the university’s budget – just to name a few.
It is with this strong momentum that Kent expressed to me that it is the right time for someone new to step in to not only continue the good work that he has been leading, but to bring innovation and new ideas that will further advance StFX’s academic mission.
Kent will remain in his role until July 31st, 2019. A presidential search will begin in the weeks ahead. More details will be shared as they become available. The board is confident that the university’s executive team will continue their collective commitment to StFX during the transition period and beyond.
On behalf of the entire StFX community, I thank Kent for his leadership and unwavering dedication to this wonderful institution. He is a true Xaverian and I know he will continue to be a great friend and supporter of StFX in the future. At his request, I am providing a link to a letter from him to the campus community regarding his decision – letter from Dr. MacDonald.
Chair, StFX Board of Governors
A new centre that supports teaching, research and learning has opened on the StFX campus.
The Spatial Data Resource Centre is housed on the second floor of the Angus L. Macdonald Library, and offers the campus community a place to learn about and utilize spatial information with a geographic aspect to it—a resource that will help students and faculty on a wide range of projects.
“In this age of spatial information, it will be nice to have a space where researchers can access data and discuss ways to acquire the information they need,” says Matt Schumacher, StFX environmental science lab instructor and the driving force behind the centre, which houses data, both physical (such as maps and aerial photos) and digital (including pictures and satellite imagery) and has the capacity to print maps and posters.
Mr. Schumacher, who teaches a course on GIS (Geographic Information Systems) at StFX and is the informal, and go-to, GIS professional on campus, says he is excited that students, faculty and staff can become more informed and expert users in spatial information.
He says at least once a week he receives student and faculty requests for GIS-related help.
Not only will the centre be able to help students, faculty and staff on numerous projects, it will help students learn important skills that are useful in the job market, he says.
GIS, he says, is simply, mapping software. “But it can do so much more than that.” It takes layers of information and puts them together so that spatial information can be analyzed, stored and visualized.
Mr. Schumacher says the way spatial information is collected and analyzed has transformed the way relationships and patterns are understood. This information is increasingly utilized by a broad range of users.
As examples, the information can be useful on any project with a spatial element to it. From finding a certain species of plant that grows in specific locations to the public health field and planning for epidemics; from helping to understand the demographics of ridings and their voting trends, to the business field where it can be used to help retail outlets get a sense of their customer base to target those hot spots with ads or in locating a new store.
Mr. Schumacher says the centre will help educate the campus community about this new resource, the data tools available and how it can help them with their research. He’ll have set hours at a help desk in the centre.
He says the offices of StFX Associate Vice-President Research & Graduate Studies Dr. Richard Isnor and the former Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf have been very supportive of the initiative, including providing some funding to help with the set up.
From discussions around mental health in policing to the Dennis Oland trial, participants at the 11th annual Forensic Psychology Day @ X, held March 8 in StFX’s MacKay Room, Bloomfield Centre, had a terrific opportunity to participate in daylong discussions of all matters at the interface of psychology and law.
Now in its 11th year, this annual event is organized by StFX forensic psychology students and includes speakers from the criminal and correctional justice systems, forensic researchers and students. Speakers and guests came from across Atlantic Canada.
“The professionals, many being StFX alumni, who help out with the Special Concentration in Forensic Psychology in various ways, such as speaking in class, providing workshops, and facilitating placements for students, have been coined ‘friends of forensic psychology’ by (concentration coordinator and StFX psychology professor) Dr. Margo Watt, and this day is organized by students with the goal of recognizing and thanking them for all that they do,” says Claire Keenan, a StFX student and one of the day’s organizers, along with Jennifer Aftanas.
“The event also serves as an opportunity for students, both forensic students and otherwise, and community members to gain a better understanding of the program and of forensic psychology in general.”
Several highlights from the day included keynote speaker Dr. Mary Ann Campbell, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick, whose address focused on 'Mental Health in Policing;’ Dr. Meg Ternes, a forensic psychologist from Saint Mary's University who spoke about deception detection; and an alumni panel who spoke about their careers since StFX, their research, and answered questions from current students.
Other highlights included talks from correctional psychologists Paul Murphy and Lesa Dawson – Mental Health in Correctional Service of Canada; Nicole Rovers – Legal Aid Law; and Dr. Veronica Stinson of Saint Mary’s University – Psychological science on juries in Canadian courts: Lessons and research implications from the Dennis Oland trials.
In addition, current StFX students presented posters on their practicum placements.
Ms. Keenan says each year students speak of the impact Forensic Psychology Day @ X has on them. “Not only is it an opportunity to show what they have been working on within their placements, it is a chance to see the variety of career options that can stem from forensic psychology, as well as hear about fascinating research and work being done,” she says.
“Not to mention, it gives students the ability to meet professionals and experts and make connections that could end up being beneficial to their future goals.”
The excellence of StFX English professor Dr. Maureen Moynagh’s scholarly work has been recognized with a prestigious international award for her essay published in the African American Review.
Her article, “Speculative Pasts and Afro-Futures: Nalo Hopkinson’s Trans-American Imaginary,” was singled out as the best of the year, receiving The Joe Weixlmann Prize for the Year’s Best Essay in 20th and 21st Century African American Literature in the African American Review.
The Review, published by John Hopkins University Press, is a scholarly aggregation of insightful essays on African American literature, theatre, film, the visual arts, and culture; interviews; poetry; fiction; and book reviews. It has featured renowned writers and cultural critics and fosters conversation among writers and scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.
“It was a really pleasant surprise, and gratifying to be recognized in that way,” says Dr. Moynagh, who teaches English at StFX, specializing in postcolonial literature, particularly African-diaspora and African literatures.
She says as the journal itself selects the award winner, she didn’t know she was in the running until she received word that she had won.
Dr. Moynagh says her essay is on Nalo Hopkinson, an African-Canadian writer who works mostly in science fiction and fantasy.
Her essay, she says, situates Ms. Hopkinson’s fiction in relation to Afrofuturism—science fiction produced by African-diaspora writers that offers a critique of the present through counter-factual histories and alternative future worlds—and in relation to recent literary fiction in the Americas that incorporates elements of science fiction and fantasy in works that otherwise employ realist conventions. Instead of understanding the realist and the speculative as antinomies, Dr. Moynagh argues, Ms. Hopkinson’s fiction invites readers to see the speculative genres themselves as a means of addressing the social and political injustice that has conventionally been the province of realist fiction.
Dr. Moynagh’s essay appears in the Fall 2018 issue of African American Review, a special issue devoted to African-Canadian literature that was edited by Canadian and Nova Scotian poet, playwright and literary critic George Elliott Clarke.
Dr. Moynagh says her interest in African-diaspora literature dates back to her undergraduate student days at the University of Winnipeg when her professor invited the Trinidad-born author Samuel Selvon in to speak with the class. “I was really captivated by the stories he read. It spurred my interest to look further,” she says. It also drew her interest to the field of post-colonial studies.
Recently, StFX professors Adam Lajeunesse and Peter Kikkert travelled with students to Halifax, NS to join up with colleagues from Dalhousie University for a rare opportunity to tour the Royal Canadian Navy’s dockyard, put to sea aboard a patrol frigate, and learn about maritime security from the men and women of the Navy.
Canadian Forces Base Halifax is home to Canada’s Atlantic Fleet, a collection of 15 navy vessels, and students were given access to each class of ship. First, small groups were led through the cramped interior of HMCS Windsor, a diesel-electric attack submarine. “From the torpedo room to the tight sleeping quarters, it was an eye-opening look at where sailors have to work while underwater for weeks at a time,” Dr. Lajeunesse says.
Students were also walked through the coastal defence ship HMCS Glace Bay, commonly used for fisheries protection, search and rescue, surveillance, and law enforcement support along the coast. Aboard the Canadian patrol frigate HMCS Halifax StFX alumnus, Lieutenant (N) Peter Bigelow, from the Class of 2011, led the group through the operations centre, the bridge, and chatted with students about life at sea while standing next to the ship’s 57mm deck gun.
It’s excellence recognized. And good news, times two.
Emma Logan and Liam Elbourne, both StFX Gerald Schwartz School of Business students, have each been awarded $25,000 as recipients of the 2019 Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies.
They are among eight exceptional business students, studying at Atlantic Canadian universities, to receive the award this year. The award was started in 1989 to support the development of future business leaders and business programs in Atlantic Canadian universities. The award recipients were chosen by a Board of Directors, comprised of Atlantic Canadian business and academic leaders, from over 30 finalists based on entrepreneurial experience and interest, academic standing, extracurricular and community activities, and career aspirations.
“Since 1989, the Frank H. Sobey Awards have been awarded to 181 emerging business leaders from Atlantic Canada. Every year, our Board is overwhelmed by the talent, leadership and entrepreneurialism shining through students at Atlantic Canadian Business Schools. The talent that these young business minds bring to this region is inspiring to us all.” said Paul D. Sobey, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies.
It is the first time StFX has had two recipients of this prestigious award in the same year.
“My faculty colleagues and I could not be more pleased to have Emma and Liam selected as 2019 Sobeys Scholars,” says Schwartz School Dean of Business Dr. Tim Hynes.
“They are terrific ambassadors for the Schwartz School of Business; outstanding students who are socially engaged, giving back to their communities. They could not be more deserving of this recognition and we are proud to have them as students in our program.”
Both students say they are thrilled to receive the award, and credit StFX for its transformational impact.
“I am truly honoured to join the alumni of the Frank H. Sobey Award and proud to do so as a Schwartz School of Business student,” says Ms. Logan, a fourth year business student from Halifax, NS, taking an advanced major in finance.
“The opportunities I have had at StFX have been beyond what I imagined coming here four years ago. My experience and success at StFX would not have been possible without the incredible community of students and faculty that I am surrounded with. This award opens up so many doors for me and feels like the greatest launch in to my post-grad pursuits to being successful in business.”
Mr. Elbourne, also from Halifax, NS, is in the last year of a joint honours degree in business and economics. In November 2018, he was named as StFX’s newest Rhodes Scholar.
"I am absolutely thrilled to have won the Frank H. Sobey Award for Excellence in Business Studies,” he says. “For starters, being recognized as one of the top business students in Atlantic Canada amongst so many other driven and talented individuals is a tremendous honour. Additionally, this award provides me with the financial freedom to get the most out of my next steps after graduating from StFX."
Both students have excelled during their time at StFX. Bios for each follow below:
Ms. Logan, a fourth year Schwartz School finance student from Halifax, NS, has had an impressive four years at StFX. Along with her studies, she has started an initiative that gives new purpose to old hearing aids. She launched Hearing for All and is collecting used hearing devices, having them refurbished, and donated to areas in the world that need them. Ms. Logan, who lost her own hearing while just 13 months old after contracting meningitis, wants to increase access and affordability. She has partnered with Calgary, AB-based audiology charity Gift of Hearing, and in April 2019, they will travel to Yamasá, an agricultural community in the Dominican Republic where Gift of Hearing has an audiology clinic with the aim of bringing 1,000 hearing devices. “This has been an invaluable experience for me as I am bridging my academic skills to connect with the community. As a self-initiated project, I have built relationships and created partnerships with individuals and organizations. I have learned to navigate the hearing health industry, connecting with hearing aid users, hearing health professionals, and top executives of Canada’s leading hearing aid manufacturers,” she says. Additionally, the StFX Enactus student society has selected her Hearing for All initiative as one of its student-run projects. She is the project manager and leads a team of 20 student volunteers.
Ms. Logan has also received a prestigious Wallace Family Internship at StFX in 2018, offered through the StFX Innovation and Enterprise Centre. The internship supports students who have an enterprise idea and are interested in starting a new venture. It provides funding to support full-time employment for 12 weeks.
She has furthered her learning, participating in a StFX international exchange to Bond University in Australia, and on campus, has used her leadership skills to help fellow students discover their ability to create and innovate early in their degrees through her work as VP Communications of the StFX Entrepreneurship Society, and co-facilitator of Sandbox Discover.
She has been actively involved with athletics as well. Ms. Logan is a member and has skipped the StFX curling team. She was part of the team that made StFX history, winning its first AUS Curling Championship and earning a spot at the USports National Championship where they placed sixth.
Ms. Logan is an ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation, advocating for others with disabilities by promoting accessibility and inclusion in school communities.
She is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2018 Frank Algar Scholarship, awarded by the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association to a strong advocate for the hard of hearing community. She received ‘First in Class’ honours in 2017, presented to the student who achieved the highest mark in the international business class at Bond University, Australia; and is a 2017 Alexander Graham Bell Scholarship recipient, awarded for academic achievement and leadership.
Additionally, she is a recipient of the Benedict Mulroney Scholarship, awarded by StFX for academic excellence, leadership and service to others; the 2017 recipient of the Export Development Canada’s International Business Scholarship, awarded to a student furthering their studies in international business and in excellent academic standing; and the 2017 R.W. Pugh Fair Play and Sportsmanship Award, voted by peers and awarded to a female athlete at the USports Curling Championship. She’s received the Sister Catherine MacNeil Award for the outstanding female freshman student at StFX; the Angus Macgillivray Bursary awarded by StFX’s art department to a student with outstanding studio production and promise in the visual arts; and the Young Woman of the Year, 2015, awarded by the Deaf Youth Association of Nova Scotia.
Liam Elbourne, a Schwartz School of Business student from Halifax, NS taking joint honours in business and economics, has had an exceptional student career at StFX. In November 2018, he was named as StFX’s newest Rhodes Scholar. The scholarship is widely considered one of the world’s most prestigious awards, valued at over $100,000, and enabling recipients to study at the University of Oxford. Only 11 students from across Canada are annually selected.
Mr. Elbourne garnered international attention for his research. In June 2018, he presented his paper “Shocks to Military Support and Subsequent Assassinations in Ancient Rome,” co-authored with former StFX economics professor Cornelius Christian, at the 52nd annual conference of the Canadian Economics Association at McGill University. He was the only active undergraduate student to present in a regular session at this conference, which featured almost 1,000 presenters.
The paper was subsequently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Economics Letters, a highly-respected outlet that has published the work of many past Nobel Prize recipients. Full-length stories about this research appeared in some of the world’s leading outlets, including The Smithsonian magazine, The Economist and The Telegraph.
Mr. Elbourne is also captain of the X-Men soccer team, and volunteers extensively within the StFX and Antigonish communities.
He was the top ranked business student at StFX in the 2017-18 academic year with a 94.25 per cent average. He has been on the StFX Dean’s List, received annual in-house scholarships, and the StFX Athletic Director's Award for academic achievement in 2016-17. He is a four-time U SPORTS academic all-Canadian.
He has twice been a teaching assistant in the Department of Economics and has offered tutoring in courses across the business, economics, and mathematics departments. Now vice president of the StFX Economics Society, he aims to help build a mentorship program to be launched within the StFX Economics Department, connecting current students with StFX’s highly successful economics graduates.
Along with excelling in the classroom, he is an active StFX student leader. The AUS Student-Athlete Community Service Award recipient this past fall, he was also the 2018 StFX Male Community X-cellence award winner and was honoured as a Leader of Distinction with the StFX Leadership Academy.
In the StFX community, Mr. Elbourne has become an advocate for the prevention of sexualized violence. He served as the lone male panelist for the Contextualizing #MeToo panel discussion organized by the StFX Women's and Gender Studies department in November 2017. He also co-designed and co-facilitated a series of workshops in all StFX residences during the 2017-18 winter semester aimed at educating students on issues of consent and sexual assault. This past September, he was keynote speaker at the Antigonish March in Respect for Women and he was recently featured in the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre's initiative called ‘16 Days of Activism on Gender-Based Violence.’
In addition, he has led the opening of two year-long Exhibitions of Indigenous Art at StFX. The first was created in honour of the permanent installation of the Mi'kmaq flag on the StFX campus in October 2017, and its success was such that a second exhibition was encouraged by the university.
In his three years as president of the StFX German Society, he has been able to contribute positively to the student experience outside of the classroom. He has also been engaged with youth in his community. He has volunteered his time at the grassroots soccer level since he was a teenager, and in 2017, he was a facilitator at a youth leadership conference called Spark the Change, organized by the Healthy Relationships for Youth program in Nova Scotia.
A midfielder on the soccer team, he has captained the X-Men for the past three seasons and was a key piece in leading StFX to consecutive second place finishes in the league standings. He is a former AUS all-star and was the 2014 AUS rookie of the year.
Members of an Independent Review Panel (IRP), who are tasked with reviewing the StFX Sexual Violence Policy, will be on campus in mid-March and everyone interested in providing input is invited and encouraged to do so.
The committee, external to StFX, is comprised of Joanna Birenbaum, a Toronto-based lawyer with extensive expertise in sexual violence issues, university processes, human rights tribunals and professional discipline bodies; Elaine Craig, an associate professor, Schulich School of Law, at Dalhousie University, who teaches and researches in the areas of sexual assault law, constitutional law, criminal law ethics, law and sexuality, feminist legal theory and queer legal theory; and Maria Dugas, who completed her master’s of law at the Schulich School of Law in 2018, and was the first African Nova Scotian to clerk for the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. They are working with the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR), which StFX has engaged to undertake this review.
Their mandate is to review and assess StFX’s Sexual Violence Policy, consult with members of the university community as well as an expert advisory group, and make recommendations to best ensure that StFX’s sexual violence practices and procedures are responsive to those who report experiences of sexual harm, is trauma-informed, and, procedurally fair.
“Every member of the community has an opportunity to contribute to their information gathering process, which is great to see,” says Margie McKinnon, co-chair of StFX’s Sexual Violence Prevention Committee and StFX’s Director of Health, Counselling and Accessible Learning.
The IRP will be on campus between March 13-15 for consultations, which will include interviews with individuals and groups at StFX, such as representatives of student groups, staff of university departments that respond to sexual violence and discrimination under StFX’s current policies, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, and faculty associations and unions.
Interested individuals or groups who want to speak with the panel are asked to email Margaret Elliott, the StFX Sexual Violence Prevention Project Co-ordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time. Community members can also provide thoughts and comments by email at email@example.com.
Updates on the panel’s progress can also be found on the Visible at X website at http://www2.mystfx.ca/visible-at-x/
“I’m excited to work with the Independent Review Panel,” Ms. McKinnon says.
“We are working closely with our partners, locally and provincially, to have a strong, consistent response when sexual violence happens, in supporting survivors. This is an opportunity for us to strengthen our community response to sexual violence,” she says.
“The expertise of the panel, I except, will help us greatly by providing guidance and direction that will help us to respond in ways that support survivors, while also respecting the legal process.”
StFX Head of Student Services Andrew Beckett says with the range of expertise the review panel brings, it’s a great opportunity to build some credibility around the policies and procedures at StFX moving forward.
It’s also a chance to help inform the sector generally across the country. The issue of sexual violence is an area that all universities are grappling with, he says, and this is a chance for StFX to play a lead role in current best practices.
The IRP is set up in a way that is practical and actionable, Mr. Beckett says. It’s designed that when the final draft report is received in June, the university should be able to turn around and implement a new policy.
Mr. Beckett says there has been a lot of confidence and positive response expressed from the campus community in terms of the approach StFX is taking. “That’s been great to see.”
In the fall of 2018, following media reports related to a sexual violence case, the university was asked by members of the campus community to broadly consider cultural and policy related factors that could help address ongoing sexual violence issues in the community.
StFX has engaged with the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR) to conduct a review of the university’s sexualized violence policies and procedures. This review will assess the operation of StFX’s Sexual Violence Policy and other university policies and procedures with which it intersects, to ensure that StFX has effective practices and procedures that are.
The review will result in a newly drafted Sexual Violence Policy and a supplementary report highlighting further recommendations or follow-up issues. These documents will be public and the process will involve five stages, including the in-person consultations.
Once complete, a draft version of the policy and supplementary report will be circulated to the Expert Advisory Group (EAG). This group will meet in Halifax for a one-day workshop to discuss and provide advice on these documents and to offer any suggestion. In May, the IRP will conduct one day of follow-up meetings in Antigonish and any further consultation determined necessary. The Chair of the IRP will present the draft policy and supplementary report to the university in June.
Learning what it takes to become a great leader—and having fun in the process—will be on the agenda as hundreds of high school students from across Nova Scotia converge on StFX for four days from May 16-19 for the annual Nova Scotia Secondary School Students’ Association (NSSSA) 2019 provincial conference.
The NSSSA is a non-profit, student-led leadership organization, and the conference is the largest gathering of student leaders in the province. It is open to any students in Grades 9-12 in Nova Scotia high schools.
“The theme of the conference is Synergy, and how great leadership means creating something bigger than yourself, whether it be a company or a movement or whatever you want to achieve,” says Alex LeBlanc, 2018-19 NSSSA Conference Committee Co-Chair.
“There are so many elements that contribute to your success, and sometimes that success can only be achieved with all the parts involved. Great leadership is not necessarily doing everything yourself, but rather having a goal and knowing the steps you need to take in order to achieve it.”
Mr. LeBlanc says conference delegates can also expect to have a bunch of fun in the process.
He says there are many benefits to attending the conference—someone new to the NSSSA can expect to meet lifelong friends, make long-term connections and discover new aspects of themselves, while returning NSSSA members can also expect the best of times with old and new friends, and a new and refreshing outlook of what NSSSA can bring them.
He says if there is one thing that organizers hope students can learn more about while attending the conference it’s what kind of leader they aspire to be, and how they can bring this piece of themselves out for the world to see.
StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald says the university is proud to be a partner with the student-led NSSSA and it is delighted to once again be the home for the provincial conference and be able to play a role in supporting these high school student leaders as they learn and build new skills and discover so much about themselves and their potential.
“It’s great to have our partners in leadership back at StFX again this year,” Dr. MacDonald says.
Mr. LeBlanc says students can expect a classic NSSSA conference complete with old traditions and new ones. “We have so much more in store for Synergy though, and delegates should be prepared to expect the unexpected. Many guests with accomplishments like TED talks and successful social enterprises will be joining us for this amazing weekend. From captivating speakers to welcoming activities to memorable keepsakes, there’s something for everyone at our conference.
“We plan to help delegates find themselves and their place in the world through our skill-building sessions and through opportunities presented throughout the weekend.”
Great leadership, he says, is being able to work with each step and each person you come across.
“Leadership is a well-oiled machine, a puzzle that fits together and makes something great. That’s the message of our conference, Synergy, which is defined as ‘the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements,’ which is what we believe leadership is all about.”
Mr. LeBlanc says students attending the conference can expect to learn about the real aspects of leadership.
“If someone has a dream, we will show them how to make it happen through a leadership standpoint and work together with others to discover what they really want,” he says.
“Students will interact with a unique crowd of aspiring leaders just like them, and create a brand new experience together through spending the weekend building off of each other. They will learn what a good leader can do by themselves, but also what a great leader can do with the help of others.”
For more information or to register for the 2019 provincial conference, please see Synergy 2019
Two major studies out of StFX’s FluxLab, led by earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk, have been published in prominent international journals, Environmental Research Communications and Elementa Science, in the span of six weeks, in their ongoing efforts focused on understanding methane gas leaks.
Methane is a colorless and odourless greenhouse gas that constituents 95 per cent of natural gas. When released into the air it acts as a powerful greenhouse gas. The Canadian government has pledged to cut natural gas waste from oil and gas operations by 45 per cent, and in 2018 released federal methane regulations. However, Dr. Risk says, one big problem is understanding how much methane is really out there and where it’s coming from.
The FluxLab is developing new mobile technologies to measure methane faster and more conveniently. They have undertaken huge studies across different oil and gas producing regions in Canada.
Of the two recently published articles, the first, authored by Elizabeth O’Connell, who started in the lab as a B.Sc. student, worked as a research associate and is now president of spinoff company Arolytics, documents characteristics of over 3,000 gas plumes the team tracked down in three developments across Alberta, and sourced to specific types of oil and gas infrastructure.
The other study, written by research associate Jennifer Baillie is similar but looks across southeastern Saskatchewan to compare the environmental performance of hydraulic fracturing operations co-located nearby conventional oil operations.
Both studies show that emission levels are often higher than official inventories suggest. These findings, Ms. Baillie says, parallel 2017 results in Emmaline Atherton’s paper, also from Dr. Risk’s group, documenting elevated emissions in British Columbia from shale gas operations.
The news isn’t all bad, however, she says. There are examples of environmentally responsible production, which suggests industry does have the expertise required to mitigate methane. In some jurisdictions, the FluxLab found a relationship between gas composition and methane performance, where industry had already taken steps to reduce emissions in areas where odour complaints were frequent. In some of the developments that emitted more than expected conserving the gas will be more economically attractive.
In the past several weeks, as the papers from Dr. Risk’s group were published, all three western provinces released their own methane regulations, with the intent to override the backstop federal regulations with a more regionally nuanced approach. FluxLab’s data sets can now be used to test the merits of these different approaches, and to project the resultant mitigation success using real field data rather than the estimated values.
Dr. Risk’s group continues to collaborate with industry, provincial and federal government, and non-government organizations, and works in overlapping areas of science, policy, and advocacy. All stakeholders are looking for data at the moment so as to inform their next steps, they say.
“It’s really interesting to hear perspectives from all sides, and we’re also still doing measurement tech development and working with other tech developers too," says Dr. Risk. “We have to be flexible, understand different approaches and outcomes, and most importantly we need to be effective communicators.”
Currently, he says, the research group is charged with building a national methane measurement archive, based on measurements they have made plus measurements by other research teams and government departments. This initiative is funded by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers as part of a large ongoing methane research program. The new data sets will serve the needs of industry and policymakers until industry’s own measurements start flowing in 2020 as part of the new regulated approach to replace the old practice of estimation.
The FluxLab consists of 16 individuals, comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, professional technicians and research associates. Their work is in gas measurement for renewable and fossil energy, and for arctic studies. Almost all members of the research group are involved in collaborations with outside partners. Over the past decade, the group has also launched two spinoff companies, the most recent of which is a methane analytics company called Arolytics with offices in Halifax and Calgary.
Please be advised that StFX University will delay opening until 5:00 PM today, Wednesday, February 13, due to hazardous winter conditions expected to hit the region this morning.
Essential services will remain open (Morrison Hall, security, snow removal).
The energy and potential found inside the Mount Saint Bernard chapel classroom on Feb. 12 was palpable as over 200 African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq high school students from across the province were welcomed to StFX for the first annual Jeannine Deveau Future Scholars’ Day.
The students, on campus to learn about academic and scholarship opportunities at StFX, came from high schools from Sydney to Halifax, and participated in a full day of activity from an open house, learning about program options and speaking with StFX faculty, to campus tours, and lunch at Morrison Hall.
“I’m very happy about today, to see so many high school students, teachers, and principals on campus,” said Augy Jones, StFX Manager, Student Experience.
During welcoming remarks, Mr. Jones, like several other speakers, encouraged the students to take charge of their future and see what opportunities are available for them.
In particular, at StFX, the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship, first announced in October 2015, has the power to transform lives. The intent of the fund, set up by Jeannine Deveau from the StFX Class of 1944, is to make university education more equitable and easier to access for Aboriginal and African Nova Scotians.
Currently, there are 80 students at StFX who are Deveau scholarship and bursary recipients.
EXPLORING THE FUTURE
“StFX is a place where you are welcome,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald told students in his remarks as he thanked everyone for visiting and highlighted the importance of the day, and learning about post-secondary options.
Nowhere in this story is it said that it is going to be easy, Dr. MacDonald said, but at StFX you have a community where you can grow, learn to think differently, and that your life going forward is a little better because of being on this campus.
“This is a great day,” agreed the Hon. Tony Ince, Minister of African Nova Scotia Affairs. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate the hard work and dedication shown by you, young scholars.
“I’m overwhelmed when I look out and see so many of you, many of whom look like me, exploring their future,” he said.
“I thank you for taking the opportunity to expand your horizons, which in turn will help expand our communities.”
Mr. Ince told the students there are many supports available to them, but they are only there if they have a passion to seek out and go after what they want. “Don’t let anybody hold you back,” he said, as he encouraged the students to bring their community, their home, their strong voices, and their perspectives with them as they explore their future education.
The open house provided students and faculty a chance to chat about academic opportunities
StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley told the students that StFX will change their life—there are so many opportunities at the university—but so too will the students change the university, he said. “Your generation is so important. It is asking ‘why aren’t I represented in the history books.’ You are here to change the university and you will, that is the demand your generation is making, and we are better for that.”
Fund administrator and Ms. Deveau’s nephew, Bill Gunn, gave a bit of history of the scholarship, including his aunt’s desire to try to make difference in addressing issues of equity in education, and her belief that investment in education gives the highest return.
The students also had a chance to hear from current Jeannine Deveau bursary recipient, John Hodder, a fourth year human kinetics student, who encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities available.
He said the bursary not only helped him with financial costs, it allowed him to focus on his studies.
“The Jeannine Deveau Bursary has helped me immensely,” he said, as he thanked all those involved in its creation and administration.
For years, StFX religious studies professor Dr. Adela Sandness has developed scholarship, skills and expertise in mindfulness: thoughts and more as seen in the ancient Indian world, as they would become part of Buddhist psychology and a whole way of understanding the world that is non-dualistic in its thinking, in that it is “both this and that,” in a world where time is round.
Now, drawing on decades of extensive scholarship and practical experience, Dr. Sandness has published two new books, Mindfulness: How to Cope with Hard Things, and its companion book, Mindfulness: How to Cope with Hard Things: A Workbook; launched a website and weekly podcast, Just Breathe…You Are Enough; and in September 2018, started offering a series of seven classes in a “Mindful Living Stream of Study” at StFX.
Of the seven courses, four are refreshed offerings and three are new. She says they treat relationships, gender, race and power dynamics, leadership and de-colonization, and stewardship of one’s own mind and body all in a way that takes as its basis that life itself – and all who live it – are worthy of honour, dignity and respect.
Dr. Sandness says requests from students and others prompted her to reframe her classes to provide scholarship in a way that is more applied, as well as offering formats available to a wider public. She says she wanted to offer a more in-depth look at where the mindfulness movement comes from and how the paradigm of thinking from which it arose can help find new answers to old problems.
“It’s a way of seeing the world that is very ancient, but at the same time utterly contemporary,” says Dr. Sandness, who notes that people today are still grappling with similar questions as those in the past.
Dr. Sandness certainly brings a unique world view to her work. Educated at the École Pratique des Hautes Études of the Sorbonne in Paris with one of the world’s top scholars in the field of Vedic Studies, she holds a PhD with mention très honorable avec felicitations du jury, the highest academic distinction awarded in the French university system. She further developed the research methodologies of the Moscow-Tartu School of Semiotics taught to her by Tatyana Elizarenkova, considered the world’s greatest Rgvedic scholar of her generation.
Additionally, Dr. Sandness developed skills through a decade of leadership roles in mindfulness practice communities—including two years of practice living in a Buddhist monastery—and a close, over decade-long relationship with an English-speaking Buddhist monastery.
The first of her “Mindful Living Stream of Study” classes offered this fall proved popular. The course, “Mindfulness: How to Cope with Hard Things” had 45 students the first day of class, and, by word of mouth, it had 75 students the second day of class. Its companion class on the body had 46 students the first day of class and 66 students the second day of class.
Her “Mind, Self, and Society” course has been another popular option for the past number of years. Offered intentionally through StFX Continuing and Distance Education it includes three weeks of online study and a one-week immersion experience at Gampo Abbey, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery on Cape Breton Island where students are able to live the lifestyle for the week.
Her two books, which are separate, but designed to be used together, were published in October 2018. Around the same time, she launched Just Breathe…You Are Enough™, a multi-media initiative, combining a podcast series (available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play Music), a website and associated blog. The podcast comes out on Friday mornings, and Dr. Sandness says the content is often in response to questions she receives. Among her favorites are “Connection Does Not Require a Password,” and “The Heart is a Muscle: It Expands and Contracts.”
Reviews of the work have been positive.
“Unlike many other contemporary manuals on mindfulness, this is not a composite of neuron counts, plasticity measurements and stress charts. Adela Sandness’ work places mindfulness within the mytho-poetic world of the ancient Hindu Vedas and the inner cosmology of classical Buddhism. At the same time, it is born of her experience of working directly with the compound emotional and cognitive challenges of today’s students coping with an increasingly troubled world,” writes Richard Reoch, Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Mindfulness Initiative, United Kingdom.
“Fundamentally, what sets these rich and intimately written books apart from much of the more secular and scientific literature is that they are rooted in a scholarly evocation of the uncompromising, lyrical — even epic — worldview of centuries-old spiritual traditions that understand humans, not as requiring therapy, but as beings whose true nature is radiant, kind and infinitely wise.”
Dr. Sandness says as a scholar of humanity, she feels she has a responsibility to contribute to her field, but also to participate in public discourse, to play some part in protecting and defending the quality of our humanity.
She says all the work is offered with philanthropic intent—a portion of the proceeds will be donated for use as student bursaries at StFX.
Renowned educator, researcher and writer Dr. George Sefa Dei, considered by many as one of Canada’s foremost scholars on critical race and anti-racism studies, will deliver the ninth annual StFX Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture on Feb. 28 in the Schwartz Auditorium starting at 7 p.m.
The lecture will also be live-streamed at https://livestream.com/accounts/735962/africanheritage
The title of Dr. Dei’s address is “Black Like Me: Reframing Blackness for Decolonial Politics.” Everyone is welcome to attend. The annual lecture is organized by StFX’s Department of Sociology in honour of the late Dr. Agnes Calliste. Dr. Calliste, a retired StFX sociology professor, left an impressive legacy at the school where she taught for nearly 30 years. She passed away in 2018.
Dr. Calliste’s scholarship focused on the complex interrelation of work, race, ethnicity and gender in Canada. Her ground-breaking research with African-Canadian railway porters and Caribbean-Canadian nurses explored previously unexamined dimensions of our social history. Dr. Calliste studied not only the institutionalized oppression of such communities, but also their organized resistance.
“Dr. Dei’s scholarship has shaped anti-racist education theory and praxis in Canada and internationally, and has informed curriculum here at StFX,” says Dr. Katie Aubrecht, sociology professor and Canada Research Chair, Health Equity & Social Justice at StFX, and one of the event organizers.
“By addressing the relations between race and indigeneity within diasporic and educational contexts, his lecture will offer insight on questions of equity and diversity within university settings. He will explore tools and frameworks that can be used to forge community and solidarity, resist anti-Black racism, and account for Black people’s experiences, agency and resistance.”
Prof. Dei’s professional and academic work has led to many Canadian and international speaking invitations in the U.S., Europe and Africa. Currently, he is a professor of social justice education and Director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.
He is the 2015, 2016 and 2018 Carnegie African Diasporan Fellow. In August 2012, he also received the honorary title of ‘Professor Extraordinarire’ from the University of South Africa. In 2017, he was elected as Fellow of Royal Society of Canada, the most prestigious award for an academic scholar in Canada. He also received the ‘2016 Whitworth Award for Educational Research’ from the Canadian Education Association awarded to the Canadian scholar whose research and scholarship have helped shaped Canadian national educational policy and practice.
He has authored, edited and co-edited over 35 books. He also has over 75 book chapters and 70 refereed journal articles to his credit.
Finally, in June 2007, Professor Dei was installed as a traditional chief in Ghana, where he was born, specifically, as the Gyaasehene of the town of Asokore, Koforidua in the New Juaben Traditional Area of Ghana. His stool name is Nana Adusei Sefa Tweneboah.
Dr. Dei’s address engages a [re]theorization of Blackness and Black solidarities from the vantage point as a Black/African scholar with a politics to affirm Black subjectivity and Indigeneity in a diasporic context.
StFX philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Byrne has been recognized internationally for the quality of his scholarship.
Dr. Bryne’s new book, Aristotle’s Science of Matter and Motion, published by the University of Toronto Press in 2018, has been named a finalist in the philosophy section of the PROSE (Professional Scholarly Excellence) awards for 2019 given out by the Association of American Publishers.
These awards honour scholarly work of extraordinary merit that make a significant contribution to a field of study in a given year.
“This is fantastic news. Being nominated for this internationally recognized publishing award is a significant academic honour and we are delighted to see Dr. Byrne receive a nomination for his book Aristotle's Science of Matter and Motion,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.
The list of nominees in the awards 49 categories is pretty much a who’s who of academic publishers, representing not just major U.S. publishers, but those from around the world.
“I was elated,” Dr. Byrne says on the honour. “Surprised and elated. I didn’t realize it had been nominated in the first place,” he says until he received a congratulatory message from his editor.
His book, which deals with Aristotle’s contributions to physics, was one of three named as finalists. While he didn’t win the category, it’s a win to be shortlisted. Hundreds of books on philosophy would have been published in the year.
“It’s an honour just to get on the list,” he says.
It’s not the first recognition the book has received.
Dr. Byrne received a grant of $8,000 for the book from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Aid to Scholarly Publications through the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences. It is a competitive process and a prestigious award.
“I was quite gratified to receive this award, as the topic of my book is not exactly on everyone’s lips. Still, I was moved to write this book because there is a curious view of Aristotle that is still quite widespread: on the one hand, he is considered one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy, indeed, in many fields, having made important contributions to biology, ethics, political philosophy, logic, metaphysics, rhetoric, and the theory of tragedy; on the other hand, he is held by many philosophers and historians of science to have failed so badly at physics that he held back its development until the seventeenth century when the Scientific Revolution finally overthrew Aristotelianism,” Dr. Byrne had said when receiving that award.
“So the puzzle that drew me to this topic was how such a great thinker could have failed so badly in his understanding of the material world.
“As it turned out, I discovered that his views on the material world are not nearly so bizarre and wrong-headed as people have claimed. On the contrary, he offers a systematic account of matter, motion, and the basic causal powers found in all physical objects due to the matter from which they are made.”
Matter is important for Aristotle because he holds that all perceptible objects are ultimately made from physical stuff of one kind or another and that this matter is responsible for many of their basic features. He also investigates the nature of change in general, independent of the specific nature of the object undergoing a change; here, he begins with locomotion, the most fundamental kind of change.
Finally, Aristotle offers an account of the basic features of matter and motion that is quantitative and non-teleological. His use of final causes in biology and elsewhere is compatible with his quantitative, non-teleological account of matter and motion, because in his view all goal-directed changes take place in physical entities more complex than the material elements.
“Indeed, Aristotle’s biology presupposes his physics because goal-directed changes presuppose non-teleological changes in matter. For Aristotle, then, matter matters a great deal,” says Dr. Byrne.
Laura Burns wanted to gain a better understanding of Mi’kmaq women’s experience in accessing prenatal care in rural Nova Scotia so, as an honours nursing student in StFX’s Rankin School of Nursing, she focused her undergraduate research work on the topic. The quality of that work has stood out—so much so that it’s been accepted as an article in a respected journal and for presentation at an international conference.
Her research was accepted for publication in Advances in Nursing Sciences. The article will be published in the June 2019 print issue, and became available online in December 2018.
In addition, in October, Ms. Burns, of Antigonish, NS, presented this research at the 44th annual conference of the Transcultural Nursing Society Conference held in San Antonio, Texas.
“It’s very exciting,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting it to go that far, or to take it to that level. I feel a sense of accomplishment, and also motivation to continue my master’s in science in nursing in the next couple of years.”
Going forward, Ms. Burns, who has since graduated, says these experiences will continue to impact her nursing and her ability to connect with co-workers and patients, and better prepare her for what she needs to complete her master’s degree.
She says since high school she always had an interest in Indigenous health care, and became interested in her research topic during her first year studying at the Rankin School.
“My early education of the Mi’kmaq people was essentially through the lens of Caucasian, Euro-Canadian perspectives,” she says. “The importance of gaining an understanding of Mi’kmaq people’s experiences from their own perspectives became especially important during my first year at the nursing school, when I was introduced to the concept of cultural safety in the curriculum.
“I recognized that nurses have the responsibility to continuously learn, and by listening to the stories of Mi’kmaq women’s experiences accessing prenatal care I continued to develop my understanding of what it is like to navigate the Canadian health care system from a perspective that is much different from my own.”
Ms. Burns says through the research process, she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the literature, and also have engaging conversations with Mi'kmaq women in their community.
“Their experiences highlighted the importance of receiving culturally relevant and safe prenatal care, and also that access to care is a complex issue for some women. This area of research has expanded my understanding of the root causes of health inequities, and will help me recognize access-related issues in my practice as a registered nurse.”
She gives much credit to her supervisor Dr. Joanne Whitty-Rogers and second reader Dr. Cathy MacDonald, both Rankin School faculty, who she describes as mentors.
“I couldn’t have done it without them. They’re very supportive, always led me in the right direction, listened to my concerns, and helped me along the way,” she says.
For her part, Dr. Whitty-Rogers describes Ms. Burns as a dedicated, hard-working student who always tried to push as far as she could and went above and beyond in her work. She says it is a credit to Ms. Burns that the research was approved by both the StFX Research Ethics board as well as by Mi’kmaq Ethics. She says Ms. Burns has always been very sensitive and aware and respectful of the culture.
“Laura is what you would want to have in an honours student,” says Dr. MacDonald, who noted it is quite an accomplishment to have your undergraduate research published. She says having this experience will make Ms. Burns an even stronger applicant for graduate school.
Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine, who coordinates the honours and advanced major program at the school, says it is a proud moment to see all this come together. She says the Rankin School is unique in Canada in that it is rare in the country for nursing schools to offer advanced major and honours options as the degree itself is so intensive with so many required courses.
Ms. Burns encourages other Rankin School of Nursing students to consider completing an honours degree. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Jamie Samson, a StFX honours philosophy student from Louisdale, NS, has been working on the topic of organ donation as part of her honours thesis in philosophy for only six months, but the quality of her research has been so high that her paper was accepted and she presented on the topic at the recent Atlantic Region Philosophers Association meeting. The only undergraduate student to present at the conference, Ms. Samson’s paper was on the topic of ‘The Ethics of Organ Donation.’
In her paper, Ms. Samson argues that the need for donor organs for transplants is very great and, since so few are available, Canadian society ought to take greater steps to see that organs are available. Instead of the current ‘opt in’ system, where individuals have to indicate their willingness to be a donor, Ms. Samson argues that it would be ethical – and perhaps ethically obligatory, to revise the system, and have an ‘opt out’ system. This, she believes would not only make more organs available for transplant purposes, but would also address the problem of families faced with decisions about the organs of loved ones who may be dying and incapable of expressing consent.
According to Dr. William Sweet, Chair of the StFX Philosophy Department, it is rare to have undergraduate presentations at the conference, although StFX philosophy students have frequently attended the conference. He says although Ms. Samson’s participation in the conference this year was unique, last year another philosophy student, Leah Gray, who graduated in 2018, also presented at the conference on “The Ethical and Moral Implications of a Hook-up Culture.”
“Participating in the conference gave me a unique opportunity to do a presentation that required my work to be both concise and yet detailed enough for others to understand what I’d spent so much time on,” Ms. Samson says. “I was impressed that students like me were welcome, and that my presentation was as well attended as those of professional philosophers. I felt that my work was placed on equal footing with more experienced philosophers, which was beneficial for my work and for my confidence.”
Ms. Samson’s research was initially funded through an Irving Research Mentorship Award, offered through StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership with an endowment established by Irving Oil, allowed her to work on the topic under the supervision of Dr. Sweet.
Four StFX Rankin School of Nursing students had the opportunity to represent StFX, gain insights into different areas of nursing, and have their voices heard when they attended the National Assembly of the Canadian Nursing Students Association (CNSA) held Jan. 22-26, 2019 in Calgary, AB. Of the four students, three attended as award winners.
In attendance from StFX were fourth year student Maridith Brown, Official Delegate, StFX chapter, and Community Involvement Award winner; Emma Morin, a third year student and Associate Delegate, StFX chapter; fourth year student and Debate Team winner Valeri Molnar; and third year student and Travel Award winner Therese McCurdy.
Ms. Brown says it was a tremendous experience, and one it’s vital that StFX be a part of.
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of StFX nursing students having a vote on the National Assembly of the CNSA. There are much bigger systemic issues being handled at the national level that students might not be aware of on a day-to-day basis here at X. We are one of 58 chapter schools across Canada and our voices speak loud. The impact of these collaborative efforts is much greater than any one school could have on its own,” says Ms. Brown.
For example, she says they are advocating for better NCLEX translation for francophone students, and they voted an Indigenous member onto their executive committee, “which is a huge step in the right direction to reconciliation.”
Ms. Brown says CNSA is for students by students, and that its objectives are to be the primary resource for nursing students, to influence and advance curriculum, and to strengthen linkages. CNSA has a number of stakeholders that nursing students are familiar with, she says, including Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, and Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, to name a few.
“We have a voting position on CASN, which accredits nursing schools in Canada and handles curriculum issues.”
She says along with the governance changes made at the national conference, much education was shared during the event, from informative speaker sessions to a nursing specialty speed dating event where students learned about unique specialty areas.
“StFX's involvement in the CNSA is solely student run, so we cycle in the Official and Associate Delegates,” she says. Ms. Brown says she applied to be a delegate in her second year, and spent a semester as Associate Delegate before taking over as Official Delegate when the fourth years phased out. She encourages second year nursing students consider becoming involved.
Ms. Brown says she and Associate Delegate Ms. Morin were proud to have two award winners from StFX along with them in Calgary. Ms. Molnar was a Debate Team winner, and Ms. McCurdy won the Travel Award. Both had to write essays to win the awards. Additionally, Ms. Molnar was required to debate in front of conference attendees. The topic, kept secret until arriving in Calgary, was that health care funds should be controlled by health care providers. “This was a heated debate and Val did an excellent job of defending her side,” says Ms. Brown, who received the CNSA's Community Involvement Scholarship.
“The great thing about CNSA is that these awards are available to all members of chapter schools. I would urge any nursing student to apply for CNSA awards as there are increasing numbers of awards annually,” she says.
Ms. Brown says regional conferences also happen across Canada and offer the same great benefits. In the Atlantic region, L'Université de Moncton will host in fall 2019.
Says Ms. Brown, “I was proud to see StFX Rankin School of Nursing so well represented in Calgary and my hope for the future is that the school stays involved in this association. Anyone looking to get involved with CNSA can contact me directly or visit cnsa.ca, where there are many committees to get involved with.”