Join New College Vice Principal Tara Goldstein on the first Friday of every month as she interviews two New College Senior Doctoral Fellows and teaching assistants about their current research.
Fridays from 12:00 – 1:00p.m.
March 5, 2021
April 9, 2021
Session 1: October 2
Research on Institutions: International Aid and Policing
Settler colonialism, white supremacy, International aid and humanitarianism
I am mapping how settler colonialism and white supremacy have shaped humanitarian activities and organizations through history and to the present, as a “humanitarian imaginary.” I specifically look at the question of why the multi-billion dollar industry of international aid and humanitarianism does not tackle land confiscation (or what sociologists and geographers call the “global land rush”)— how although displacement via land loss often causes people to require aid, humanitarian organizations seldom consider the role of land. I am building on mounting critiques that the international aid industry does not tackle structural problems caused by capitalism, but exists for its own purposes and mirrors market logic. My theories are heavily informed by Indigenous Studies and Black Feminist Geographies.
Understandings of disability, race and difference in policing
Through my research, I investigate the institution of police by asking the following questions: First, how is the intersection of disability, particularly deafness, and race, revealed in videos of encounters between police and deaf people? Second, how do the ways we narrate deafness, disability, and race in mandatory training modules for members of the Toronto Police Service reflect particular institutional understandings of disability, race, and difference from the norm? Third, what implications do taken-for-granted stories of deafness, disability, race, and policing have on communicative encounters between police and deaf people and deaf people of color, as represented in videos of encounters between police and deaf people? My research is engaged with narrative representations of communicative encounters between police and deaf people. I engage in the critical praxis of re-storying — a detailed examination of how particular encounters are put together by stories of deafness, disability, race, and policing — in pursuit of uncovering alternatives to the oft repeated story that some people are problem-beings while others, such as the police, are problem-solvers.
I am particularly interested in the effects of this repeated story on deaf, disabled, and racialized people’s experiences with issues of identification and access, particularly in interaction with police enforcement. I am interested in how police, as an institution of the state actively involved in the carceral project of social and spatial exclusion, legitimizes particular stories of deafness, disability, and race as a way of knowing about what it means to be normal and not normal. Indeed, how might the ways police come to expect disability and race through particular stories of deafness, disability, race, and policing be, in turn, perceived as “educated” expressions of the carceral project?
Session 2: November 6
Research from Human Biology
(Please note – due to a technical issue, the file is audio only until 6.20)
Treating spinal cord injury
My phd research aims to re-purpose human immunoglobulin G (higg) for treating spinal cord injury (SCI). This involves identifying the ideal dose, time point to administer higg, and exploring higg’s mechanism of action. The impact of my research is regarding clinical relevance, as after SCI, patients are administered immunosuppressive medication. However, as patients also have a weakened immune system, these medications do more harm than good. Therefore, by developing a new immune-based therapy for SCI, I hope to overcome these clinical challenges.
Epilepsy, characterized by recurrent seizures, affects 1% of the population, and more than 30% of patients do not respond to drug treatment. New innovative therapies are needed. My research involves using a human cerebral organoid tissue, or “mini-brain in a dish” model of epilepsy to pharmacologically test various cannabis compounds and anti-seizure drugs in the prevention and treatment of seizures. There are several cannabinoids in cannabis, and the most effective combination in the treatment of epilepsy still requires further research. Studying the brain tissue derived from human stem cells (the cerebral organoids) and in my future experiments, a specific patient’s stem cells, enables a novel personalized medicine approach for treating epilepsy.
Session 3: December 11, 2020
Research from Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health
Aspirations to self- transformation
Personal aspirations to grow or change how one views the world form the core of many educational and personal development goals. Recently, Callard (2017, 2018) defined aspirations (as distinct from goals) as strong desires for transformation, whose effect is unclear. Callard (2017) argues higher education is inherently an aspirational project; one studies at a university to gain skills and perspectives to prepare them to become someone they wish to be, but are presently not. However, there remains a large gap in the study of aspirations: we do not know, empirically: where they come from, how they are sustained, or how aspirants understand them. The present study aims to open the study of aspirations to self- transformation to empirical inquiry by studying the aspirations of university students.
The impact of mindfulness
My doctoral thesis explores the translation of mindfulness practices into healthcare settings, with a specific focus on the potential impact of mindfulness to address physicians’ personal wellbeing. Physicians’ individual wellbeing has been shown to directly impact the quality of care provided across healthcare delivery systems. In recent decades, Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBIs) have rapidly grown in popularity, with peer reviewed articles on the topic increasing significantly. My research study brings together and examines these two phenomena – that of physician wellbeing and mindfulness practice – through a qualitative study of a five week Engaged Mindfulness program offered to fully licensed physicians within the Greater Toronto Area. The program is based on the teachings of Zen Master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh. In addition to my academic program advisory committee (PAC), I have established an iterative reciprocal relationship with senior Dharma teachers from Thich Nhat Hanh s international practice centre in France to provide feedback on the mindfulness program design and ongoing thesis work. The primary outcome measure for this study is the analysis and interpretation of semi-structured post program interviews conducted with participants after the five-week mindfulness training program. Situated within the qualitative paradigm of interpretive research, and using the method of thematic analysis, study findings focus on the emergent lived experience of participants to explore the impact and efficacy of the program. I see this research as an opportunity to join the global conversation surrounding physician wellbeing and the application of mindfulness within healthcare settings.
Session 4: Februart 5, 2021