The Senior Doctoral Fellows for 2015-2016 are:


Luncheon Speaker Series, 2016 Calendar

Poster - Senior Doctoral Fellows Luncheon Speaker Series 2015-16

Click to see poster

All talks take place 12:00pm-2:00pm in the Sally Walker Council Chamber, Room 2053, Wilson Hall.
A light lunch will be served.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Sean Smith (Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health)
“The Remote and Near Enemies of Contemplative Science” → Go to abstract

Thursday, March 3, 2016
Karen Yaworski (Caribbean Studies)
“Seductive Narrators, Seductive Playboys: Playing with Stereotype in the Fiction of Junot Díaz” → Go to abstract

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Chris Harwood (International Foundation Program)
“Student perceptions of their participation and practice in an online literacy activity”
Go to abstract

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Kaelyn Kaoma (African Studies)
“Innocent Victims and ‘Young Lions’: The Differing Representations of the Child Soldier Figure” → Go to abstract

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Joe Curnow (Equity Studies)
“Gateway Drugs: The Radical Potential and Pitfalls of Student-led Social Movements” → Go to abstract

Friday, April 8, 2016
Kevin Edmonds (Caribbean Studies)
“The other green gold: The rise of the marijuana economy in the Eastern Caribbean” → Go to abstract


Joe Curnow

Joe Curnow

Joe Curnow (Equity Studies)

A PhD candidate at OISE, a Vanier Scholar, and a Goulding Fellow, Joe explores the ways that activists involved in the climate movement learn about systems of race, colonialism, and patriarchy.

By video-recording the activities activists engage in, from meetings to direct actions, Joe traces the learning processes and works with activists to understand how we enact and interrupt racism, colonialism, and sexism in our campaigns.

Joe worked as a student organizer and community organizer before coming to UofT and is committed to building anti-colonial, anti-racist, and feminist analysis in student-led social movements.

Lecture Abstract: “Gateway Drugs: The Radical Potential and Pitfalls of Student-led Social Movements”
Student movements often frame themselves as “gateway drugs” that invite un-politicized youth to engage in easy and immediate campaigns as a way of politicizing them and getting new members “hooked” on direct action, anti-oppression strategies, and radical politics. The Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign, as the largest student campaign in North America today, uses the logic of the gateway drug, imagining itself as a politicizing force on campuses. To what extent is this true? Some students are radicalized from participation in the campaign, and take on activist identities rooted in Indigenous solidarity, intersectionality, and direct actions, but many do not. Looking at the learning dynamics within a campaign and connecting to studies of the NGOization of social movements, I explore the potential and limits of radical politics in the fossil fuel divestment campaign.


Kevin Edmonds

Kevin Edmonds

Kevin Edmonds (Caribbean Studies)

Kevin Edmonds is a PhD student in Political Science, whose research examines the connection between trade liberalization, the decline of the banana trade and the rise of marijuana cultivation/trafficking in the Eastern Caribbean islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent.

His other areas of interest include the political economy of the Caribbean, agricultural policy, alternative development strategies and the history of military intervention and economic destabilization in the Caribbean. His writings have been published in Critical Sociology, Race and Class, International Socialism, NACLA Report of the Americas and the Toronto Star – in addition to newspapers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Lecture Abstract: “The other green gold: The rise of the marijuana economy in the Eastern Caribbean”
During the peak of Caribbean banana production in the late 1980s, the fruit was affectionately referred to by farmers as “Green Gold” due to the fact that the steady prices enabled them to raise their humble standard of living. However, by the mid-1990s the Caribbean underwent a process of trade liberalization that dismantled the protections vital to the region’s banana industry. This elimination of the Caribbean’s protected trade with the England had negatively impacted rural communities, as anemic economic growth and high levels of debt led to a dramatic cutback in government programs and services leading to an increase in unemployment, poverty and drug related crime. In its place another “Green Gold” has emerged, marijuana. While criminalized, the marijuana economy has become an important source of income and employment for rural communities in St. Lucia and St. Vincent. Based on my fieldwork on these islands, this talk will explore the politics and complexity of the production and prohibition of these important black market economies.


Senior Doctoral Fellow Chris Harwood

Chris Harwood

Chris Harwood (International Foundation Program)

Chris Harwood is a PhD candidate in the Language and Literacies Education program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. His research interests include computer-mediated communication, academic discourse socialization and blended student-centered learning. He has published articles on digital literacy and the use of social media in academic contexts, and presented his research worldwide.

Chris has 20 years’ teaching and research experience in English for academic purposes (EAP) and TESOL. He has taught in England, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Austria, Egypt and Thailand. His current research project examines how International Foundation Program instructors and their students understand their roles and participation in an online coursework activity. The study considers the pedagogical factors (and technological affordances) that facilitate or impede international student’s participation and practice in the online activity, and whether online academic literacy skills are practiced by students in the activity.

Lecture Abstract: “Student Perceptions of their Participation and Practice in an Online Literacy Activity”
In modern university contexts students are increasingly expected to participate in online discussions as part of their course work, and North American faculty are increasingly using social media to host and facilitate these discussions (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013). In order to communicate effectively in university contexts where English is the medium of instruction, English as a second language students studying in English for academic purposes courses require opportunities to develop and practice their English computer-mediated communication skills. In 2013 a literacy activity that used Facebook Groups to host student online book clubs was introduced into the curriculum of the International Foundation Program at the University of Toronto. Informed by sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978), this paper presents insights gained through a content analysis of Facebook group page comments, a student questionnaire, and data collected from interviews with two case study students. Findings indicate that students read extensively beyond those books read for book club, demonstrated a high degree of cognitive presence (Garrison, Anderson and Archer, 2000), and scaffolded (Bruner, 1983) each other’s learning as part of this interactive process.


Kaelyn Kaoma

Kaelyn Kaoma

Kaelyn Kaoma (African Studies)

Kaelyn Kaoma is a PhD candidate in the department of English at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation examines a burgeoning new genre of African literature, the child soldier narrative, and compares it to the literary representation of South African children involved in the militarized anti-apartheid movement.

In 2012, she was a visiting researcher at the University of the Witswatersrand and the University of Cape Town.

She has presented her work at numerous conferences, including the annual conventions of the Modern Language Association, the African Literature Association, and the Canadian Association of African Studies.

She also has an article forthcoming in the journal Research in African Literatures. She has worked in the African Studies departments at both New College and UTSC, as well as teaching courses on African and other postcolonial literatures in the department of English.

Lecture Abstract: “Innocent Victims and ‘Young Lions’: The Differing Representations of the Child Soldier Figure”
This talk compares child soldier narratives to the literary representation of South African children and youth involved in the 1976 student uprising in Soweto. Very young students were involved in this “Children’s Revolution,” yet they are rarely considered “child soldiers” per se. Certainly the term is never used in any of the four “Soweto novels” that responded to the events of June 1976 and were published in the aftermath of this uprising. These texts include Amandla by Miriam Tlali (1980), A Ride on the Whirlwind (1981) by Sipho Sepamla, To Every Birth Its Blood (1981) by Mongane Wally Serote, and The Children of Soweto (1982) by Mbulelo Mzamane. The official definition holds that “A child soldier is any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity” (Cape Town Principles 1997). The youth who joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the African National Congress, or organized their own groups in the townships with weapons supplied by MK in the aftermath of the Soweto massacre, would seem to fit this definition. Yet, in South African literary representations, these young people are rarely depicted as exploited innocents in need of Western protection, as child soldiers typically are; rather, they are portrayed as heroic “young lions” (as they were dubbed by Nelson Mandela). Kaoma argues that such a representation demonstrates that there are ways to recognize the youth of child soldiers without infantilizing them or denying their agency.


Senior Doctoral Fellow Sean Smith

Sean M. Smith

Sean M. Smith (Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health)

Sean is a PhD candidate in the department of philosophy at the University of Toronto. His research is focused on the nature of consciousness. Sean’s work draws on many different domains of philosophical inquiry including, philosophy of mind, phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy. He also utilizes the resources of empirical science, including cognitive science, affective neuroscience, developmental psychology and evolutionary biology.

His dissertation is on the relation between subjectivity and affect. Much of the contemporary discussion of consciousness centres around questions of content as they figure in perception and thought. Sean’s work emphasizes the need to think about feeling as the most basic mode of consciousness. Re-framing the concept of consciousness around the feeling body of the living organism has the potential to yield two powerful explanatory upshots. One is that we can provide consciousness with an explanatory role, we can start to explain what consciousness does and what it is for. The other is that we can start to talk more precisely about how consciousness ought to be. This latter point points towards towards other important facets of Sean’s philosophical interests which include evolution, moral psychology, democratic theory and the question of human flourishing.

Pedagogically, Sean is a passionate teacher. He has taught courses in the departments of philosophy and cognitive science and hopes to teach a course a Buddhist philosophy and psychology before he finishes his PhD. In the 2014-15 academic year, Sean was the recipient of the TATP Teaching Excellence Award, a University-wide teaching award for outstanding TA’s.

When not researching or teaching philosophy, Sean spends most of his time with his amazing wife and child. Hobbies include, playing drums in various bands, dancing and practicing and teaching meditation.

Lecture Abstract: “The Remote and Near Enemies of Contemplative Science”
This talk deals with conceptual issues in the cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary milieu of the Buddhism-Science dialogue, or what I will call ‘contemplative science’. I will attempt to lay a conceptual foundation for answering the following question: what would it take to unify contemplative science as a research paradigm? In order to answer this question I will briefly explore the concept of the near and far enemies of developing the four immeasurable states of mind in Buddhaghosa’s magnum opus, the Vissudhimagga or Path to Purification. This exploration of the four immeasurables will provide us with a conceptual lens for evaluating certain problematic tendencies in contemplative science research that would be best avoided.


Senior Doctoral Fellow Karen Yaworski

Karen Yaworski

Karen Yaworksi (Caribbean Studies)
Karen F. Yaworski is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto Centre for Comparative Literature.

Her research examines racial and sexual identities and stereotypes in contemporary fiction from North America and the Caribbean.

Her dissertation explores stereotypical readings of bodies and of texts in the work of Junot Díaz and Dany Laferrière. She has Bachelors degrees in Music, Psychology and French, and a Master’s degree in English.

She has previously held the Connaught Fellowship for International Students and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

She teaches courses such as Introduction to College English and African American Literature.

Lecture Abstract: “Seductive Narrators, Seductive Playboys: Playing with Stereotype in the Fiction of Junot Díaz”
This talk will explore Junot Díaz’s play with stereotype in his short fiction. Díaz’s narrators are often macho, studly, heterosexual Dominican men of African descent; they are also often writers. They tell women seductive stories to get them into bed, as they tell readers seductive stories to keep them reading. Díaz plays with the stereotype of the Dominican stud in an ambiguous way. His work can be read to subtly critique the stud’s misogyny and dishonesty; or it can be read as an endorsement of this familiar type, for the critique is not always easy to find and Diaz’s seductive tales of seduction encourage the reader’s complicity with his narrator’s values. The Dominican stud type compresses several stereotypes into one (i.e., the Caribbean womanizer, the Black stud, the young man of color from the projects) and interacts with stereotypical female types (i.e., the gullible Latina girlfriend, the disapproving and disillusioned working class immigrant mother); racial, ethnic, cultural, class and gender categories interact in each stereotype, making its deployment all the riskier. This talk will examine Díaz’s ambiguous treatment of these loaded stereotypes and question the possibility of critical or subversive deployments of stereotype.