How do young children’s relationships with their everyday places help them to acknowledge and respect cultural and social diversity? Through a reconceptualized notion of diversity that takes seriously the role of place, Claudia seeks to shift policy, curriculum, and pedagogical practices towards more respectful and inclusive early childhood education.

 
Mona Gleason
Valparaiso
Chile
UBC Public Scholars Award
 

Research Description

My doctoral research focuses on an important and still underexplored question for ECE: how do young children’s relationships with their everyday places help them to acknowledge and respect cultural and racial, developmental, gender, and social diversity? Central to my doctoral research is the need to rethink a notion of diversity in a context of increasing immigration and environmental damage. My goal is to propose a reconceptualized notion of diversity that moves away from an uncritical celebration of multiculturalism and takes seriously the role of places including traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of Indigenous people in children’s respect for diversity. I draw on ethnographic methods in a single daycare centre located in East Vancouver, an area with a long history of cultural and social diversity. I hope my research contributes to shifting ECE policy, curriculum, and pedagogical practices towards more respectful and inclusive early childhood education environments.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

For me being a public scholar is a public commitment to continue working on making my research matters in children’s lives through early childhood education. Being a public scholar is also an opportunity to connect with other scholars who from their own disciplines contribute to making a difference in the public sphere.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

This is a great question! For me, the public scholar initiative is an opportunity for doctoral students to step out the walls of UBC Campus and get involved with the larger community by making our research matter in the public sphere. The PS initiative is a hub for researchers from a wide spectrum of disciplines to come together, support, and inspire each other to introduce academic knowledge into the public conversation making an impact on decision-making processes that affect the public.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

My knowledge mobilization plan has allowed me to connect with a broad early childhood education community including children, families, educators, children’s advocates, policy makers, and scholars. As much as I’m interested in research and teaching opportunities in post-secondary education, I’m interested in advocacy. My doctoral research connects me with academic and advocacy dimensions and I think it opens great opportunities for my future career.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

To engage with the larger community and social partners I’ve put forward a knowledge mobilization plan that allows me to disseminate my research among 1) children, their teachers, and educators at the local level; 2) early childhood education organizations at provincial level; and 3) scholarly community at international level. This plan includes three main outcomes: a photography exhibition for children and families, a report for provincial institutions, and an academic publication.

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

Early childhood education plays a crucial role in supporting young children to respect difference and diversity at an early age. My knowledge mobilization plan seeks to create dialogue among different stakeholders around how a reconceptualized notion of diversity may expand the opportunities to create more respectful and inclusive public environments through early childhood education.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After ten years working as a manager of educational and poverty-reduction programs in Chile, I wanted to expand my knowledge on the role of education in both mitigating and deepening social inequalities that affect children’s lives. I chose Canada for its reputation of a culturally and racially diverse country. I wanted to learn more about its challenges in creating the necessary conditions for such a diverse society.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

I found in UBC a supporting environment to challenge my own assumptions about childhood and the role of education in improving children's lives. I've been challenged to incorporate in my scholarly work principles of social justice to reconfigure the way we envision early childhood education and children.

 

Early childhood education plays a crucial role in supporting young children to respect difference and diversity at an early age. My knowledge mobilization plan seeks to create dialogue among different stakeholders around how a reconceptualized notion of diversity may expand the opportunities to create more respectful and inclusive public environments through early childhood education.