I argue that public mass gun violence should be understood over the backdrop of historic violence committed through colonization, including development of an economy bolstered by chattel slavery. My goal is to develop means for allaying gun violence before it occurs, despite loose gun laws.

Research Description

I analyze historic and contemporary issues that co-create the conditions for public mass gun violence (PMGV) to have emerged in the United States and Canada today. While the US is the high-income Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) leader in firearm violence, Canada has the fourth highest gun homicide rate when compared with 31 European countries. As Canada shares some historic and contemporary issues with the US, I argue that PMGV should be understood over the backdrop of historic violence committed through colonization, including development of an economy bolstered by chattel slavery. My goal is to develop means for allaying gun violence before it occurs, despite loose gun laws. To reach a broad public audience, I am converting my research findings and suggestions into a user-friendly graphic novel. Graphic novels offer a form of communication that bridges the gap between research knowledge and public practice. I engage this artform as a method of public pedagogy because art has the capacity to promote personal reflection in ways that can exceed ideological differences. By transforming theory into a mode for dialogue, this work positions scholars, (future) policy makers, and people from diverse sectors of society as equal partners in allaying gun violence.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

Being a Public Scholar means collaborating with people from diverse sectors of society in mutually beneficial ways so as to contribute to the greater public good. Specifically, public scholarship has the potential to circulate an ecology of knowledges and thus enhance creative solution-seeking and critical thinking, while promoting novel teaching strategies and innovative policies that foster democratic values.

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

The PSI can help mend the history of marginalizing divisions in higher education through a commitment to promoting expanded concepts of scholarship. The significance of such a commitment comes in light of higher education’s history of advancing the limited perspectives of the privileged (e.g., White, male, educated, wealthy, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied, etc.) in academic and social realms. This advancement has traditionally marginalized out-groups (e.g., People of Color, women, people experiencing poverty, non-Christian practicing, disabled folks) and silenced/denied their ways of knowing and their contributions to society, education, justice, and peace.

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

Being awarded a PSI will enhance my career prospects by allowing me to further develop my skills as an educator (both inside and outside of the academy) while cultivating pathways into the world of education policy, non-governmental organizations, local communities, as well as international communities recovering from conflict. The PSI would additionally assist me in developing a greater network of support and innovation through introduction to other PSI scholars across disciplines.

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

My research and the graphic novel are intended to bring people from diverse communities together in order to explore, develop, and promote gun violence prevention and healing modalities. Social partnership is an ongoing and evolving development. Please contact me if you would like to work together!

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

The American Medical Association has described US gun violence as a “public health crisis.” Yet the gun lobby has worked successfully with Congress to eliminate federal funding for scientific research at CDC agencies that would otherwise research gun violence causes and preventions. This law known as the Dickey Amendment specifically “targets” research that ties guns to increased homicides. While I whole-heartedly believe that Congress should prioritize people over policy, I believe that citizens and residents must work around this congressional impediment to promote public safety. As such, the main community benefit of my research is increased public safety through access to new knowledge about gun violence, and ways for youth and educators to understand and situate themselves in relation to gun violence and prevention. Such benefits are relevant in both US and Canadian contexts. My work also makes a contribution to the public good by working proactively instead of reactively against violence. And finally, this research raises public consciousness through engagement with an innovative medium (e.g., graphic novel) in order to: promote civic engagement, stimulate new solution-focused debates among the general public, and plant seeds for future policy agendas.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I am passionate about public/education in various forms: schooling, activism, artivism, social and public encounters, etc. I am pursing a graduate degree because I want to teach at the university level. I am also pursuing a graduate degree so that I can make meaningful contributions to public policy.

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

After completing my Master’s degree (in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies alongside Teacher and Counselor Education), questions about the role of education in society continued to percolate. In researching UBC, I fell in love with the depth and breadth of research being conducted by professors in the Faculty of Education, and the multitude of possibilities for collaborating with researchers in other departments and other institutions. Further, working and learning in Canada has taught me about what it means to be in a country that is beginning to acknowledge and take ownership of a legacy of systemic violence against its Indigenous peoples. This national conversation in Canada provides ongoing critical dialogues that are accessible to all of us—inside and outside of higher education. Such dialogues offer daily opportunities for learning that can enhance the awareness and critical thinking of society at-large and on intergenerational scales. That is not to suggest that Canadian society has perfected practices and responses for resolving historic/continued oppressions, but the fact that the conversation is ongoing will hopefully contribute to healthy, just outcomes. Moreover, being in Vancouver has exposed me to so many inspiring creative endeavors including First Nations music and art that is committed to educating for social and cognitive justices.

 

Being a Public Scholar means collaborating with people from diverse sectors of society in mutually beneficial ways so as to contribute to the greater public good.