Judith Walker

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.

Associate Professor

Research Interests

Adult education
Higher Education
policy studies
Health Professions Education

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

qualitative methods
policy analysis
conceptual work

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

The construction of lifelong and lifewide education in Russia and the USSR, 1721 – 2021 (2023)

This dissertation challenges the monopolistic notion of lifelong education and lifelong learning (LLL/E) as concepts constructed in and by the West to include interpretations of LLL/E in Soviet and post-Soviet Russian state policy discourses and interpretations of education in socio-political and academic discourses in the Russian Empire. The research project explored three hundred years of Russian history, from 1721 to 2021, to trace how the four keywords (vospitanie, obuchenie, prosveschenie, and obrazovanie) constituting the Russian concept of education emerged and how they were used historically in state constructed discourses on education to express the idea of continuity in individual and collective education and learning. Framed by the theory of multiple modernities (Eisenstadt, 2000), studies on the history and policies on lifelong education, and the theory of learning societies (Coffield, 2000; Schugurensky, 2007), the findings derive five models of the Soviet/Russian learning state-society, their distinct systems of lifelong and lifewide education as products of successive Soviet/Russian modernity programs and identify the discourses in which they are constructed, and which shape them. The study shows that developing lifelong and lifewide education was part of Russian and Soviet modernity projects. The uniqueness of distinct Soviet/Russian models is in the incorporation of traditional Russian approaches to education as a combination of vospitanie (directed development) and obuchenie (instruction), Western ideas, and Soviet/Russian contexts. The Bolsheviks’ modernity project in the 1920s can be viewed as one of the first examples of creating mass lifelong education. By the 1960s, the Soviet Union ran a system of lifelong education that could have formally met the requirements of the Western models of lifelong education proposed a decade later by the OECD and UNESCO; however, the Soviet model differed in terms of the objectives and the interpretation of socio-economic dimensions such as democracy, society, modernity, technology, culture, and state. The study contributes to the body of literature on LLL/E by revealing the construction of Russian/Soviet education and the invisible history of Soviet holistic lifelong and lifewide education from cradle to grave and by providing the grounds and a framework for further investigation of non-Western modernity projects and their education models.

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Reaching wide and deep: public pedagogy of death and dying in Canada (2022)

Learning about death and dying is important because they are aspects of life we will all have to face. This learning is increasingly important as we are dying longer, mostly isolated and hidden behind the walls of medical or care facilities. To prevent breakdowns following a terminal diagnosis or a loved one’s death, and also to live a fuller life, keeping a sense of mortality close is crucial, which is what death education primarily aims to achieve.I studied established “public death educators” in Canada—those educating the general public in the public domain—to understand precisely what messages they are disseminating about death and dying, how they educate the public, and why they educate the way they do. I conducted a critical realist multi-case study through observing the educators’ practices and conducting in-depth interviews. I used theories of public pedagogy and thanatological cultural niches as my theoretical framework. The three cases of death education I studied focused on distinctively different aspects of death and dying, namely, the groundwork for end-of-life planning, the practical matters of doing a home funeral, and the sophisticated construction of why the culture of death and dying is the way it is. I found that public death educators use a variety of pedagogic tools to disorient people from widespread misconceptions around death and dying; to help them contemplate death; and to prompt them to live and love fully. These educators also differ in the ways they interact with the public. Importantly, these differences are rooted in their relational and ethical principles. Despite these differences, the educators share the belief that all of us are bound to one another by our mortality and that we share social responsibilities around death and dying. Based on these tenets, I consider how having a keen sense of mortality might contribute to the field of adult education and also to having solidarity with all beings, human and nonhuman.

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The third mission of UBC's health faculties, departments and schools : a role in society beyond education and research (2022)

Universities are increasingly playing roles in society beyond education and research, often referred to as a third mission. As such, there are discussions within universities about their relationship with society, their desired impact in society, society's expectations of universities, and how universities can be more accountable to society. This dissertation explores the role that health Faculties, Departments, and Schools at the University of British Columbia (UBC) play in society, beyond the education of health professionals and conducting health-related research. UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Nursing, and Department of Physical Therapy provided a comparative case study to explore the relationship between a university’s health units and society. This dissertation outlines the role each unit articulated beyond education and research in their strategic plans. It explores the dominant and competing neo-liberal and socially-oriented discourses embodied in how each unit articulated its relationship with society through a critical discourse. It also discusses an advocacy role played by units identified through interviews and a focus group with leaders from each unit. This dissertation explores this advocacy concept and determines how this role was operationalized similarly and differently across the three units, and presents an emerging framework to help other health units think critically about their relationship with society. This research highlights commonalities around how three health units at UBC articulated and operationalized their relationship with society and differences that stem from how they are situated within the university and the broader province landscape.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

An exploration of postcolonial feminist public pedagogy of an Anganwadi union on Facebook (2022)

This thesis explores of the pedagogical implications of a Facebook page of a Delhi-based Anganwadi Union known as the Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (DSAWHU). DSAWHU represents the voices of thousands of women community healthcare workers treated as petty workers or volunteers—women who are struggling to make improvements in their lives for many years and who have been marginalized in neoliberal India. The purpose of this study was to know about the ways in which DSAWHU leaders manage to engage their followers, educate Anganwadis about citizenship and emerge as public pedagogues, with an intention to create a social movement.For this study, I have conceptualized Facebook as a public space for education and learning. Looking at this space through the lens of postcolonial feminist theory and the theory of feminist pedagogy, I attempted to deepen our academic understanding of the concept- “postcolonial feminist public pedagogy.” Employing multimodal content analysis as a qualitative research methodology, I analyzed the multiple modes of communication that are evident on this Union’s Facebook Page. The data analysis is based on my feminist epistemic sense that is constructed from my lived experience in both urban and rural parts of India, and my personal experience with an Anganwadi a few years ago.By making meaning of the virtual communication on Facebook and understanding the Union leader and moderators as public pedagogues, and followers as learners, I found that the feminist engagement strategies of this Union to empower their communities through education appears a bit differently than is understood in the most Eurocentric literature of feminist and public pedagogy for community building and liberation. Also, if moderated carefully, considerably and with utmost dedication and a focussed purpose, unions like Anganwadis can gain worldwide attention on social media such as Facebook, which they don’t get otherwise. This can create a public narrative about the feminism of marginalized communities of India on social media platforms, which could expand our knowledge about the transnational feminist movement.

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"Like an awakening": transformative learning as identity transformation for men in recovery from addictions (2020)

The purpose of this study was to examine the self-reported learning and transformation of men recovering from substance addiction who had attended a residential treatment centre in British Columbia (BC). Untreated addiction stems from and causes unacceptable levels of human misery and incurs serious social and economic costs. Treatment is a key strategy for lowering the costs associated with addiction. The thesis brings together transformative learning theory with theories of transformation from the recovery field to focus on identity transformation. It employed a narrative inquiry methodology due to its emphasis on subjective experiences of transformation. Data collected from a convenience sample of seven adult men were recorded, transcribed, and coded for themes. The study sought to answer three research questions: (1) What are some of the processes involved in personal transformation as reported by men recovering from addiction? (2) What are the contextual factors that facilitate, delay, or inhibit personal transformation as reported by these men in the context of residential addiction treatment? (3) How do the lives of these men, and their sense of identity as men, change as a result of their self-reported learning? The study concluded that (a) participants’ personal transformations involved rational and extrarational processes; (b) such transformations were facilitated by having a safe, private, and peaceful environment to engage in self-reflection and the presence of other men with whom they could relate and engage in meaningful conversation; and (c) participants’ identity transformations resulted in lifestyle changes—more meaningful relationships and work, helping others, and improved self-care—as well as positive changes in how they related to themselves, others, and the world. Study results have important implications for transformative learning theory and programs designed for men as adult learners situated in residential addiction treatment settings.

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