Karen Meyer

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Profound Listening: Poetics, Living Inquiry, Arts-based Practice and Being-Presence in Soundwalk-Soundscape Composition (2014)

As an artistic practice and a knowledge base, acoustic arts-based research is nascent. An interest in sound is emerging across trans-disciplinary fields ranging from urban geography to bioacoustics to architecture to experimental music. In Education, attention to sound produces barely a whisper. This thesis explores how relationships between listeners and the sound environment (soundscape) evolve and are articulated through arts-based means: a hybrid form of sound art, electroacoustic music and acoustic ecology called soundscape composition. As a soundscape composer, my artistic and professional trajectory is steeped in hybridity: poetry, radio documentary-feature, sound art, visual arts, and arts education spanning twenty plus years. For these reasons, this thesis consists of: writing (scholarship, narrative, and poetics),listening (soundwalking, field recording, and soundscape compositions), processing (artistic, literary, and curatorial practice across genres), documenting (living and poetic inquiry, research, reflection on works), and as a pedagogic and hybrid means of knowledge acquisition. The manuscript explicates, theorizes, tells stories, offers poetry and prose, and opens into a series of listening salons available online at http://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/50784 – all toward the aim of enhancing listener experience in the contemporary world, a place overwhelmed by sound and noise. It also engages the listener-reader in a process of coming-to-know acoustically, intellectually, and experientially through an open-ended process that questions rigorously and answers keenly. This is in keeping with the nature of sound, listener engagement, and how listener-to-sound relationships intersect with Heidegger’s notion of Being in the world – with awareness, rather than certitude.The methodology situates in arts-based research as living and poetic inquiry in education. Themes include writing and speaking the experience of sound, listening as Being, soundwalking and soundscape composition as research, listener-to-soundscape relationships, mentors and practitioners, the state and practice of soundscape composition, and a positioning of myself and this work within the field. As I interrogate sound, I ask about who I am in a sensate-mediated world so that a robust future of acoustic awareness, sound environments, sound art practice and scholarship avails itself to yet-to-Be initiated artists, educators, writers, composers - as well as the everyday listeners we comprise.All audio is available online at http://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/50784

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Addressing anxiety through mathematics from demanding performances to giving audience (2013)

In this dissertation, I inquire into the conditions of anxiety in mathematics learning, doing so by invoking a narrative of work with one such anxious learner, not as exemplar of anything perfect, linear, precise, or even the budding of technique. It is rather a muddling through with a sensibility of respect for a person, a discipline, and the possibilities inhering therein. It ultimately comes to be a story about giving audience to a self and a subject discipline as best I might, on that self’s and that discipline’s own terms rather than acceding to a Platonic demand to perform according to inaccessible ideals that would construe the learner in the terms of the discipline. Taking seriously the world in a grain of sand, the narrative serves as hermeneutic window onto a pervasive issue of absent trust in self, in the other, and in the capacity to learn, be, and become well with and through others in the world. In the process, I interrogate Cartesian, narcissistic, and mathematics anxieties at the root of present systemic pathologies in education, and individual and collective struggles to be well, mind-in-body, given that unavoidable paradox of singular plural being. I address the consequences of understanding learning as autopoietic becoming under conditions where learning is regularly circumscribed by an after-the-fact insistence on orderly construals of knowing—learning strangely positioned as at odds with the messy, unorderly, non-linear cognitive work of conceptual formulation. And finally I explore the play of mathematics between the world as given and therefore discoverable and the world as made and therefore conceivable. I come to describe that play as through anxiety into a stillness of something beautiful, always just ahead, though enticingly present to curiosity’s possibility.

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Postcards to the Beloved: An Inquiry into our Shared Worldliness Through the Practice of a Story Mentor (2012)

Narrative understandings into the nature of our shared worldliness and its import can emerge through the practice of writing stories about our lived experiences. This dissertation argues, as have many others, that in order to engage critically in politcal acts and social acts in the world with others we have to restore and reinvigorate the eye of the imagination. We need to restore and to develop abilities to question and form narrative understandings. Developing our capacity to pay attention to how narrative understandings reveal our relationship to our shared worldliness allows for the possibility to think through other practices that lie outside predominating conceptual frames and perspectives. It challenges our shared human condition of remoteness, our worldly alienation, as theorized by Hannah Arendt in The Human Condition. This narrative inquiry focuses on the practice of being a story mentor and the writing of stories. These stories are drawn from my own experience as an artist, documentary filmmaker, and writer with a practice of story mentoring in community engaged settings spanning over twenty years. The inquiry is initiated by questions that emerge in a specific digital storytelling research project with a community of seniors. Plagued by a sense of unease and dissatisfaction with the narrative voice of these stories I begin to see them as stories preoccupied with the domestic and the known. I make the decision to form an inquiry based on writing as a path into seeking the unfamiliar and unknown, the undomesticated. The inquiry centers itself around Arendt’s theme of worldly alienation and stories of uncertainty and death. I give up and replace the predetermined narrative voice with an evolving narrative. Each gesture, in Maxine Greene’s words, creates new structures of knowledge as the learner attempts to orient herself in the unfamiliar. The inquiry proposes that the revelatory presence of the world can be made manifest through this kind of storied awareness, born from narrative understandings. I forward the proposition that by fostering and mentoring stories that seek out the condition of worldly alienation and remoteness we can foster deeper levels of awareness of our shared worldliness.

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The telling of peace education: narratives of peace educators in the context of Israeli-Palestinian conflict (2011)

Telling of Peace Education documents the narratives of five peace educators who use dialogical interactions among their students to create a culture of peace within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The overall intentions of these peace educators are to promote critical thinking, dialogue and to empower their students to make decisions for themselves. I use narrative inquiry to examine deeper understandings of people-to-people engagement of peace education at the community level. As such, I present the narratives that represent the experiences of the peace educators I interviewed for this research. In addition, my field notes document my own narrative as the researcher, traveling back and forth between Bethlehem and Jerusalem to conduct the interviews. My intention for conducting this narrative research is to learn:(a) What stories can peace educators tell us about their efforts in the context of Palestine and Israel? (b) How do they implement peace education programs in their communities? (c) What are their fears, hopes, and aspirations?(d) What challenges do they face in the development and delivery of peace education? I include a literature review of peace education in polarized societies, followed by perspectives in critical pedagogy, which frame this study. Also in the thesis, I outline historical aspects of the conflict, crucial to understanding the existing conflict, and in the end, improving relations between Palestinians and Israelis. Finally, I provide a literature review of youth involvement in political violence in the Middle East in which I analyze the ideology of political Islam and its impact on youth. In addition to presenting the full narratives of the peace educators, I discuss several themes that emerged across the interviews which include self and other, occupier and occupied, the impact of suicide missions on the Israeli public, reconstructing of textbooks and support for a two-state solution. I further postulate dichotomized relationships between the two highly polarized nations, as well as analyze how peace educators challenge this current conflict situation in ways that shape/transform the recognition of the other in light of the existence of the separation wall, and Israel’s “no return policy.”

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SelfDesign: An Inquiry into Authentic Learning and Co-Inspiration (2010)

No abstract available.

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
A Mic to the Margin: Opening Up Spaces for Alternate Voices in Schooling (2015)

Alternate programs within schools are spaces born of alternate views and the recognition that mainstream schooling does not fully engage all students. Such programs harbour students who have come to be known as “marginalized,” among a plethora of other labels, such as: at-risk, disenfranchised, drop-out, handicapped, not meeting expectations, falling between the cracks, impoverished, disadvantaged, remedial, delinquent. Rather than becoming a place of deficit, the site of alternate settings can be a space of transformation where students begin to find their voice. In this study, former alternate school students engage in dialogue with their former teacher to (re)-explore their path within the alternate setting in writing and narrative within the methodological frames of critical pedagogy and narrative inquiry. Whispers from the margin appear as students enter alternate settings and begin to reflect upon their stories of pain and healing. In line with Hannah Arendt’s concept of primary natality, students within this educative alternate space are able to exercise their natality through self-reflection before entering the political world. As students confront their belatedness and natality in an old world, inquiry into their narrative shapes their interpretation of the world and their role within it. As student voices grow louder in the grip of narrative inquiry as a microphone for their story, transformation of Self leads to the responsibility of Arendt’s political natality and Paulo Freire’s praxis and obligation towards humanity. On this transformative platform, students stand at the intersections of social, political, and educative tensions and begin to hold a megaphone to a narrative that can continue to reflect the imaginings of alternate views from the margin.

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Listen With Your Three Ears: A Pedagogy of the Heart (2015)

No abstract available.

SOS: sharing online stories (2012)

Social network sites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) provide opportunities to millions of users to share themselves with an online global community. Youth enter adolescence eager to explore and experiment with the world as they learn about and negotiate through identity forming and decision-making. Youth use social network sites as a tool to develop their public and private selves. As guides for youth, teachers need to integrate social network sites into their classroom practices to facilitate and aid adolescent development and formal learning. This study employs grounded theory methodology and a focus group of nine thirteen and fourteen year-old research participants to discuss and investigate adolescent use of social network sites to better understand how they make decisions, share, and learn on these websites. These learnings around adolescent social network site use are then applied to my own teaching practice to establish and organize a new strategy for the introduction of social network sites to teaching. The exploration and research generates three fundamental categories – choosing, sharing, and learning. Choosing, sharing, and learning are synthesized and demonstrate that sharing on social network sites influences adolescent identity forming, decision-making, and informal and formal learning.

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