Pierre Walter

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Community member learning in a community-based ecotourism project in northern Vietnam (2015)

Tourism development sometimes focuses too much on short term monetary benefits and inadvertently causes environmental and social degradation. Community-based ecotourism (CBET) is an alternative model of tourism development that has the potential to avoid certain negative side-effects while promoting environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. Adult learning and education and gender issues are two critical but under-researched areas in ecotourism development. Informed by a combination of theoretical concepts in adult learning, environmental adult education, and women's empowerment in community development, this study examines the content, process, and outcomes of community member learning in three aspects of a CBET project in Vietnam. These include: 1) The development and management of the CBET project; 2) The protection and conservation of the local environment; and 3) Local women's empowerment. Field research for the study was undertaken on a model CBET project in Giao Xuan commune near Xuan Thuy National Park, Vietnam, a wetland recognized for its importance to environmental conservation by the Ramsar Convention. The study took an interpretive case study approach incorporating qualitative research methods of interviews, participant observation, and document analysis. Thirty-one research participants took part in the study, including seven project staff and consultants, and twenty-four community members. Study findings indicate that even though there is much room for the improvement of the planning and implementation of the CBET project, community members in the Giao Xuan CBET project have actively learned to make CBET an effective strategy linking the development of ecotourism with sustainable development. The CBET project has brought a new source of income to the local community, promoted local environmental conservation and made positive changes in local gender roles and relations. Study findings contribute to knowledge of the effectiveness of CBET as a means of community development, the role of adult learning and education in CBET, and the integration of a gender perspective into the planning and implementation of CBET.

View record

Knowledge economy discourses and language regulation : an analysis of policy processes in adult English language education in Canada (2013)

This thesis examines the policy processes, social and power relations, and textual practices that have come to regulate English language education and assessment of internationally educated professionals (IEPs) who immigrate to Canada. During migration and settlement processes, IEPs whose first language is not English undergo assessment of their English language abilities before they can begin practicing in their professional field. Within discourses of building a global knowledge economy, where knowledge workers move across national borders and are expected to demonstrate English language proficiency, variation in communicating in English is constructed as a problem. Different ways of speaking English can become a barrier to labour market integration for IEPs. The Canadian government’s policy response to this problem has been the development of a competency-based language framework to regulate and standardize the assessment of immigrants’ English language proficiency. This study analyzes the tensions and struggles involved in standardizing and regulating the English language and its assessment in relation to knowledge economy discourses. Employing Dorothy E. Smith’s (2005) institutional ethnography, key reports and policy documents (e.g. The Canadian Language Benchmarks) were analyzed. The study then explored the experiences of language experts (the researchers/consultants, teachers, and provincial government administrators) who are responsible for profiling the English language demands of various professions (e.g. nursing, engineering, accounting) for the development and implementation of profession-specific language exams and programs. The study documented competing interests and conflicting worldviews on the purposes and processes of English language assessment. It also analyzed how textual practices were informed by knowledge economy discourses. The findings contribute to existing research on foreign credential recognition by demonstrating how the power relations and dominant discourses embedded in policy processes of language assessment significantly contribute to the (non)-recognition of IEPs’ professional knowledge and skills. The study also contributes to the limited research on the CLB by focusing on the labour market integration of IEPs in relation to knowledge economy discourses. Finally, the findings contribute to theoretical and empirical research in which language is understood as a social practice, drawing attention to the problematic of standardizing language and assessment practices in work and professional contexts.

View record

Local negotiation of globalised educational discourses : the case of Child Friendly Schools in rural Cambodia (2013)

Despite massive donor aid to the education sector over the past two decades, school achievement in Cambodia remains poor. Key challenges include low survival rates, limited contact hours, poor literacy skills, and gender disparity. The question of why basic education continues to fail Cambodian children catalysed this research. This feminist postcolonial inquiry analysed the interface between the global and the local as expressed in Child Friendly Schools (CFS) policy to understand how local Cambodian communities negotiate hegemonic transnational influences. It explored how schools and communities understand and implement CFS on their own terms and how concurrent global discourse about gender equality has impacted gendered identities and relations. This “vertical case study” shows how exogenous influences are mediated through local perspectives. At least seven critical elements of the Cambodian socio-cultural milieu (worldview, protracted conflict, educational history, political system, poverty, gender perspectives, educational philosophy) converge to shape micro- (school, village) and meso-level (national) response to macro-level (global) influences. While numerous international norms have been institutionalised as policy, many have not been internalised. Local response to global educational discourses takes five forms: deployment, incorporation, adaptation, contestation, and resistance. In some cases, the response is wilful and deliberately negotiated. In other cases it may reflexively arise from conflicting values; witness, for instance, traditional perspectives on gender and gender equality. While homogenisation of basic education clearly occurs at the rhetorical level, hybridity characterises actual implementation. Cambodia’s negotiation of international norms has resulted in poor quality education; much educational reform has been in form rather than in substance. Study findings show that gender norms, as expressed in school-related texts and relationships, have not been significantly influenced toward gender equality. Rather, the male-centric status quo is supported through teacher attitudes, textbook content, the neutering of gender mainstreaming processes, and the defining of equality in essentially economic terms. A more coherent and contextualised (and therefore relevant and vernacular) version of elementary education can be achieved by applying a social justice frame which necessarily includes dialogue around cultural values. For policy sharing to succeed, senders and recipients alike must attend seriously to local context, particularly how worldview mediates practice.

View record

The art of becoming : filmmaking and performance on Cambodian postcoloniality and diaspora (2012)

Focusing on visual culture and artistic practice/performance, this study examines how individuals of Cambodian heritage living in Canada, Japan, and Cambodia sustain networks beyond borders through the application of technology, and what forms of expression using digital and non-digital media are actively practiced on a daily basis. Drawing on the concept of “heterotopia” by Michel Foucault (2002) and Trinh T. Minh-ha (1994)’s version of the notion of “hybridization”, I aim to attain the following three conceptual objectives: (1) to uncover the research participants’ (re)actions to the dominant meaning and representation of Cambodia, the people, and culture created by the media (i.e., TV, newspapers, magazines, etc.); (2) to show various forms of artistic practice and performance by the participants (e.g., photographing, filming, performing, painting, blogging, writing books, and teaching art); and (3) to propose a novel approach for education and research, which brings a critical lens in dealing with the issues of immigration and taking into account the significance of the arts for the daily lives of people living in the digital age. This study employs interviews and video recordings conducted in Ottawa, Tokyo, Hiratsuka, and Phnom Penh—the cities where the study participants reside. I apply a “speaking nearby” position as practiced by Trinh (1982) and incorporate film production and performance within the film. From the attempt to interweave these research methods and merge the boundary between the text and the image emerge not only diverse perspectives and forms of expression of the research participants in regards to his/her-story, home, food, language, education, time, space, and dwelling, but also intricate and heterogeneous modes of being and becoming of people in the globalizing times.

View record

Social movements as learning communities : Chilean exiles and knowledge production in and beyond the solidarity movement (2011)

The atrocities committed by the military in Chile after the armed forces seized power in1973 horrified Chileans and people around the world who had been following events in Chile foryears prior to the coup. Together with the resistance in Chile, the transnational solidaritymovement integrated by Chilean exiles and non-Chileans across the globe played a major role inending the dictatorship. Since in-depth empirical studies of social movement learning are sparsethis study addresses this gap as well as the ones in the existent research on the Chilean solidaritymovement in Canada and elsewhere, the political activities of Chilean exiles in Canada and theChilean solidarity movement specifically from a learning perspective.The purposes of this research, therefore, were to document and understand collectivelearning processes among solidarity movement participants and to contribute to the empiricaland theoretical social movement learning scholarship. This study employed qualitative historicalresearch methods, including oral history interviews and reviewing formal and informal archives.The conceptual tools used to understand solidarity movement learning and knowledgeproduction drew broadly on new social movement thought and in particular on Freire, Gramsciand Habermas, which enabled an analysis of wider social forces, the specific pedagogies of thesolidarity movement and the connections between the two.The findings speak to the value of a varied repertoire of action which merges the politicalwith the cultural and which blends the intellectual with the emotional and the sensory. They alsopoint to the power of artistic forms of expression for articulating and communicating socialmovement messages and for expressing identities. In addition, the findings show the local,experiential knowledge generated in social movements is vital to achieving movement aims, tocritical learning and transformation, and to constructing individual and collective socialmovement identities. The study concludes that understanding social movements as learning communities is essential because it foregrounds the value and legitimacy of movementknowledge and the centrality of learning and knowledge production to movement aims and to thesignificance of movements for movement members, their allies and the public.

View record

Toward transformative learning and a transnational feminist pedagogy : experiences of activist-facilitators working in development (2009)

The purpose of this study was:1) to explore how critical reflection (as part of praxis) is understood and experienced by activists facilitating participatory workshops; and 2) to understand how these activist-facilitators identify and position paradoxes and possibilities in their development work, including the experiences of power and transformation therein. By examining how activists, like myself, understand and practice critical reflection in relation to the facilitation of participatory workshops and how that reflection informs praxis – a key component of transformational learning – this study deconstructs participatory methodological practices within the context of development work. The study is positioned at the interface of transformative learning, activism, and participatory development and framed by transnational feminist pedagogy. The study used qualitative methods informed by feminist perspectives. The study participants were a diverse group of fourteen Canadian women, including myself, who have varied experiences as facilitators of women’s rights and gender equality workshops in transnational locations. Through unstructured interviews and focus groups, the participants were questioned about pedagogical and political aspects of their work as Minority World activists. Four key themes in activist-facilitation experience were identified. They are: understandings and misunderstandings of critical reflection as a pedagogical practice; the often paradoxical ways that activist play out positions of power; how activists identify possibilities and paradoxes in working in dominant and participatory development paradigms; and opportunities for personal or social transformation. Working in teams and with allies, nurturing connections with others, dismantling hierarchies and encouraging collaborative models of learning were all recognized as important ways to build upon a key learning in the study – facilitation as a sustained practice. A lack of conceptual clarity around critical reflection as a pedagogical practice however, demonstrated the need for additional efforts toward achieving a co-intentional practice between learners and facilitators.The political/transformative components of this research are noteworthy because they seek to validate the work of activists, to share strategies that resist hegemonic practices, and to enhance the development of transnational feminist pedagogies. In this way critical reflection was envisioned as part of praxis and transforming life-long learning.

View record

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
A gender analysis of Iranian middle school textbooks (2013)

This study examines gender inequity in three Iranian middle school textbooks, and explores the efforts that Iranian women make to adopt, negotiate and resist the sexist indoctrinations of the textbooks. This thesis consists of two phases. The first phase contains a content analysis of the grade 6 Farsi Language Arts, grade 7 English as a Foreign Language, and grade 8 Natural Sciences textbooks taught in the academic year 2011-2012 in Iran. The second phase of the thesis analyzes the oral history interviews conducted with three female engineers regarding their K-12 and university education in Iran. The findings of the content analysis reveal that sexist indications permeate Iranian textbooks. Compared to men, women have a pale presence in the books. Women and girls are depicted, for the most part, in the domestic sphere, and their role as mothers and nurturers are stressed in stories, poems, and illustrations. An analysis of the women’s interviews and archival documents; however, indicate that despite the sexist instructions of the textbooks, Iranian women are endeavouring to destabilise the cultural and political structures that curtail their rights. Today Iranian women are actively present in the public sphere; some of them are stepping into territories that have been long regarded as male-only grounds. By so doing, these women are gradually dismantling patriarchal systems of power.

View record

Learning our histories at Kits House - a search for decolonizing place-based pedagogies (2013)

This study investigates a set of decolonizing place-based pedagogies and their potential to facilitate learning among non-Indigenous learners in Kitsilano, Vancouver. I explore using neighbourhood history as a way to open dialogue about the present-day implications of colonization. In this action research project, I facilitated a series of three workshops with seven adults at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House (Kits House). I invited participants to research forgotten Indigenous, immigrant and settler histories and to share photos of what they had learned about the Westside of Vancouver. In the workshops I discussed how Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations lived, sometimes seasonally, in what is now a city park (Vanier Park), and how colonization operated to displace these Nations. As well, participants were invited to envision how to acknowledge forgotten histories in their soon-to-be redeveloped neighbourhood house. Through participant observations at the workshops and subsequent semi-structured interviews, I recorded participants’ views and what they had learned about (de)-colonization, as well as, their suggestions for acknowledging histories in their new neighbourhood house. Research findings highlight the challenges of facilitating decolonizing place-based pedagogies as a non-Indigenous facilitator, with predominately non-Indigenous learners. In the first workshop, the invitation to learn about local histories was too open-ended and allowed participants to research visitor-settler histories without understanding these histories in the context of colonization. In future workshops more attention needs to be paid to the questions posed by the facilitator to re-focus learning on the colonial relationships between Indigenous, immigrant and visitor-settlers. Although sharing stories about the colonization of Snauq / Kits Indian Reserve / Vanier Park did spark dialogue about colonization and reconciliation, these discussions did not lead to an articulated understanding of decolonization among participants. In the action-planning phase of the project, participants offered specific ideas for representing histories at Kits House, but they did not explicitly discuss decolonizing these historical narratives. Although I set out to facilitate decolonizing place-based learning, I facilitated a smaller first step in the participants’ and my own learning journey. Based on my research findings, recommendations for refining decolonizing place-based pedagogies and suggestions for decolonizing histories at Kits House are offered.

View record

 
 

If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.