LA&PS sets the stage for innovative research

Research matters. And as proof, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) launched the Associate Dean Research Speakers’ Series on Sept. 25 for faculty, staff, students and members of the broader York community. The speakers’ series, titled Research Matters, featured four distinguished professors and showcased the diverse and innovative research in the new Faculty.

Above: The Research Matters panel. From left, Professors R. Darren Gobert, Amin Alhassan, Uzo Anucha and Marie-Hélène Budworth

In a testament to the impact of research in the non-academic world, the external community was well represented with attendees from: the African Canadian Social Development Council; the Belka Enrichment Centre; the Black Creek Community Centre; the Canadian International Peace Project, Doorsteps Neighbourhood Services; Family Service, Toronto; JVS Atria; Social Services, North District; Tatla Diversity Group and the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre.

“Research is a cornerstone of the Faculty. We believe there is a symbiotoc relationship between the teaching we do and the research we do,” said LA&PS Dean Martin Singer. “Each serves the other.”

Left: Martin Singer

Singer referred to the four presenting professors as an impressive, but very small sampling of the breadth, calibre and output of researchers in LA&PS. “We’re here to celebrate their work," he said. "Research matters and I don’t think it receives the credit, nor the national and international exposure, that it deserves.”

The notion of empowerment, literal and metaphysical, and engagement with others or oneself was a common thread in the talks.

English Professor R. Darren Gobert (right) related the influence of Cartesian philosophy on the theory and practice of drama in the17th century. He addressed the burgeoning 17th century dramaturgical shift that saw the actor become a thinking agent in theatrical production. Gobert showed how, through the interpretation of dramatic texts, noted French dramatists such as Pierre Corneille began to license and encourage actors to move toward individualized interpretations of characters and away from traditional, stereotyped representations.

Communications Professor Amin Alhassan was next in the spotlight. In his lecture, Alhassan discussed the economy of giving in sub-Saharan Africa. He revealed how participants in, and discourses on, international development – governments, civil society and capitalist market players – use gifts of assistance as a currency of power in their relationships with recipients of aid.

In her presentation, social work Professor Uzo Anucha (left) advocated a framework for conducting research in external communities that engages them in a more equitable manner both in methodology and practice, involving partnership, dialogue and the sharing of resources.

Finally, Professor Marie-Hélène Budworth of York’s School of Human Resource Management disclosed the findings of her cross-cultural research involving native Canadian youth and women in Turkey. They revealed that verbal self-guidance while performing a task has a significant impact on the success rate of unemployed individuals regaining entry to the workforce. In other words, personal, positive, verbal reinforcement can give one an edge in a job interview.

Barbara Crow (left), associate dean research for LA&PS, summed up the event by noting: “Our Faculty has an incredibly broad spectrum of research. This and subsequent events will show just how significant and compelling our research is, in both traditional and newly emerging areas.”

For a more comprehensive perspective on the four featured researchers, view the individual presentation videos.

The Research Matters Associate Dean Research Speakers’ Series is scheduled to continue on a regular basis. The next presentation takes place on Oct, 30.