Cristina Wood, a PhD candidate in York University’s Department of History, has been awarded the prestigious Trudeau Doctoral Scholarship, presented by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, which recognizes top doctoral students in Canada and abroad in the fields of humanities and social sciences. This is the first time since 2016 that a York student has been chosen for this scholarship.
This year, candidates had the opportunity to apply directly to the foundation instead of being nominated by their university. Through this change in the application process, the foundation supports its commitment to inclusive excellence by ensuring that all applicants were given equal consideration regardless of region, background or discipline.
More than 600 scholars applied, and only 15 were selected to receive this year’s scholarship based on their academic excellence, leadership and engagement, willingness to engage with a plurality of perspectives, agility and resilience. These students, from 13 different universities in Canada and abroad, will be supported by the foundation to achieve meaningful impacts in the world, becoming a part of the diverse community of Trudeau Scholars.
The scholarship includes up to $40,000 per year for three years to accommodate tuition and living expenses, with up to an additional $20,000 per year for research, networking and travel expenditures. In addition to this financial allowance, each student becomes a member of a vibrant community of scholars, mentors and Fellows. Moreover, successful applicants receive leadership training, which includes unique experiential learning opportunities that enrich and complement their academic experience.
Wood’s innovative research practices and community engagement are truly characteristic of an outstanding Trudeau Scholar. Her proposed dissertation research, titled “Enchanting the Ottawa: An Affective Environmental History of the Ottawa River,” will follow the waterway’s transition from a transit and trade thoroughfare to a regulated, recreational place. Through archival research, oral histories and material culture, Wood will bring alive environmental pasts and futures of the water, land and air surrounding the area.
The project emphasizes the dynamic history of the Ottawa River, from the migration patterns of settlements to the boat traffic that was present. Wood has developed a novel method for communicating information through sound, called data sonification. The historical data of the Ottawa River is translated into sounds though this distinctive process. Her project presents an experiment in digital history through its unique auditory presentation.
Furthermore, Wood displays outstanding leadership skills through her involvement with the community. She was the 2018-19 Garth Wilson Fellow for Public History at Ingenium: Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation. During her work at the museum, Wood presented tools for digital curation to the staff.
“As part of an interdisciplinary cohort of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Scholars, with guidance from mentors, I hope to sharpen my skills as a public historian in understanding and communicating stories of complex pasts,” said Wood.
Her project is truly befitting of the leadership program for the 2021 cohort, which will centre on the theme of Language, Culture and Identity, due to her interest in the narrative that the Ottawa River presents by its fusion of diverse communities and histories.
The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is an independent and non-partisan charity established in 2001 as a living memorial to the former prime minister by his family, friends and colleagues. By granting doctoral scholarships, awarding fellowships, appointing mentors and holding public events, the foundation encourages critical reflection and action in four areas important to Canadians: human rights and dignity, responsible citizenship, Canada’s role in the world, and people and their natural environment. For more information about the foundation, visit trudeaufoundation.ca.