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Drysdale Awarded Two Grants for Post-Secondary Education and Mental Health Research

St. Jerome’s University Psychology professor Dr. Maureen Drysdale has been awarded grants totalling $93,876.10 to examine equitable access to post-secondary education and training and to support the development of an e-mental health solution for young adults. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has provided $64,053 in funding, and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development’s Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund (OHCRIF) has awarded $29,823.10.


As the Government of Canada's health research investment agency, the CIHR supports excellence across all four pillars of health research: biomedical, clinical, health systems services, and population health. Its mandate is to "excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system." The OHCRIF supports research and innovation projects that identify better ways to help people prepare for, return to, or keep employment and become productive participants in the labour force.


Both sources of funding are well aligned with Drysdale’s research work at St. Jerome’s University, which focuses on school-to-school and school-to-work transitions and how variables such as learning environments, access, skill acquisitions, and overall mental health lead to or impede success. A primary focus of this work has been examining factors believed to be important for successful transitions, including self-efficacy, peer and social support, sense-of- belonging, anxiety, depression, and other mental health constructs. Drysdale has a particular interest in vulnerable populations as well as the role that work-integrated learning has on mental health and the transition to and success in the labour market. She is currently leading a new international study that spans five countries, examining the differences in work-readiness and mental health outcomes of students preparing for full-time permanent work.


The OHCRIF grant will allow Drysdale’s team to examine equitable access to post-secondary education and training and help identify the barriers and challenges faced by students transitioning from high school to university or college.

Drysdale reports that “this is especially important for vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations who are at a higher risk for mental health problems”.


“The CIHR grant will support the creation of an effective e-mental health solution that can specifically address the support and belonging needs of emerging adults who are attending post-secondary education, transitioning into a competitive labour market, and/or adapting to a new workplace,” states Drysdale. “This can make a significant contribution in reducing the incidence of work related stress and mental illness throughout the life course, in addition to having national economic implications.”


Shortly after receiving this grant, Drysdale and her graduate student Margaret McBeath (from School of Public Health and Health Systems and a co-applicant on the grant), participated in a three-day Mental Health Hackathon, where they worked with designers and programmers to design and develop a demo for their e-mental health solution. At the end of the three days, they had three minutes to pitch their demo to an audience of several hundred and a panel of judges representing insurance companies, marketing and communications companies, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and CIHR. Their team was awarded one of the top prizes. Cossette Health matched their CIHR funds and is now working with them to develop and market their e-mental health solution. The additional support will help the team launch their application in the spring of 2018.


Drysdale describes the hackathon experience as “Surreal, like a reality television show. It felt like we were on Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den, but what’s so exciting is that we won and can now develop a much-needed e-mental health solution for emerging adults suffering from mental health problems.”

“Dr. Drysdale’s research on mental health among emerging adults and students is both timely and important,” notes St. Jerome’s University’s Vice President, Academic and Dean Dr. Scott Kline. “The demands and expectations on students – attaining high marks in university, getting the right co-op placements, and finding the right job upon graduation, to name just a few – can create debilitating stress and anxiety, especially if students are without adequate support networks. Dr. Drysdale’s research can help service providers and educational professionals get students the supports they need to flourish.”


For more information on Drysdale’s research, visit her research lab website.

Dr. Maureen Drysdale

Insight Development Grant supports Fuller Appreciation of Shakespeare’s Work 

St. Jerome’s University English professor Dr. Alysia Kolentsis has been awarded an Insight Development Grant by the Government of Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The $20,940 in funding will support a project entitled “Shakespeare’s Changing Language: Early Modern English and Linguistic Innovation”, which explores how the uniquely vibrant linguistic climate of Shakespeare's age influenced his creativity with language.


SSHRC Insight Development Grants support the development of new research questions, and encourage experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches, and ideas. Funding for short-term research development projects, of up to two years, is proposed by individuals or teams. Kolentsis’s research focuses on different but complementary areas of the changing language, including the tension between Latin and English, the rise of English grammar books and the influence of the Tudor grammar school, England's expanding linguistic diversity, and contemporary debates about language.


“While Shakespeare is widely recognized as a language innovator, this project explores a little-recognized aspect of his linguistic creativity, and uncovers the rhetorical possibilities opened up by the distinctive linguistic climate of the age,” says Kolentsis. “The project suggests that Shakespeare's linguistic innovation extends beyond his penchant for novel word coinages and compelling turns of phrase. It isolates a more subtle component of his linguistic creativity -- the unique resources of his language -- to expose a poet and playwright remarkably in tune with the tools of his trade. This attention to the little-known foundations of Shakespeare's artistry will ultimately allow for a more complete understanding, and a fuller appreciation of his work.”


“Dr. Kolentsis’s work is an outstanding example of what the St. Jerome’s University English Department does best: combining tradition with innovation,” notes Dr. Tristanne Connolly, Professor and Chair of the English Department. “Her integration of literary study with rhetoric and linguistics reflects the unique character of English at the University of Waterloo, which inspired her as an undergraduate. We are very proud of Dr. Kolentsis for winning this competitive and prestigious grant that will support her exciting research and also provide enriching research opportunities for students.”


Kolentsis’s Insight Development Grant is both an acknowledgement from her peers that her high-quality research will significantly contribute to the study of the relationship between Shakespeare and the English language. St. Jerome’s University has a long and successful tradition of supporting research and teaching in Shakespeare studies.

Dr. Kolentsis

Lackenbauer Selected as 2017-18 Killam Visiting Scholar

St. Jerome’s University History professor Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer has been selected as the 2017-18 Killam Visiting Scholar at the University of Calgary. The primary purpose of the program is to support advanced education and research at five Canadian Universities, including the University of Calgary. The award consists of a stipend of $50,000 plus a research and travel allowance of $3,000.


The Killam Visiting Scholar Program annually selects a distinguished scholar to come to the University of Calgary and make “a significant contribution to academic life”, while participating in research and teaching programs of the host department, as well as engaging in their own research. In Lackenbauer’s case, this means pursuing his active research program on historical and contemporary Arctic affairs, guest lecturing in various courses in history, political science, and anthropology, as well as giving public lectures, organizing and participating in workshops, and organizing an international conference on Canada-Russia Arctic relations, which will be held in winter 2018. Lackenbauer is on sabbatical from St. Jerome’s University for the 2017-18 academic year, while in this role.


“This release from my regular teaching and service obligations is facilitating an exciting range of research activities,” Lackenbauer explains, who already has nine books and sixteen articles, and book chapters either published in 2017 or slated for publication by the end of this year.


“Professor Lackenbauer has established himself as an internationally recognized scholar of Canadian and Northern history, along with Arctic foreign and public policies,” says Dr. Scott Kline, Vice President, Academic and Dean at St. Jerome’s University, “and this Killam award is well-deserved recognition of the quality of his research and his ability to bring that research to the public.”


“Professor Lackenbauer is widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts on Arctic history and politics,” explains Canada Research Chair Petra Dolata, his host at the University of Calgary. “Although relatively young (43 years old), he has received a long list of honours, awards, and grants for his scholarship. His exceptional work reflects a deep commitment to academic, policy, political, and community-level engagement, and his leadership in shaping scholarly and policy debates through award-winning interdisciplinary research makes him a most worthy candidate for this appointment.”


Through his research program asking What Kind of Security for the Arctic? Lackenbauer will collaborate with University of Calgary colleagues to establish new frameworks for investigating and understanding the changing security landscape in the Arctic.  His work is also supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant on Canadian-American Relations in the Cold War Arctic, 1946-72; and a Department of National Defence - Defence Engagement Program (DEP) Targeted Engagement Grant on Russia’s Arctic Interests: Implications for Canadian Defence, Security, and Foreign Policy.


He is also co-investigator on SSHRC grants looking at Navigating Canadian Arctic waters: Uniformity and Unilateralism in Law-Making in the Era of the International Polar Code (led by Kristin Bartenstein at Laval); and La perception des Autochtones des Forces canadiennes comme élément explicatif de leur faible représentation (led by Jean-François Savard at L’Ecole nationale d’administration publique).


Lackenbauer is also supported by a University of Waterloo Robert Harding/Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant for his project on Liminal Citizen-Soldiers: The 1916 Canadian Expeditionary Force Soldier Riots Reconsidered; and a St. Jerome’s University Faculty Research Grant for a project on Indigenous Perspectives on the World Wars: Letters in the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs Archives.

Dr. Lackenbauer

Klassen Receives Excellence in Publishing Award

The Association of Catholic Publishers has given Dr. Norm Klassen a 2017 Excellence in Publishing Award – Theology, for his work The Fellowship of the Beatific Vision: Chaucer on Overcoming Tyranny and Becoming Ourselves, Cascade Books (Wipf and Stock). Awards are given out in multiple categories including a Book of the Year.

The publication has been recognized as one of the top three books in theology for 2017, internationally. “I think it’s relevant that the award is in theology, both because of SJU’s religious affiliations, and because I was working outside the box with a literary text,” Klassen says.


In this book, Klassen pursues English writer/poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s basic human question: How do we overcome tyranny? According to Klassen, Chaucer’s answer goes to the heart of a revolutionary way of thinking about the very end of human existence and the nature of created being. His answer also invites us to ask questions about modernity and postmodernity. Klassen said, “In my view, postmodernism has created the conditions of possibility for reintroducing or reconsidering old or alternative conceptions of being and for imagining what this yields in the case of Chaucer.”


Klassen, Professor in the English Departments at St. Jerome’s University and the University of Waterloo, adds this achievement to his fellowships and other awards, which include: the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities Networking Grant: Neohumanism and the Ethical Turn in Theological Perspective; The Dean’s Innovative Teaching Award; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship; SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship; and the Overseas Research Scheme Award. Klassen’s work on The Fellowship was also recently recognized at the St. Jerome’s University’s 10th Annual Author Event.


The Mission of the Association of Catholic Publishers supports a viable, vibrant, and diverse Catholic publishing environment throughout North America and beyond. It seeks to provide visibility to, advocacy for, and sustainability of published Catholic content.


“I am delighted to hear that Norm’s work is being recognized by the ACP,” noted St. Jerome’s University Vice President, Academic and Dean, Dr. Scott Kline. Kline added, “We are proud of our faculty’s research and publishing efforts. Having this type of acknowledgement from a respected international organization is a fitting tribute to Norm’s creative work, and it speaks to the importance we place on interdisciplinary research and scholarship at St. Jerome’s.”

Dr. Norm Klassen

Dr. Bednarski Receives International Outstanding Educator Award

St. Jerome’s University History professor Dr. Steven Bednarksi has been selected from applicants around the world to be one of five 2017 D2L Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning winners. The award, which recognizes educators that are redefining the learning experience through innovative practices, is presented by The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE).

“Dr. Bednarski is well recognized at both St. Jerome’s University and the University of Waterloo for his enthusiastic pursuit of meaningful, experiential education opportunities for his students in and outside the classroom,” noted St. Jerome’s University President, Dr. Katherine Bergman. “His innovations lie in his translation of teaching methods typical of STEM disciplines to the humanities and in particular to Medieval History, a discipline that traditionally values the work of a solitary scholar. We congratulate his efforts being acknowledged in this way by STLHE.”


Bednarski is the first professor at St. Jerome’s University to receive this award. His teaching style is recognized for being for a collaborative, cross-disciplinary, hands-on learning model that has been applied to a number of initiatives, including The Herstmonceux Experiential Learning Adventure and the Medieval Digital Research Arts for Graphical and Environmental Networks (DRAGEN) Lab. His other achievements include his book A Poisoned Past: The Life and Times of Margarida de Portu, an Accused Poisoner, which is used internationally as a teaching tool.


"I am delighted that the scholarly collaborations I have undertaken with my students over the past five years have received this terrific recognition. I share this honour with my student partners, and thank them for helping to build new ways of studying the past,” Bednarski said.


The STLHE strives to be the pre-eminent national voice and a world leader for enhancing teaching and learning in higher education.  The organization partners annually with software leader D2L to present awards to applicants selected from around the world. The 2017 Award recipients were recognized at the 2017 STLHE Annual Conference, in Halifax, and at FUSION, the 2017 Brightspace Global Conference, in Las Vegas. Each of the five winners receive a two-year membership in STLHE as well as $2,200 toward travel and registration costs for both STLHE’s Annual Conference and FUSION. 

Dr. Steven Bednarski
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