Research Assistants

Nicolephoto1Nicole Armos is a poet and graduate student in Arts Education, with an interest in exploring our relationships to place, nature, and the body through the arts and humanities. She holds a BA (Honours) in World Literature from SFU, where she continues to work as a Teaching Assistant. In the ASC! Project, Nicole is helping to research strategies and principles for strong cross-sector partnerships in the field of arts for social change, as well as the history of the field in Canada. She assists with interviews, literature reviews, data analysis, and reporting findings.

ASC! Photo_LCLisa Campkin is completing her Masters degree in Kinesiology at the University of Calgary. She is exploring current physician’s perspectives on using exercise and exercise professionals in the care of patients living with chronic disease. Lisa’s personal experiences with physical activity and sport have strongly influenced her passion for emotional expression and social interaction through physical movement and the resulting positive impact on quality of life. She has enjoyed past work as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Calgary, focusing on the physiology of exercise as well as the role of exercise in healthy lifestyles. In her current role as a Research Assistant for the ASC! Project, Lisa assists in assessing the effects of dance participation and community partnerships within the Community-University Dance projects.

picture for ASCCallista Chasse recently completed her Master’s of Social work degree with the University of Calgary at their Southern Alberta location in Lethbridge, AB. She completed her Bachelor of Social Work degree in 2013 and was the proud recipient of the Gayle Gilchrist James and Richard F. Ramsay Gold Medal in Social Work.  She is presently employed as the Coordinator of Student Wellness Education & Sexual Violence Support at the University of Lethbridge. Her previous work experiences include supporting people through counselling, community outreach and education. Callista has also worked for over a decade as a dance instructor, performer and choreographer and is thrilled to be a part of a project that brings together two of her greatest passions, the arts and social justice! Callista assists Lisa Doolittle in the teaching and learning pod of the ASC! project.


image-1Lauren Jerke is a Ph.D. student in Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria. She has researched and practiced in diverse settings, such as psychiatric hospitals, seniors’ homes, high-stake exams for medical students and professionals, and cultural awareness training for social workers. Using applied theatre, she aims to connect personal realities with broad international contexts, and to engage participants in critical reflection and dialogue. Her doctoral research will study the field of applied theatre as it expands its horizons (and its approach to social change) by documenting, generating, and critiquing applied theatre that addresses social justice issues with, for, and by gatekeepers in Canada.  Lauren works with Lisa Doolittle on the Teaching and Learning component of the ASC! project.

marsMars Loveseth is a multidisciplinary theatre artist based out of Calgary and Montreal. Born and raised in Calgary and forever a prairie kid at heart, they are currently living in Montréal studying Theatre and Development at Concordia University, and working as an undergraduate Research Assistant on Rencontres / Encounters. Mars is particularly interested in collaborative creation and tends to take design, technical, directorial or facilitative roles within collaborative contexts. They are also interested in collaborative, innovative theatre work that engages with issues of social justice, and theatre that contributes to healthy anti-oppressive communities; of specific importance is intersectional approaches to gender, sexuality, queerness and trans experiences.


karen lockhartKaren Lockhart works with Dr. Annalee Yassi in the Global Health Research Program located in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. She has managed Dr. Yassi’s research for over 10 years and her work focuses on writing publications, including reports, presentations and peer-reviewed articles. She is also skilled in data analysis and project management. Karen aids Dr. Yassi in the evaluation aspects of the ASC! work.


corey5Corey Makoloski was born and raised in a rural Alberta setting, it only seemed natural he would make his home teaching in a similar environment.Corey taught for 12 years in a rural K-12 school and has recently been working at the University of Lethbridge while he’s completing his Masters.  Corey‘s role at the University is working in the Faculty of Education teaching and observing pre-service teachers.  He was the lead coordinator for inclusive education in his school for over a decade and has enjoyed working with inclusive dance practice in the Lethbridge community for the last few years and looks forward to the continuing endeavor of Solidance South. Corey loves seeing live theatre and helping nurture new performers and educators.

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Tara Mahoney is currently doing her Ph.D. in Communications at Simon Fraser University and is the co-founder and creative director of Gen Why Media, a creative engagement agency based in Vancouver, BC. As a research assistant on the ASC! Project, Tara collaborates to facilitate communication strategies for the ASC! project and is the project lead for Creative Publics field study series into the intersection of art and participatory politics. Her PhD research explores emerging cultural forms of political engagement.

Tara holds a BA in international relations from University of Calgary, a MA in media production from Ryerson University and certificate in Civic Engagement and Dialogue from Simon Fraser University. As part of her Master’s thesis, Tara wrote, directed and produced her first documentary film, ForGive – a film that follows National Chief Phil Fontaine to the Vatican to seek an apology from Pope Benedict XVI for the cultural damaged caused by Indian Residential Schools. She has worked in the non-profit sector for In Focus Film School, the Sierra Club of Canada and Greenpeace at their Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Ndejuru Lisa_picture fro bioLisa Ndejuru is an interdisciplinary artist/scholar working for social change. Steeped in collaborative and community arts practise, her work has centered on Canada’s Rwandan diaspora community since the 1990s and led her to train extensively in the fields of psychotherapy, trauma studies, psychodrama and other forms of community theater, conflict resolution, process facilitation, community arts practice.

Lisa has been working extensively on the relational ethics and aesthetics in family and community contexts of political or historical violence, displacement and dislocation. She has served on the steering committee of SSHRC funded, Community University Research Alliance project Life Stories of Montrealers displaced by genocide, war and other human rights violations from 2005 to 2012. Lisa contributed to the Great Lakes of Africa working group and plays with the Living Histories playback theater ensemble. She is presently researching arts based methodologies for individuals and communities to integrate their own difficult stories and ways in which these stories can be safely and constructively shared in learning situations here and abroad. She has presented nationally and internationally, lectured, performed and published on shared authority, reconciliation, arts based research, transitional justice, community theatre and dialogue as community art. Lisa is a founding member of Living histories theatre ensemble she is acting president of the Canadian association of pastoral counsellors and works as a mental health counselor. Based at the Center for oral history and digital storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal, she is preparing an interdisciplinary PhD.

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has been working for the Global Health Research Program since 2012, and is currently completing her Masters of Public Health. As well as contributing experience in the research field, she also brings knowledge of the performing arts gained from her professional experience in contemporary dance. Stephanie is working as a Research Assistant with Dr. Yassi on the evaluation components of the ASC! project.


AAEAAQAAAAAAAAI9AAAAJDA4MjQxN2M1LWI2YTUtNDAyMy05NzA3LWM0MTA0ZGNmM2E5NAStephanie Perrin recently completed her Master’s in International Studies at Simon Fraser University. Her thesis research explores the experiences of women in revolution through a case study of Egypt, focusing on the Egyptian women’s movement and Egyptian graffiti produced by or about women since 2011. She assists with ASC! external communications strategies including maintenance of the blog and social media.


LethbridgeShira Taylor
is a performer, director, producer, and doctoral candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto (BSc. Psychology, MSc. Epidemiology, Queen’s University). For her dissertation, she created SExT: Sex Education by Theatre to explore the use of theatre for sexual health education among youth in a community of Toronto where sexuality is a cultural taboo As research co-ordinator of the Knowledge Mobilization pod, Shira coordinates with project leaders and research assistants across the country to facilitate knowledge sharing efforts.


IMG_0988Ned Zimmerman is a student in the BFA Theatre and Development program at Concordia University in Montréal, and has been working as an undergraduate Research Assistant with Rencontres / Encounters since September 2014. His interests lie in group animation, collective creation, documentary and verbatim theatre, and the role of the arts in shaping public policy and social movements. A maritimer at heart, he plans to return to his home province of Nova Scotia upon graduation and is working towards the establishment of an artist residency in his childhood home on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.


Recent Posts

Reflections on Bridging the Gaps: A Chataqua Dialogue on Art for Social Change Practices (Thursday, June 23, 2016)

On Thursday evening of June 23, 2016, I attended “Bridging the Gaps,” a Chataqua dialogue hosted by the Art for Social Change (ASC!) research project and facilitated by Judith Marcuse. The Chataqua participants were Art for Social Change (ASC) practitioners who represented a diverse range of experience and community-engaged arts work. These practitioners had worked closely with their communities throughout Metro Vancouver and BC. As someone who has only recently learnt about ASC, the event was, without any doubt, a great learning experience.

In this reflection, I want to highlight ideas about the importance of language, including in dialogue and in issues of accessibility. In the course I took in Spring 2016 with Professor Shayna Plaut, “Ethics and Qualitative Methods in Human Rights Work”, we discussed how important language can be to frame and understand an issue, as well as in defining one’s personal and professional identity.

Upon reflection, I realise that I would not have understood much of the conversation without having taken this Ethics course at SFU. Even though the class did not specifically teach me the ‘languages’ of ASC, there are overlaps between the fields of human rights work and ASC. These language overlaps stems from how both fields question the relationships between the different spheres of research, activism, community and the arts. More specifically, the ethics class I took taught me about the languages and frameworks in research and activism used by funders, stakeholders and institutions. This includes the challenges of gaining access to a community, working with them, and the ensuing responsibility to ethical and reciprocal practice. These overlapping themes echoed back and forth in the Chataqua dialogue. As an outsider stepping in to ASC, I can see that there are many access points into these languages – and that it is crucial that we work to make these accessible to others. The conversation was all in English, but I would not have really understood the references, the nuances and the particular definitions had I not been fortunate enough to be equipped with the basics of this language. I am also aware that I probably did not understand all of the nuances in the discussion. I very much look forward to learning more.

ASC practitioners, although in many ways speaking the same language, do not always agree on the meanings of certain words. They are in constant negotiation with each other, even as they appear to be discussing the same thing in the same room. The awareness of this underlying tension really helped me understand this dialogue as part of a dynamic process of shaping the languages of ASC.

For example, during this Chataqua dialogue, participants discussed the idea of “doing good”. Judith asked the group, “Are we here to “do good”?” Discussion opened up. Is this a primary motivation for making art for social change? Where do aesthetics fall into this? And what are the ethics and responsibilities behind the notion of trying to “do good” in a community? Interestingly, the participants agreed to disagree: “No, we are not here to “do good”” As a person just coming into this field (many of us seeking to “do good”), this question is perplexing. Could it be that “doing good” has a specific meaning I am not aware of? Perhaps it connotes a white savior complex or some kind of colonial perspective? – a common criticism of “doing good” initiatives. Admittedly, I do not know the answers, and the answer will probably vary from person to person, practitioner to practitioner. And as a newcomer, discussing the question of “Why are we here?” – is probably a good starting point.

Participants passionately raised and discussed their concern that art for social change has been struggling to find its own language. There was a lot of focus on the growing trendiness of “socially-engaged” art in all its forms. As soon as the language of socially-engaged art starts to catch on, shallow interpretations of the words like “engaged”, “social practice” and “community” are likely to become token buzzwords featured in guidelines created by funders.

We asked many questions, some of which were: “How can this language not be co-opted by medium-to-large institutions trying to do ‘quickie’ projects?” Where do we stand? What do we advocate for? Do we, in this room, share a language that we agree on? Answers weren’t developed in this dialogue, but it was clear that this concern is something artists and practitioners in this field are grappling with.

Judith raised a point about collaboration that I thought was very important. She said that for a long time there has been a disconnect between artists and researchers. There is a growing need for academics and artists to work together more. This is especially pertinent because research can do a great job to theorize, analyst and enrich the work that artists and activists do.

In a time where many funding cuts hit hard, addressing this issue, Judith proposed two scenarios: “crabs in a barrel” or collaboration. Not surprisingly, we are starting to see more an more “crabs in a barrel” situation as artists and organizations struggle from day to day just to survive financially. What we need is more collaboration between organizations – especially with those in other sectors who value the qualitative and quantitative impacts of ASC work that is also useful for them.

Another impression I got from the Chataqua discussion is that funders and juries want to see results that are quantifiable, numbers to measure how much art has impacted or benefited lives of human beings. They want quick, tangible results.

The group also agree that funders often ask them, “Why does it take so long to gain access and trust with some communities?” Do funders have the same level of expertise, experience and understanding of ASC? Why do funder not understand that community-engaged work takes time? Collaboration is not only important between academics and artists, or artists and other sectors – funders need to be part of the conversation. This may be naïve of me to think, seeing that the participants expressed that they have been met with tremendous resistance on many fronts. But what are the options?

In retrospect and conclusion, this dialogue has made me realize that most people haven’t learned or had an experience that will help them understand this field’s language or framework (for example, by reading relevant pieces, joining various ASC programs, participating in dialogues such as this one). How can future policy makers or the public make and advocate for better decisions when it is not easy to understand what ASC is? Reflecting on the importance of language and the challenges of finding a shared one, it is also not easy to explain the nuances of ASC. As challenging as it may be, current artist-practitioners and researchers must reach out and invite more people to join the conversation, as well as mentor younger people to continue the work in this important field.

Some final questions:

How do we invite more people to join this conversation, make it accessible and inclusive rather than “exclusive”? How do we make this conversation more accessible to the general public? How do we encourage people to start talking about art for social change and help make it a more widely accessible form of art and activism?

Special thanks to SFU Professor, Shayna Plaut, for giving me the foundations and the language to explore this realm which I find so fascinating. A lot of gratitude and respect to Judith marcuse, for including me in this Chataqua dialogue and taking time to guide me in the process. I have learnt a lot from everyone gathered there. Thank you to the most wonderful Kim Gilker and Nicole Armos for all your guidance and company – I cannot ask for better! Last, but not least, thank you to all the participants for coming and sharing your knowledge. I am very humbled to have attended this eye-opening dialogue.

Prodpran is a student at Simon Fraser University, entering her last year of undergraduate studies in International Studies with a concentration in International Development, Economics and Environmental Issues. Her areas of interest are human rights, food, arts and research. She has recently joined the ASC! Project’s communications team for the summer.