Like this boardwalk to the beach (located in one of the numerous parks in Nova Scotia) I often do not know where my research path will take me, but I am drawn to find out. My doctoral research began with an examination of connections between lifelong learning and the homeplace. My interest in this was fueled by my own experiences of being a primary caregiver of my three children in the homeplace – a profound learning experience that was rendered invisible in the academic world and marketplace. My theoretical dissertation combines critical Habermasian theory with feminist analysis to develop a critical feminist theoretical framework that continues to inform my work around women’s learning experiences, an exploration of the homeplace as a learning site, and my interest in critical Habermasian and feminist theory.
My teaching experiences have continually informed my research, as can be seen in the writing that I have done around teaching cross-culturally, drawing upon my twelve years of experience in working in Jamaica, teaching via distance, and teaching summer institutes.
My first SSHRC grant looked at women’s learning trajectories, noting that while it is useful to investigate individual learning pathways, it is also essential to consider how social, cultural, political and economic factors and motivations (such as the influences of neoliberalism, gender expectations, connections to the homeplace and community, and differential values – ie. as is seen in the “pursuit of happiness”) all impact upon educational experiences. Similarly, my two studies funded through the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) use a holistic approach to explore the complicated network of factors that shape adult learning around citizenship participation within Canada. In particular, I focus on “active citizenship” in the volunteer sector and participation in governance, to consider how this connects to a lifelong learning framework.
Two internally funded research grants looked at Sisters in Crime (an organization dedicated to supporting women mystery writers) as a unique learning organization. Currently I am working on another internal research grant that considers the use of conferences as learning sites. I recently finished a Standard SSHRC grant looking at connections between lifelong learning, citizenship, and the craft of fiction writing, and have started work on a new SSHRC grant examining fiction writing and creative literacies.