Like many scholars, my biography has in many ways shaped my learning trajectory and research interests. This may be one reason why I am interested in doing life history and biographical research in my own academic work.
I was born in Montreal and grew up living in different places in Canada and the United States. My father was an American (from Virginia) and my mother was born a British citizen prior to Confederation (when Newfoundland joined Canada). No doubt this experience of being raised in a couple of different countries sparked my interest around learning and citizenship, which I have taken up in several of my research projects.
During my twenties I completed my B.A. and M.A. in Sociology at the University of Guelph. I also got married and had three children. Like many women, the next couple of decades were spent juggling multiple responsibilities as I spent time at home, taught part-time in community college and university, and started a Ph.D. in Education at Dalhousie University once my youngest child started school. The challenges I faced during my own educational journey made me aware of gender barriers that persist in academe. My dissertation drew upon Habermasian and feminist theories to develop a theoretical framework to explore learning in the homeplace. My first SSHRC grant focused on women’s learning trajectories. I also developed an interest in doing research in Jamaica as I had the opportunity to teach there for twelve years when the Mount partnered with local adult education and literacy organizations to offer our program in Kingston.
My most recent research focuses on learning in connection to fiction writing. This evolved from research I have done on Sisters in Crime, an organization that supports women mystery writers. A prior SSHRC grant looked at the interconnections between lifelong learning, citizenship and the craft of writing fiction. My collaborator, Susan Holloway and I are building on this research in our current SSHRC study which looks at stories of learning to consider how fiction writing may be used to promote creative literacies.
I feel very fortunate to work at Mount Saint Vincent University, where I was hired on tenure-track in 2000 and I am now a full professor. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with many exceptional adult educators and I have been actively involved in our national organization (CASAE) – the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education, serving as president and helping to organize several conferences. I was a joint editor for the International Journal of Lifelong Education with Peter Jarvis and John Holford for two years. I continue to teach in our Graduate Studies in Lifelong Learning program and in 2016 I was delighted to win the Mount Saint Vincent University Award for Research Excellence.
My husband, Brian, is a golf course superintendent, and our three children, Courtney, Erik, and Brennan, are now young adults and embarked on their own careers. Our grandchildren, Julia, Annabelle, Declan and Jack are a constant delight. My learning in the homeplace continues!