Vision, Passion, Action
New Research Partnership

Kathryn Church has joined a team of researchers from the Universities of Alberta and British Columbia to work on a 3-year, SSHRC-funded investigation of "Knowledge-Creation Practices of Older Professionals in Changing Work Environments".  Updates on this multi-disciplinary study of nurses, teachers and social workers will be posted on this site, as they become available.

Activist Histories and Practices

Recovery: Troubling the Talk, Informing the Walk

This study is a new and timely qualitative inquiry in the field of community mental health. In this context, the term “recovery” refers to a new ‘vision’ that promises to dramatically change how mental health policy and practice are ‘seen’ and ‘done’ in advanced capitalist societies. Our goal is to discover and analyze the emergence of “recovery” by initiating an international collaboration with key researchers in three sites: Toronto (Canada), Edinburgh (Scotland), and Auckland (New Zealand). We proceed from the knowledge that there are powerful proponents of “recovery” at all levels of Canadian government, health and social services.

Brief description of "Recovery: Troubling The Talk, Informing The Walk”.

Download the final report of the Mental Health “Recovery” Study Working Group

Kathryn Church gestures toward a flip chart mapping of preliminary ideas for "Activist Disability History in the Museum: How Do Visitors Respond?"Activist Disability History In The Museum: How do Visitors Respond?  


This is a study of visitor responses to the exhibit titled "Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember," which was featured at the Royal Ontario Museum from April 17 to July 13, 2008.  The exhibit, created by faculty, students, alumni and community members, represents the most recent expression of the School's efforts to foster and understand arts and culture as a form of activism. As far as we know, "Out From Under" was the first of its kind in Canada. Seizing a unique opportunity for inquiry, we have felt compelled to ask "how do visitors respond?" to this object-based portrait of disability history. What is it like for both “insiders” and “outsiders” to engage with a portrait of disability history that challenges dominant interpretive frames such as medicine, technology and religion? How might transgressive readings of history assist us in re-imagining exhibit-visitor relations? What actually transpires in a process of exhibit-visitor exchange? And how might such encounters inform our curiosity about audience responses to disability issues? Sparked by these questions, we designed a study that draws from the burgeoning energies of arts-informed research. Most often, practitioners in this tradition create art. Going against the grain, our study uses the “art” of exhibit to create and direct inquiry. Two methods were central: focus groups that were purposively selected and organized by people closely involved with the exhibit itself, and intercept interviews with “casual” visitors to the exhibit – both processes undertaken on-site at the Royal Ontario Museum. Since we know of no other studies conducted in this area, in this way or across these groups, the core excitement will be to engage in dialogue with this particular audience about the “doubled disability representation” of disability in both exhibit and affiliated research.