Over the past two decades, a growing number of researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds as well as nonprofit organizations have embraced various narrative methodologies, such as storytelling and photovoice, as a way to investigate and illuminate social inequities. With greater receptivity on the part of funders, including the Tri-Council granting agencies, these approaches have proven effective in fostering insight and self-awareness of the individual at the center of the narrative and in collectivizing the experiences of individuals in similar circumstances. While it is generally assumed by those who engage in narrative research that enhanced public understanding about phenomena of interest would contribute to policy and social change, the evidence for this type of change is unclear. This project aims to systematically investigate how narrative forms of knowledge co-creation can inform and lead to such policy and social change.
The Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion (CRHESI) is a community-academic initiative founded in 2015 to increase knowledge generation and sharing, and to promote social and policy change in five domains: poverty and inequality; discrimination, violence and marginalization; working conditions/ employment security; legacies of colonialism and contemporary realities; and health policy and services. These areas reflect the collective expertise among our partners, and many have used narrative approaches to investigate these areas. Thus, our aims are highly relevant to our partners, and more broadly.
Following a literature review to identify: common assumptions and practices in narrative approaches, conditions that have enabled participatory projects that cross sectors to flourish, barriers that have been experienced, as well as the theoretical approaches and effective strategies and conditions for moving knowledge created by narrative, art-based and storytelling approaches into social and policy change, we will conduct a comparative case analysis of multiple narrative initiatives and research projects to determine the most effective strategies and conditions for mobilizing narrative findings to create social and policy change at organizational and societal levels. These projects will be situated in various organizations, disciplines, and community-university initiatives, either completed or in progress in London.
Project objectives include an investigation of the process, coordination and challenges of narrative knowledge co-creation, as well as articulation of the most effective strategies. At its core, this project seeks to understand current and potential impacts of narrative methodologies, and create new, meaningful ways to evaluate these impacts, with particular attention to system-level change. We will develop a conceptual model that illustrates, explains, provides insight into the policy impacts of narrative-based research and articulates the most effective strategies, barriers, facilitators, and challenges to advocacy for change. The resulting insights hold the potential for application to other narrative research initiatives at regional, national or international level.
Principal Investigators, Drs. Marlene Janzen Le Ber and Helene Berman lead a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral university-community team comprised of researchers at various career stages, community partners, and students. Through the PDG, conditions for the meaningful involvement, mentorship and professional development among student, academic and community researchers are being created. The strategic inclusion of policymakers, government officials, and political leaders at specific stages of the project ensures that the knowledge that is generated will have the potential for policy and social change.
For Dr. Janzen Le Ber, the teaching of leadership is based on two core elements – the interdisciplinary knowledge and theories of current research, and the practice of leadership through skill development and experiential learning. She sees learning outcomes as the bedrock of these concepts and will be helping to develop learning outcomes that will underline everything leadership students do in their courses at Brescia.
Dr. Janzen Le Ber brings a wealth of experience to the position – in teaching, in research, in community involvement, and through the variety of professional and leadership roles she has held in her career to date. Together, these experiences make her an ideal teacher and role model for students. She holds a Ph.D. from the Ivey Business School (Strategic Management), an MScN from the Faculty of Nursing at Western and a BScN, also from Western. She began her career in Nursing (mental health and public health) followed by over 20 years of progressively more responsible health management positions – where she was known as a leader and change maker and spearheaded numerous hospital-wide changes and new clinical and research programmes. In terms of her academic career, she has been both an Adjunct Professor/Clinical Associate and Assistant Professor at Western; a lecturer at Ivey; a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellow; a Visiting Scholar at the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan; and an Assistant Professor and Associate Director at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, where she was recruited to design a new Interfaculty Program in Public Health. She now has enthusiastically assumed the position at Brescia in the Dimensions of Leadership Program.
Her research record is equally stellar. She has over 50 articles, papers and book chapters she has written, co-written or presented in the past five years alone. She has earned over $365K in funding and scholarships from various well-known funding bodies, including SSHRC, and over $11 million as a co-collaborator, coordinator or research assistant. Her passion, dedication, and hard work have led her to earn her over 20 academic honours and awards.
Dr. Janzen Le Ber looks forward to combining her research interests and her interest in experiential learning in the development of the program. “Although I love developing theory, I am grounded in practice,” she says. “And the practice of leadership requires context, whether it be in the business world or the not-for-profit sector. We will be developing our own framework to guide our courses and that is very exciting. Brescia students are taught to lead with wisdom, justice, and compassion in a changing world, as our mission statement affirms, and I see that mission put into action in my classes. The young women I teach are empowered to speak and are not worried about expressing their views, whether those are about spirituality or our place in society. As a result, I am a different and – I hope – a better teacher because of them.”
Dr. Janzen Le Ber has been working with a network of women from around the world, exploring the development of women’s leader identity. This research reinforces her already health services well-established vision for Brescia. She says, “The Dimensions of Leadership program fosters this notion of women’s leader identity and my students are already showing me how engaged they are in exploring this and putting their leader identity and voice into practice. It’s about developing that voice from within – finding the right environment, where you can blossom and grow in your potential. I think we have that here, at Brescia.”
Dr. Helene Berman
Dr. Helene Berman is the Academic Director, Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion Dr. Berman’s formal education has followed a somewhat atypical trajectory and includes an undergraduate degree in Anthropology (University of Wisconsin). Following work as a VISTA Volunteer in a Community Health Centre in Wisconsin, she pursued a career in nursing, worked as a Pediatric Nurse for several years, and in various women’s health care settings. She subsequently received a Master’s Degree in Parent-Child Nursing from the University of Michigan. Upon completion of this degree in the early 1980s, she and her husband moved to Canada where she began teaching at Western University in the School of Nursing, thinking they would like to live in Canada “for a year or two”. Several years and several children later, she returned to school for doctoral studies, receiving her Ph.D. in Nursing from Wayne State University in 1996. Her combined interest in anthropology and nursing have influenced her work related to health and culture, and have been central themes in her research on violence in the lives of children. Her doctoral dissertation was a critical narrative study of two groups who had been exposed to violence in different contexts, children of war who had experienced war-related trauma and uprooting, and children of battered women who were witnesses to violence in their homes.
Dr. Berman is past Chairperson of the Alliance of Canadian Research Centres on Violence, a national network of community and academic researchers committed to feminist participatory research approaches. She has served on numerous local, national and provincial boards, was a member of the Task Force on Screening for the Health Effects of Woman Abuse, chaired by Marion Boyd, and more recently, served as an expert panel member for the development of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s Best Practice Guidelines, Screening for Woman Abuse: Early Identification and Initial Response.
In the past years, she has been the Principal Investigator on a national study examining how girls and young women are socialized to expect violence, its effects on their health, and implications for policy makers and programmers, funded by Status of Women Canada. She is currently PI on a newer study that is examining intersecting sites of violence in girls’ lives with particular attention to gender, race, culture, class, sexual orientation, and ability. Other current research projects include a pilot study funded by CIHR called Uprooting, displacement, and health in the lives of girls, focused on homeless girls, Aboriginal girls, and newcomer girls in Ontario, and another study related to intimate partner violence within the Tamil community in Toronto. As well, she is co-investigator on an SSHRC-funded study related to homelessness and diversity among psychiatric survivors.
Dr. Berman presents her work nationally and internationally, has numerous publications and is co-editor, with Y. Jiwani, of In the Best Interests of the Girl Child . The theoretical and methodological perspectives she uses are informed by critical and feminist theory, participatory approaches, and narrative analysis.
Dr. Carri Hand
Academic Co-Lead: Meaningful and Sustainable Work
Community Co-Lead: Meaningful and Sustainable Work
Graduate Student: Meaningful and Sustainable Work (PhD candidate)
Dr. Abe Oudshoorn
Academic Co-Lead: Poverty & Inequality
Dr. Oudshoorn is a Registered Nurse, with a background in healthcare with people who are experiencing homelessness. In 2004-2005 Dr. Oudshoorn did a Master’s in Nursing with a focus on health promotion. His Master’s research was a critical ethnographic study of relationships in home-based palliative care, focusing on power in relationships. In 2005, Dr. Oudshoorn fast-tracked into the Ph.D. in Nursing program at Western University and studied client-provider relationships in community-based care with people who are experiencing homelessness. His Ph.D. was completed in 2011.
Dr. Oudshoorn is currently an Assistant Professor at the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Western University. He has a cross-appointment with Lawson Health Research Institute and the Department of Psychiatry, Western University, as well as serving as a member of the Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion. Dr. Oudshoorn teaching interests involve community health, mental health, global health, research methods/statistics, and advanced Nursing theory. His research interests include women’s homelessness, program evaluation, health promotion, critical ethnography, qualitative methods, participatory action research, poverty and health, critical theory, mental health, and others.
In 2016, Dr. Oudshoorn had the privilege of being awarded the Western Humanitarian Award for my work on ending homelessness.
Community Co-Lead: Discrimination, Violence & Marginalization
Louise offers personalized leadership coaching and consulting services for businesses and individuals. She specializes in helping leaders expand their understanding of power, privilege, equity and oppression.
Grounded in principles of inclusion, creativity and courage, Louise brings more than 25 years’ experience in the non-profit sector as an executive leader and changemaker. This background has fostered a unique knowledge of the need for genuine dialogue and safe spaces to facilitate true transformational leadership.
Dr. Debbie Laliberte Rudman
Academic Co-Lead: Meaningful and Sustainable Work Academic Co-Lead: Critical Interpretive Synthesis of Narrative Literature
Dr. Debbie Laliberte Rudman, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.), is an Associate Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy and the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University. She has affiliate appointments at several universities, including the University of North Carolina, Cape Town University, the University of Toronto and the University of Dalhousie. She completed her PhD in the Public Health Sciences program at the University of Toronto in 2003, a Masters in Occupational Therapy at Western, and a Bachelors in Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto.
Her primary research interests relate to the socio-political shaping of the occupational lives and subjectivities of aging adults; that is, to understanding discursive and other contextual influences on what people do as they age and the implications of occupation for identity, community participation, health, and well-being. More broadly, in her work, she has applied critically-oriented qualitative approaches to examine how occupations and identities of individuals and collectives, particularly of groups who experience social and economic marginalization, are situated within socio-cultural, political, economic, and historical conditions, and the implications of discursive constructions for subjectivity, identity, social inclusion, health, and well-being. Within the field of Occupational Science, as well as within critical gerontology more broadly, Dr. Rudman’s long-term program of research addressing the contemporary socio-political reconfiguration and individual negotiation of aging and retirement has been widely disseminated and has resulted in 11 invited international talks. She has received national and international recognition for the methodological, theoretical, and substantive contributions of her research. For example, in 2012 she received the top lectureship for a Canadian occupational scientist, specifically The Townsend Polatajko Lectureship. In that same year, she was the first Canadian recipient of the Mitchell Lectureship in Occupational Science at the University of North Carolina. Most recently, in 2013, she was the first Canadian recipient of the top lectureship in Occupational Science awarded in the United States (The Ruth Zemke Lectureship).
Community Co-Lead: Policy Advisory Group
Dr. Lloy Wylie
Academic Co-Lead: Legacies of Colonialism & Contemporary Realities
Dr. Lloy Wylie is an Assistant Professor in the Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health, appointed to Psychiatry, Pathology with a cross-appointment to Anthropology at Western University. She was recently named a Phoenix Fellow with the Associated Medical Services. She also holds an adjunct position with the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. She has an Interdisciplinary PhD from the University of British Columbia (Political Science, School of Population and Public Health, and Nursing).
Dr. Wylie’s main areas of research are in health systems and health services, with a focus on equity and improvement of health services and access through community-based participatory research. Her current research focuses on Aboriginal, immigrant and refugee health drawing on cultural safety as a framework for health systems improvements. She has an emphasis on culturally appropriate care through health professional education to improve continuity of care for underserviced populations. In addition, she examines health systems governance and policy, as well as processes of community engagement in health care. Her current projects focus on prevention and service improvements in mental health and wellness and diabetes. Her past research areas include political economy of Latin America and Europe, examining social determinants of health and economic reform.
Her teaching and supervision are in health systems and health services research, health care management, communitybased needs assessment, program evaluation, Aboriginal health, health equity, social determinants of health, indigenous methodologies, communitybased research methods, and knowledge translation and exchange between research, policy and practice.
Shamiram Zendo is a doctoral student in the Health Information Science program at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS), at Western University. Shamiram is now in the final year of her doctoral work and is currently conducting a realist evaluation on the LDCP funded health equity indicators, to understand who the indicators work for, and under what circumstances.