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While many Canadian scholarly associations have cancelled their summertime meetings due to COVID-19, others have decided to go forward with virtual conferences. From June 12-15, the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC) is holding its 2020 virtual conference and Acadia faculty and students are well represented. The ASAC, which was founded in 1957, brings together all those interested in research, teaching and management practices to promote and improve higher education in commerce and business as well as provide a forum for scholarly research. The large four-day conference showcases papers from Canadian academics and their colleagues around the globe, and Acadia is well represented! (Conference Program)

Presentations from research conducted on the Acadia campus can be found throughout the impressive program. In the “Business History division,” Dr. Ryan MacNeil will present a paper coauthored with students Santana Ochoa Briggs (BA Honours in Politics, 2019), Alisha Christie (BCD Honours in ESST, 2020), and Connor Sheehan (BBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, 2019) titled “Entrepreneurship is 'Beyond' History: Sensegiving via poetic antenarratives.”

In the “Case Division,” Dr. Conor Vibert was invited to give a special presentation on “Creating and using business video cases for teaching,” which he has based on a decade of experience creating, using, and disseminating video cases. He will also comment on research conducted with colleagues to understand student experiences with this style of case. Dr. James Grant will present his teaching case on “The Derailment: A Role-Playing Case of On-and Off-Duty Conduct(or).” Later, he will present a case titled “A Convenient Indian: A Postcolonial Examination of the Resignation of Canada’s First Indigenous Dean of a Law School.”

In the “Finance Division,” Dr. Igor Semenenko will explore “Climate Risk Impact on Cross-Border Acquisitions,” and also “Housing Finance: Impact of Heavy Interest Income Tax.” While in the “Gender & Diversity in Organizations Division,” a busy Dr. Grant will present his research paper on “On- and Off-Duty Conduct(or): A Feminist Examination of the Dismissals of a Railway Worker,” and a paper co-authored with Acadia alumnus Leslie Lewis (BBA Honours in Employment Relations, 2009) titled, “Women’s Careers in Academia: The Effect of Discrimination and Gendered Roles.”

In the “Management Education division,” Dr. Ryan MacNeil, Dr. Danielle Mercer-Prowse, and Academic Librarian (Vaughn Library) Britanie Wentzell will present on “Evidence, experience, and (instructional) design science: The case of a small, small business course,” while in the “Production & Operations Management division,” Dr. Hassan Sarhadi and Zhen Liu (BBA Honours, 2019) will give a presentation titled, “Risk-based Oil Spill Response Planning for the South Coast of Newfoundland.”

Dr. MacNeil, who serves on the ASAC Divisional Council, notes that this is a substantive national-level showing of scholarly work by Acadia’s faculty and students. The School of Business is particularly proud that two of the papers were based on Acadia BBA honours theses: Leslie Lewis’ thesis on gender and discrimination in academic careers and Zhen Liu’s thesis on oil spill response planning for Newfoundland. Most of the student papers at the ASAC are normally PhD-level work, MacNeil notes, and so it is remarkable achievement by both Leslie and Zhen.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has disrupted societies across the globe. Facing a historic health crisis, Acadia’s faculty recognized the pressing need for research into the transmission and prevention of the virus as well as its impact on the wider community. One of the strategic directions of the University has been active and passionate community engagement, and the diversity of faculty research into COVID-19 reflects this ongoing commitment. The faculty response to Acadia’s recent competitive Call for Proposals spanned departments across all 4 Faculties and has fostered collaborations and research clusters that bring together diverse research expertise and perspectives. Following are summaries of the funded  projects:

The Enemy Within?  Understanding Predictors of Intimate Partner Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the Psychology Department, Kathryn Bell and Diane Holmberg are working to understand the effect of social distancing practices on intimate partner violence (IPV) rates in both Canada and the United States. How do pandemics affect psychological functioning and how do deviations to this functioning impact the risk of IPV? Not only will this research help us understand how psychological and relational factors contribute to IPV risk during periods of isolation but will help public health and allied professionals mitigate the effects of social isolation on couples.

Assessing the Strength and Challenges of the Localized Food System in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Food security has also been an ongoing concern during this crisis. Edith Callaghan of the Manning School of Business and Liesel Carlsson from Nutrition and Dietetics are collaborating on a project that explores the challenges of the localized Food System; specifically, investigating how the local small/medium food producers and distribution networks throughout the Annapolis Valley have pivoted to meet local food needs. They want to identify systems that work well, and those that show fragility and need to be re-designed, so that we are prepared to meet a similar situation in the future.

Understanding Workers’ Experiences During COVID-19: A Case Study of Three Groups of Workers

Sociologists Claudine Bonner, Jesse Carlson, Rebecca Casey, Lesley Frank, Elisabeth Rondinelli and Sarah Rudrum have teamed up with Education’s Jennifer Tinkham and Politics’ Rachel Brickner to examine how working conditions have changed during the pandemic for food service workers, long-term care workers, and teachers. It is critical that we understand how the physical and mental health of these three groups of workers have been impacted by COVID-19 and identify polices that have worked and those that need improvement.

Practicum in a Pandemic: A Study of Alternative Teaching Approaches

In the Education Department, Janet Dyment and Jennifer Tinkham are examining the experiences of pre-service teachers who were forced to shift gears to support ‘at home learning’ in Nova Scotia. What are the implications of this shift and how do pre-service teachers meet the needs of K-12 students and families during a time of great societal upheaval?

Isolated Bodies, United Voices: The Pedagogical, Musicianship, and Community-Building Prospects of Virtual Choirs in the age of COVID-19

Over at the School of Music, Dr Michelle Boyd is focused on the pedagogical, musicianship, and community-building prospects of virtual choirs in the age of COVID-19. Unable to sing together in person due to social distancing, choirs around the globe have begun making virtual videos as a means of continuing to perform and connect with one another. Boyd will chart the Acadia University Singers’ foray into the virtual realm and examine the musical and pedagogical implications of singing in a virtual choir and the efficacy of this performative methodology.

God’s Rhetoric: The rhetoric of preaching on Sunday 29 March 2020.

Finally, co-funded with the Acadia Divinity College, Stuart Blythe is investigating the theological questions for faith communities during the pandemic, with a focus on the rhetoric of preaching in five Baptist congregations across Atlantic Canada on Sunday, 29th March 2020. Besides social and economic concerns, the pandemic has raised theological questions for people seeking reassurance and answers to the meaning of life. This rhetorical analysis will explore the ways that preachers faced the pandemic with positive social and religious messages.

These exciting research projects demonstrate some of the ways in which Acadia is responding to and learning from the COVID-19 crisis.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Research Granting Agencies have granted extensions and provided new monies for virus-related research. Please check this page for regular updates and information

NSERC Program Information in Relation to COVID-19

SSHRC Program Information in relation to COVID-19

Tri-Council COVID-19 Grant Extension Tracking Tool

Before the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the precarious position of workers across the globe, scholars were bringing awareness to the lack of protections for vulnerable employees. Acadia sociologist Dr. Becky Casey is part of an SSHRC-Funded “Closing the Enforcement Gap Research Team,” headed by York University Politics Professor Leah F. Vosko, that has published an important new book on the enforcement (or lack thereof) of employment standards in Canada.

Through interviews with workers, community advocates and enforcement officials, as well as extensive archival research into decades of ministerial records and administrative data collected by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Closing the Enforcement Gap: Improving Employment Standards Protections for People in Precarious Jobs (University of Toronto Press, 2020) explores how workers in Canada have increasingly faced low wages and less representation by unions, while labouring in workplaces that have been transformed through the growth of contracting-out, franchising and extended supply chains. While “employment standards” set minimum terms and conditions for issues like wages, working hours and termination, these standards are not strictly enforced and frequently violated.

Through this research, Dr. Casey and her colleagues are identifying gaps between legislated standards and the enforcement of such standards as a means of protecting workers. According to Dr. Casey, the lessons learned while doing the research for Closing the Enforcement Gap can be useful in understanding what is happening in Nova Scotia where employment standards have not kept pace with troubling workplace trends. (Read Dr. Casey’s report here)

A very readable work, while relying heavily on statistics provided by the province of Ontario, Closing the Enforcement Gap also has chapters on Britain, Australia, and the United States that put the Canadian situation in a broader international context. It is, as one reviewer noted, a “must to read for everyone who wants to understand why violations of basic workplace laws are everyday occurrences.”

How do we teach Canadian history to K-12 students in a way that helps them engage with the problems facing today’s society? How do we tell the stories of such a diverse nation with a critical and balanced approach? How do we treat Indigenous history? These are the questions that Acadia Assistant Professor of Education, Dr. Jennifer Tinkham, is interested in solving. Currently collaborating on a SSHRC-funded ($2.5 million) Partnership Grant titled “Thinking Historically for Canada’s Future,” Tinkham and her colleagues are currently surveying methods of teaching history in our nation’s classrooms, while seeking new pedagogical practices that will provide powerful and engaging learning experiences for students.

Having taught in post-secondary Bachelor of Education and Masters of Education cohorts within Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia, Tinkham, who holds a BEd from Acadia and a PhD from the University of Alberta, understands that context is extremely important in understanding the past, as are the motives behind the stories that we tell. When Dr. Tinkham began teaching at Indian Brook (Sipekne?katik First Nation), the Mi’kmaw students quickly let her know that Canadian history, as it was being taught to them, was “not [their] history.”

This powerful experience inspired Tinkham to think critically about ways that teachers could incorporate historical thinking and indigenous knowledge into their history and social studies curricula. Focusing on the experience of Mi’kmaw students within Nova Scotia’s classrooms, her work has been published in journals like The Journal of American Indian Education and the Alberta Journal of Educational Research. Tinkham wants history to be engaging, accessible, and always mindful of context. History is, after all, extremely important in shaping how citizens engage with society and build civil competency. It is also extremely interesting.

In the next few years, Dr. Tinkham will also collaborate with Historic Nova Scotia (HNS) to make local historical knowledge accessible to a broad audience through “stories” on the HNS website. In doing so, she will provide active learning opportunities for Acadia’s education students to contribute their pedagogical knowledge, as well as receive training in archival research and preparing public history presentations.  

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