Each student in the Knowledge Integration Senior Research Project (two-term course, INTEG 420 A & B) works on a short research project under the dual direction of a member of the Department of Knowledge Integration and an advisor from a discipline related to the topic. The results of this project will be presented in thesis form, and will be critically examined by members of this and, where pertinent, other departments.
The students will present summaries of their projects on April 9. Details about this online event at: Knowledge Integration Symposium 2021.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s mental health is at peak vulnerability and we are without adequate resources to properly help families in addressing their children’s needs. This senior research project serves as a resource for caregivers to provide an accessible intervention for their anxious children by integrating cognitive-behavioural play therapy activities with a children’s story. The picture book confronts feelings of worry, anger and anxiety that may arise for a child in the wake of significant changes to their life. The story guides the child and caregivers through how to overcome these feelings in a constructive and empowering fashion. This project involves both a stand-alone story and an added tool that instructs caregivers on how to facilitate the play therapy activities that are referenced throughout the book. The child can follow the protagonist’s example as they learn how to understand and work with their feelings in the face of a strange and scary situation. This book is intended for young children who are experiencing anxieties, particularly due to change and uncertainty - two themes that are closely linked to COVID-19 as this project was inspired by, and is highly relevant to, the current pandemic. The book was created and edited through consultation with play therapy and children’s writing experts, as well as through in-depth review of existing research and literature. User-testing has not yet been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the therapy but is recommended for a project of this nature and will likely be done when the target population becomes less vulnerable and more available. The project was crafted to be a simplified, more accessible version of traditional play therapy, meaning that it is not a replacement for therapy, but rather a tool to help in beginning to discuss, understand and confront anxious thoughts. This project fills a clear accessibility gap in mental health care and has the potential to inspire further similar works that cohesively integrate therapy and fiction.
Trace Metal Levels in Tissues of Kokanee Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in Kathleen Lake, Yukon, Canada
Mentor: Heidi Swanson, Biology, University of Waterloo
The population of kokanee salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in Mät’àtäna Mǟn (Kathleen Lake) is a culturally and ecologically significant part of the Kluane National Park and Reserve (KNPR). A recent decline in this population of kokanee has led to concern for their conservation status and possible causes of the decline are under investigation by Parks Canada. High concentrations of selenium (Se) and mercury (Hg) have been identified in the spawning waters used by this kokanee population. Trace metal concentrations in kokanee muscle tissue were measured using inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry (Se) and direct mercury analysis (Hg) and compared to known trace metal concentration thresholds to assess if Se and Hg concentrations are high enough to cause toxic effects. Mean Se and total Hg concentrations in the muscle of these kokanee were not found to exceed threshold effects levels in fish of 4.0 μg/g dry weight and 0.33 μg/g wet weight, respectively. These findings indicate that it is unlikely that muscle Se and Hg concentrations are high enough to cause widespread toxic effects. Despite the high concentrations of Se and Hg identified in the kokanee’s spawning waters, the risk of these metals to this fish population is relatively low. As part of the larger effort to investigate potential causes of the population decline for the kokanee in Kathleen Lake, results from this project should be integrated with other water quality studies to provide information about trace metal exposure to humans and wildlife in KNPR.
Mentor: Dylan Cyr, History, University of Waterloo
The problem here addressed is that an overreliance on textbooks in high school history curricula is posing problems to the education, tolerance, and growth of students. In addition, history students are not developing essential critical thinking and historical inquiry skills. The research is guided by the following questions: What is the role of primary sources in the classroom? How does the reliance on textbooks affect students and their perception of history? How might we change this? To answer these questions an analytical approach has been adopted in which texts from Canadian and international authors are analysed and reviewed regarding pedagogy, types of sources, and teaching methods in Canadian high school classrooms. This approach is taken with the goal of addressing the gap in scholarship surrounding action plans for addressing the afore mentioned problems. I intend to make suggestions for how we can effectively change our curricula and teaching methods to benefit students and teachers; making history more interesting to learn and teach, and to help students develop their critical thinking and analytical skills. The focus is on the Ontario grade 10 history curriculum and teaching structures, and extrapolations from there are made to make more general statements about the state of history education in Ontario and all of Canada. I made 5 significant findings: the hiring process for teachers can be problematic; the high school history curriculum is strikingly vague; the approved textbooks for tenth grade history are not very diverse or inclusive, primary sources are not prioritized as teaching tools, and there is little to no inclusion of oral history in current teaching plans.
Improving Nursing Homes in Ontario: How the Evolving Concept of "Resident Centred Care" Shapes Long-Term Care Policy
Mentor: Paul Stolee, Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo
With Ontario’s long-term care (LTC) homes suffering devastating consequences at the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, the pandemic opened up the debate on how the longstanding issues that these facilities face may be addressed. The purpose of this study is to analyze Ontario’s LTC policymaking process, specifically the ways in which the concept of resident centred care (RCC) influences policymaking decisions, in order to propose viable recommendations for advancing the incorporation of RCC in Ontario’s current and future LTC delivery. Resident centred care is a holistic concept that combines elements of restorative and person-centred care with the ways in which physical environments impact resident quality of life in long-term care; the concept underpins the caring culture of practices and services delivered by LTC homes in Ontario. As a concept that evolves in tandem with emerging literature on optimal care practices for resident wellbeing in nursing homes, its incorporation into LTC service delivery is also evolving. As such, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) plays an important role in policy formation that mandates RCC practices in the province’s LTC homes. A scoping review of published and grey literature, using Walt & Gilson’s health policy triangle (HPT) as a deductive framework to structure a context and policy review of LTC in Ontario, will serve to guide the discussion of policy options to move the province’s LTC delivery forward. Findings from this study suggest that: (1) Ontario’s LTC quality of care assessment and accountability mechanisms need improvement; (2) care provider roles in facilitating RCC is undermined by managerial/institutional factors; and (3) LTC facilities need to consider the homelike aspect of the environment they cater as a contributing factor to quality of life; however, more empirical evidence on health outcomes is needed before the concept of homeliness can be implemented into policy.
When considering the current sociocultural landscape, instances of explicit prejudice are becoming rarer. Instead, prejudice is manifesting in a much more sinister and aversive manner – fueled largely by implicit biases. Remediating these biases is no small task; they are deeply entrenched and, empirically, nearly impossible to extinguish. Existing efforts include implicit bias trainings which focus largely on mitigating the effects of these biases through education and awareness. The literature surrounding implicit bias trainings is clear – in their present state, they do not work. This paper aims to examine the shortcomings of present implicit bias intervention and proposes a more well-rounded strategy. The research and findings are done through literature review and analysis, using Prilletensky’s framework for psychosocial wellbeing as a guide. Rather than focusing on reducing implicit biases themselves, efforts are better targeted towards reducing the presentation and impact of unconscious prejudices. Furthermore, education and intervention alike should be multifaceted, requiring changes to systemic, organizational, interpersonal and individual domains. The three specific recommendations are greater considerations for intersectionality, greater diversity and actionable education – particularly aimed at allyship. Interventions aimed at more intersectional research will set a more realistic and equitable empirical foundation to fuel further changes. Greater considerations for diversity and equity at the organizational and interpersonal levels, particularly in workplaces, have been proven to greatly reduce the impact and presentation of implicit biases. At the individual level, education efforts that are actionable, specific and sustained over multiple installments will be much more effective in disempowering unconscious biases. All three suggestions face certain inherent limitations due to methodological and practical barriers. Furthermore, efforts aimed to reduce unconscious prejudices can only go so far when working within systems that construct and facilitate oppressive structures. However, institutions, organizations and individuals taking strides to develop an anti-oppressive foundation of education and action will result in a better, more equitable future.
Mentor: Jeffi Farquharson, REACH Centre (former)
Mentors: Blake Shaffer, Economics and School of Public Policy, University of Calgary; Sara Hastings-Simon, Payne Institute for Public Policy, University of Calgary
This paper proposes best practices and key methods for designing enduring and effective climate policy to decarbonize Alberta’s electricity market. Decarbonizing the electricity market, a critical part of addressing the climate crisis, occurs when the market’s carbon output is minimized. This paper focuses on climate policy for decarbonization through a collaboration theory lens. Climate policy is one of the most powerful tools in proactive climate governance and is key in Alberta’s ongoing phase out of coal-power, the case-study for this paper. Assessing the successes and failures of Alberta’s coal-power phase out sheds light on the power of stakeholders and the role of collaboration theory in designing enduring climate policy. A history of wealth in the oil sands means decarbonization would disrupt livelihoods of Albertans, making stakeholder buy-in more important for enduring climate policy. Additional research on environmental policy, stakeholder buy-in, and collaboration on a provincial scale informs the conclusions of this paper. The result is a toolbox of methods and best practices for designing enduring and effective climate policy. These practices include facilitating public buy-in, employing collaborative practices such as the consensus building approach and joint fact finding, and using a holistic understanding of the community to build regulatory mandates, carbon taxes, and climate policy in tandem. Finally, the implications of this study demonstrate the power of building collective coherence and the poignance of compassion when addressing megaregional challenges on any scale.
Mentor: Carla Bitz, Town of Banff
BID is a pilot reusable container program that we are hoping to launch near May in collaboration with businesses, the municipality, and community members throughout Banff. The goal of the program is to reduce the amount of single-use container waste and to validate a reusable scheme for Banff in the long run.
Mentor: Paul Heidebrecht. Conrad Grebel University College, Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement
Technology, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. However, those who use and produce technology can have a huge impact on the world around us, as technology has become so ingrained in our culture. In order to produce engineers who are working and creating technology for societal good, rather than a need to create or design technology simply for the sake of doing so, schools need to ensure that students are taught to think ethically about the work that they are doing, and recognize the impact of their actions on the world around them. To understand the University of Waterloo’s current state of ethics education within their engineering curriculum, a set of criteria was developed to analyze the efforts based on Bloom’s taxonomy. Through this analysis, it was found that there are significant gaps in the current curriculum regarding how it prepares students to think ethically, such as in the way that information is chunked and contained within individual classes, which can be avoided. Suggestions have been made to mend this gap in education for engineering students, which include weaving ethical learning into the existing curriculum, giving professors proper training, and encouraging students to engage at a personal level. These criteria can then be used to analyze similar schools in the way that this study has analyzed the University of Waterloo, and to encourage schools to take a closer look at the ethics education of engineering students.
This research project examines the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people with connections to the air travel industry. Inspired by the human need to share our stories and the desire to understand what is happening with others, Grounded collects stories of lived experiences from passengers, employees, volunteers, and those who have had to cancel their travel because of the pandemic. Five individuals completed virtual interviews as part of this study between January and March 2021 about their experiences with [not] travelling, [not] volunteering, and [not] working after March 11th, 2020 – the date that the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Their stories were then compiled, edited for length and clarity, and put up for display on the Grounded website so that members of the public, both in the present and future, could connect with and empathetically understand what happened to people in this industry over the course of the pandemic. Displaying the findings of the study on a website is a novel practice in this field and sets a precedent for how lived experiences should be displayed by future researchers. The Grounded narratives convey the disappointment over having to cancel trips and being put out of work, the feelings of uncertainty and hopelessness that permeate the industry over its future, and ultimately how the world of aviation was turned upside down in a matter of days in a way unlike anything seen before.
Mentor: Svitlana Taraban-Gordon, Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo
This paper examines the issue of status frustration and suggests a remedy in the form of an application of goal setting theory at a secondary school level. Then the past applications of goal setting theory are examined in both education and industry then how similar applications may function in a highschool setting is explored. It is shown that the connection between the positive effects of goal setting programs and the causes of status frustration have strong inverse connections. In conclusion there is reason to believe a program based on goal setting targeting high school students could significantly ameolate the issue of status frustration in our society. By both helping students to meet the expectations of society as well as giving them the analytical tools to subvert the expectations of society when appropriate. This may result in an decrease in destructive deviant subcultures, such as gangs and extremist groups which have been on the rise in recent years. This paper goes on to discuss how exactly goal setting could be applied in high schools as well as what additional challenges may be encountered when trying to apply these programs in a secondary education setting.
Rogan to Spencer: Using Discourse Analysis to Diagnose Pathways of Radicalization From the Mainstream to the Reactionary Right
Mentor: John McLevey, Knowledge Integration, University of Waterloo
In recent years, there has been a significant and observable rise of far-right extremism within Western Liberal Democracies. As a result, w e’ve seen a substantial increase in research on radicalization pipelines that channel individuals from the mainstream to the reactionary right. Importantly, this research has found that these pipelines now exist primarily on the Internet. A 2018 Data and Society report authored by Rebecca Lewis titled Alternative Influence: Broadcasting The Reactionary Right on YouTube identified and named one of these pipelines as The Alternative Influence Network (AIN). The AIN is an assortment of scholars, media pundits, and internet celebrities who use YouTube to promote various incarnations of reactionary ideology to their audience. Crucially, this network of influencers is deemed to facilitate an incremental far-right radicalization process. Mainstream audiences are able to easily move to extreme content through guest appearances or by following an influencer's own shift to more radical positions derived from interactions with other influencers. The most popular influencer to be featured within the AIN is Joe Rogan; his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) receives 190 million downloads a month. Our analysis found that the JRE serves as a starting point for the far-right radicalization process because—in the name of egalitarianism—the JRE platforms reactionary influencers, thereby exposing their rhetoric to a mainstream audience. This exposure enables the influencer to persuade a fraction of Rogan’s audience to subsequently follow them to their content hub and sympathize with increasingly reactionary positions.
Mentor: Anna Drake, Political Science, University of Waterloo
In this project, I ask, “how can the existing field of interculturalism provide a lens for teaching undergraduate students how to work better in culturally diverse interdisciplinary teams?” Synthesizing concepts from interculturalism, interdisciplinary collaboration, and feminist social epistemology, this initiative is founded on the understanding that we all have a responsibility to do the internal and interpersonal anti-oppression work that ensures all individuals in a team, and stakeholders they engage with, can freely and safely participate in a shared knowledge space. Converge is an online knowledge translation tool where undergraduate students engaged in interdisciplinary teams seeking to create positive social impact can do the following: (1) learn about theories grounded in interculturalism, interdisciplinarity, and feminist social epistemology, and read about various ways intersecting these concepts allows us to think about diversity in teams in a meaningful way, (2) access a toolkit of resources for strong foundations and proactive behaviours in culturally diverse, interdisciplinary teams, and (3) participate in the discussion by sharing their own experiences navigating intercultural team work. Converge includes a series of educational articles that consider different facets of the conversation around these disciplines, such as their similarities, limitations, and applications. This tool critically analyzes the broader literature on these subject and transforms it into actionable resources to support sustainable, anti-racist interdisciplinary teams. The next direction for this work is to initiate broader training and access for educators to implement these tools in classrooms and organizations, such that it is ingrained in the foundation of education on teamwork for social impact.
Integrating Community Agency: Philanthropies’ Toolkit for Collaborating with Recipient Communities in Global Health
Mentor: Jeremy Youde, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota
Philanthropies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have gained a prominent role in global health governance (GHG) through a combination of monetary power and charismatic influence. However, they operate as major actors without systems of accountability to the recipient communities they wish to serve. The BMGF’s power affords them immense influence over policy formation and decision-making but lacks engagement with the people primarily impacted by these decisions. To accommodate the shifting power dynamics resulting from the foundation’s role and a lack of democratic accountability, systems must be designed to prioritize collaboration and consultation with recipient communities to the end of increasing their agency in the global health sphere. A method of meta-triangulation was used to look for commonalities and tensions between cases of evaluated citizen participation interventions across a variety of disciplines. This resulted in the identification of seventy-nine factors that impact the success of citizen participation interventions, forty barriers and fourteen benefits. These were further synthesized into ten majors themes that impact the practice or integration of citizen participation.
The design-thinking process was applied to develop a stakeholder profile for the BMGF, which in combination with the ten themes helped to facilitate the design of a toolkit for philanthropies to be utilized during or in preparation for engagement with recipient communities. The toolkit includes information on its utility, seven tools and future considerations. The BMGF has been used as a case study due its representation of the extreme end of the spectrum of philanthropic power and influence. Furthermore, the power of the BMGF has the potential to be leveraged to create larger normative change within the system. The actors on the global stage are changing to become less state-centric and as a result we must learn how to adapt the system to create new citizen-governance relationships.
Mentor: Kathryn Plaisance, Knowledge Integration, University of Waterloo
Reducing the transmission of COVID-19 has been a top priority for public health agencies all over the world. To this end, lockdown restrictions have been enacted in at least 186 countries including Canada. While some Canadian physicians support lockdowns, others have publicly voiced criticism via open letters to government officials, opinion editorials on news sites, and posts on social media. Philosophers of science have suggested that controversies of this sort are often the product of hidden disagreements over moral, personal, and political values. Hence, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 13 Canadian physicians (Infectious Diseases (4), Public Health (3), Emergency Medicine (3), and others (3)) from 4 provinces to explore the values which informed their criticism of lockdowns. Due to time constraints, only 6 interviews were fully analyzed according to Braun and Clarke’s reflexive thematic analysis framework. Initial findings suggest five major themes. First, participants’ criticisms of lockdown were heavily influenced by their own personal and clinical experiences. Second, participants value democratic decision-making but feel that policy decisions have been made without adequate transparency and open debate. Third, participants value civil liberties. They are concerned about the erosion of constitutional rights and perceived censorship of dissenting opinions. Fourth, participants felt that the consequences of lockdown were more detrimental to population health than COVID-19 infection. Fifth, all participants valued the use of evidence in decision-making but felt that political influences were hindering the implementation of true science-based policy. These preliminary results suggest that values are playing an important role in Canadian physicians’ criticism of lockdowns. As we continue to manage the impacts of this pandemic, values held by physicians and policymakers should be made clear to more productively navigate instances of polarized disagreement.
Mentors: Katy Fulfer, Department of Philosophy; and Justine Giosa, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo
With the growing strain on healthcare systems across the globe – particularly in countries like Canada, which are home to an increasing aging population – gaps in the system are becoming more apparent. Patient care is inefficient, uncoordinated, and, oftentimes, patients experience a lack of agency in their own care. In response, we are seeing a rise in participatory methods for patient care planning, which entail a collaborative effort between patients, health workers, and caregivers in determining the path for individual patients’ care. By employing a care-ethical lens, I defend the use of such participatory design frameworks for their approach to patient health. Additionally, I use the perspective of care ethics to address a lack of existing critical analysis of this approach, particularly with respect to the experience and inclusion of non-medical care workers. I engage in this discussion by examining how participatory frameworks are designed, integrating discussion of and connections to care ethics. What becomes apparent is the lack of attention given to caregivers, whose social location – women, and oftentimes women of colour or immigrant women – and historic role affords them limited power. Thus, designers and users of these participatory design frameworks must employ care ethics to accurately assess the needs and inequalities faced by relevant parties – particularly caregivers. In doing so, participatory patient care planning methods can become a useful, equitable tool to improve the provisioning of care. A potential response to my endorsement of care ethics in patient care is that it may lead to the embracing of paternalism over patient autonomy, the latter of which is highly valued in Western health systems. I show why this worry is misguided by explaining how caring and justice-informed conceptions of patient care are not mutually exclusive. I conclude with recommendations for future directions and applications of this research.
Depoliticizing the Vietnam War: American Exceptionalism and Vietnam Syndrome in 1980s Hollywood Film
Mentor: John Sbardellati, History, University of Waterloo
During the late 1970s and 1980s Americans began a process of reflecting upon and interpreting the Vietnam War, a conflict that had divided and challenged the nation’s perception of itself. One of the major avenues of presenting the war was Hollywood film, which would produce many successful Vietnam-set films dealing with different aspects of the war. The films Rambo: First Blood Part II and Platoon allow for analysis of different depictions of war during this period. Rambo is a beefed-up fantasy, and Platoon is a more grounded veteran-focused view of the war’s chaos. By comparing these films, with relation to the concepts of American exceptionalism and Vietnam Syndrome, it can be seen how they both revise and evolve depictions of the Vietnam War. With support from the concepts of the post-Vietnam American hero, and American victimization, it is clear that Platoon is an improvement from Rambo’s fantasy depiction of Vietnam, yet also works to depoliticize the war. The depoliticization of the Vietnam War disconnects public understanding of the conflict from its colonial origins, and the American ideologies and policies which shaped the disastrous conflict. This creates false or misguided understandings of Vietnam, allowing for the justification of the ideologies and policies which led to the horrors of the conflict. Combining this analysis with support from modern historical texts on the legacy of the Vietnam War and its media depictions, the larger context of these films, and their display of Vietnam supports both the evolution and depoliticization of the conflict. Thus, these depictions of Vietnam are insufficient in a full critique of the war and allows many of the lessons from the war to be ignored.
Mentor: Kathleen Rybczynski, Economics, University of Waterloo
The Premier League, which is based in England, is the most-watched sports league in the world, broadcasted in 212 territories to a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people. Consequently, Premier League clubs generate the greatest amount of revenues in world soccer at the club level. To continue having access to the riches of the Premier League, clubs spend millions on players to produce results and avoid relegation to a lower league. Over the years, prices for soccer players have increased significantly, which has led to a demand-pull inflation situation. On the face of it, a player’s worth is dependent solely on two factors: the maximum amount that a buying club is willing to pay and the minimum amount that a selling club is willing to receive. However, behind these amounts, there are supplementary components concerning the players that manipulate both figures. Some of these components are measurable such as a player’s age, playing position, number of games played, and in some cases, performance levels. Players playing the centre-forward position are primarily tasked with scoring the goals and their goal tallies usually provide a good indication of their performance levels. Components that are not measurable, or are difficult to quantify, include but are not limited to attitude, leadership skills, and additional popularity that a player might bring the club. Performing a multivariate analysis using the aforementioned measurable components, as in this paper, allows one to obtain a more precise value for the rate of growth in players’ transfer fees. This growth rate in transfer fees is compared with the growth rate in the overall expenditure of clubs on transfers to assess how much riskier recruitment has become and whether the current transfer market model is sustainable for all clubs in the Premier League.
Mentor: Fred Cahill, STEAM Education Centre
The Government of Ontario released a new elementary school (Grade 1-8) mathematics curriculum on June 23, 2020, giving teachers less than three months to prepare lessons for the upcoming year. The coding expectation of this new curriculum is one that teachers have never had to meet before, and thus do not know how. Research shows that teachers thrown into a coding curriculum without knowledge of resources and time to prepare, lack confidence in their teaching abilities and thus deliver lessons that do not provide students with the analytical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for coding. Considering the cumulative nature of the curriculum, Grade 7 and 8 teachers face the greatest challenge of all this year. Coding Cubed is the first resource designed to equip Grade 7 and 8 Ontario teachers with the confidence and tools to teach coding in a way that is relevant to a variety of real-world situations, engaging for students, and educationally valuable in the acquisition of analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. I have tested the available resources and leveraged the best of them in this product. Using my experience in mathematics, coding, teaching, and pedagogical design, I have presented lessons in a way that is familiar, helpful, and empowering to Ontario teachers. Grade 7 and 8 teachers implemented the product in their classrooms and reported that it gave their students opportunities in coding that they would never have thought of, known to look for, or had the technical knowledge and confidence to teach without the materials provided.
Stephanie Reimer Rempel
Mentor: Aynur Kadir, Communication Arts, University of Waterloo
In a world that is evermore connected and the access to information has become instant and incomprehensibly large, it becomes more complicated for the average citizen to stay updated on the important information they need to be aware of. It becomes a concerning social issue when the population no longer knows which expert to trust on a highly specific and specialized topic they are not formally trained in. Topics like climate change, vaccines or the current pandemic highlight this problem. It is very common for the public to be confused when scientific information and recommendations change quickly and often. For this reason, I have focused my project on developing a guide for the public to become a better consumer of media and create strategies to identify expertise. This will be done in two main ways: creating an online platform that will host a series of existing pieces of literature on the topic curated in useful subtopics and by the creation of a short documentary to expand on the discussion. An extensive literature review informed the content while design thinking methods and case studies were used to make design choices of the film and digital platform. The intention was not only to create a compelling video, but to focus on the conversation around the visual element. A documentary is only truly useful when a conversation is carefully designed and planned around the film. Because of this, the project consists of a preliminary draft of the film as well as a strong proposal for a longer-term project.
Campaigns like these are rarely targeted to the denialists and absolutists in society but rather to the people who are not sure about what they believe and why they hold a certain belief. This project aims to be the beginning of a long-term collaboration with a series of philosophers of science, misinformation researchers, journalists, sociologists, and science communicators to provide a curated space for the public to find better strategies to consume media.
This would allow anyone to find help amidst confusion on complex topics and if these strategies were more widely implemented, it would create a better social response to other crisis like the pandemic.
Mentor: Dillon Thomas Browne, Psychology, University of Waterloo
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in major stressors such as unemployment, deaths, and isolation for much of the world population. These stressors have the potential to create widespread emotional distress and increase risk for psychological illnesses. Conversely, religion and spirituality (R/S) has been shown to buffer against disasters and their deleterious outcomes. However, the mechanisms by which R/S might promote desirable mental health outcomes during the pandemic remain unclear. This longitudinal study explores how R/S might promote better mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing resilience. A sample of N = 549 caregivers were recruited through an online research panel. Participants were assessed on measures of depression, anxiety, resilience, R/S, and COVID-19 disruptions at three different time periods (May, September, and November 2020). Mediation analyses revealed that resilience mediated the relationship the relationship between R/S and mental health outcome of psychological distress and anxiety. Furthermore, while R/S only influenced psychological distress via resilience, R/S had a direct effect on anxiety even in the absence of the mediator. Findings highlight R/S as a significant coping resource during and following disaster events.
Mentor: Lois Andison, Fine Arts, University of Waterloo
This body of work considers lived experiences as an Asian Canadian woman and reflects the painful parts of growing up and living in a developing female body under cultural pressure. The first piece 饮茶 [yǐn chá] serves as an artifact of introspection, documenting my feelings of reconciliation with the private pain and confusion of menstruation and being caught between conflicting cultures at a time where we are conditioned to be ashamed of our bodies.
The steamer baskets are arranged in a table setting with a bowl, saucer, plate, teapot, teacup, and chopsticks on a paper napkin, in the usual Chinese tea time style. The piece makes various references to my own experiences with food, anorexia, and amenorrhea, and the variance in bodily function over time.The most recent series is a diptych of oil paintings on wooden panel depicting women eating fruit, something that has long been considered a strong representation for the female body under the male gaze – sweet, fertile, and consumable. The fetishized Asian female form consuming the fruit suggests the conquering of the harmful stereotyped image of a the female body/femininity and freeing the self from external constraints. The artwork I have produced is meant to be a source of understanding, validation, and comfort for its viewers. The models are my close friends and two women who have been my refuge in spaces where Asian representation is limited, and so these paintings are love letters to them and a visual testament to my admiration and respect as well as a cathartic process for me.
Mentor: Vanessa Schweizer, Knowledge Integration, University of Waterloo
Canadian winters have the potential to cause low relative humidity (RH) which may increase viral transmission by dehydrating the immune system. With long-term care homes (LTCHs) drastically maintaining high indoor temperatures during winter months, in order to keep residents comfortable, this can additionally increase low RH. To better understand how low RH may impact the transmission of the coronavirus within LTCHs, this thesis was used as an investigation of the RH in Ontario LTCHs. Research primarily focused on RH during the colder months: November - March. This problem was predicted to be misunderstood by current LTCHs, reflected in a lack of RH policy, due to its interdisciplinary nature. To approach this problem, an interdisciplinary research perspective was used bringing together discussion from chemistry, biology, health systems, and nutrition. Research was conducted in three ways: (1) literature review, (2) observational research working as a Resident Care Aide (RCA), and (3) primary humidity research. Topics of investigation included: mechanisms of RH functioning, the health impact of low RH, current policies surrounding RH policies in LTCHs, and system functioning contributions to fluid intake. Primary research measured RH during March 2021 by 12 hygrometers evenly dispersed across 4 residential units in the LTCH of occupation. This LTCH did not have a humidity control system during the period of study. Results reflected the potential humidity levels of most extreme cases without humidity control intervention. It was hypothesized that RH in this care home would maintain below the normal 40 - 60% RH levels. The importance of this research helps to identify environmental factors contributing to viral transmission, particularly the coronavirus, within LTCHs.
Literature identified Ontario LTCH policies focusing primarily on temperature control with a few RH guidelines on warmer weather. Primary research results support the original hypothesis with RH measurements as low as 10% within the LTCH of occupation. Observational research identified residents who require thickened drinks additionally struggle to receive adequate fluid intake; this was linked to understaffing concerns. This loss of fluid intake contributes to dehydration alongside low RH demonstrating the interdisciplinarity of the problem.
Research conclusions support the need for policy/systems change. Current suggestions for change include: (1) making it mandatory to include humidifier systems in all LTCH, (2) requiring LTCHs to maintain 40-60% RH, (3) frequently measuring humidity in the homes, and (4) increasing awareness on the impact of low RH on health in order to promote resident and staff hydration.
Due to the nature of the pandemic, primary research in this field was limited. Future research may include surveying the types of humidity systems in all Ontario LTCHs. Relative humidity measurements should also be taken across all the LTCHS. This will help to better understand the severity of RH imbalance across the LTCHs in Ontario and help identify homes which require immediate intervention.
Mentors: Cameron Shelley, Centre for Society, Technology, and Values, University of Waterloo; and Margaret Lam, Design Research Lead at Octagram Ltd.
Sociotechnical approaches consider the system-level impact that technology has on society and vice versa. In this report, I explore how sociotechnical approaches can shape the design of a national and inclusive digital ecosystem to lessen the evolutionary cultural lag that exists between Canada’s arts & culture and technology sectors. While this report takes on a national perspective, emphasis will be placed on the unique digital ecosystems and strategies in Québec’s arts and culture sector in hopes of strengthening connections within and beyond the national sector. Further, this report aims to bridge two gaps using the design of a national and inclusive digital ecosystem: a sectoral gap and a knowledge dissemination gap between Québec and anglophone Canada. An in-depth literature review and Human-Centred Design methodologies are used to analyze and address the sectoral gap. Analogical reasoning and informal consultations with arts professionals in Québec are used to investigate the cultural differences between Québec and anglophone Canada. This two-pronged investigation revealed that the sentiment of cultural threat influences Québec’s digital initiatives in the arts. It also highlighted the value of sociotechnical approaches and digital justice considerations in the design of inclusive digital ecosystems.
Based on this investigation, I suggest three recommendations to design inclusive digital ecosystems in Canada’s arts & culture sector. First, we must reframe our approach to digital strategies to emphasize social contexts. Additionally, we should explore discoverability as a strategic outcome of sociotechnical approaches instead of a desired technical output. Lastly, we need to reframe how we categorize issues of digital justice in order to strengthen the design of inclusive digital ecosystems. These recommendations have the potential to positively reshape the dialogue around digital ecosystems, which will improve our understanding of the problems and opportunities facing Canada’s arts & culture sector in a digital era.
A bad hire is someone who is hired and is not compatible with the company and is ultimately laid off or let go. There are approximately 37,500 start-up jobs currently available in Canada. Of those jobs, 4,800 will be bad hires and each bad hire costs at least $10,000. As a result, Canadian startups will spend at least $48 million just on bad hires alone in less than a year. This is only the cost that can be quantified, there are other costs that bad hires inflict including loss in productivity, team morale and resources. Bad hires happen for multiple reasons. However, the interview process is the number one reason for making bad hires, and employers with strong interview practices are more than twice as likely to make quality hires. I interviewed 20 recruiters and 20 startup founders who had previous interviewing experience, 90% of them said that they learned and developed their interviewing skills through practice and experience. This is the foundation of all good hires. Unfortunately, startup founders do not have this foundation which drastically increases the risk of them making a bad hire. Current talent assessment tools such as Plum and recruiting firms are trying to combat the problem of bad hires by providing resources and automated decisions. However, these tools do not consider the unique needs of a start-up, do not provide practice or are too expensive, especially for a start-up. As a result, start-ups and their founders are left to their own devices, increasing the risk of making a bad hire. Without practice, founders ask interview questions like “do you like the Leafs” or “tell me something about yourself”. These questions do not provide any relevant information that would indicate whether the candidate would be compatible with the company.
This is where Talent Triangle can help, it provides startup founders with a platform to practice their interviewing skills, increasing the chance of making a quality hire. Founders will submit their job descriptions and interview questions. They will then get feedback on their questions tailored to what they are looking for. Then the founders will be matched with an interviewee for a mock interview. Feedback on the mock interview is provided and if necessary, another round of mock interviewing is conducted. Instead of asking “Do you like the Leafs” or “tell me about yourself”, startups who use Talent Triangle get suggestions to instead ask questions like “what project are you most proud of and tell me about a time when you dealt with conflict”. These questions will give the founder insight into the candidate and valuable information to determine whether the candidate will be compatible with the company. Ultimately, these types of questions will increase the chance of making a quality hire. Talent Triangle is different from the competition because it focuses on providing practice rather than automating the decision thus, making quality hires more sustainable long term for startups.
Mentor: Nancy Worth, Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo
Transforming Cultures: building inclusive workplaces is about placing importance on a worker’s knowledge of diversity and vulnerability in order for culture in precarious work environments to be more human centric. Issues of diversity and inclusion are being addressed in organizations without first tackling the culture at the heart of the company. The current state of corporate culture is dismal and falls-short in its advocation for the well-being of workers from an intersectional standpoint.
The methods used in this research include both primary research in the form of semi-structured interviews and secondary research using a discourse analysis to review mainstream texts on company culture. The main objective of this work is to provide insight to current and future organizations on ways to make their culture more human focused.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of a company to advocate for and support its workers through ethical hiring practices that create diverse and equitable spaces. Who people are at work is not different from who they are at home. Allowing workers to be themselves at work bridges the public and private gap by welcoming vulnerability and valuing interpersonal discovery and work relationships. Culture is the core of a company and directly impacts its success in the current learning economy.
The wicked problems of modern society require a cohesive group of people collaborating together to produce novel solutions. Culture therefore relies on repetitive daily behaviours that support trust, psychological safety, knowledge sharing, and leadership practices.
Mentor: Roopa Reddy, Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, University of Waterloo
Social entrepreneurs are problem solvers dedicated to leaving a lasting impact and creating concrete change. In order to access funding or support for their projects, it is often critical for social entrepreneurs to be able to effectively articulate their impact. To appeal to finance organizations this often includes a quantitative impact assessment using a social impact measurement tool. Through a literature review, as well as an additional qualitative evaluation of existing social impact measurement tools, it became clear that existing tools are time and resource intensive. The process in general can be incredibly overwhelming for early-stage social entrepreneurs, especially if they do not have experience speaking the language of finance. I created SIMPLE: A Social Impact Measurement Canvas, which is time and resource efficient, and allows early-stage entrepreneurs to plan, learn and explore their organizations impact. I arrived at my final design following an iterative prototyping cycle, informed by a validation of stakeholder needs and a value proposition canvas. In order to assess SIMPLE, I also completed user testing to get feedback in order to arrive at the existing iteration of my design. In its final iteration, SIMPLE is designed to allow early-stage social entrepreneurs to learn and engage with the social impact measurement process, while also helping them articulate their vision and strategize for maximum impact. SIMPLE is designed for early-stage social entrepreneurs, so further research is recommended for social entrepreneurs at different stages of their ventures, in order to fully address the existing social impact measurement gaps.
Mentor: Jennifer Saul, Philosophy, University of Waterloo
As misinformation proliferates online, concerns rise around the apparent diminishing authority of ‘truths’. Despite the commitment of numerous initiatives to fact-check and correct information, this post-truth phenomenon continues – motivating this inquiry into whether we must rethink our approach to and design of these initiatives. In his paper, Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles, C. Thi Nguyen differentiates between these two online epistemic networks often involved in the spread of misinformation. He demonstrates that echo chambers can explain why misinformation persists in the face of corrective information: namely because these actively discredit relevant sources to ensure that such information reinforces their structure – whereas epistemic bubbles unintentionally omit relevant sources. This leaves Nguyen with the conclusion that the only way to address echo chambers, and therefore perhaps misinformation as well, is by building trust between echo chamber members and outsiders. Secondary research reveals several different types of echo chambers, including what many call ‘anti-vaxxer’ groups, and suggests that trust plays a role in each. Maya Goldenberg’s recently published book, Vaccine Hesitancy, further substantiates this finding and presents a new framing of vaccine hesitant attitudes as a crisis of trust. Through an original synthesis, this paper draws connections between Goldenberg and Nguyen’s works to explore how Goldenberg’s framework could be applied in future work on different echo chambers. Approaching the problem of misinformation through Nguyen and Goldenberg’s combined framework could help reduce the spread of misinformation online by informing initiatives with a deeper and more accurate understanding of echo chambers. If we wish to design initiatives which avoid perpetuating the spread of misinformation, we require a change in narrative – one grounded in trust.
Since the late twentieth century it has been well documented that culture has an effect on the prevalence of depression among populations. However, there has been little work done comprising literature in a solidified piece of work that explains what depression is, how it forms, and why certain cultural practises can be detrimental to mental health. Furthermore, suggestions and implications for cultural changes are examined and discussed. Literature involving depression, culture, and the intersect of the two have been collected and examined in the following chapters. Using case studies, the hypothesis that certain cultural practises affect a nation’s prevalence of depression is tested on the basis of four factors. It was found that there are several cultural practises and ideologies that contribute to the prevalence of depression within populations and at the root of these harmful practises are stressors. When looking at case studies, one can determine that a culture which contains practises that induce, or have the potential to induce, a stress response tend to see higher rates of depression among their population as compared to cultures which contain less stressors. This study highlights the need for awareness of this issue and the need for cultural change to reduce depression. Culture is not an easy thing to change though looking to past attempts could provide insight.
To what extent does local consciousness in Hong Kong make an impact on the identity of Hong Kong people?
Since the early 2010s, Hong Kong has become well-known for its active pro-democracy movements to pursue different goals, ranging from universal suffrage in 2014 to the anti-extradition bill in 2019. In the meantime, local consciousness, which is also known as “localism,” has been an evolving topic, mainly due to the multiple socio-political conflicts between the local government and the citizens. There is not a conclusive definition for local consciousness, specifically in Hong Kong, since it can be defined differently based on personal experience. Researchers on Hong Kong cultures and society have conducted studies on Hong Kong youths regarding the political crisis, economic dominance, and connection with Mainland China.
The primary audiences are local people based in Hong Kong as well as the general public across the world with a genuine interest about Hong Kong and local consciousness. Through different in-depth interviews with local Hong Kong people, this documentary aims to uncover the underlying thoughts and changes of local people from the social movement on awareness of “localism” and “local consciousness” to “HongKonger” identity. Moreover, the film also aims to help the general public to understand what’s happening in Hong Kong and document localist sentiment regarding social movement and its impact on Hong Kong’s future.