PACS 401 - Senior Research Seminar Abstracts

Senior Research Seminar Abstracts

PACS BooksIn their fourth year of the Peace and Conflict Studies program, students take PACS 401 - Senior Research Seminar. This is a course designed to facilitate a fourth year integration process of PACS majors. Working with the guidance of an instructor, students explore the relationship between theory and practice in regards to peace making. Each student also conducts a research project that relates to their own personal and/or professional development within the PACS field. Here are some examples:


Racial Discourses in the Media: Coverage of Toronto Police officers’ killings of Blacks versus Caucasians

Zahra Ahmed

Abstract: It is apparent that racism within Canada exists, and that it affects many minority groups’ daily lives. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission when looking through the Ontario Rights Code under the grounds of discrimination “Race” is prohibited.  That being said, there is no clear definition of racial discrimination, which makes it much easier to occur and go unnoticed because it is not understood.  This paper explores the issue of negative stereotypes and racial discrimination related to the media coverage of deaths of individuals shot by police officers.  Research was completed on six Torontonian men killed by police officers within the last ten years and the media’s coverage of the incidents.  This research paper asks the questions: does the media portray Black and White victims killed by the police officers in the Greater Toronto Area in similar ways?

Fighting From Shackles: The Effectiveness of Nonviolent Resistance in Prisons

Reid Kennel

Abstract: Prisoners exist in a unique environment of extremely limited rights and freedoms, and conditions within prisons are often oppressive in ways those outside its wall cannot understand.  This leaves the prisoner as the one with the best understanding of what should be changed. This research project looks at nonviolent resistance as a method for those within the prison system to fight for change. By examining a series of hunger strikes that took place in California in 2013 and a nation-wide prison labour strike in 2016 and applying an advocacy effectiveness measurement tool, the following study suggests that nonviolent resistance offers the possibility of enacting large-scale policy change within the prison system. In light of the two aforementioned case studies, this thesis concludes that these efforts require creative methods of communication to be successful, and significant media engagement to influence public discourse.

What Does It Take to Prevent an Oil Pipeline in North America?

Maya Kihiu

Abstract: This paper examines advocacy against the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline, and the Northern Gateway (NG) Pipelines, to identify who and what it took to prevent their construction. Critical advocacy in the three years leading up to the decision preventing each project, was reviewed and analysed. Modes of advocacy differed between the two cases, with anti-NG advocates focusing heavily on litigation, and anti-KXL advocates employing direct action and legislation. Across both projects, however, the most powerful actors were coalitions/alliances, and government/government-affiliate solo actors.  The analysis of these modes and actors led to three conclusions.  First, that alliances and coalitions were the most utilised and effective tool of advocacy. Second, in the U.S, the significance of electoral politics' ability to shape advocacy outcomes rivaled that of alliances. Third, all the tactics that generated positive results, were highly expansionary in nature.

Restorative Justice and Sexual Assault

Ashley Lamoureux

Abstract: This paper examines the webpages of two restorative justice programs that work with survivor victims and people who have offended sexually: Revive in Kitchener, Ontario and Project Restore in Aukland, New Zealand.  Restorative justice programs typically do not address cases of sexual assault due to the sensitive and particular nature of sexual misdemeanor and felony crimes.  The programs that do exist, such as Revive and Project Restore must therefore address certain needs and concerns that survivor victims, people who have offended sexually, and the general public may have.  With the Internet being a frequently utilized source of information in the present day, this paper examines the webpages of Revive and Project Restore to see how those webpages address the particular needs and concerns that arise in cases of sexual assault.

The News Media’s Portrayal of School Shootings in America: How the Media Would Have You Remember a Killer

Katherine MacGregor

Abstract: This research paper looks at the video news coverage of the Columbine High School Massacre (1999), the Virginia Tech. Massacre (2007), and the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting (2012). The archives used were of five well-known American news media sources (ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, and CNN). The goal of this report is to show that what news media corporations decide to show to their audience effects how people will remember and perceive the event and the assailants involved. Through dissecting various news broadcasts, this research highlights how easy it is for misinformation to be remembered.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Unconventional Therapies in the Treatment of Depression

Tianna Noble

Abstract: The mental illness of depression is a leading cause of disease burden, leaving 1 in 5 individuals to suffer from the illness in their lifetimes (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2016). The sheer prevalence of the illness provides reason to discuss possible ways to combat the disease. There are primary ways to treat the illness: cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and anti depressant medications. However, there are alternative treatment options that should be considered that may better fit an individual’s economic and social circumstances. The primary question this research explores is: what are the benefits and drawbacks of unconventional therapeutic interventions such as Game-Based, Emotional therapy, and art therapy on the treatment of depression? This research is primarily focused on treatment options available in North America and assesses cost, accessibility, safety, time and effectiveness at reducing depression.  

Race and Inequality: Social Justice

Frederica Otchere

Abstract: The objective of this paper is to analyze the depictions of African Canadians residing in Toronto in print media and, to a lesser extent, explore the effects of those depictions.  Themes that are examined include the link between poverty, crime and media representation. Articles from The Toronto Star and The Sun newspapers are analyzed focusing on the depiction of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in 2016.  The research assessed the tone of the writing, the issues addressed, and the columnists’ profiles. 

The Fall of The Twin Towers and the Rise of Discrimination

Irosha Perera

Abstract: Canada has had a reputation for being secure. Canadians were admirable for their great quality of life without having to feel any trepidation or fear due to political instability or terror. The terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York City on September 11th, however, changed this feeling of security.  This paper explores Islamophobia and the effects of 9/11 primarily on Toronto, but also draws on additional research from Ontario.  It includes issues such as representation in municipal government, education, unemployment, acts of discrimination, airport security and perceptions.  The paper concludes with a discussion of the importance of eliminating stigma.

Comparing Sexism in SNCC and SCLC: A Search for Black Female Identity in the Civil Rights Movement

Anneke Pries-Klassen

Abstract: This paper investigates women’s experiences of sexism in the civil rights movement through a comparison of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee. A mix of primary and secondary sources were used, and modern concepts were applied to these organizations and the broader civil rights movement to determine the extent to which the organizations’ founders and institutional structures affected women’s experiences and roles. Women’s involvement in the movement has often been overlooked but this paper highlights the critical influence these women played on the formation of second wave feminism and intersectionality post-civil rights movement.

Laotian and Hmong Refugees: To be American or Not to be American

Sariah Rattana-Middleton

Abstract: Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, as a result of the Vietnam war, Hmong and Laotian refugees poured into the United States as refugees.  Descriptions of the experiences of these refugee groups offer an example of the struggles that first generation immigrants went through as they adapted to American culture. Because of this struggle, an exploration of the effects of being placed within the very country that took militarized action in their homeland is warranted. The journey experienced by Hmong and Laotian refugees are explored in this paper through an examination of a series of narratives. The paper takes a glimpse at the refugee camp and relocation experience, offers a brief discussion of the war in Laos and the refugee camps that occurred as a result as well as the cultural practices that might carry or harm Hmong and Laotian people on their journey of adaptation and the relocation experience itself.

The Power of Discourse: The Russian and Chinese Vetoes on the Syrian Conflict on the Security Council

Sukhraaj Shergill

Abstract: The issues debated before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) are often contested and controversial. The permanent members of the UNSC are able to shut down any Draft Resolutions if any one of the five permanent members views it as contrary to their own interests by exercising their veto power.  The Syrian Conflict sparked in March 2011 has led to a staggering death toll of approximately 301,781 people (Silva, 2016), and has been hotly contested in the UNSC.  This paper seeks to answer the question: in what ways do the permanent members’ justifications of utilizing their United Nations Security Council veto differ on the Syrian issue? The paper employs a qualitative research method of analyzing the discourse found within the meeting records of Draft Resolutions on the Syrian conflict from 2011-2016 that have been vetoed by one or more of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.  It focuses particularly on the Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China. The discourse related to the vetoes is categorized in terms of political, economic or legal concerns. 

“The One With The Dysfunctional Conflict:” An Analysis of Positive and Negative Interpersonal Conflict Management Behaviour and Communication Skills Portrayed on the Television Show Friends

Kaitlyn Skelly

Abstract: This article conducts an inquiry based on the leading methods regarded by communication and peace scholars alike as the best ways to work through interpersonal conflict. These methods include best practices as well as behaviours to avoid in managing conflict and promoting healthy interpersonal communication. This article analyses a popular television show, Friends, to asses if it is portraying effective or destructive methods of conflict management. Operating under the premise that popular culture can be influential to its audiences, this article attempts to identify what kinds of conflict management practices are promoted in Friends in one relationship over several seasons. This article asks the question: Are the practices we learn from Friends teaching positive or negative behaviours to manage interpersonal conflict?

Mediation in the Canadian Military: An In Depth Analysis of the Use of Mediation as a Form of Dispute Resolution

Raegan Zinger

Abstract: Mediation is a process of conflict resolution that has become an integral part of responding to conflict within the Canadian Armed Forces. Although it does not have the same practices and techniques as the grievance system, which has been present for in the Forces for generations, it typically has better outcomes for ongoing relationships between members of the military. This paper explores the ways in which mediation has and may be helpful, utilizing information from the Conflict Resolution Centres and more general literature on mediation.  The paper examines ways in which individuals are able to get what they personally need out of the process instead of leaving the outcome up to a superior.