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Interdisciplinary Studies News

Congratulations to the winners of our 2020-21 awards!


We are pleased to announce Thomas Adam White’s Thesis Oral Examination For His M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies Entitled:

“Can Anybody See?”: Masculinities in Musical Theatre and Post-Secondary Musical Theatre Training

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 12:00pm
Exam Location: via Zoom

Zoom link will be sent on June 22.


Congratulations to our June, 2021 MA graduates, Henry Gomez and Rianne Tel.

Published by Rebecca Rogerson, IS Alumna and Dr. Joseph DeSouza

New research finds increased levels of brain activity during perceived altered state of consciousness according to a paper by Professor Joe DeSouza, a member of York University’s Centre for Vision Research, former postgraduate student Rebecca Rogerson, and postdoctoral researcher Rebecca Barnstaple, conducted the study published in Brain Sciences.

Read more

Published by Keith Francis, IS Alumni and Dr. Susan Murtha, PSYCH

The Inclusion and Efficacy of First-Person Narrative in the Design of Long-Term Care Homes (co-authored with Dr. Susan Murtha, York University Associate Professor in psychology and associate dean of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Health) was published yesterday in Taylor + Francis Journal publication. It will be part of a larger global scientific journal (Architecture Science Review) with a focus on dementia and architecture.

Colloquia Presenters October 8, 2020

Amma Ofori


This research critically analyzes short-term occasional teachers (STO) and long-term occasional teachers (LTO) as they navigate the school system. This qualitative case study examines two processes: “agents of deskilling” and “agents of transformative change.” The paper begins with an autoethnographic introduction exploring the researcher’s experiences as a long-term occasional teacher. The researcher then interviews and examines the experiences of other occasional teachers navigating the school system. Three elements can cause deskilling or transformative change: teacher evaluation, division of labour, and curriculum. The paper critically considers the different hurdles that STOs and LTOs have to face before becoming permanent teachers.

Henry Gomez
The Caribana Parade, Transgressive Or Normative? Making Meaning Of Various Modes Of Participation


Toronto Carnival/Caribana has become a Toronto icon and an important part of Toronto’s and Canada’s identity; but, for more than twenty years, the parade as the highlight of the festival has been mired in controversy as a contested space: it is affected by storming, an act of transgression in which mostly young male individuals breach the fences of the parade route to participate for free, and to integrate themselves into the parade itself. Their participation and interaction with the scantily clad female masqueraders produce tensions and unwanted conflicts in the space. This study assesses whether the Caribana parade acts as a transgressive or normative beacon in Toronto and in Canada, making meaning of various modes of participation, especially storming by Black, Caribbean immigrant or Caribbean-Canadian community members. The study draws on ethnographic interviews with “stormers” and female masqueraders, in addition to participant observation, informal conversations and archival research to complete this analysis. Through the lens of Carnival and performance theory, and foregrounding storming as an unwanted form of participation, this thesis interrogates issues of spatialization, power relations, cultural commodification, and other factors that make the parade a site of contestation in the context of Toronto post 1991, in an era of post-multiculturalism. Findings suggest that from its inception, the Toronto Carnival/Caribana parade has been acculturated to suit the social and other needs of Toronto, its host city. However, its performative nature has become deeply problematic, as storming gives rise to conflicting positionalities that make the parade a contested space.

Laurena Clark
“I listen for your voice”: The Influence of art/design on parental stress, experience and
engagement in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


Current research indicates a strong correlation between parental involvement in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and better health outcomes for babies. Healthcare Interior Designers are responsible for designing spaces that not only meet all current standards and best practices, but also consider the experiences of the people who inhabit these spaces. With the focus of healthcare design shifting towards an evidence-based approach, there is opportunity to expand the current body of knowledge with further research, to help guide the design of facilities and have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of patients, visitors and staff. My thesis focuses on the idea of integrating environmental graphic art installations in the NICU to provide a medium through which messages can be communicated to parents to support, educate and encourage them to spend more time with their babies, potentially leading to better health outcomes. Research will incorporate findings from Contemporary Western Art/Architectural History, specifically looking at art in hospitals, Psychology to investigate how we are affected by the built environments that surrounds us, and Visual Communication to understand how text, image and content can be used to convey a message with the goal of affecting human behaviour. This is a unique and exciting research opportunity that extends across disciplines, where a gap in the research exists. If this contribution bridges the gap, there is the potential to have significant impact on the health and wellbeing of people in the NICU.

Rianne Tel
“This Work Is Tagged ‘Asexual Character’”: An Analysis of Asexuality in Fanfiction


Asexual people—those who experience no sexual attraction and/or desire for sexual interaction with other people—form an understudied sexual minority. The recent advent of asexual activism and the scholarly field of asexuality studies show that asexuality is a complex and nuanced topic, encompassing a range of experiences which provide new perspectives on Western society’s approach to sex and sexuality. Pop-cultural representations of asexuality are still uncommon, but one place where asexual people are represented is in fanfiction: transformative stories written by fans of cultural works such as TV shows, movies, and books. This thesis explores the asexual depictions of two characters: the unsociable genius Sherlock Holmes (BBC) and the playboy superhero Tony Stark (Marvel Studios). Using content and discourse analysis to study a sample of 100 fanfiction stories, this thesis highlights the complexity of asexual depictions. The results show that asexual stories are diverse but follow a number of common tropes and storylines. They depict asexuality as a cause for both negative and positive emotions, and portray asexual characters as active participants in romantic relationships and sometimes in sex. This depiction of asexuality shows that fanfiction can play a key role in providing representation of marginalized sexualities. The research findings also hold implications for asexual research and activism; for instance, the frequent depiction of asexuality as a source of negative emotions when the asexual character has an insufficient understanding of asexuality, highlights the importance of including asexuality in sexual education.

Congratulations to Mathura Santhirasegaram

Mathura Santhirasegaram, Wood Gold Lawyer

Mathura Santhirasegaram is an associate of Wood Gold LLP and practices Family Law, Child Protection Law and Wills.

Mathura obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from York University and her law degree from the University of Windsor. During her time at law school, Mathura was a member of the Pro Bono Students of Canada and participated in a project aimed at making the banking industry more accessible for marginalized communities. Mathura also participated as a classroom facilitator in the Windsor High School Outreach Program, encouraging young students to pursue careers in the legal field. Mathura has a passion for advocacy and was awarded a distinction for her first year Legal Research and Writing Moot.

Prior to joining Wood Gold LLP, Mathura was a student-at-law with the Ministry of the Attorney General. During her time as a student, she worked at the Legal Services Branch of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services to assist with the drafting and implementation of legislation relating to the fundamental transformation of Ontario’s child welfare system with the goal of more accountable, responsive and accessible child, youth and family services. Upon being called to the bar of Ontario in 2017, Mathura was hired back as Crown Counsel, where she continued to contribute to the modernization of family law legislation and developed an interest and expertise in the area of child welfare and child protection. During her time with the branch, she also represented the interests of Ontario Disability Support Program recipients in their pursuit of child and spousal support, in conjunction with the Family Responsibility Office.

Mathura continued her commitment to public service as Crown Counsel at the Legal Services Branch of the Ministries of Education and Training, Colleges and Universities where she routinely provided strategic advice and litigation support in various complex matters relating to human rights, labour and employment.

Mathura’s practice is built on hard work, patience, and a solid understanding of the challenges faced by families. She has strived to ensure that her clients receive the highest quality of services to achieve the best possible outcome by recognizing that legal issues are often compounded by non-legal concerns. Mathura can also offer legal services in Tamil.

In her spare time, Mathura has been a volunteer with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of York in various capacities. She also enjoys spending time with her family and eating her way through all of the different cuisines the GTA has to offer.

Congratulations to Cynthia Kwakyewah!

We are proud to announce that Cynthia was selected  as the recipient of the Governor General’s Gold Medal. The Faculty of Graduate Studies received a number of nominations for this award, and this recognition demonstrates Cynthia's outstanding achievements during her graduate studies in the Interdisciplinary Studies Programme at York University.

Cynthia is presently doing her PhD at Oxford University.

Successful theses defenses garner award nomination

November 28, 2018
Interdisciplinary Studies is once again proud to announce that Muna Ali has successfully defended her Master's thesis entitled: “Anchored in Our Culture, Focused on Our Future": Negotiating Spaces for Somali Women in Toronto through Gashanti Unity"

September 18, 2018
Interdisciplinary Studies is once again proud to announce that Muna Ali has successfully defended her Master's thesis entitled: “Anchored in Our Culture, Focused on Our Future": Negotiating Spaces for Somali Women in Toronto through Gashanti Unity"

Muna's thesis was passed with no revisions.

September 13, 2018
Interdisciplinary Studies is delighted to announce that Cynthia Kwakyewah has successfully defended her Master's thesis entitled: "Doing Just Business": An Empirical Analysis of Mining Multinationals, Human Rights and Sustainable Community Development in Western Ghana

Cynthia's thesis was passed with no revisions.

June 28, 2018
Interdisciplinary Studies proudly announces that Thrmiga Sathiyamoorthy successfully defended her Master's thesis entitled: “Understanding Social Inclusion from the Perspective of Tamil Seniors and Service Providers in the Greater Toronto Area

Thrmiga's thesis was passed with no revisions and she will be graduating in October 2018.

Congratulations Thrmiga!

May 24, 2018
Interdisciplinary Studies proudly announces that Samartha Gamble successfully defended her Master's thesis entitled: “Evaluating the Shopping Aisles for Emotional Needs (SAFEN) Assessment: Promoting the Emotional Health Needs of Children and Youth.”

Sam’s thesis was passed with no revisions and she will be graduating in October.

Congratulations Sam!

Rebecca Rogerson presents her Colloquia

Time: October 12 at 2:00 PM in Rm. 221 Vanier College

Title: ‘Having the Ancestors’: Affective Embodiments as Decolonization Praxis. Auto-ethnographic Accounts of an Anomalous Izangoma

Abstract: Izangoma, or diviners, are one type of traditional healer in Southern Africa. Despite colonial efforts to delegitimize and criminalize traditional healing and medicine, there are 300,000-350,000 traditional healers in South Africa alone (Decocteau, 223.) Central to the Nguni Izangoma worldview is ancestral veneration. Ancestors are not only respected, mediated and honoured through ceremonial practices, but also through trance processes. ‘Having the ancestors’ refers not only to those ‘called to heal’ but also to the embodiment of ancestors through co-performative and nuanced socio-cultural processes. Using autoethnographic and narrative writing practices, this interdisciplinary thesis explores the dynamic affective embodiments of ancestors, and how Izangoma trance processes, which includes embodied writing practices, informs a revaluing, acknowledging, meditating and resituating of suppressed narratives (Taylor, xvi.) These methods of inquiry and research practices are therefore not just crucial to reconciliatory endeavours but are also synecdochic of the process of decolonization and healing

Interdisciplinary Studies Orientation

Thursday  September 14, 2017 from 10 AM to 4:30 PM in 956 Kaneff Tower—All incoming students must attend

July 25, 2017

CONGRATULATIONS to our Graduands, Maxwell Ranasinghe, Terri Raymond, Hana Gartner and Emmanuel Osaze, who have successfully defended their theses.

June 2017

photo of Christopher Innes, Fiona Fernandes and Fahim Quadir

Dr. Christopher Innes, Program Founder, Fiona Fernandes, GPA, Dr. Fahim Quadir, Interim Dean and AVP Graduate

It is with great sadness, that we at Interdisciplinary Studies, announce the passing of our beloved founder, colleague and Executive Member, Dr. Christopher Innes.

Dr. Innes provided IS students a great opportunity to pursue independent and innovative research in a wide range of interdisciplinary topics. He worked relentlessly to create the program by visiting all the different departments in all faculties to promote his ideas for the program and after a great deal of hard work on his part, the program was founded in 1972.

An intentionally small program that attracts high quality students, with far reaching scholarly interests and perspective, the MA thesis includes combinations ranging from fine arts, creative writing, sciences, law, social sciences, humanities, neuroscience, health and business. Each student has to enroll in three different disciplines and work with three scholars who supervise them in their field of research. They have to have their supervisors in place, before they are admitted to the program

Dr. Innes will be sadly missed by all of us at Interdisciplinary Studies. His idea in creating this program was pure genius.

May 2017

Muna Ali, Interdisciplinary Studies student, selected by CBC to tell her story.
Video released this week.

2017 Colloquia Series

Date: March 30 and April 6
Location: 140 McLaughlin College
Program (.pdf)

June 2017

Congratulations are extended to

  • Terri Raymond
  • Maxwell Ranasinghe
  • Kaley Ames
  • Michael Asres
  • Caroline Novak

for successfully defending their Interdisciplinary Studies Thesis .

June 2016

Congratulations are extended to

  • Johanna Lewis
  • Keith Francis; and
  • Alejandro Mayoral Banos (depicted below)

for successfully defending their Interdisciplinary Studies Thesis this June.


Alejandro Mayoral Banos was interviewed by the Toronto Star. Check it out for the whole article.

Indigenous youth connect on social network

A York University Interdisciplinary Studies student's new social network app for indigenous youth gets attention in Ontario's north

Interdisciplinary Studies alumni, Alejandro Mayoral Banos partnered with Jesse Thistle, the  Metis-Cree graduate student  to create the Indigenous Friends app, a social network exclusively for indigenous people.  By Jesse Winter Staff Reporter. Tues., Aug. 2, 2016

Governor General LOGORecent IS Alumni Leva Rouhani awarded the Governor General's Gold Medal for Graduate Studies

Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General after Confederation, created the Academic Medals in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over the years, they have become the most prestigious award that students in Canadian schools can receive. Medals are presented on behalf of the Governor General by participating educational institutions, along with personalized certificates signed by the Governor General.

academic medal

Leva Rouhani's work - "Girls' Schooling Experience in Frankadua, Ghana: A Case Study"was nominated by her committee and the GPD for having demonstrated “distinction in scholarship at York University."  This thesis and it's related field work serves as an exemplar for IS and while it was an MA it was enacted, analyzed, written and defended at the equivalent of a  PhD level. There are only two awards per year - one at the Masters and one at the PhD, and Interdisciplinary Studies - the little program that we are - now boasts THE award winner for an MA. A big shout out to Leva's supervisors for their interdisciplinary guidance and support - IS thanks  Minoo Derayeh, Pablo Idahosa and Livy Visano.
Leva Rouhani for WebsiteLeva - you are off doing your PhD in Ottawa  now but IS wants you to know how proud we are of you.  All the best.

May, 2016

IS Supervisor, Alum and Executive Member John Greyson Emulates the IS pay-it-forward ethos

Talk about a pay-it-forward way of being in the world!

That's what IS at YorkU strives to emulate and IS supervisor, alum and executive member

John Greyson has demonstrated this life ethos in a big way.

Together with his partner Stephen Andrews, YorkU IS's own (ok and Film's 🙂 ) John Greyson has donated land to Parkdale Land Trust for a wonderful community garden.

john greyson donates land

Check it out.

April 2016

IS Supervisor Dawn Bazely showcased on 2016 Earth Day! Dawn Bazely

YFile Honors the Work of Dawn Bazely


IS is pleased to announce the  red awardChristopher Innes Interdisciplinary Studies Champion Award:

In the early 1970s, Professor Christopher Innes, while a relatively new assistant professor, had the tenacity and foresight to understand and promote the value of interdisciplinary studies within academe. To that end, he championed this concept and innovative approach - meeting with people in every nook and cranny at York; ushered his proposed MA program through every decision-making body and ultimately convincing all of it's necessity and value at YorkU's Senate where in 1972 it was approved.

It was the first graduate program of it's kind in Canada.

The Christopher Innes Interdisciplinary Studies Champion Award is meant to affirm these same values in both students and supervisors affiliated with the program.

Student recipients will have achieved an exceptional academic record of achievement within the IS MA program, have exemplified strong, original and rigorous interdisciplinary  research and have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the health and vibrancy of the IS program and community.

Supervisory recipients will have a record of exemplary supervision of IS students who have achieved exceptional academic records of achievement within the IS MA program, worked diligently to ensure strong, original and rigorous interdisciplinary research and have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the health, strength and vibrancy of the IS program and community.

The 2016 Award Winners

Keith Francis                    Alejandro Mayoral Banos     Dr. Celia Haig-Brown
Keith Francis 2016 Christopher Innes Interdisciplinary Studies Champion AwardAlejandro Mayoral Banos 2016 Christopher Innes Champion AwardCelia Haig Brown 2016 Christopher Innes Champion Award

IS Student Rebecca Barnstaple in the News

March 2016

IS Supervisor and Past Executive Member wins FGS teaching Award!

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) honoured two professors for substantial, significant and sustained excellence, commitment and enthusiasm to the multi-facted aspects of graduate teaching at York University.

Close to 50 students, faculty and staff were on hand to see Vice-President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton present the FGS Teaching Award to education Professor Celia Haig-Brown, and President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri present a posthumous award to computer science and engineering Professor Nick Cercone at FGS Faculty Council on March 3.

celia award

President Mamdouh Shoukri, left, Professor Celia Haig–Brown and Vice–President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton with Haig–Brown's Teaching Award. Photo Credit Christopher Douris.

“Celia’s extraordinary work in the classroom, on supervisory committees, as a mentor to students present and past, and finally as a guiding force in the many programs with which she is affiliated, all mark her an exemplary member of the graduate community at York,” said Lenton.

Lenton commented that Haig-Brown’s stellar record of teaching, mentorship and commitment to graduate education has influenced multiple cohorts of scholars and teachers, as reflected by one of her nominators who said “her teaching has transformed the way we engage with social justice as a lived path”.

“It is my sincere pleasure to congratulate Celia on this award in recognition of her profound commitment to students and to graduate education at York University,” said Lenton.

Besides Education, Dr. Haig–Brown is affiliated with the graduate programs in Environmental Studies, Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies, Humanities, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Social and Political Thought. She has supervised the completion of 11 doctoral dissertations and more than 30 master’s theses, and has sat on more than 30 PhD and more than 70 master’s supervision committees during her academic career.

Letters of support for Haig-Brown’s nomination of the award, many from former students, noted her wide influence on their pedagogical approaches, her quality of critical attention, and her powerful intellect and knowledge.

Upon accepting the award, Haig-Brown thanked all of her students, saying, “Our time together is one of the sweetest an academic can experience. Ultimately this award is representative of the incredible work by my students.”

The FGS Teaching Award is bestowed annually on a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies who has displayed substantial, significant and sustained excellence, commitment and enthusiasm to the multifaceted aspects of teaching at the graduate level. 

February 2016 newspaper boy

  • IS Student Urs Dierker recently wrote an article entitled Every Stain a Story for the Toronto International Film Festival's Website about his work regarding the use of 'dirt' on film costumes. Way to go Urs! View Article

Interdisciplinary Studies Student Featured on YFile!


  • York University student Alejandro Mayoral Baños, a second-year master’s student in interdisciplinary studies, is spearheading the development of an app to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit students network with other members of York's aboriginal community. View YFile Story

YorkU Mobile is Live!

  • Layout 1York U Mobile provides smartphone users with convenient and quick access to interactive maps of the University's Keele and Glendon campuses, the current student portal, the University Libraries, York's home page and the Passport York secure sign in.

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