Our Students

Gillian von Langsdorff

Chyrish Dupie

Adam Thomas White

Kathleen Dore


Samartha Gamble

Rebecca Rogerson

Sara Liden

Thrmiga Sathiyamoorthy

Shafagh Hadavi

Haily MacDonald

Heather Oerlemans

Laurena Clark

Loferne Cuffy

Lina Deker

Urs Dierker

Julia Bennett

Zoe Dirse

Jason Bissanthe

Michael Mulrooney

Alejandro Mayoral Banos (Alex)

alejandroMy major is in Computer Engineering, as well as professional certificates in Humanism, International Cooperation and Social Circus.

I am a bilingual (Spanish/English) highly passionate interdisciplinarian activist. I have over seven years of experience with social projects’ implementation, volunteer management, fundraising and indigenous advocacy. I am interested in the relation between technology and Indigenous peoples around the world.


Mentor and Board Member of Magtayani Foundation (Organization dedicated to empower indigenous communities in eastern Mexico). Coming soon: Volunteer in imagineNATIVE 2015 (Toronto).


Fellow of the Youth Action Net (International Youth Foundation) and member of Red Iberoamericana de Jóvenes Lideres (Carolina Foundation).

Alejandro Featured on YFile Check it out: http://yfile.news.yorku.ca/2015/12/14/york-masters-student-develops-app-for-indigenous-community-to-network/ 

Keith Francis

My research is on how the Experiential Narratives of Patients with Dementia Inform our Understanding of Healthcare Institutions

keithDisciplines & Supervisors

Design Architecture, Behavioural Science, and Phenomenology.

  • Susan Murtha Ph.D. Dept. of Psychology
  • David Scadding Ph.D. (Dept. of Design, York University)
  • Joseph Keeping Ph.D (Dept. of Humanities, York University)
  • Corinne E. Fischer, MD, Keenan Research Centre, University of Toronto


Jr. Fellow, Interdisciplinarian, strategist and researcher, professional in several design mediums such as wayfinding, human factors and brand strategy. Contributed to education and social advancements for the promotion of accessibility within the built environment through the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Leva Rouhani

My thesis explores the extent to which factors such as spatial dimensions, culture, and classroom practices contribute to gender inequality in the Ghanaian education system. I explore the interaction of these factors and examine the roles they play in undermining gender equity in Ghanaian schools.

levaDisciplines & Supervisors

  • Gender – Minoo Derayeh
  • Development Studies – Pablo Idahosa
  • Education – Livy Visano


Background in International Development Studies & Human Rights and Equity Studies.

I am a human rights activist.

Terri Raymond

I am delving into the complicity of law, medicine, and society in institutionalizing women in Ontario lunatic asylums in the early 1900s. But rather than viewing this intersectionality through authoritarian eyes, I have chosen to attempt the creation of genealogical and societal profiles of certain institutionalized women, much like today’s autobiographical survivor stories of institutionalization. Every person has a story. My purpose is to give a voice to those who no longer have one, along with providing context to the very recent multi-million dollar settlements from the Ontario government for patients’ physical and mental pain and suffering due to their “care” while institutionalized.

terriDisciplines & Supervisors

My three disciplines are law, critical disability studies, and gender studies, all through a historical lens.

My three supervisors are Dr. Shelley Gavigan, Dr. Geoffrey Reaume, and Dr. Lykke de la Cour.


My work background was most recently as a law clerk specializing in marketing and advertising law and food law in an in-house legal department. But I read an article by Dr. Constance Backhouse a few years back that resonated with me and whet my appetite for further research, which eventually propelled me in the direction of enrolling in university full-time (as a mature student) for my Masters degree. Interdisciplinary Studies is the only department I could truly fulfill my passion because to sever one or two disciplines from my work would lead to a lopsided outcome where all facets have not been appropriately interrogated. I find the most exciting and interesting work can come out of making new and unusual connections, no matter what disciplines are being discussed. I have not looked back and firmly believe this is exactly where I should be right now. No regrets.

Sarah Gebretsadik

In 2010, under the guidance of its developmental state planning, Ethiopia launched its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) aimed to achieve accelerated economic growth and middle income country status by 2020-2025. In an attempt to realize its GTP, the Ethiopian government has strategically engaged its diaspora population as ‘development partners’. Existing policies and proclamations outlined by the Ethiopian government speak to the institutionalized attempts to attract diaspora capital for the development of the country. Through an exploratory case-study of small and medium sized businesses in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, this paper interrogates the complexities surrounding Ethiopia’s state-led engagement of its diasporas and explores the potential of the Ethiopian diaspora to contribute to the country’s development. While the politics of engagement and challenges with Ethiopia’s business environment emerge as salient issues, findings indicate that diaspora business owners possess a unique potential to contribute to human capability transformation in the country.

Research Objective

  1. To critically examine the role of Ethiopian diaspora contributions, through the form of direct investments, in Ethiopia’s state-led development plan;
  2. To uncover and interrogate the complexities surrounding institutionalized, state-led engagement of diaspora;
  3. To explore, from a local perspective, the potential of the Ethiopian diaspora to contribute to the growth and transformation of the country.

Disciplines & Supervisors

International Development, Public Policy (Economics), Migration Studies
Alena Kimakova, Pablo Idahosa, Susan McGrath


Graduated from University of Toronto with a specialist in International Development Studies, co-op and a minor in Economics.

Kaspar Saxena

My thesis focuses on Extreme Monster Imagery and the Cognition of Empire in Pre-Modern Europe.


Since graduating from Ontario College of Art (Honours, 1991) Kaspar has been active as an independent artist, film and videomaker, visual storyteller, curator and researcher. He has directed 10 documentary and animated films which were produced with a total of 19 arts council grants at federal, provincial and municipal levels, and has received over 500 screenings on television and at festivals, gallery exhibits and grassroots events internationally. For the past 20 years Kaspar has also been continually researching  and developing an large archive of knowledge about the histories of monsters and mythical creatures. With his archive, he has lectured, given conference papers, developed a museum course and consulted with theatre projects  in an ongoing series of interdisciplinary multiplatform artistic and theoretical projects. At York University Kaspar is completing a visual project about extreme monster depictions in Pre-Modern Europe focusing on Cognition, Classification, Social and Colonial histories, Early Sciences and Indigenous Theory.

Baldev Mutta

baldevMy research is exploring addiction in the Punjabi Diaspora and my inquiry will include the development of a Smart App to assist in the prevention of relapse.

Disciplines & Supervisors

  • Health: Dr. Farah Ahmad,
  • Social Work: Dr. Harjeet Badwall,
  • Equity Studies: Dr. Tania Das Gupta


I am the founder and CEO of Punjabi Community Health Services in Peel Region.

Michael Asres

photo of Michael AsresMy Master's thesis, in short, is a project that is an attempt to contextualize and explore the resent murders of unarmed black men in the United States. This project will look at individual cases of racially motivated murders by both law enforcement and vigilante citizens. The case study will be both the anchor of the research and the window that will allow us to see the evolutionary model of violence perpetrated against African Americans, from slavery to mass incarceration. My ultimate hope is that this project will aid in our understanding of these cases, and treat them as dangerous symptoms of institutional racism, which has deep roots in settler colonialism, and the institution of slavery. Our interdisciplinary program enriches this research because we are granted opportunity to develop an eclectic viewpoint and access resources which a research like this demands. Moreover the program offers us the chance to look beyond any parochial focus, and develop ideas and arguments that are not bound to any traditional discipline.

Alix Voz

Description of Research Inquiry

illustration of the Alix Voz monogramArt History /Fine Art – Communication and Culture – Geography
I argue that the natural and built environments are the anchor that is specific to a particular location’s culture and geographical site. Both the postcard’s travel (over land and sea, and over a period of time) and the individual’s longing for a space and place are born from an estrangement from one’s familiar place. The familiar place in question in this proposed research project is the Greater City of Sudbury (Sudbury) and the northern Ontario Francophone culture linked to its landscape.

To understand how place based cultural identity relates to longing, melancholy and stranger-ness for francophone Ontarian northerners from Sudbury, I pose four questions:

  1. What images of Sudbury are reflective of francophone cultural identity?
  2. How do these images of Sudbury contrast the images of an estranged location?
  3. How do the remembered past and the current location relate to each other and inform francophone identity?
  4. Finally, how is this mélancolie and longing for francophone culture visually represented through creative practice?

photo of Alix VozI am also perusing the Curatorial Studies Diploma along with my MA.

Your Background/Involvements

While working on my thesis I have been busy developing my artistic practice:

  • I completed the Artist-Educator Professional Training: Foundations Course at The Royal Conservatory, Toronto
  • I developed my creative practice and presented my work in two solo exhibitions and a variety of group exhibitions:
    • Insomnia Salon Exhibition, Red Head Gallery, Toronto (Nuit Blanche 2015)
    • Connection/Connexion Juried Exhibition, Living Arts Centre, Mississauga (Upcoming, fall 2015)
    • Solo Exhibition, Artist on Elgin Offsite Venue: Science North, Sudbury
    • Solo Exhibition, Fromagerie Elgin, Sudbury
    • Exposition S'AFFRANCHIR, travelling Mail Art exhibit at several galleries accross Ontario including Galerie-Chapelle Clément-Bérini, Orléans; Centre français de Hamilton, Hamilton; and theThames Art Gallery, Chatham

Anything else interesting about you?

photo of Alix Voz working outAn interesting fact about myself would be the fact that my life can be described as VERY interdisciplinary. I am an artist and also a bodybuilder and sponsored athlete. From fine arts to kinaesthetic and academia I am active in very different disciplines. A member from my committee board told me to continue to push my various skills equally; she knows my strengths and points out my weaknesses. If I was in any other program I would be able to simply highlight my strengths and dismiss the rest but as an interdisciplinary student I must strive for a higher level in all aspects of all my chosen disciplines. She said ‘Put as much passion and power into your thesis as you do into sculpting your body and your art work and it will be exceptional’. Her words inspire me and remind me that an interdisciplinary program is where I can excel.

Debbie Gordon

Debbie graduated from OCADU with a Bachelor of Design. After graduating, she volunteered with the intercultural program Canada World Youth where she worked in Nova Scotia and Indonesia on community building initiatives. Later, as an associate with the Canadian International Development Agency, she provided web development assistance to an Non Governmental Organization in Botswana.

This experience overseas contributed to her interest in her research topic of understanding the production of transnational communities by exploring them through a visual lens. She is specifically looking at the area of Little Jamaica in Toronto, along Eglinton Avenue West. The three disciplines of her thesis include Geography, Design, and Sociology, supervised by Glen Norcliffe, Angela Norwood, and Andil Gosine, respectively.

Muna Ali

photo of Muna AliA second-year MA candidate in interdisciplinary Studies at York University and is currently a research assistant for the Engaging Girls, Changing Communities (EGCC). Her academic interests are Community development with particular focus in Women Empowerment. She is the co-founder and managing director of Gashanti UNITY and her research is centered on negotiating spaces for Somali women in Toronto through her work with Gashanti UNITY. Her motivation stems from the lack of research about first generation Somali Canadian youth, despite the fact that they experience significant barriers integrating into mainstream Canadian society. Muna has moved fluidly from fields including social work to mental health, community development to community programming, and artistic management to artistic production. She has acted as a facilitator between the multiple generations that make up the Somali community, trying to build bridges through her multi-media work. Muna has been active in the global Somali diaspora, supporting the efforts of the Hargeisa International Book Fair Festival and the annual Somali Week Festival in London, England. Muna just produced her first feature documentary, Shadeism: Digging Deeper (2015), under Refuge Productions, for which she is a co-founder and executive producer. The film premiered this year at the 2015 Zanzibar International Film Festival.

Hana Gartner

Concordia University gave her a degree. The Public Broadcaster gave her an education.

photo of Hana Gartner and Duke the horseFor three decades Hana Gartner travelled the country and the world on behalf of the CBC, delving into the hearts and minds of people from every walk of life, telling their stories.

She questioned everyone from Prime Ministers to contract killers; investigated everything from polygamy to airport security. Most meaningful to her was the story of 19 year old Ashley Smith who died on a concrete floor in solitary confinement, as federal prison guards stood outside her cell and watched. Throughout her decades long career, Gartner's goal was to confront the corrupt and the inept, and to explore and expose that which makes us human and inhumane.

Communication continues to consume Gartner's interest. Now she has a whole new set of questions as she researches interspecies communication... It all began when Hana met Duke.

hana and duke


Johanna Lewis


photo of Johanna LewisJohanna is currently working towards a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies at York University. Her SSHRC-funded thesis research focuses on unpacking her personal and familial involvements in various colonial projects in order to expose wider complicities and challenge the erasure of ongoing colonial violence. Her areas of interest include queer theory, affect and relationality, colonial history and historiography, decolonizing frameworks, intersectional feminism, autoethnography, and more. She comes to her Master’s after undergraduate studies in Global Health and Women and Gender Studies at UofT, work as a research coordinator doing community-based research with women living with HIV, and years of involvement in various activist and community projects. Johanna is also the busy parent of a feisty toddler.

Title of Thesis

A Legacy of Violence: Intimate Histories, Transnational Relations, and Colonial Ghosts


Unsettling Family History: Memorialization, Erasure, and the Settler Colonial Nationalist Imaginary (2015)
Paper presentation, Mapping Nations/Locating Citizens, Humber Liberal Arts Conference, Toronto: Oct 30-31
Johanna Lewis

Gendering patient-centred care: Envisioning a women-centred care framework for women living with HIV in Canada (2015)
Poster, North American Primary Care Research Group Annual Meeting, Cancun, Mexico: Oct 24-28
Nadia O'Brien, Saara Greene, Allison Carter, Johanna Lewis, et al.

Unpacking ‘Fanagalo’: Linguistic Traces, Intimate Histories and Colonial Legacies (2015)
Paper presentation, Sovereignties and Colonialisms: Resisting Racism, Extraction and Dispossession, Critical Ethnic Studies Association Conference, Toronto: April 30-May 3
Johanna Lewis

Women Living with HIV Speak out about their care: Findings from the Formative Phase of CHIWOS (2014)
Abstract presentation, AIDS Committee of Toronto
Gladys Kwaramba, Johanna Lewis, et al.

Canadian Imperialism, Queer Diasporas, and Pinkwatching Jason Kenney (2013)
Paper presentation (award), Women's and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes Annual Conference
Johanna Lewis

‘Adoptive Parents Living with HIV and the Adoption Agencies that serve them’: A Pilot Case Study (2013)
Abstract presentation, Interdisciplinary HIV Pregnancy Research Group Conference
Johanna Lewis, et al

Maxwell Ranasinghe


photo of Maxwell RanasingheI have a business, marketing and legal educational background. I have worked as business manager, lawyer and a social activist in Sri Lanka. Chronic Kidney Disease Unknown Etiology ( CKDu) in Sri Lanka is taking poor farmers lives since late 1990s. Since there are confusing claims as to causal factors and no concerted plan of action to manage the issue, it has become a major socio- economic problem. As such, I have taken much interest in finding an integrated solution to contain, mange and prevent the spread of this deadly disease. I am looking at the problem in an environmental, socio-economic, corporate social responsibility lenses to develop a lasting solution and implement it through the government of Sri Lanka. I look forward very much to establish connections with network of professionals in various fields of study who are interested in finding solutions to this type of multi faceted problems.


Kidney disease in Sri Lanka: Socio-economic, environmental implications and corporate social responsibility


  • Economics;
  • Law;
  • Environment.


  • Prof. Peter Timmerman;
  • Prof. Stepan Wood;
  • Prof. Caroline Hossain.

Robert McKnight


My name is Robert McKnight and the focus of my master’s degree is researching the relationship between music therapy and healthcare systems. My interest in this area of research stems from my professional experience as an employee at Toronto General Hospital, as well as from my personal and academic experiences with music production and performance. I look forward to pursuing my studies through York’s Interdisciplinary Studies program and in the future I would like to use my research experience to more widely promote the implementation of musical health and wellness programs in Canada.


Music and health

Disciplines and Supervisors

  • Music — Prof. D. de Val;
  • Neurology — Prof. J. DeSouza;
  • Nursing — Prof. C. Jonas-Simpson.

Ruth Tait


photo of Ruth TaitMy thesis topic explores the interdisciplinary terrain of graphic design, computer science and narrative film. At the centre of my enquiry is an examination of new technologies as communication media and the capacity to understand and contextualize the potential of a media form in the dissemination of content. I will analyze ways in which media is employed to privilege the desires of a power elite and look at ways in which alternative content may manifest: this analysis takes the form of both a thesis and the creation of a media object prototype.

Just as Gutenberg in the 1400s, revolutionized the nature of the book, the digital world is activating a need to re-think the structure of the book. Under scrutiny as I envision it, is not only the digital book’s framework but also the validity, rigour and currency of its contents. In a world devouring a growing supply of instantaneous information or entertainment–I will strive to develop a transmedia piece that is invested in an entertaining, educational and eco-conscious narrative.

My background is in communication and design; prior to entering the MA interdisciplinary program, I worked in the fields of illustration, animation, web design, art curation and publishing.

Title of Thesis

Development of the Creative & Accessible e-book: Inspiration, Application, Method.


  • (2014) A Brooklyn Dog’s Adventures in Doggy Daycare, illustrations & design for children’s book, Tait Sisters Press
  • (2013) A Brooklyn Dog at the Beach, illustrations & design for children’s book, Tait Sisters Press
  • (2012) A Brooklyn Dog’s Adventures in France, illustrations & design for children’s book, Tait Sisters Press
  • (2007) Extraction! comix reportage pub. by Cumulus Press, Montreal
  • (2006) Mix Magazine, article “Ice Follies II: Where Nature, Art and Northern Lifestyle...”
  • (2006) Drawing the Line Again, pub. by Drawing the Line Publications
  • (2005) Supercilitator, comic book story for Facilitators Conference, Pub. by Globe Resources
  • (2004) Mix Magazine: article “Life Drawing Apologia”
  • (2003-4) Outworld Bk.1 Episode 1,2 3 & 4, Pub. by Open Mind Comics, Toronto (part of 300-page Graphic Novel)
  • (2003) Walk, Pub. by Open Mind Comics
  • (2003) Drawing the Line, Comics Anthology, Pub. by Drawing the Line Publications


  • (2012) Guest Artist, Nuit Blanche 2012 Independent Project, “Small Audiences”, Theatre Local
  • (2011) illustrator for web game “The Bartletts” at theloyalistbartletts.com
  • (2009) guest presenter at Artists Week, November 7 - 15, 2009, Toronto
  • (2009) guest presenter at Word on The Street “No Rules, No Budget, All Fun! How and why you should make comics!”

Rakhi Mutta


photo of Rakhi MuttaBorn to social activist parents of Indian descent, Rakhi Mutta was raised in the vibrant multicultural city of Toronto, Canada, where she currently works and resides. At a young age, Rakhi’s recognition of her curious mind led to her to continuously challenge societal norms and always envision something greater. Working in community development for over 14 years, both locally and globally in places such as India, Nepal, Kenya, Brazil, and Colombia, Rakhi developed her own unique lens and a rooted passion for storytelling. Throughout her career, she has worked with various high-risk communities including Dalits, displaced peoples, child soldiers, and other victims of violence. Rakhi’s global work eventually led to the creation of the international non-profit organization Kahaniya, which means sisters sharing stories. Kahaniya, which has been featured in national publications including Elle Canada, focuses on providing tools of documentation for communities whose combined lived experiences are often ignored by mainstream media. Today, through her production company Ms.Mutta Productions Inc., Rakhi furthers her work as a storyteller, creating visual projects such as the hit viral video Punjabi Mime Thru Time, the popular web series Anarkali, and a photography series entitled The Good Indian Bride, which was featured at Nuit Blanche 2015 (Toronto, CA) and the 2015 Feminist Art Conference (Toronto, CA). A past recipient of the Community Leadership Award by Sheridan College, Rakhi is currently completing her Master's in Interdisciplinary Studies at York University, with a focus on South Asian women, film, and feminism.

Description of Research Inquiry

I will be exploring how Bollywood helps the sexual norms of first and second generation South Asian women in the GTA.

Disciplines and Supervisors

  1. Film Studies
  2. Feminist Studies
  3. South Asian Studies
  • Sailaja Krishnamurti, Brenda Longfellow and Tania Das Gupta

Lucie Feldbruegge Caruana

photo of Lucie Feldbruegge CaruanaBackground

Lucie began her postsecondary education at Concordia University, in the vibrant and boundary-pushing Fine Art department. In an effort to more deeply explore the feminist politics influencing her creative work, she added Women’s Studies as a second major in the second year of her degree. Lucie transferred to York University for her final two years, where she graduated Cum Laude with a BA Honours in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. She is also a member of the prestigious Golden Key International Honour Society for students in the top 15% of their departments.

Lucie has returned to York University for her MA in Interdisciplinary Studies. Her Masters Thesis explores themes of feminist resistance, embodiment, physical autonomy, trauma-recovery/healing, and body art through her exploration of women’s tattooing as a tool for healing among survivors of sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault and an avid tattoo enthusiast, Lucie’s research will be autoethnographic in nature. Lucie will present a written thesis, as well as a photography exhibit showcasing large-scale photographs of the tattoos of her research participants.


Women’s Tattooing as a Tool for Healing among Survivors of Sexual Assault.

Research Objectives

  • To contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding women’s tattooing;
  • To better understand the complex relationship between the female body, perceptions of strength vs. weakness, and tattooing;
  • To better understand the healing and empowering potential of tattoo body projects, and shed lights on the currently under-explored phenomena of tattooing as trauma recovery following sexual assault.

Disciplines and Supervisors

  • Sociology—Deborah Davidson;
  • Communication and Cultural Studies—Susan Driver;
  • Women’s Studies—Cheryl van Daalen-Smith.

Ruth-Anne Andrew


I returned to university studies after a twenty-five year absence to upgrade my ordinary BA and graduated in October 2014 with an honours degree in Psychology. I successfully started and managed a dance program for people with Parkinson’s Disease in Cambridge, Ontario where I currently live. My own two disabled children benefited from many years of dance training and I would like to bring that experience to other young people with disabilities.

Research Inquiry

Investigating how dance can improve the quality of life for disabled young adults.

Disciplines and Supervisors

  • Psychology (Neuroscience)—Dr. Joseph DeSouza;
  • Dance—Dr. Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt;
  • Critical Disability Studies—Dr. Geoffrey Reaume.