In the contemporary moment, freedom of expression looms large. Particularly on university campuses in North America, there has been an impressive cadence of controversies over the past decade. While criticism of contemporary higher education has always been a pillar of the still smoldering culture wars, the issue has swiftly moved from op-ed pages to official government policy. Following the election of Conservative provincial governments in Ontario (2018) and Alberta (2019), post-secondary institutions in these provinces have now been compelled to create explicit policy statements protecting freedom of expression. Despite a wealth of research about freedom of expression on American college and university campuses, Canada is still relatively understudied. My research addresses this gap with a novel blending of political theory and philosophy with empirical data gathering.
At a general level, the focus of my dissertation has been trying to understand the political contours of free expression on campus and how and why free expression has become one of the most noticeable fractures in contemporary campus politics (and in academia more broadly). I use a qualitative, mixed-methods approach that includes: reviews of relevant literature, legal analysis, media analysis, semi-structured personal interviews, and freedom of information requests. Thus far, I have conducted over 80 interviews with students, faculty, administrators, journalists, pundits, and activists, and amassed several thousands of pages of access to information data.
Some of my dissertation research has been published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science and a forthcoming book from the University of Toronto Press (edited by Emmett Macfarlane). My latest dissertation research (currently under review) presents an analytical framework for understanding how free expression on campus became an object of Canadian public policy is such a short period. In addition to some comparative and historical analysis, this research also presents an anatomy of the Alberta ministerial directive by wading through data obtained through access to information requests. My primary project going forward is a book manuscript (under contract with the University of Toronto Press) about the alleged 'crisis' of free expression on campus that substantially builds upon my dissertation research. I am also pursuing two new research avenues that build upon my dissertation - one that explores potential non-liberal philosophical justifications for free expression and another that asks whether or not the Charter ought to apply to certain forms of campus expression.
I have an additional research project focused on the politics of (alternative) sport and (Sub)cultural Studies. In this work, I explore a number of themes related to skateboarding subculture: the concept of subcultural escapism and the political significance of alternative forms of meaning and significance; how film has been significant in the development of skateboarding subculture; and the potential ramifications of skateboarding becoming a 'sport' in the Olympic Games. My most recently published research can be found in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues. This work diagnoses a paradox of authenticity within skateboarding subculture that negatively impacts female participants, and offers an argument against 'sportification' while encouraging greater inclusion of increasingly diverse participants.
Current Research Projects:
Free Expression on Campus: The Alleged Crisis and the Conceptual Elasticity of Harm [Manuscript Under Contract with UTP].
"Political Theory and Free Expression: Is There a Non-Liberal Case?" [Upcoming Conference Paper].
"What's Public About Publicly-Funded Universities?: The Law and Politics of Extending Charter Protections to Expression on Campus" [Upcoming Conference Paper].
"Mike Ward and the Future of Canadian Comedy" [Blog Post for the CFE].
2021 [Forthcoming]. “Deplatforming in Theory and Practice: The Ann Coulter Debacle at the University of Ottawa.” In Emmett Macfarlane (Ed.), Dilemmas of Free Expression (Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press).
2021 [Under Review]. "Free Expression and the 'Campus Crisis Feedback Loop:' How the Chicago Principles Came to Canada." American Review of Canadian Studies.
The Politics of Sport and (Sub)cultural Studies Publications: