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November 2021

From the Director...

It is my great pleasure to write this brief welcome to our first Centre for Urban Youth Research newsletter. We began work on this newsletter over a year ago, in the Fall of 2020; everything was all but ready to go when we were faced with the massive shock of seeing the CUYR coordinator, Cihan Erdal, unjustly detained and imprisoned in Turkey for his past political work as a youth activist. After a vigorous campaign, spearheaded by Cihan’s partner, Ömer Ongun, and supported by scholars, politicians, and activists from around the world, Cihan was finally released from prison earlier this year. However, the restrictions on his freedom persist: he is unable to leave Turkey to rejoin his partner here in Canada, and must report in to the Turkish police on a weekly basis. The fight continues to get him freed of these unjust charges and back home to Ottawa, where he belongs. For more details and to support Cihan’s fight, please go to

Without Cihan, the work of the Centre ground to a halt. Now that he is out of jail, we have been in regular contact over Zoom to complete the newsletter and finally distribute it. Cihan’s experience is a stark reminder of the importance of the work being done by the scholars, activists, and community organizations featured here, who are examining, resisting, and generating deeper understandings of the injustices faced by young people around the world. As Hannah Arendt reminds us, we are not only in the world, but also of the world, shaped by it and shaping it in turn, through the web of relations that connect us to one another. Part of the mission of CUYR is to deepen those relations and generate space for our collective intellectual, political, and creative endeavours to shape the world into a place where young activists like Cihan are free from political persecution. 

The newsletter is also an opportunity to officially share with you our beautiful youth-designed logo, created by a member of the Working Upstream youth team, Bush Mathias, and converted into its digital design by former Carleton University student, Eric Whyte. Also please take a look at our website for information about our new(ish!) advisory committee, including academic, community, and youth members from around the world.

Enjoy this first newsletter, and keep us apprised of your endeavours so that we may share it with our growing network of scholarly, youth activist, and youth organization affiliates. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @urbanyouthresearch and watch our website for updates and event at

CUYR values and prioritizes meaningful youth engagement in research and practice

The Centre for Urban Youth Research (or CUYR) is a hub for critical and justice-oriented youth scholars, activists, and community organizations focused on tackling inequalities experienced by young people in urban centres. With both Canadian and international affiliates, CUYR seeks to provide a bridge for those working towards the expansion of social justice for young people who are most marginalized under contemporary capitalism. CUYR values and prioritizes meaningful youth engagement in research and practice, alongside a deep scrutiny of embedded power relations and the potential for reproducing inequalities.

Our special thanks to the creators of the CUYR’s logo; Bush Mathias and Eric Whyte

Bush Mathias has been involved with the Working Upstream participatory research project with Dr. Jacqueline Kennelly since 2019. Working Upstream focuses on how schools can better respond to young people when they're homeless or at risk.

Eric grew up in Cayuga, a small town in Southern Ontario between Hamilton and Lake Erie. Following secondary school he moved to Ottawa where he studied at Carleton University, graduating with a Bachelor of Industrial Design in 2020. Eric is now studying in Northern Italy at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano toward his Master of Eco-Social Design. His downtime is typically spent socializing with new people in new places and picking up occasional freelance design work. Eric is reachable at

Theatre ignited an appetite in youth to hear their voice in the world”

As being part of the short-interview series for the CUYR Newsletter, The Centre for Urban Youth Research team asked Dr. Gallagher a few questions about the role of art, theatre, and other creative forms of expression in fighting youth injustice. 

To read the CUYR’s short interview with Dr. Gallagher, please visit our webpage: [the link]

Environmental Action and New Zealand Youth

Dr. Bronwyn Wood (Victoria University of Wellington) wrote a commentary for the CUYR Newsletter’s first edition on New Zealand youth. You can read a passage from the piece by Wood below; and for the full version, please visit: [the link]

"New Zealand’s School Strike4Climate [SS4C] movement had been heralded as one of the world’s most successful – led by school-aged passionate young people with little experience in political organising but with digital and social media savvy (Thomas, Cretney and Hayward, 2020). I attended the Strike4Climate protest on 15 March, 2019 with my 17 year-old son along with as many as 20 000 other young people – all leaving their classrooms to demand urgent action on the ecological crisis.”

Even In Climate Crisis, There Is Hope (IWIK)

Sophie Handford, one of the activist affiliates of CUYR, is the founder of School Strike 4 Climate NZ and New Zealands youngest elected councillor. Sophie wrote a piece for a NZ website on the struggle against climate crisis and acting with hope. Below is a short excerpt from the piece, which can be read in full here.

Everyone's contributions to the solutions needed are so valid and valuable. We will need elders, youth, parents, grandparents, artists, teachers, engineers, accountants - we all have a role to play and if our solutions are to be just, equitable and sustainable, the process must reflect this also.

So in essence - sure, we must be aware of and understand the magnitude of this crisis but alongside this, it’s crucial for us to shift our eyes and energy to the solutions, many of which are held in our indigenous communities. Because the time for talking is over, we only have time to act. We must be those yellow flowers, spreading the message of urgency in a positive way, holding the duality of hope and action.

The Kids Are in Charge

The Kids Are in Charge: Activism and Power in the Peruvian Movement of Working Children, written by Dr. Jessica Taft from University of California, Santa Cruz, was released in August 2019. Taft says the heightened visibility of youth activism in the past few years has given her a chance to talk about the broader history and importance of youth-led social movements in lots of different contexts, including an op-ed on the youth climate strikes, a webinar on supporting young activists, and in interviews with journalists from the Washington Post, Mashable, and National Public Radio

Jessica Taft has also published an academic journal article, titled ‘Hopeful, Harmless, and Heroic: Figuring the Girl Activist as Global Savior.’ Taft argues that girl activists are particularly desirable figures for public consumption because the encoding of girls as symbols of hope helps to resolve public anxieties about the future, while their more radical political views are managed through girlhood's association with harmlessness.

Due out soon: Hope in a Collapsing World: Youth, Theatre, and Listening as a Political Instrument, University of Toronto Press

Prof. Kathleen Gallagher’s ethnographic research with Andrew Kushnir and his original script Towards Youth: a play on radical hope will be reaching the readers soon in February 2022. 

For young people, the space of the drama classroom can be a space for deep learning as they struggle with common purpose and across difference to create something together. Collaborating across institutions, theatres, and community spaces, the research in Hope in a Collapsing World mobilizes theatre to build its methodology and create new data with young people as they seek the language of performance to communicate their worries, fears, and dreams to a global network of researchers and a wider public.

Using both ethnographic study and playwriting, a collaboration of social scientist and playwright, Hope in a Collapsing World is a ground-breaking hybrid format of research text and the original script built from it – Towards Youth: A Play on Radical Hope – for reading, experimentation, and performance.

Global Youth Citizenry and Radical Hope: 

Enacting Community-Engaged Research through Performative Methodologies (2020) (Eds. Gallagher, K., D. J. Rodricks, & K. Jacobson) 

is a collective reflection on their SSHRC-funded five year multi-sited international ethnographic study titled Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary, from the perspectives of the research team members and international research collaborators. 

Working with partners in Taiwan, India, Greece, England, and in Toronto, the study investigated how the drama classroom/workshop can cultivate relationships, dispositions, and values that orient young people towards, and support them in, engaged citizenship. It builds upon a previous SSHRC-funded study that discovered 'hope' and 'care’ as significant philosophical constructs in young people’s engagement with schools by investigating how these concepts relate to the development of young people's broader civic engagement, and how the collaborative nature of drama work can incite intercultural dialogue and civic engagement for youth in global contexts.

This edited collection explores the affective and relational lives of young people in diverse urban spaces, by following their trajectories as they creatively work through multiple and unfolding global crises. It asks how arts-based methodologies might answer the question: How do we stand in relation to others, those nearby and those at greater distances? 

Drawing on knowledges, research traditions, and artistic practices that span the Global North and South, Global Youth Citizenry curates a way of thinking about global research that departs from the comparative model and moves towards a new analytic model of thinking within multiple research sites alongside one another as an approach to sustaining dialogue between local contexts and wider global concerns. 

Global Youth Citizenry is available for purchase from Springer . The e-book is free to institutions with a Springer licence. 

To learn more about the project, the research team, and the international research collaborators, visit

New book by Anita Harris, Hernan Cuervo and Johanna Wyn: Thinking About Belonging in Youth Studies

Thinking About Belonging in Youth Studies is a recently published book co-authored by CUYR affiliate Anita Harris, with Hernan Cuervo and Johanna Wyn.

This book takes a global perspective to address the concept of belonging in youth studies, interrogating its emergence as a reoccurring theme in the literature and elucidating its benefits and shortcomings. While belonging offers new alignments across previously divergent approaches to youth studies, its pervasiveness in the field has led to criticism that it means both everything and nothing and thus requires deeper analysis to be of enduring value. The authors do this work to provide an accessible, scholarly account of how youth studies uses belonging by focusing on transitions, participation, citizenship and mobility to address its theoretical and historical underpinnings and its prevalence in youth policy and research.

Hava Gordons new book, This Is Our School!, is out

While examining how local educational justice movements wrestle with neoliberal school reform, one of the foci of This Is Our School! Race and Community Resistance to School Reform (2021) is how youth activists navigate elites and other coalition partners in school reform struggles.

Focusing on a school district in Denver, Colorado, Gordon takes a look at different coalitions within the school reform movement, as well as the surprising competition that arises between them. Drawing on over eighty interviews and ethnographic research, she explores how these groups vie for power, as well as the role that race, class, and gentrification play in shaping their successes and failures, strategies and structures. 

Gordon shows us what happens when people mobilize from the ground up and advocate for educational change. This Is Our School! gives us an inside look at the diverse voices within the school reform movement, each of which plays an important role in the fight to improve public education.

Strengthening Community Work with and for Youth

Dr. Sarah Todd is the author of the recent book, Canadian Perspectives on Community Development. Here is a video of Dr. Todd speaking about the book. To see the table of contents for the book, click the link.

“Critical Perspectives on Community Work with Youth”, a chapter in the book, is co-authored by CUYR affiliates Katherine Occhiuto and Sarah Todd. In this chapter, they explore the implications of post-structural critical theory for practice with communities. Specifically, Occhiuto and Todd focus on the ways in which post-structuralism helps us understand how youth subjects are created through community practice. They also reflect on the possibilities and challenges inherent in this type of subject creation. Within their discussions of community work with youth, Occhiuto and Todd consider community practice not solely as a local exercise but as embedded in visions of engaged citizens who work collectively toward social justice.

Katherine Occhiuto, while pursuing her PhD at Carleton University, works as a mental health counsellor and supports a variety of different research projects including as Lab Manager and the Lead Research Assistant for the Sim Social Work Research Lab.  Occhiuto recently wrote an article on text-based data collection strategies for sharing lived experiences. Occhiuto also worked with the City for all Women's Initiative (CAWI) in Ottawa, Canada, to support their drafting of a gender-based Covid recovery plan. For this, she collected data on the experiences of low-income single moms during Covid, which was used to support the drafting of their recovery plan for the City of Ottawa. 

The End of Innocence: Childhood and Schooling For A Post-Pandemic World” 

A recent journal article of Dr. Julie C. Garlen draws our attention to the fact that “the global pandemic has dramatically impacted the lives of billions of children all over the world, creating a massive disruption in education and exacerbating existing multidimensional inequalities.” Dr. Garlen posits the following question: “Given the ubiquity of the virus’s reach, is COVID-19 the end of childhood innocence?” Here’s how Dr. Garlen describes the focus of this article:

“Building on an understanding of childhood as social practice, I describe how childhood innocence has been enacted through, and been pivotal to, education as a social practice since the late 19th century. I consider how the pandemic is challenging normative views of childhood that have long informed teaching and learning and outline the possibilities for reimagining childhood and schooling in ways that could promote a radical transformation of public education for a post-pandemic world”. 

Some of the other publications Dr. Julie C. Garlen has recently co-authored also contribute to the branch of educational scholarship called “public pedagogy,” including a focus on teachers’ reflections about the role played by parents in their childhood memories in shaping imaginations of their future selves (1); the discursive landscape of childhood in the digital age (2); orienting teachers toward different possible pedagogical futures (3); and how teachers’ childhood memories inform their commitments to challenge inequities in education, including systemic racism, classism and ableism (4).

The Child In Question: Childhood Texts, Cultures, and Curricula (2020)  

The unifying theme of the book edited by Julie C. Garlen and Lisa Farley, The Child in Question, is that childhood has boundaries far more elastic than those generated by hegemonic notions of the innocent child developing toward a heteronormative future. The title pays homage to the work of sociologist Diana Gittins, who, over twenty years ago, asked how the shifting meanings of children and childhood impact the lives of children. The contributions within this book examine contemporary educational policy and practice, curriculum material, literary and visual representations, and teacher narratives to further probe how and why it matters that childhood, as a concept and experience, remains as multiple and elusive as ever. 

Childhood and Curriculum

Julie Garlen is also the author of a new journal article (2021) entitled ‘Childhood and Curriculum,' another important contribution to cultural curriculum studies. 

From the abstract: Since the beginning of Western modernity, evolving perceptions of what childhood should” be have shaped public discourse around what knowledge is of most worth and informed paradigms of curriculum development. Thus, the child,” the discursive construct that emerges from dominant ideologies about the nature and purpose of childhood, is a critical artifact in understanding contemporary curriculum in the United States. Significantly, the child” has operated as a key mechanism to reproduce and expand particular logics about who counts as fully human. In this way, curriculum is implicated in social injustices premised on the protection and futurity of the child.” Tracing the history of conceptions of the child” as they relate to curriculum development and theory illuminates the ways that childhood and curriculum are intertwined, and illustrates how childhood operates as a malleable social construct that is mobilized for diverse and sometimes contradictory political purposes.

Active Youth? Trends of political participation in East Central Europe

Diana Margarit co-authored the article (2020) 'The Revitalization of Social and Civic Participation in Eastern Europe? Industrial Conflict and Popular Protests in Romania’. The paper is published in an open access journal and it is part of a special issue on 'Active Youth? Trends of Political Participation in East Central Europe’. In this paper Diana Margarit and Henry Rammelt explain the weakness of interaction and the absence of spillover effects between popular protests and trade union mobilization in Romania. 

The paper argues that “the lack of interaction between protests and unions is to be explained by incompatible mobilization frames: whilst unions also opposed the reform of the justice system, their main focus was the pension system and tax reform – moreover, they addressed issues specifically associated with work; popular protests, on the other hand, mobilized young people almost exclusively around the reform of the justice system.” Access the full paper here.

#ProDem: Protests and Democracy: How Movement Parties, Social Movements and Active Citizens Are Reshaping Europe. 

Starting February 2021, Dr. Diana Margarit was hired as a postdoctoral researcher in an international research project called #Prodem. Protests and Democracy: How Movement Parties, Social Movements and Active Citizens Are Reshaping Europe. The project assesses the medium- and long-term effects of the triple interaction between citizens, social movements, and movement parties on democratic quality in European democracies. It seeks robust and innovative explanations for how social movements and movement parties, alongside shifting divisions in citizens' values, ideologies, and attitudes, have affected democratic quality in six European countries (Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and the UK) between the onset of a global wave of protests in 2011 and 2019. 

Further information on the project are to be found on the website and the Twitter page (#ProDem). Even though the project is focused on the interaction between citizens, movements and movement parties, issues related to youth engagement and youth activism are extremely relevant, taking into account that in some countries (like Romania), such movements were only mobilized through the involvement of younger generations. 

Just Because were Small doesnt mean we cant stand tall: Reconciliation Education in the Elementary Classroom

This three year SSHRC funded research project is a collaboration between the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (Caring Society), and the University of Ottawa. The project, led by Drs. Cindy Blackstock and CUYR affiliate Dr. Nicholas Ng-A-Fook, is based on an interdisciplinary team approach, consisting of scholars and practitioners in education, social work, pediatrics and law, who have expertise in pedagogy and curriculum development; reconciliation education; elementary and social justice education and policy; teacher education; child rights, development and protection and First Nations research ethics and ontology. This team approach is imperative for us to engage a reconciliation framework respectful of First Nations ontology and ethics while employing qualitative methodologies that emphasize collaboration and collective inquiry into a shared problem. Specifically, our study asks how teachers in the Ottawa-Gatineau region of Ontario and Quebec use the reconciliation-based campaigns designed by the Caring Society in their elementary classrooms, and what their experiences can teach us about education for reconciliation. Campaigns include Shannen’s Dream, Jordan’s Principle, Spirit Bear, and I am a Witness. Researchers interviewed educators involved in the campaigns in the Fall of 2019, and data was subsequently analysed in the winter of 2020. Findings indicate that the campaigns provide educators with tools to teach about historical and current harms towards Indigenous peoples, address the Calls to Action in their classrooms, and create meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities. In January of 2021, the Spirit Bear Virtual School for Teacher Professional Learning was launched, as well as the Spirit Bear Beary Caring curriculum and the I am a Witness Learning guide, which are currently being piloted by teachers in classrooms across Canada. The first Spirit Bear Professional Learning Retreat was held in August, and was attended by over 200 teachers, who listened and learned from First Nations, Inuit, and Métis scholars and educators. These curricular and pedagogical initiatives seek to support public school educators toward addressing truth and then using reconciliation education ethically within their elementary classrooms.

Whose Knowledge Is It?

Stuart R. Poyntz, CUYR affiliate, co-director of Simon Fraser University’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative and an associate professor in SFU’s School of Communication co-authored a magazine/journal article which contributes to the development of community-centered approaches to research in practice. This article examines the challenges that drive the field of community engaged research and details key projects and a new university infrastructure at SFU that  is designed to extend and cement the University’s commitment to ethically-centered relationships with external partners.

Launched in January 2020 under Co-Directors, Drs. Stuart Poyntz and Am Johal, SFU’s new Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERi) is designed to lead and support community-engaged research locally, while developing initiatives and fostering networks of community centred research collaboration nationally and internationally. Designed around a collaborative research infrastructure, CERi promotes principles of participation, cooperation, social transformation and knowledge translation to lift up and strengthen the capacity of SFU’s researchers and students, and to engage respectfully and ethically with community members.

Join the Conference: 

Horizons: Crisis and Social Transformation in Community-Engaged Research

Organized by SFU’S Community Engaged Research Institute.  

May 26-29, 2022, SFU Vancouver.

Horizons is an in-person conference (with virtual engagement options) and community gathering space for knowledge generation, mobilization and collective imagination. We are all living through one of the most disruptive and transformative eras in living memory—Horizons offers a space to explore the history and futures of community-engaged research (CER). At the broadest level, community-engaged research (CER) is a form of praxis, an exercise in knowledge generation and epistemic justice that weaves theory and academic knowledge with the world through collaboration with communities in ways that aim to understand, analyze, reimagine and change the conditions governing our lives. Hosted by SFUs Community-Engaged Research Initiative, Horizons engages knowledge creators both inside and outside of the academy to imagine future pathways to more equitable and just societies.

Horizons will take the form of an in-person event with virtual engagement options. The participants will gather in-person at SFU Woodwards, a community arts venue and home to SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, in downtown Vancouver, Canada over the dates of May 26-29 2022.

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