2015 Public Ethnography Award Recipients Announced

October 13, 2015
2015 Public Ethnography Awards

We are pleased to announce the 2015 recipients of the Public Ethnography Awards: Hingman Leung, Tanya Shewfelt, and a shared award for Frances Clarke and Tara Hansen. The Public Ethnography Awards are presented for noteworthy fieldwork-based projects that appeal directly to new audiences of scholarly research through the use of new media and new genres.

For the past five years at convocation, three meritorious Royal Roads University students who employed the research strategy of public ethnography have been awarded the Public Ethnography Award, valued at $1,000 each. These awards are made possible through funding from the Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Public Ethnography. Public ethnography means scholarship for a new communication paradigm. It entails getting people involved in learning together, and new ways of disseminating knowledge across various platforms to share research with the public.

Hingman Leung’s thesis for her Master of Arts in in the Royal Roads Intercultural and International Communication program is a short film on attitudes towards food and food waste in China called No Doggy Bag Please. The immense amount of food waste in China has become a hot topic over the last two years due to social and economic reform, increasing appetites, shrinking landfills, and Chinese cultural values informed by a deep culinary history and Confucian teachings. Although there are an increasing number of studies on food waste in China, there is a lack of research into the social and cultural drivers that motivate behaviours that create food waste.

Tanya Shewfelt’s thesis for her Master of Arts in the Royal Roads Master of Arts in Professional Communication program is an ethnographic study that provides an insider's look at being a victim of domestic violence, social issues such as victim blaming, and the theory of resistance: that victims employ strategies of resistance rather than passively responding to violence. The video she created is called Domestic Violence: The Untold Story of Resistance. Shewfelt’s research has generated attention from the Alberta government and public sector agencies. She is using her data to create a public awareness campaign for Alberta's Family Violence Awareness Month in November 2015. Darrel Janz, a prominent CTV Calgary journalist, interviewed Shewfelt and the participant she followed on his weekly “Inspired Albertan” segment to debunk stereotypes and show that domestic violence victims come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Frances Clarke and Tara Hansen are receiving the Public Ethnography award for their collaborative project "Our Friendly Vancouver", conducted for the course Public Culture in the Royal Roads Intercultural and International Communication program.  Clarke and Hansen set up a booth in Nelson Park, in Vancouver's West End, to ask passers-by to share their stories of kindness or friendliness in the city. The goal of the project was to counteract what they say are unfair stereotypes of the city in order to shift how citizens engage with each other. Clarke and Hansen were interviewed for CBC Radio Vancouver’s The Early Edition (1:33), and stories of friendliness were shared on CBC’s website.

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