The realities of climate change paint a bleak picture for the future of our planet. As scientists and politicians debate research and policy, the average person can feel overwhelmed and helpless in a maelstrom of rising oceans, greenhouse gases, and endangered species.
To say Kristopher Wells (’94 BEd, ’03 MEd, ’11 PhD) is a busy man is quite an understatement.
Co-director of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) and assistant professor in the Faculty of Education, Wells is a leading researcher and advocate for sexual and gender minority youth across Canada.
Now more than ever, his expertise is in demand.
As a child, Mary Pinkoski (’99 BA, ’06 BEd) didn’t know she was going to be a poet when she grew up. She didn’t compose couplets in her journal, didn’t write rhymes in her head, but she was always putting pen to paper.
“I’ve always done writing of some sort,” says Pinkoski. “In high school, and when I was doing my bachelor of arts degree at the University of Alberta, I wrote for the Sherwood Park News. I’ve always been interested in telling people’s stories.”
Edmond Levasseur’s (’67 BEd) lifelong philosophy has been to engage completely and give himself over to the causes about which he cares the most. That’s been reflected in his dedication to both his teaching career and his volunteer work.
Levasseur graduated with an undergraduate degree from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education in 1967 and had a long career as a teacher before going into private consulting. He spent much of the latter part of his career working on language education policy and second-language education in schools across the province.
Growing up in rural Germany, Vera Caine (’98 BScN, ’02 MN, ’07 PhD), was inspired by her mother—a kindergarten teacher—and her aunt, who worked with the many refugees arriving in the country.
Giving back to the community was a family value, and Caine carried it forward at an early age. When she was just 13, she worked in a nursing home, and then at 17 she took a year off school to volunteer in a psychiatric hospital.
“It’s not easy to change the inertia of an education system,” says Frank Jenkins (’66 BEd, ’71 MEd, ’87 PhD).
It may not be easy, but the Edmonton chemistry teacher, textbook author, and science education advocate has devoted his 45-year career to doing just that.
It all started with baking soda
Frank discovered his preference for practical chemistry in high school, learning about the chemical industry, how blast furnaces produce iron, and how baking soda can be used to make cookies, extinguish fires, or clean people’s homes.
When you live 400 km from the nearest library, getting information can be a real challenge. Faculty of Education professor Ali Shiri of the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) is leading a project to address this issue. Together with co-investigator Dinesh Rathi, also of SLIS, Shiri and a team of collaborators have begun to bridge the information gap for some of Canada’s most isolated people with a project called Digital Library North.
Canada's last residential school, the Gordon Indian Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, finally closed in 1996. A dark chapter of Canada's contemporary history that was largely ignored until the recent report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the schools were a perversion of the very idea of education, destroying the culture, identity and traditional knowledge of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples in the name of assimilation.
Gianmarco Visconti occupies a privileged position in society, and he knows it. Born and raised in Edmonton, the Master of Library and Information Studies student in the Faculty of Education is also gay and Muslim--facts he can choose to disclose, or not.
“My mother is of Arabic descent, raised in Kenya by adoptive parents. She deliberately didn’t give us Arabic names to protect us from being targets,” says Visconti.