Writing Good Letters

In the academic world, letters make the world go ’round. Letters for grants, scholarships, advocacy, awards, and recommendations are commonplace. If you hang around long enough, you will inevitably be asked to write one. Early on in my academic career, I was asked to write a letter for a student who was applying for a study abroad program, and recently, I was asked by a colleague to write a letter of support for a teaching award. In my experience, students talk a lot about how to locate appropriate references and ask for letters, but don’t really talk about how to write strong letters – especially as a student or early career professional.

I certainly don’t have any expertise in this area (I would love to hear your comments and tips!), but I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts for anyone in a similar position.

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Upcoming Events & Brief Introduction to the HRC-VAW!

Long time no write! Well, that’s not strictly true. I have been writing. A LOT actually. Like many other students, I struggled with bouncing back from my comprehensive exams and immersing myself into my dissertation work. However, for the first time in a long time I can picture the “end”. Being able to visualize the finished proposal has been very motivating 🙂 A longer post about some of the obstacles and things I found helpful is in the works – once I get closer to the other side!

I wanted to quickly pop in to highlight two upcoming events – the first from the Health Research Centre for the Study of Violence Against Women. What a mouthful! Let’s just shorten that to the HRC-VAW from now on.

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Upcoming Events!

For those of you in the Windsor area, there are a number of events coming up that might be of interest. Thanks goes to fellow FRG’er and grad student extraordinaire Ayesha for spreading the word! Speaking of FRG – keep an eye out for an upcoming Brown Bag Research Talk with one of our recent travel grant winners.

Alright, onto the events!

Windsor on Watch (Feb 14th) – Local activist group, Windsor on Watch (FB page) will be meeting with women from Michigan to discuss potential collaborations and actions. They are soliciting participation from local women, so don’t be shy! The meeting will be held at 2pm at The Pause Cafe (downtown Windsor).

The Vagina Monologues (Feb 15th) – A V-Day play sponsored by the UWSA and Windsor Law at The Capitol Theatre. All proceeds will go to the Windsor Essex Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (and other orgs that focus on violence against women in the workplace). The event FB page has the details and you can buy tickets here. ***They need volunteers!!***

Dept of Sexuality, Marriage & Family Studies 7th Annual Research Symposium Call for Proposals (Feb 21st deadline) – Via Dr. Jane Nicholas, last year’s FRG Conference keynote speaker:

The department of Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo hosts an annual research symposium to showcase graduate and undergraduate research. This year they are partnered with the HeForShe committee (Waterloo is the Canadian school that has joined the UN’s HeForShe initiative – woot!). If you have any questions, email Dr. Nicholas. See below:

International Women’s Day 2017 (March 7th) – Hosted by Women’s and Gender Studies:


Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon (March 11): The following courtesy of Siân Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, and Michael Mandiberg (Art + Feminism webpage):

DON’T AGONIZE, ORGANIZE! The award winning, record breaking Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is happening this March. Join us again or organize for the first time to improve Wikipedia and affirm the importance of the arts and intersectional feminisms. It matters more than ever as we face a post-fact world, and what may follow.
Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors identify as female. While the reasons for the gender gap are up for debate, the practical effect of the disparity is not: content is skewed by the lack of female participation. Established in 2014, Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is a response to the gender gap in content and participation on Wikipedia.
As the lead co-organizers of Art+Feminism, we’ve been deeply disturbed by the sheer amount of fake news on social media, and its influence on the recent US election. We believe this makes our work even more pressing. Now more than ever we must gather together to improve Wikipedia and affirm work of women, people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQIA+ community and other marginalized peoples.
Hold an Edit-a-thon at your local university, artist run center, museum, community center, etc! Art+Feminism Edit-a-thons address content and participation gaps by inviting people of all gender identities and expressions to gather for communal updating of Wikipedia entries related to art and feminism. The leadership collective supports Edit-a-thon organizers by: providing an organizer’s kit with suggested workflow, promotional and training materials, and more; funding to defray the costs of refreshments and childcare; and training and support.
The 2017 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at The Museum of Modern Art, New York will take place on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Node events are welcome to hold their event on this day or any other date in March, 2017 that makes sense for your community. To learn more and get involved, contact the lead co-organizers at info@artandfeminism.org.
Note: If any FRGers are interested in participating, contact Kathryn Huckson at huckson@uwindsor.ca

“What was that blur?” “The Fall, I think.”

So… October happened. And then November. And then DECEMBER. When did December happen?! What a busy semester. A full update isn’t in the cards at the moment, but here’s a quick post I’ve been meaning to type up for a while.

In October, the psychology department hosted Dr. Jen Rinaldi, assistant professor of legal studies at UOIT for a colloquium. The talk was titled “Examining the Intersection of Body Image and Identity in LGBTTIQQ2S Women using an Art-based Methodology” and discussed a digital storytelling workshop that was conducted in 2015. While the findings of the project – Through Thick and Thin – were interesting, I wanted to share a bit about the method that was used. It was certainly new to me and I ended up taking some notes:

For those that aren’t fluent in “plate” – here are the key points. The project asked women to create autobiographical microdocumentaries, short multi-media films about how their body image interacted with different aspects of their identity (gender, sexual preference, ability). The participants learned how to use the equipment to create and edit their films. Working with the participants helps to create trust, break down power barriers, and facilitate relationships. The narratives created by the women were used to educate the health community (as well as the public) about a variety of issues, exposing people to a range of experiences and fostering empathy. In addition to empowering people to tell their own stories, using this format allows for the maximum impact in a short amount of time. Bonus – the catchy, personal stories enhance and personalize the message. For those who are interested, the videos can be viewed on Rainbow Health Ontario’s YoutTube channel.

The method has so many potential applications, especially for action research, community-university partnerships or projects involving education or outreach – where the message is best conveyed by the experts (the participants themselves). For those who are interested, Podkalicka and Campbell (2010) have a short paper talking about some of the applications and downfalls of digital storytelling using a case study example (read it here).

Upcoming Event: Trauma Informed Practice (conference)

The Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee Windsor-Essex County is hosting a one day conference Trauma Informed Practice: Understanding the Neurobiological and Psychological Effects of Violence and Abuse featuring Dr. Lori Haskell.

Dr. Haskell is an assistant professor (psychiatry) at the University of Toronto and is a researcher with the Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children. Learn more about Dr. Haskell here.

The conference will be held at Caesars Windsor on Monday November 7th 2016 from 8 am to 4 pm. The cost is $100 for professionals and $75 for students. Register on the Hiatus House website here.

Favourite Teaching Things: 2 New & Awesome Blogs!

Just wanted to let y’all know that I’ve added two fun and educational blogs to My Favourite Teaching Things:

  • Not Awful and Boring – a blog by Jessica Hartnett full of neat ways to frame and explain concepts in research methods and statistics, two subjects that many people don’t feel confident about teaching. Big selling point: as promised, it’s not awful and boring.
  • For all things pedagogy, visit Jennifer Gonzalez’s Cult of Pedagogy. Seriously, her online magazine is a goldmine of all things teaching (resources, new research and developments, and MANY things to reflect on to improve your practice).

APA 2016 Convention: Weekend Update

Sorry for the long delay – it’s been quite a week post-Denver! Anyhoo, it’s time to get back into the swing of things, so here we go!

Friday was fantastic. The day started with a talk from Dr. Michelle Fine, critical psychologist extraordinaire (and one of my personal idols!). We had a pretty amazing “Hi Michelle, I’m Michelle.” “Hi Michelle, I’m Michelle.” moment. It was lovely. If anyone is interested in viewing the talk, we streamed it live and you can check it out on the APAGS Facebook page. There were some excellent posters at the APAGS late-breaking poster session, including an interesting model by Emma Fredrick, MA, and Dr. Stacey Williams on self-compassion and authenticity as mediating the impact of stigma for sexual minorities. This was the Late Breaking Poster Session winner! I’ve zoomed in on their model below:


Basically they found that both self-compassion and authenticity mediate the relationship between stigma and quality of life, suggesting these are both valid areas for intervention. It was also nice to see work evaluating bystander intervention programs targeting sexual assault on campus (Montana State U). The night ended with an APAGS dinner at the Denver Athletic Club where we sadly said goodbye to outgoing Convention Committee members Katy and Stephanie (among others). Sad to see them go but they’re off to do great things!

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APA 2016 Convention: Wed/Thurs Update

It’s been an exhausting and wonderful first two days of convention and I wanted to write a quick update before turning in for the night.

On Wednesday, I spent some time exploring downtown Denver with my fellow Convention Committee member Julio and we found some great veggie eats (below)! In the evening we held the APAGS Ambassador Orientation, which was a great way to kick off convention.

Unfortunately I had to miss the APAGS Food For Thought breakfast with Dr. Anneliese Singh, but I heard it went wonderfully! Stephanie (another kickass Convention Committee member) chaired a session on Conducting Research within a Social Justice Framework. The speakers discussed the research process as a series of decisions (and trade-offs) and highlighted examples of ethical and respectful research each step of the way. Some examples that really stood out for me was the importance of the language we use. It sets the tone for the project and things as simple as the way we construct our questionnaires (e.g., making participants choose between Man/Woman/Other v. letting people self-identify with an open-ended question) send signals to our participants. The presenters also touched on the importance of involving participants as collaborators (from recruitment to dissemination) and respecting the perspective and expertise they bring to the topic.

The second session highlighted non-traditional (non-academic, non-clinical) career Continue reading