Current Projects

UT–St George

UTSG01—Examining the Narrative Lives of Road Infrastructures

Supervisor: Comfort Azubuko-Udah (Department of English / African Studies Centre)

This project will curate materials around the social production of space in Nigerian transit infrastructure. What does it mean that the location of a tollgate or a pothole can be used as a landmark when giving directions for years after it has ceased to exist? What does this indicate about people's social relationship to transit infrastructure? Student RAs will work with various digital archives to curate materials, from policy documents, to creative, scholarly, and news publications. Experience with literary analysis and methodologies is not required but will be considered. This will appeal to students interested in African literatures and cultures, or urban and environmental humanities.

UTSG02McLuhan on Drugs: Media Theory and 1960s Counterculture at the University of Toronto

Supervisor: Maria Cichosz (Literature and Creative Writing, Victoria College)

The 1960s were a strange and exciting time on university campuses, where countercultural ideas about drugs and consciousness shaped new understandings of media and culture. This project gives student RAs the opportunity to work in campus archives (specifically the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the John M. Kelly Library’s McLuhan Collection) to explore the connections between drugs, media theory, and countercultural ideas at UofT, culminating in a public-facing physical exhibition featuring both scholarly and artistic interpretations of our findings. Students with interests in critical theory, creative expression, and twentieth-century history and culture are especially welcome. Archival training will be provided; the most important qualifications are attention to detail, the ability to synthesize information, and an open mind.

UTSG03Knowing Black Atlantic Worlds

Supervisor: Kamari Maxine Clarke (Criminology & Sociolegal Studies)

Black researchers face serious challenges in the production of new knowledge about Black Atlantic worlds because of the reality that European modes of knowledge production established racial hierarchies and Eurocentric ways of knowing and organizing knowledge in ways that excluded other forms of meaning-making. As a result of the historical erasure of Black knowledge and social thought there is a failure to document social practices, artifacts, and experiences of Black people. This has led to a misrecognition and devaluation of Black social thought. This project explores how foregrounding recovered epistemologies change what we know about Black lives in the twenty-first century, in Canada and throughout Black Atlantic worlds. The goal of Knowing Black Atlantic Worlds is to establish, in Canada, a new, transnational community-academic research collaboration.

UTSG04—Just Main Streets: A Visual Study on Public Space Justice in Toronto

Supervisor: Roberto Damiani (Daniels Faculty of Architecture)

How can urban densification support public space justice? This research project is a visual study of corridors designated for densification in Toronto. The study will analyze how streets foster or inhibit social interaction and cultural expression in neighbourhoods lacking access to active public space by combining observation methods like photography and interviews with formal analysis methods such as urban morphology and architectural typology. RAs will produce a report including drawing, image, and text-based analysis of selected streets. Experience and skills in one or more of public space analysis and urban, architectural, historical, and sociological research methods are highly desirable.

UTSG05—Law Enforcement Use of Biometric Techniques and Technologies

Supervisor: Ron Deibert (Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy)

Today law enforcement agencies around the world use biometric techniques and technologies to collect and process human characteristics like fingerprints, DNA, and iris scans. These approaches can have pronounced rights impacts. To explore this topic, student RAs and Citizen Lab researchers will identify, analyze, and summarize relevant media and research reports to add to an annotated bibliography on biometric surveillance. When published, this bibliography will be an important resource for experts, journalists, and members of impacted communities. As key collaborators, student RAs will be credited as co-authors. Students interested in technology and human rights are encouraged to apply.

UTSG06Measuring Immigration Policy Positions in Immigrant States

Supervisor: Michael Donnelly (Department of Political Science / Munk School)

This project will develop a novel dataset of immigration policies in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand from 1945-present. It will do so by coding the immigration policies advocated within the election manifestos of all political parties competing in national elections during this period. RAs will be responsible for reading party manifestos, identifying sentences that refer to immigration and related policies, and categorizing those sentences by topic and valence. RAs will be trained in text coding and learn about immigration policy and its development. Proficiency in French is an asset but is not a requirement.

UTSG07—Archiving the Legacies of Cambodia's Genocide

Supervisor: Cindy Ewing (Department of History)

How do genocidal regimes present themselves to the world? This project examines the role of diplomacy in the aftermath of Cambodia's genocide and its internationally managed reconstruction process by archiving the personal papers of Cambodia’s longest serving ambassador to the United Nations, Thiounn Prasith (1930-2023). Student RAs will work in never-before-seen private documents from Cambodia's genocidal and post-genocidal periods. This project will explore questions of historical memory, international relations, and archival cataloguing while developing a finding aid, scanning and boxing documents, and building a scholarly bibliography. Experience handling primary sources and interest in Southeast Asian history or International Relations are welcome.

UTSG08—Queer Italian-Canadian Artists: Ethnic Belonging and Cultural Production

Supervisors: Paolo Frascà (Department of Italian Studies)

This project studies the intersection of queer and migrant experiences, with a focus on the cultural life of LGBTQ+ Italian-Canadians. The project is connected to a number of community initiatives (anthologies, documentaries, public events). Student RAs' two main tasks are: 1) collection of online interviews with queer Italian-Canadian artists (mostly writers); 2) expansion of digital humanities platform ( In addition, students will carry out preliminary analysis, such as data coding and interview summaries. Training provided. Some experience in any of these preferred: LGBTQ+ or gender studies, Italian or modern languages, qualitative research, social justice. Some knowledge of the Italian language preferred but not necessary.

UTSG09Building a Platform for Group Study of Rosenzweig and Buber’s Bible Translation

Supervisor: Robert Gibbs (Department for the Study of Religion)

What can be learned from glimpsing into the atelier of a defining biblical translation? And how did two 20th-century philosophers propose to read in tandem the canonical texts that shaped their influential dialogical philosophies? Student RAs will have the unique opportunity to explore such questions by helping to create a digital platform for transcribing, annotating, and scrutinizing a treasure trove of unpublished papers between Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig leading to their ground-breaking biblical translation. Students interested in digital humanities, in the Bible, in translation theory and especially those who have web developing skills working with either German and Hebrew and/or coding are welcome to help create a model for studying these unique materials.

UTSG10—Exploring Women’s Roles in Underground Economies of Violence

Supervisor: María Méndez Gutiérrez (Department of Political Science)

This project challenges common beliefs that violent underground economies are solely male domains by studying women’s participation in organized criminal violence. Focused on Central America, it investigates how gender, race, and class shape roles in covert economies of violence. Student RAs will curate and analyze a diverse array of sources, including scholarly literature, court documents, autobiographies, news articles, and films. The project offers a distinctive opportunity for students to delve into nuanced research and enhance their critical thinking skills. Fluency in Spanish is beneficial but not mandatory.

UTSG11—Mapping Immigrant Stand-Up Jokes and Humour in Toronto and Environs

Supervisor: Izuu Nwankwo (Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies)

This project will map live and online immigrant stand-up comedy in and around Toronto, particularly targeting humourists with recent immigration history from Africa and Asia. The overall purpose is to track personae, venues, thematic preoccupations, and other structural peculiarities. I will work together with student RAs to identify and categorize target comedians within the city. RAs will then work individually and in smaller groups to find and document source materials for the individuals, creating biographical and performance details data for the comedians. Students with interests in popular culture, especially literature, theatre and digital media performances are encouraged to apply.

UTSG12—Performance Design Driven Theatrical Exploration of Canadian Housing Crisis, 1930-2030

Supervisor: Snežana Pešić (Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies)

Rooted in research on the history of Canadian housing and fashion, the project examines the relationship of Canadians with their living spaces through the lens of scenography (set, costume, and lighting design for the stage). The project's final goal is a public presentation of the theatre performance, The Living Boxes. Student RAs will create a comprehensive visual database for design conception, focusing on historical research of Canadian homes, interior lighting, and fashion from 1930 on. The research will include written and visual documentation and visits to a few Toronto homes established in the past 100 years.

UTSG13—Humanness and AI

Supervisor: Matt Ratto (Faculty of Information)

The power of AI systems is often described as their ability to produce 'human-like' creative outputs. Current debates focus on the potential impacts of AI on existing systems of trust, evaluation, and issues regarding potential bias. This project will engage students in researching how human characteristics and attributes serve as criteria of evaluation and operationalization for AI systems, the critical impacts of thinking about AI through the lens of humanness, and the creative possibilities that attend from a posthuman framing. Students will carry out a qualitative scoping review and coding process on articles about generative AI from a leading repository of computing literature, guided by key concepts drawn from literature in the posthumanities, including scholars such as Sylvia Wynter, Rosi Braidotti, Katherine Hayles, and others. No specialized technical expertise is required; training in NVivo coding software will be provided.

UTSG14—Charting Virgil’s Renaissance Reception

Supervisor: Shaun Ross (Victoria College)

Virgil’s Aeneid, though written in antiquity, was the single most influential poem in Medieval and Renaissance literary history. Poets such as Dante, Ariosto, Ercilla, Camões, Spenser, and Milton all used Virgil’s poem as a model, to imitate and to challenge, as they wrote their own vernacular epics. Student RAs will study this reception history by contributing to the creation of a digital edition of the Aeneid that charts how Dante and subsequent Renaissance-era poets responded to and reinterpreted Virgil’s Latin poem. Knowledge of any of the following languages will be highly beneficial: Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian.

UTSG15—Unfree Labour in the Russian Empire

Supervisor: Alison Smith (Department of History)

This project will explore the ways that different forms of unfree labor – primarily serfdom and slavery, but other kinds of bonded servitude, as well – existed throughout the Russian empire, with a particular concern for the role that unfree labor played in understandings of race. The research team will work to build a database of references to forms of freedom, bondage, and race in travel accounts of the Russian Empire. Reading fluency in languages other than English is an asset but not required.

UTSG16—Margaret Atwood: The Dystopian Imagination

Supervisor: Ira Wells (Victoria College)

Genetic engineering run amok. Environmental catastrophe. Theocratic totalitarianism. Over the last two decades, Margaret Atwood has prophesized dystopian visions of environmental and social calamity. This project provides a rare opportunity for hands-on, archival research into five of Atwood’s novels: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam, The Heart Goes Last, and The Testaments. Together, we will trace how these novels evolved through drafts and editorial feedback, analyzing Atwood’s related letters, research files, and publicity strategy. RAs will acquire archival skills, a practical understanding of the international publishing industry, and gain unprecedented access into the creative process of one of our most celebrated writers. Students with enthusiasm and familiarity with Atwood (and one or more of these novels) are especially encouraged to apply.

UTSG17—Civil Discourse: What’s The State, And What’s At Stake?

Supervisor: Randy Boyagoda (Department of English)

What’s the state and what’s at stake when it comes to civil discourse, on and off campus? This research project seeks to study civil discourse concepts and practice specific to select nation-states, including Canada and the United States, among others, and the roles of universities in these countries as sites and sources for promoting, practicing, or disrupting civil discourse itself. The research will involve historical investigations into nation-specific civil discourse traditions and analyses of current situations where civil discourse and university life intersect. This project will appeal particularly to students with research skills associated with history, politics, and cultural analysis.


UTM01—Developing an Evidence-Based Support Program for First-Year Math Students and Their TAs

Supervisor: Margaret Karrass (Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy)

This project aims to create a professional development program for Mathematics TAs. Research Assistants will be trained in qualitative research methodology and assist in developing evidence-based interview protocols that will then be administered to TAs. The objective is to investigate how TAs identify and remediate knowledge and skill gaps that impede first-year math students’ academic success. Together, we will conduct a literature review, develop and administer the interview protocol and analyze collected data. A desire to learn is required; a background in educational studies, psychology, math, or software development is a plus.

UTM02—Understanding the Impact of Long-Term Burial on Bone Preservation - A Pet Cemetery Study

Supervisor: Tracy Rogers (Department of Anthropology, UTM)

After-death decomposition can vary depending on the environment. This project will evaluate factors affecting bone preservation in long-term animal burials to help estimate time since death in forensic cases. We will be excavating graves in a pet cemetery that must be moved. RAs will learn how to excavate and document a grave. We will be excavating 3-4 days each week. This is hard physical work that requires good health. Training, tools and transportation to and from the cemetery are provided. Upon removal of a pet, the student will clean and inventory the bones and score preservation.

UTM03—The Self-Serve Makerspace: A Dialogical Exploration

Supervisor: Samar Sabie (Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology)

Making can be a powerful practice for creating socio-material assemblages that reflect on and tinker with unjust systems. Yet, makerspaces seem globally to favour technical skills over critical engagements, and are often intimidating and inaccessible to many user groups. This project aims to redefine how we can approach making by shifting the focus from technical skills and crafty production to critical engagements through a self-serve makerspace that empowers individuals to tinker and intervene in societal structures. Following a dialogical approach that synthesizes insights from user interviews, speculative design practices, and humanities scholarship, RAs will develop theoretical and practical framings that seek to revolutionize the makerspace experience, making it more inclusive, accessible, and socially transformative. The Open Design Collaboraturium at UTM (a maker space in the making) will serve as a case study for the project. 

UTM04Accessibility and Audience in the Public Communication of Linguistics via Comics

Supervisor: Ai Taniguchi (Department of Language Studies)

In this project, we will research ways to make the communication of linguistics more accessible, including Alt-Text for linguistics visuals (e.g., International Phonetic Alphabet symbols) and ways to communicate linguistics to an audience that may be resistant to the idea of linguistic diversity. Student RAs will research best linguistics communication practices via literature reviews and expert interviews and disseminate project findings via comics. An academic background in linguistics is useful but not required (training in linguistics can be provided). Students with a background in linguistics, visual arts (especially comics), disability studies, and/or science communication are encouraged to apply.

UTM05Identifying What Expert Writers Summarize from the Research Sources They Cite

Supervisors: Jonathan Vroom (Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy)

RAs will analyze a selection of research articles from a discipline of their choosing, in order to determine how the articles’ authors read the sources they cite—particularly research sources that follow the Introduction-Methods-Results-Discussion (IMRD) format. In other words, RAs will look up each IMRD article that is cited in the articles they analyze, and determine what the authors summarized from those sources. The ultimate goal of the project is to inform reading-for-research pedagogies. No specialized qualifications are required, beyond having experience with reading and using empirical research articles from the sciences or social sciences. Training will be provided in the first week.


UTSC01Designing Data Drops about the Canada-US Border from Haven, the Asylum Lab

Supervisor: Alison Mountz (Department of Geography and Planning, UTSC)

Student RAs will analyze data about asylum seeking along the Canada-US border to inform public discourse. They will acquire skills in data management and analysis and story-telling for general publics. RAs will learn about human migration, policies governing border crossings, and associated debates. They will explore creative ways to share this work with public audiences, including visualization, co-authorship of a short blog, and a podcast interview. The research will culminate in an exciting new data drop at the end of the month, to be promoted through social media, the blog, and podcast. Data management skills are helpful, but not essential.

UTSC02Open-World Adventures: Publishing an Inventory of Critical Video Game Analysis

Supervisor: Sonja Nikkila (Department of English, UTSC)

Student RAs will continue work on the Inventory of Critical Video Game Analysis begun by the 2023 SiR team, with the goal of building this collaborative digital resource toward an official public launch. RAs will have the opportunity to research and write content, work on editing existing contributions, copyediting and formatting to style guidelines, and assessing other digital publishing concerns. The team will also have opportunities to explore future uses of the Inventory, including establishing and strengthening connections with other faculty teaching video games, determining how the Inventory could serve classroom goals, and brainstorming possible submission models that would allow for a “scholarly” publication that is both accessible and inclusive.


ONLINE01How Can We Connect to Climate Change through Artistic Media of Communications?

Supervisor: Tanzina Mohsin (Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, UTSC)

This research aims to explore the efficacy of artistic modes in communicating climate change, addressing the gap between Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and Western Knowledge (WK) using a "two-eyed seeing" approach. The students RAs will: 1) conduct a comparative analysis of diverse artistic media (e.g., visual and performing arts, film, digital arts, literature) to identify communication barriers; 2) develop strategies highlighting the pivotal roles of artistic media in climate change communication; and 3) analyze instances of harmonious interdisciplinary collaboration, assessing their impact on public perception. This pilot initiative will empower RAs to blend knowledge and methodologies from their disciplines for effective climate change communication, with outcomes influencing presentations and publications. Students with diverse background in arts and science are encouraged to apply, particularly those interested in history of climate science, indigenous knowledge, arts, media communication technology and other cross-cultural methodologies employed for artistic communications.

ONLINE02Online Teaching Efficacy and Instructional Practices in Post-Secondary Education – A Canada-Wide Study

Supervisor: Julia Forgie (Victoria College)

This study explores the range of self-efficacy beliefs that Canadian post-secondary instructors hold about their teaching practice. It seeks to investigate and compare instructors’ teaching efficacy across in-person and online teaching contexts and to explore curricular decisions as instructors plan and implement online instruction and learning. RAs with interests in post-secondary education and online teaching and mixed-methods research, including data collection, data coding and transcription, quantitative and qualitative data analysis, and the desire to contribute to applied educational research, are encouraged to apply. Training in data collection procedures and SPSS and NVivo data analyses software will be provided.

ONLINE03—Belongings: On the Virtues and Values of Theatre Training in Canada

Supervisor: Barry Freeman (Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies)

This project invites RAs into Belongings, a national study of post-secondary theatre training in Canada, aimed at supporting transformative curricular change. RAs will receive training in qualitative research software, contribute to a mapping of theatre programs in universities and colleges across the country, and design and present a “micro-investigation” of their own using the project’s data set. Applicants should be interested in growing experience with qualitative research in the humanities. No prior knowledge is strictly necessary although some experience with drama or theatre will be considered an asset.

ONLINE04Identifying and Coding National Education Reforms for the World Education Reform Database (1945-2021)

Supervisor: Rie Kijima (Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy)

The World Education Reform Database (WERD) is the most comprehensive database of over 10,000 national education reforms between 1970-2021. The objective of this project is to extend the WERD by identifying and coding education reforms dating back to 1945. Student RAs will receive training on how to identify and code education reforms from doctoral students at Stanford University. Working with publications produced by international organizations, RAs will apply the coding scheme developed by the team to identify and code reforms. They will also participate in team-building exercises and fireside chats on topics such as public policy and education.

ONLINE05Putting All Children on a Positive Trajectory in Mathematics Learning in the Preschool Years

Supervisor: Tracy Solomon (OISE)

Getting young children off to a good start in math is essential for school readiness. A pilot study on the effectiveness of an innovative preschool math resource – developed in collaboration with JUMP Math – suggested the potential for positive impact. Using this data, RAs could contribute to literature review, analysis and write up of studies exploring e.g. the relation between early math, reading readiness and executive function, the relation between the quantity and quality of math experiences in preschool and early math development, and the relation between preschool teachers’ beliefs in neuromyths regarding math learning and young children’s math progress.

ONLINE06—CRISIS! Declassified Canadian Files from the Cold War’s Closest Calls

Supervisor: Timothy Sayle (Department of History)

Participating RAs will be among the first scholars to work with a recently declassified collection of formerly Top Secret documents related to Canada and Cold War crises. Working as a team, students will take responsibility for a series of records, comb through the declassified files, and select and extract documents they find most useful for explaining their topic. They will arrange these diplomatic cables, memoranda to Cabinet, intelligence assessments, and polling data for online publication on our University of Toronto Libraries-hosted website “Canada Declassified.” The digital exhibits will allow other students and scholars to work with these newly declassified documents. RAs will have unique access to a previously secret part of Canadian history, learn about declassification, and gain digital humanities experience.