Our strength is peopleThe Faculty of Social Science at Western is committed to intellectual inquiry that uncovers problems and solutions to these and other factors that affect the human condition. We produce new and innovative research and teach you the knowledge and skills necessary to make a difference in government, business, the non-profit sector and academia.
As a student, you will interact with world class researchers, and participate in interesting experiences, in and out of the classroom.
In the final year of her Anthropology studies, Ashna Ali participated in a Language Revitalization in Practice field course. Through her course, she worked to digitize eight Oneida-language children’s books originally written in the 1970s. She recorded elders reading the books, and is converting the books to an e-book format with interactive elements. Ali felt the course was an “eye-opening experience” and helped her develop a better understanding of Indigenous communities. It also gave her a better appreciation for applying what she learned in class; “For service work, we often take on what we think is best; now we are able to work directly with the community and deliver what they want,” said Ali.
Jay Stock, Department of Anthropology
Stock is considered one of the top-bioarcheologists of his age. Stock was recently part of a team that used a technique called uranium series dating to examine the oldest human fossil found outside of Africa and the Levant. The research challenges previously held theories about early human migration into Eurasia.
Divyansh Ojha and Alysaa CoAlyssa Co and Divyansh Ojha finished the 2nd year of the
Consumer Behaviour module in DAN Management. While
students, they also started FoodFund, a food subscription
company specializing in delivering imperfect food that might
otherwise be wasted.
“It’s a program that gives a lot of depth and breadth of business knowledge. It gives a lot of understanding that other programs lack. It does a lot to prepare you for business,” said Alyssa Co.
“It’s a program you can come into with limited previous knowledge and you can build from the ground-up. DAN Management builds on learning, not just piling on knowledge,” said Divyansh Ojha.
Bonnie Simpson, DAN Management
Simpson researched why fundraising appeals work for some people and not others, finding that people who have a strong sense of independence will sometimes balk because appeals seem too much like following the crowd. The research can help charities find more success in their fundraising efforts.
Pete McLeod is an accomplished bush pilot and competitive pilot. While working on his undergrad degree, McLeod competed in
classical aerobatics internationally before switching his focus to racing.
In 2009, he rewrote history when he became the Red Bull Air Race World Championship Series’ youngest pilot at 25 and became its youngest race winner ever at 30.
“You learn so much at a place like Western, more than just in the classroom. They’re helping to prepare people for a variety of things and that’s something I always take with me. It was a great four years of my life. I went away and have been living my dream ever since,” said McLeod.
Bruno Salcedo, Department of Economics
Salcaedo is researching the use of fake news. His research suggests that the low cost and effort needed to post and share information online has been highly detrimental, both for people looking for information, and for institutions that waste large amounts of resources trying to control the narrative.
For Frazer Sundown, learning the Oneida language and performing traditional powwow music has helped define his identity – and his plans for the future.
Sundown is a member of the Turtle Clan of the Oneida Nation of the Thames. He performs and records traditional powwow music and was featured on Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie’s album Round Dance & Beats, which was nominated for a 2017 JUNO Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year.
Learning the Oneida language has helped him develop a better sense of self and has inspired him to complete his teaching degree and teach the language – one that has a mere few dozen surviving speakers today – to the next generation.
“When people learn their language, they have a better sense of identity, and become more confident in the world,” said Sundown. “They experience a closer connection to the world.”
Janice Forsyth, First Nations Studies Program
Forsyth researches the history of Indigenous physical culture, and how it can be used to understand the history of Indigenous-settler relations in Canada. This research can help identify barriers to participation, and help communities redevelop a sense of being a distinct people.
Destiny Allen-GreenComing to Western as a Geography student, Destiny Allen-Green let her academic curiosity guide her. Allen-Green originally wanted to study Chemistry, Engineering or Geography. Upon researching the Department of Geography at Western, she decided upon geography because there “were many more different module options”, she said.
She was able to participate in various research projects and had many hands-on learning opportunities. During her time as an undergraduate student, Destiny received two NSERC USRA grants for field work, which involved water sampling in southwestern Ontario. These research opportunities led Destiny to explore career options allowing her to be working in the field. She is interested in getting a better understanding of watershed management and understanding how to protect the environment while also allowing development.
Chantelle Richmond, Department of Geography
Richmond is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Health and Environment. Richmond will examine the processes that both support and constrain relationship building in Indigenous health research and will consider how to bridge gaps that may occur as partners view the world through different experiences and philosophies.
Joy Spear Chief-Morris (History, First Nations Studies)Joy Spear Chief-Morris has her sights set on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. After beginning her undergraduate studies in a different university, Spear Chief-Morris came to Western University to continue her track and field career.
“I loved my time at Western; I loved being part of the track team. I made some amazing friendships I know will last a lifetime. I had a very successful career in track. I probably would have quit track if I didn’t make the decision to move,” said Spear Chief-Morris.
“I’ve always wanted to have a bit of a larger role helping First Nations people in Canada. I want to be working on the frontlines, working in policy or international relations. Whatever I end up doing, I want to be making a difference in the world for First Nations people, whether that means working with the Government of Canada or an organization in the world.”
Maya Shatzmiller, Department of History
Shatzmiller has conducted ground-breaking research that has challenged widely-held assumptions about the medieval Islamic world. Shatzmiller has studied Arabic and economic data to demonstrate that the medieval Islamic world functioned well, producing wealth and a standard of living higher than anywhere else in the world at the time.
Vassy Kapelos completed her degree in Political Science at Western in 2004. She is now the host of CBC’s flagship daily political program, Power & Politics.
“I love politics and it sort of underscored all of that. I loved Western and come from a long line of people who went to Western; I lived the Western Experience to the max. In addition to the academic advantages I had, it just sort of rounded me out as a person. It set me up socially and with the skills I needed to expand my life,” Kapelos said. “A lot of the classes I was able to take at Western upped the ante for me, and, if anything, just increased my desire to learn more about it.”
Laura Stephenson, Department of Political ScienceStephenson specializes in political behaviour, both Canadian and comparative. Her research is focused on understanding how institutions and context influence attitudes, electoral preferences and engagement with politics. During election seasons, Stephenson is a frequent contributor and media commentator.
As a Psychology student, Victoria Wiebe was a published writer and continued her creative output, being named Western University’s 2016-17 Student Writer in Residence. She used her academic studies as a foundation for developing well-rounded characters.
“Part of what makes creative writing unique is everyone brings something different to the table,” Wiebe said. “With psychology, I study human nature and human interactions and how people behave. That is something really important for creativity and for being able to tell stories.”
Adrian Owen, Department of PsychologyOwen is Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging, is using functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to detect and measure activity in patients who appear to be entirely vegetative. He is also developing new brain‑computer interfaces that will allow these patients to communicate with the outside world and expand their choices for therapy.
MacKenzie VozzaMacKenzie Vozza has made the most of Western Experience.
In her third year, she participated in an exchange through Western International, living and studying in Southampton, England for 6 months. Through Western’s Alternative Spring Break Program, MacKenzie was part of a group that traveled to Lima, Peru and volunteered in the poorest regions of the country.
“I have also participated in experiential learning locally through Western’s Learning It Together (LiT) program. This program involves going into areas of lower SES in the local community and providing children with programs to teach them healthy eating and improve their math/language skills.”
MacKenzine also worked closely with faculty members to organize events and research areas of inequality in the community.
Rachel Margolis, Department of Sociology
Margolis wants to know how a change in family makeup and an aging population will affect society. Margolis is examining how kinship networks are thinning in North America and Europe, and the policy implications that may have; kin in changing demographics.
Levi Hord was named a recipient of the 2018 Rhodes Scholarship, an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford.
Over the course of their undergraduate studies at Western, Hord has undertaken extensive research on the use of gender-neutral language in transgender communities, and how linguistic identity expression varies based on grammatical gender systems. Hord hopes to play an integral part in breaking through the social and intellectual barriers that remain for those who subvert the binary gender system.