Research interests include: conceptualizations of evil in the context of education, social studies education, curriculum theory, teaching for social change, philosophy in/of education, intersectionality, teacher education, youth studies, popular culture, terror management theory, and posthuman thought.
Her current SSHRC Insight Development Grant project focuses on applying research from social psychology that has illuminated unconscious defensive processes that prevent us from tolerating opposing worldviews. This qualitative research project involves preservice social studies teachers learning and implementing terror management theory (TMT). Through focus groups before and after their practicum placements, as well as reflective journals during their classroom experience and individual interviews in a subsequent year, we are exploring how TMT can be a theoretical basis to foster respectful engagements with opposing worldviews.
Cathryn’s SSHRC-supported doctoral research began with a specific concern: teaching about constant recurrences of genocide, and how educators might engage pedagogically with atrocities often (and understandably) labelled as evil. Studying evil is more than just qualification or socialization; it is about subjectification—developing subjects who think and act independently from authority, but at the same time interdependently with others. Social studies education is an opportunity to arrange curriculum and pedagogy for subjectification with a driving question, how might we live together? Her research seeks to encourage teachers, curriculum designers, and researchers to engage with conceptualizations of evil in order to subvert socio-political invocations of evil that shut down thinking/thoughtfulness. How might conceptualizing evil philosophically empower us to change the status quo? Or, how might the ever-widening imaginary of domesticated or empathetic evil present in popular media add complexity to historical discussions? Cathryn is looking for ways to open up possibilities for how we might reconceptualize the past, live in the present, and ponder the future.
Cathryn is a member of the Research at the Intersections of Gender (RIG) special interest group at UAlberta.