Meet the Inaugural Cohort of Kule Scholars

Meet the five scholars creating a collaborative research community that explores the theme of "Climate Resilience in the 21st Century".

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With a vision of creating a greater understanding of the most important issues of the day, the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) partnered with the Sustainability Council to appoint five members to the inaugural cohort of Kule Scholars. KIAS provides support and funding for the researcher-lead projects in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts at the U of A. The Kule Scholars initiative is a new KIAS program designed specifically to encourage the formation of interdisciplinary research around a theme.

"Internationally, many Institutes for Advanced Study have fellows programs that provide time and crucial support for curiosity-driven early research that leads to major external projects and that helps nurture vibrant research cultures on the ground," KIAS director Geoffery Rockwell says. "This is a way to provide such support. KIAS is committed to interdisciplinary and collaborative research, which is why we developed the idea of, instead of simply appointing individual scholars, appointing a cohort committed to researching a shared theme together."

Over the next three years, the Kule Scholars will work to explore the theme of "Climate Resilience in the 21st Century" by addressing climate change, climate justice, and climate action from perspectives ranging from policy studies to artistic practice. The scholars will engage discussions within the university community, both by highlighting the work of the many excellent researchers already working on these topics at the U of A - through brown-bag lunches, talks, speaker series, and events - and by working together to model interdisciplinary and collaborative research methods and their value to the University of Alberta for Tomorrow.

"This inaugural cohort has an opportunity to really shape the future of the program at a time when the ground seems to be literally shifting under our feet as an institution," Kule Scholar Natalie Loveless says. "There couldn't be a better time to be championing interdisciplinary and collaborative research attentive to the pressing global problems of our time.

Congratulations to the 2020-2023 Kule Scholars!

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Dr. Natalie Loveless, Associate Professor, Contemporary Art and Theory, Faculty of Arts, Department of Art & Design

Since 2012 Dr. Loveless has have lectured and written on research-creation as a method for building inclusivity and working in alternative scholarly ways that draw on the insights of the visual arts, while fostering diversity of methods and outputs across disciplines within the university as well as university-adjacent spaces. Loveless is the founder and director of the Research-Creation and Social Justice CoLABoratory, and co-directs the University of Alberta's Faculty of Arts Signature Area in Research-Creation (SPARĀ²C: Shifting Praxis in Artistic Research / Research-Creation). She is currently working on a new book and curatorial project, Sensing the Anthropocene: Aesthetic Attunement in an age of Urgency and is research-creation lead on Speculative Energy Futures, part of the Just Powers initiative funded by the Future Energy Systems Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). In 2020 Loveless was elected to the Royal Society of Canada (College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists).

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Dr. Selena Couture, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts, Department of Drama

Dr. Couture's projects engage with theatrical and cultural performances including speech acts, place naming, Indigenous language revitalization and phenomenological spatial orientations. Through these elements she explores relationships to land: deconstructing conceptions of settler colonial whiteness and possession while foregrounding the maintenance of Indigenous places through performance. She holds a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, "Decolonizing Performative Reenactments of History" which engages with the historical narratives created in rural BC, taking into account the lack of treaties to govern settler access to the land; the continuously present Indigenous protection of unceded territories despite settler colonial extraction; and the unique relation to the lands expressed through Indigenous languages. Her research practice responds to the growing crisis of global warming, develops a wider collaborative network and expands efforts to create responsible relations with Indigenous people, lands and all other-than-human beings.

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Dr. Lars Hallstrom, Professor, Augustana - Social Sciences

Dr. Hallstrom has been the Director of the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities since 2009, and is an award-winning professor in two departments at the University of Alberta. Dr. Hallstrom's work focuses on comparative public policy, and particularly on the intersection of politics, science and public policy. He has a long history of applied policy research in fields such as environmental policy, public health, social change and inequities, and is particularly interested in how science, public engagement, "community" input (such as culture) and multi-level politics shape public policy, particularly when faced with significant questions of risk, scale, scope and complexity (such as climate change, genetically-modified foods, identity politics, and institutional design). The recipient of over 100 grants and contracts since 2001, he is the lead editor of two books. In addition to serving as a lead applicant with a multi-million dollar "Environment, Community and Health Observatories" Team Grant from CIHR, he also holds (or has also recently held) SSHRC IG and KSG grants, provincial CARES grants, funding from OMAFRA and Alberta OHS, as well as internal funding from the Sustainability Enhancement Fund and McCalla Professorships.

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Dr. Sherilee Harper, Associate Professor, School of Public Health

Sherilee Harper is a Canada Research Chair in Climate Change and Health and an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. Her research investigates associations between weather, environment, and public health in the context of climate change, and she collaborates with partners to prioritise climate-related health actions, planning, interventions, and research. She is a Lead Author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC); Lead Author on the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report (AR6-WG2); is a Lead Author on Health Canada's upcoming Climate Change and Health Assessment; and serves on the Gender Task Group for the IPCC.

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Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea, Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology

Sourayan Mookerjea is associate professor of theory and cultural studies and director of the Intermedia Research Studio in the Department of Sociology where he specializes in critical social theory, global sociology, and intermedia research. From a visible-minority immigrant family with roots in India's system of caste privilege, his research addresses questions regarding the cultural and class politics of renewable energy transition, and critically engages with eco-feminist degrowth and commons theory in order to delink social and environmental justice theory and praxis from the colonizer's model of the world. His current projects include SSHRC-funded research on Intermedia Commons, Political Ecology, Pluriversal Regeneration and Degrowth and Toxic Media Ecologies: Critical Responses to the Cultural Politics of Planetary Crises. He is co-director of Feminist Energy Futures: Powershift and Environmental Social Justice as well as iDoc: Intermedia and Documentary as well as a co-investigator on the Just Powers team for the research-creation collaboration, Speculative Energy Futures; He is a founding member of RePublicU, a critical university studies network and the Arts and the Anthropocene Research-Creation Social Justice CoLABoratory at the University of Alberta.