May 2024

End of term festivities

Head’s Message

Flowering Almond

Welcome to our May edition! April was a busy month. We started with an end of semester tea party that served as a farewell party to Dr. Rebecca Major and the unveiling of the Walter (Jake) Soderlund Political Science library.

In between final papers and exams, students were busy with conferences, planning the Model UN conference for high school students, the Pre-law society Gala, in addition to preparing applications for various scholarships, law school and graduate school.

This month’s newsletter is packed with the busy activities of the month. In addition to recounting the events of April, we also look forward to the Intersession and summer semester. There’s still a lot going on in the department and across campus. I encourage students to apply to the HRG fellowship which should appeal to students with interdisciplinary focus that may deal with the humanities in general, or specific to the intersection of law and philosophy.

Our professor spotlight is with Dr. Ovadia who returned this semester from a sabbatical.

As our graduating students embark on new adventures, I would like to wish everyone all the best and hope you will keep in touch letting us know of your accomplishments. As a reminder, if you want to keep receiving these newsletters be sure to subscribe with any new email you might have.

Department End of Term Tea Party

Faculty and students met at the end of the term to bid farewell to Dr. Rebecca Major who is moving on to a new and exciting position at Yukon University. She was presented with a small gift of a Windsor postcard signed by the faculty.

Dr. Rebecca Major

At the same event we formally unveiled the Walter (Jake) Soderlund Political Science library. Dr. Soderlund has had a half century association with the department being one of the first hires, and eventually becoming department head. The library space previously served as his retirement office. He continues to be active in departmental activities during his retirement.

Dr. Soderlund in front of the new library named in his honour

Spotlight: Dr. Jesse Ovadia, Associate Professor

Dr. Jesse Ovadia

Q: What inspired you to become a professor?

A:  I had several experiences living and working overseas in international development before I started my PhD, mainly in Ghana, India, and Guyana. Those experiences taught me a lot, but also made me question the development industry. I had a sense that development and underdevelopment was a lot more complex than most donor agencies, organizations, and even governments acknowledged. Through graduate studies and my research, I leaned tools like political economy analysis that help me understand that complexity. I feel like my work allows me to make small but meaningful contributions to changing things for the better – both my teaching and my research.

 Q: What is your area of research?

A: Broadly, my research is on the political economy of development in Africa. Most of my work has been about how African countries with oil, gas, and mineral resources can use those resource for social and economic development. The countries I’ve focused on are Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, and Tanzania (for oil and gas) and Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe for mining.

More recently, I’ve also been very interested in just and sustainable energy transitions. This work is about how the adoption of green technology is needed to meet the commitments of the Paris Climate Accords. I’ve done a bit of work on energy transitions in Canada, but most of what I’ve done have been about African energy transitions and the importance of Africa’s critical minerals for global energy transitions. I’m concerned about Africa’s ability to access climate finance, take action against climate change, meet their energy needs, and resist new forms of colonialism related to resource extraction and global energy transitions.

Q: Do you have any recommendations or further readings on your topic?

A: Maybe it’s a bit dry, but I think everyone should read the IPCC’s summary of their 2023 report on climate change or a summary from an organization they trust. For an Africa focus, the journal Review of African Political Economy recently did a special issue on the climate emergency (Vol 50, Issue 177-178). Anything by Peter Newell is worth reading. He’s an academic I admire because he’s also very focused on making change, for example through his work on the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Q: Has your thinking on your topics of expertise evolved over time, and if so, how?

A: The shift I’ve described in my research has come about as I’ve felt increased urgency to meaningfully address global climate change, recognizing that energy accounts for almost three quarters of all greenhouse gas emissions. I think a lot of students also feel increased urgency about this issue but maybe that it is too big to do anything about. Teaching about climate change has really focused me on the issue and pushed me to think differently about my academic practice, my views on energy policy, and about my own individual decisions (including about all that travelling I’ve done and how fortunate I’ve been to do it).

Q: Do you have any tips on how to succeed in university?

A: University education is often a transformative experience. Students are experiencing and being exposed to so much in school and in their lives and it can be very overwhelming. For me, it took time to adapt and learn how to succeed by figuring out how I work best and what my strengths and weaknesses are. I think students should reflect on what has worked and not worked for them at the end of every term and try to think of strategies to improve their performance and what they are getting out of their experience, but the specific strategies will be different for different people. For me, it meant figuring out what I was passionate about, how I could start using what I was learning (even during my studies), what I needed to work independently, and the people and things in my life that support me and bring me joy.

Q: Do you have any hobbies? 

A: I love to travel, and especially to live in different places in the world – even for a short time (a few months if possible). I’ve visited almost 70 countries now, including 18 African countries – I think I can still add a few more! I’m also a drummer and I’ve played in a few percussion bands.

UWill Discover Conference Winners

Hanan Zahrah, Dr. Rebecca Major & Dawn Trudel

Hanan Zahrah (4th year Law & Politics) and Dawn Trudel (3L in Faculty of Law and UWindsor BA Honours graduate in Political Science) accepted a 1st Place Award by the University of Windsor's UWill Discover Sustainable Futures Conference for contributions to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization (EDID).

This award is related to work as research assistants for a SSHRC-funded project lead by Dr. Rebecca Major looking into the role of Indigenous women in governance and politics in Canada.

Like with all research, it requires context. Upon colonization, Indigenous women, who are often traditional leaders in their nations and communities, were stripped of agency and roles in governance. While many people celebrate the landmark decision in the Persons case as the moment women gained the right to vote in Canada, what many may not know is that Indigenous women were not afforded the right to vote until 1951. It was also not until 1951 that Indigenous people were able to hire a lawyer, seek legal advice, or otherwise organize, thus limiting tools to fight against the oppression of colonial governments and forces. As you can imagine, it takes time to heal and reorganize after years of dehumanization.

In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in Indigenous female participation in politics and governance. This research seeks to answer the infamous question, "why?". What motivations did these women have to engage in these spaces? What kind of successes and struggles have they experienced on their paths into politics and governance? We are engaging with Indigenous women across Canada, across all levels of government, whether federal, provincial, or at a nation-level, to try and answer these questions.

Overall, the projects seeks to uplift participant voices and share their stories. We also want show to the younger as well as future generations of Indigenous children that they have these remarkable role models, and to demonstrate that they belong at any seat of any table they want to be a part of. As Dr. Major always says "there is power in working within institutions, to change them for the better".

UWill Discover: Sustainable Futures

Poster paper

In addition to the wonderful presentations of our students that was featured last month, the conference also featured a poster presentation by Maryna Gerega, “The Impact of Humanitarian Nationalism on the Perception of Refugees in Canada”

Alumni Award

Cheryl Collier, Trevor Fairlie, and John Sutcliffe

Congratulations to Trevor Fairlie who received  the UWindsor Alumni Association Odyssey Award. The Odyssey Award recognizes alumni who are in the early years of their career path, having distinguished themselves through successes in career endeavours, notable achievements in their local community or the University of Windsor, or through a significant or innovative achievement in their professional or personal life

Pre-Law Student Gala

Organizing committee members of PLSS and Mock Trial; Pierce Lamont, Louie Elias, Lauren Bruno, Tristen Martin, Grace Obeid, Raina Saffron, David Ennis, Deanna Elsibai, Lorelei Sullivan, Shehad Ebrahimy, Alaina Gatt, and Aurora Matthew.

The Pre-Law gala was a resounding success with a gathering of over 125 guests, comprising legal professionals, university representatives, and esteemed professors from the Windsor Law School and Department of Political Science. It was a sophisticated affair with a Black-Tie theme, boasting a sumptuous four-course meal, a cash bar, exciting prizes and raffles, captivating entertainment, inspiring speeches, a lively dance floor animated by a live DJ.

Courtroom Sketch Competition

The POLS2140 Legal Process in Canada students visited the Windsor Courtroom this spring as part of an assignment. They were asked to report on things heard, seen, or felt during their courtroom visit, as well as to relate their observations to material seen in class. Students were given the opportunity to get bonus point by sketching the courtroom. Out of all the students who submitted sketches, Ali Hatoum won first prize, while Elizabeth Spiridon and Grade Obeid’s renditions were tied for the best sketch.

First Prize

Courtroom rendition by Ali Hatoum

Courtroom sketches

Courtroom Sketches 2024

Student awards

Congratulations to all our students for completing the 2023/24 academic year. This year we had a number of students who won prestigious scholarships to our MA program:

Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
  • Maryna Gerega

  • Shehad Al Ebrahimy

Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS)
  • Alexis Martineau

  • Sarah Zahwe

Student Fellowship program

The Humanities Research Group (HRG) is excited to announce a new partnership with the Office of the Provost to deliver our Student Fellowship Program, which supports research excellence in the humanities for students at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Thanks to the generous support of Dr. Robert Aguirre and his office, the HRG student fellowship will grow in the fall of 2024 to provide funding and faculty mentorship from the 2024/25 HRG Fellow, Dr. Gregg French, to three upper-year undergraduate students and three graduate students in support of their research projects and goals. Students selected for this fellowship will receive funding of $1000 for graduate students and $500 for undergraduates. Under this exciting initiative, HRG Student Fellows will meet with the HRG Fellow monthly as they develop their research plans. They will also receive guidance in applying to important research-based competitions, including the SSHRC Storytellers Challenge and the Ontario Regional’s Three Minute Thesis competition, to raise the impact and profile of our excellent student researchers at the University of Windsor. This initiative began in 2022 with generous funding from the Feminist Research Group. The HRG student fellowship continues to invite student researchers working on feminist topics related to the Humanities. The deadline to apply is May 30, 2024.

The HRG invites applications from students from any department working in the humanities, engaging in research and the study of literature, the arts, history, and philosophy. For more information about the fellowship and the application process, please see:

May Calendar

  • May 1st, 2024 GRAD: Deadline to start the Deposit (step #1), for Phase I and Spring 2024 graduation

  • May 6th, 2024 First Day of Classes: Full Summer (12 week) and Inter-Session (6 week) 2024

  • May 12th, 2024 Academic Add/Drop for Inter-Session 2024 (6 week)

  • May 13th, 2024 GRAD: Deadline to complete the Deposit (remaining steps #2 and #3), for Phase I and Spring 2024 graduation.

  • May 15th, 2024 Fees Due: Inter-Session / Summer Session 2024.

  • May 19th, 2024 Academic Add/Drop for Full Summer 2024 (12 week).

  • May 20th, 2024 Victoria Day: University Closed

  • May 21st, 2024 Financial Drop Date - Inter-Session 2024 (6-week) ...