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UTSC Research Project Connects Students to Community

Through UTSC’s research opportunities, students are leaving the campus grounds to learn and connect with the local community.

One such research project was Citizenship and Urban Space: Intersections of Belonging, Housing and Settlement for Newcomers to Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park. Student researchers explored the social and residential issues of Canadian newcomers living in the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park (KGO) area over an eight-month period, and presented their findings on October 2.

Following their own strengths and areas of interest, the students focused on different aspects of the newcomers’ situations. Faculty members Girish Daswani, Sue Bunce and Maggie Cummings framed the project, giving assistance and guidance, but as Daswani says, “This was the students’ project. We helped, but they chose where to go with it.”

“We spent a lot of time in the area,” says fourth year anthropology student Dhebi Hay, whose father came to watch her present her project, Tamil Immigration and The Toronto Community Housing Corporation: Understanding the Links between Community and Country In KGO. “We got involved, we got to know people.”

Real concerns

By looking at demographics and statistics for the area and through interviews and focus groups, the researchers discovered that Canadian newcomers to the KGO region have real concerns about safety, security, social and community engagement and belonging.

With the project focused on the KGO area, UTSC students were given a valuable opportunity to learn about a community near the school.

“A lot of my assumptions were challenged during my fieldwork,” confesses Maria Salman, whose research focused on the civic engagement of immigrant seniors. “I had a negative image of the community based on its reputation, but when I interacted with community members, I was surprised.”

Not only did this project serve to further the understanding of newcomers in the KGO community, but it benefited the student researchers. They gained valuable research skills and experience, developed communication skills, became more competitive for grad school and involved themselves with a community by their school that they might never have had contact with otherwise.

“I developed my communication skills by learning how to deal with different individuals,” says Salman. “The entire experience was amazing!”

Students can find out about research positions through the Intranet, the Career Centre website and postings.           




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