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Empty Street

Teaching & Instructional Competencies

This section of my portfolio includes artefacts chosen to demonstrate a range of teaching competencies and readiness to assume the role of teacher and mentor in academia and other educational contexts.

Image Source:  Wix Photo Library.

13. Guest Lectures, Corbett & Colton

My academic teaching experience before I started the PhD program included teaching strategic planning at Dalhousie University as part of their nonprofit leadership program, and just before I applied to the PhD Educational Studies program I was also teaching in Mount Saint Vincent University’s new nonprofit leadership program as well (see YouTube Channel link in footer). 


I taught and facilitated many workshops related to governance, strategic planning, and grant writing over the years in community.  I also developed curriculum and hired other instructors and facilitators as Director of Innovation and Learning for the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia for several years.  Many times in this work I did not use power point presentations in this work, but created workbooks with key questions for discussion instead. 


Part of this was because a lot of my work was in small communities with limited technology, but also because many community people said they were very grateful to not have to deal with a power point presentation.  I think they often felt the small group and large group discussion of these key questions, paired with some resources to help with learning beyond the workshop, were much more effective and interesting for them.  I also realized this approach was much more consistent with my values in relation to 'radical' adult education and critical pedagogy that had been developed more when I was doing my Masters in Adult Education at St. Francis Xavier University.


I’ve also done a number of guest lectures while I've been doing the PhD Educational Studies program.  Two of them last year for Dr. John Colton’s senior level community development course, and Dr. Michael Corbett’s winter course on educational theory.  In both guest lectures, I combined information about my background as a practitioner and educator in community development, shared about my own lived experience with mental illness and how that informs my work (especially now), and my new confidence in myself as a community educator, activist, researcher and scholar.  Dr. Colton also asked me to be a guest speaker this year (2023), so the document included here is an updated version.


I credit the PhD Educational Studies program with challenging me, encouraging me and helping me to ‘make space’ to spend time reflecting on my own practice as an adult educator, and as a ‘facilitator’ and supporter of community and social movement learning.  

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Image Sources (top to bottom):  Presentation by Laurie Cook for class for Dr. John Colton (2023).

14. CBDC Workshop

As part of the community-based action research project I co-led as part of the APRI / ACOA Social Succession project, I also co-created a learning opportunity for the Atlantic Association of CBDCs (Community Business Development Corporations) about social succession. 


The audience for this program was CBDC staff and board members across the Atlantic region.  It was done online and simultaneously in English and French.  The association looked after providing translation of materials and translation.  


This was an introductory online workshop designed to increase awareness amongst staff and board members about why they should be thinking about business succession as a challenge and an opportunity for the rural communities they serve, but also who might be most interested in or ready to use social succession as a strategy.  About 55 CBDC staff and board members attended online to learn more about how social succession could help address the needs of many CBDC clients and other businesses in rural communities who may have owners looking to sell in the next few years.   It was also an opportunity for us to develop and then ‘test’ the delivery of a basic workshop designed to accomplish these goals, and get feedback.

This workshop was a proto-type.  Through the Community Development Consultants Co-op called Flourish that I helped cofound, we are looking to develop a wide range of other learning opportunities and supports to help rural communities deal with the challenge of so many business owners looking to retire, and to show how social succession could be one strategy that could help increase inclusion of equity-seeking groups in rural economies as well.   


The key opportunity with social succession is that it is different than other strategies in that it looks to community organizations that already have a mission that could be advanced by social succession, or the development of new community co-ops, to help address this issue.  Many of the community organizations that could be involved in this are also keen to help marginalized and/or racialized people to be included more in local, rural economies.

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Image Sources (top to bottom):  Website Screen Shots, Atlantic Association of CBDC's Website (

15. Mitacs Progress, Approach of iMOVe 

The images here include a draft outline for a film called ‘Igniting the Griot’ (Gri-oh means ‘storyteller’ in West Africa) about iMOVe’s approach to the work it does based on observations during the first Mitacs internship unit. 


In response to reviewer feedback that the project should be more focused and to ensure it serves iMOVe well, Sobaz and I have had several conversations looking at how creating a film about iMOVe would be a great way to begin to introduce some of Sobaz ideas and values, how they are different to traditional approaches to the work with racialized and marginalized, and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, that iMOVe does, and the impact the approach has had on participants in iMOVe’s programming. The primary approach to this work again would likely be narrative inquiry.  


In many ways, doing a film now about Sobaz and iMOVe is like coming full circle for me.  I started my adult life as a journalist who then became involved in the film industry in Nova Scotia. Then I started to study adult education and nonprofit leadership to help me with my job as Managing Director with an organization called Moving Images Group (MIG).  Though MIG I was responsible for developing responsive professional development programs for people in the film and television industry in Atlantic Canada.  Then I started volunteering in community and using my new skills as a volunteer in my community while I was on disability for many years.  This led to me doing a Masters in Adult Education specializing in Community Development to help me get back into the workforce. 


I did get back into the workforce using skills I had gained in both fields. Part of my journey with the PhD has been to also develop new skills (and confidence) in doing research and learning to be comfortable as an ‘activist’ as well.  As a journalist and ‘community developer’ over the years I felt I was not supposed to be an ‘activist.’  I thought I had to be ‘neutral’ and ‘objective’ in both of these fields.  I was to be a ‘supporter’ of the work of others but not ‘stir things up’ or ‘advocate’ for anything on my own.  Learning about research and broader fields of theory, as well as more about myself as an educator and researcher in community throughout this PhD program has resulted in significant changes to how I think of myself as a human being, as an educator, as a researcher and as a ‘citizen.’  This has significantly changed the nature of the work I’m doing now, and the work I look forward to doing more of.

Next steps involve doing a Research Ethics Board application for the iMOVe Mitacs project that is flexible though in how exactly we go about accomplishing the goals of the project, and digging into some of the research literature related to the work iMOVe is doing to see what other people have done in this area and how iMOVe's approach is unique or different (or could be informed further by theory and research that's already been done). 


As mentioned, as a community-based research project, it also needs to serve the needs of the community partner iMOVe first as well as provide an opportunity for graduate level student learning.  Recently, Sobaz and I have been reflecting on the complexity of the environment in which he does the work he does and with the population he works with.  Several very sensitive incidents have come up that are leading us to think maybe a podcast series would be more appropriate before trying to develop a film.  That doesn't mean we don't want to do a film as well, but as is classic with community-based research, there is an awareness for both of us that we need to be flexible in how we go about doing this work.  

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Image Sources (top to bottom):  Poster created for iMOVe (2023), Draft Mind Map for film for iMOVe created by Laurie Cook (2023), Wix Photo Library; Amarouso Etsy Shop Website.

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