- Doctor of Philosophy, Geography, Queen’s University, 2004
- Master of Urban and Regional Planning, Queen’s University, 1995
- Baccalaureate of Laws, University of Ottawa, 1983
Cities have always been at the centre of my professional and personal life. Canadian cities are among the best places in the world to live as they support thriving economies, and deliberately cultivate cultural and social diversity and vibrant public spaces. Enjoying the excitement of urban spaces, walking through intriguing neighbourhoods and experiencing the vibe of a busy city streetscape, is at the heart of what urbanists try to create.
As a lawyer in Ottawa in the late 1980s and early 1990s I grappled with the myriad competing legal, political and public policy issues in play in the development of residential, commercial and industrial locations. Most of my work entailed working with land developers, community groups and political officials in a complicated set of negotiations around what should be built and where. Often this work was deeply adversarial as different groups fought to articulate their ideas about what liveable urban places might mean. The passion that erupted in these debates reflected my own growing awareness of what I hoped urban life might be.
I elected to leave law and completed an urban planning graduate degree at Queen's University in Kingston. While the M.Pl provided me with good technical knowledge, it was an elective social and cultural geography course that struck a deep intellectual chord. The lectures, course materials and seminars spoke to the real experiences of people who struggled to live an urban life and provided critical engagement with questions of identity, subjectivity, emotion and meaning about place.
Since completing my PhD in Geography at Queen's, my research interests generally consider how gendered and sexual minorities, both historically and now, navigate urban spaces and create locations that support a visible and legible life. My research with Dr. Andrew Gorman-Murray at UWS in Sydney examines changing sexual and gendered landscapes in Toronto and Sydney in light of LGBT and queer rights successes. This includes thinking about new mobilities and digital technologies that are restructuring the urban experience for many different social groups. Given that LGBT and queer equalities, and opposition to them, unfold differently in different countries, my work with Dr. Kath Browne in Ireland explores differences and connections between groups in both countries engaged in opposition to LGBT and queer equalities. More recently, Dr. Darlene Bay in the Goodman School of Business at Brock University and I have begun researching how corporations have been drawn into the LGBT and queer rights debates but in very place specific ways across North America.
When all is said and done, it is the discipline of geography that provides the intellectual space and opportunity to engage with a rich and engaging body of scholarship in research pursuits.