Brescia University

Provost’s Speaker Series

Join us  for Brescia University College's Provost's Speaker Series!


Jamie SeabrokEarly Life Exposures: Why Pregnancy Matters for Later-Life Health Outcomes

March 24, 2023 l 11:00 a.m. l AP 2001A

Dr. Jamie Seabrook, Chair and Professor, Food and Nutritional Sciences, Brescia University College

Research in epigenetics and the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) has shown that risk for chronic health conditions in adulthood (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, mental health disorders) are highly associated with our social environment, resources, and geographic location prior to and during the first 1,000 days after conception. According to the Barker hypothesis, babies who are born low birth weight, preterm, small for-gestational-age, and who have intrauterine growth restriction have a larger risk for developing chronic health conditions as adults. The idea behind fetal growth programming is that, if the fetus is not well nourished in utero (e.g., under- or overnutrition), it programs itself to deliver more nutrients to the brain than other organs of the body. Come learn how health disparities in adulthood are linked to early life exposures. 


Vitamin D and Transplantation: The Good,
The Bad, and The Ugly

November 25, 2022 l 11:00 a.m. l MSJ 135

Dr. Janet Madill, Acting Academic Director and Professor, Food and Nutritional Sciences, Brescia University College

Vitamin D deficiency is an issue worldwide.  Transplantation has become an acceptable treatment for patients with end stage disease.  The primary goal is to transplant those patients with the best long-term outcomes.  An examination of the research on vitamin D deficiency and transplantation will be presented.

It's Complicated: Instructor's Perceptionheather_kirk
of their Teaching Roles Online

October 28, 2022 l 11:00 a.m. l MSJ 135

Dr. Heather Kirk, Assistant Professor, French,
Brescia University College
Colleen Sharen, Associate Professor, Management and
Organizational Studies, Brescia University College

We will present our case study which investigates the online teaching experiences of Brescia faculty members who, for the most part, had never taught online prior to the pandemic.colleen_sharen
We will share our findings, including faculty members’
conceptualization of their instructional role when teaching
online, the presence of the Brescia Competencies, the
temporal aspect of teaching, and the degree of fit with
the Community of Inquiry (Anderson, Garrison, and Archer,
1999) framework.



Christine Tenk

Critical Connections: Exploring Classroom Community at Brescia 

March 25, 2022 | 11am

Dr. Christine Tenk, Associate Professor, Psychology and Faculty Scholar, Brescia University College

You know that feeling when you feel close to other people and feel like you belong in a group? Researchers call that ‘social connection’. Social connection is essential to human survival when we are young and is critically linked to our well-being throughout our lives. Social connections in the classroom boost academic success including performance, learning and motivation, as well as improve other mental health outcomes such as self-esteem, coping, and happiness. 

My research program, selected as this year’s Faculty Scholar project, explores social connections and community in the university classroom. Classroom community, where students feel connected to the instructor and each other and work together to achieve learning success, is not well-researched at the university level despite its potential to greatly benefit learners. Social connection and classroom community may be particularly important to the women learners at Brescia as many women prefer to learn in collaborative environments. 

This talk will discuss data from my research journey, including using assessments to counteract the distance and anonymity in large and/or online classes, examining Brescia students’ experience of class social connections and community, and considering factors, such as teaching strategies and instructor characteristics, that contribute to these critical connections. 

Watch Dr. Tenk's presentation.

Julie Young

Colourblind Racism, Standpoint and Empowerment: A Study of Microenterprise in Toronto and Los Angeles 

February 18, 2022 | 11 a.m.

Julie N. Young, Professor, Faculty of Social and Community Services, Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning

In this talk, Young explores how microenterprise workers empower their clients based on their colourblind racial attitudes, in order to understand how people’s beliefs about race and racism contribute to the way they theorize poverty and poverty alleviation strategies. Using 58 in-depth interviews in Los Angeles and Toronto, Young examines colourblind affect from the work experiences of BIPOC and white microenterprise workers. This research highlights issues for those who seek to empower individuals living in poverty as it suggests the risk of “helping” may be harmful.  Only by turning attention to system failures, exploitation,and oppression, can individuals be empowered.

Colleen O'Connor

“Bugs in my Food Might be Good for Me?”: Exploring Fermentation and Human Health

November 26, 2021 | 11 a.m.

Dr. Colleen O'Connor, Associate Professor and Academic Director, Food and Nutritional Sciences, Brescia University College

Despite existing for centuries, fermented foods and beverages are attracting new attention in modern times. Once necessary for the preservation of our food supply, fermented consumables are now produced and marketed for a myriad of potential health benefits – from gut health to preventing heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. Even though there are many health claims, peer-reviewed research in humans is scarce. In recent years, I have been working with like-minded researchers and producers to explore potential properties and benefits of fermented foods. I will share with you our research highlights and where we are heading next.

Watch Dr. O'Connor's presentation.

Paul BarkerIt All Depends: Health Care Reform in Ontario 

October 29, 2021 | 11 a.m.

Dr. Paul Barker, Associate Professor, Family Studies and Human Development and Political Science, Brescia University College

The Ford government recently decided to introduce a new arrangement for health care in Ontario. The government believed that the preceding arrangement set out by the Wynne government fell well short of achieving the necessary health-care reforms. Of special concern to the Ford government was the absence of patient involvement in health-care matters and the lack of integrated health care services. Though representing only a small portion of health care budgets, the administrative costs of the arrangement also perturbed the Premier. The intent of this paper is to suggest a preliminary answer to the question of whether the decision of the Ford government was a good one. 

Watch Dr. Barker's presentation.

Marlene Janzen Le BerLeadership Admist a Pandemic: Gender and Leader Character

April 23, 2021 l 11:00am

Dr. Marlene Janzen Le Ber, Associate Professor and Chair, School of Leadership & Social Change at Brescia University College, and Recipient of the Brescia Award for Excellence in Research

Profiles of women leaders during the current pandemic have been popularized in the media and promoted as more effective in handling the COVID crisis than their male counterparts. Indeed, several published statistical analyses confirm that countries led by women have been better able to control the spread of COVID 19 than men-led countries. Crisis leadership requires not only decisive action but also relational connection. The women and leadership literature finds that women leaders face the double bind of being both agentic as well as communal. Thus, women who are recognized and accepted as the most senior leaders will have learned to walk that tightrope well; precisely the requirements of leading during a crisis. We build on this theoretical understanding to focus on how these women are leading through a leader character lens. A mixed method research design will quantify the frequencies of the qualitative content analysis of the both women and male heads of state’s media releases and press conferences for evidence of leader character. Video analysis will assist in not only what is being said but also how it is being said. Leader character will then be used to predict both population health and economic outcomes.    

Acknowledgements: Funding provided by Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership; Co-Investigators Drs. Lucas Monzani and Mary Crossan

Women's Economic Empowerment: Focus on Developing Economies and Agriculture

March 19, 2021 l 11:00am

Ann Gordon, BSc 1978 (Brescia, Western University), Canadian Nuffield Scholar 2004, MSc 2007 (University of Guelph), Emerging Artist, Leadership & International Development Consultant

Women’s economic empowerment (WEE) occurs when a woman has the ability (skills, resources, access) to succeed and advance economically and the power and agency to make and act on economic decisions (including control of resources and profits). Published in 2019, “Women’s Economic Empowerment Transforming Systems Through Development Practice” is an edited collection of proven expertise in sustainable and equitable market-based approaches for women in developing economies.  As a contributing author, Ann will provide a brief overview of the publication and then concentrate on her experiences facilitating change to increase gender equality and women’s economic inclusion in agricultural market systems.  This will include descriptions of the market systems approach, challenges for women and possible solutions to be used.  The project, Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) in Ghana will be highlighted as the case study.

Watch the presentation.

Brenda HartmanCholine: A Nutrient to Know

February 26, 2021 l 11:00am

Dr. Brenda Hartman, Assistant Professor, Food and Nutritional Sciences at Brescia University College

When we think of nutrients of importance during pregnancy, we think about iron and folate. However, emerging evidence suggests we should also include choline in that list. Choline is an essential vitamin-like nutrient important for: neurotransmitter synthesis, lipid metabolism and transport, cell integrity, methylation and other functions. While the human body can produce choline in the liver, the amount is not enough for human needs.

Choline is needed across the entire lifespan; however, it is critical for optimal brain development in utero. It is still underrecognized by the general population and health care professionals.

Watch Dr. Hartman's presentation.

Heather Kirk"Scholaris": Building a Journal from the Ground Up

November 27, 2020 l 11:00am

Dr. Heather Kirk, Assistant Professor, French and Faculty Scholar

So, you want to create and launch a scholarly journal? How does that work? What does it take to start a journal from scratch?
In this talk, we will explore the step-by-step process of creating a scholarly journal using the Open Source Journal platform hosted by Western Libraries. While the technical creation of a journal is relatively straightforward, many researchers are unaware of the “behind the scenes” work that goes into launching a journal, using Scholaris as a case study. 
Scholaris is a double-blind peer reviewed, open access, transdisciplinary journal that addresses Teaching and Learning in higher education in the process of being founded.
Currently, the Canadian field of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is limited, with a small number of active journals. None of these journals address small-class/small-campus teaching and learning. Ultimately, the aim of Scholaris is to fill a lacuna in the field of SoTL, which drawing international attention to Brescia, its faculty, staff, and students.

Watch Dr. Kirk's presentation.

Jamie SeabrookSocial Determinants of Birth Outcomes: Are We Victims of Circumstance?

October 30, 2020 l 11:00am

Dr. Jamie Seabrook, Associate Professor, Food and Nutritional Sciences and Recipient of the Brescia Award for Excellence in Research

Many health disparities in adulthood (e.g., coronary heart disease, hypertension) are linked to early life exposures. According to theory of fundamental social causes, socioeconomic status shapes exposure to individually-based risk factors. During pregnancy, for example, women of lower socioeconomic status tend to experience more kinds and greater exposures to stress, and usually engage in more risky health behaviors (e.g., substance use) than women of higher socioeconomic status, which increases the likelihood of adverse birth outcomes. Unfortunately, Canadian public discourse continues to focus its attention on lifestyle behaviour modification during pregnancy, which puts the blame on mothers by treating them as causal agents in the reproduction of adult disease. Rather than focusing primarily on lifestyle approaches as solutions to improving health, my research examines the broader social structure operating in women’s lives during pregnancy.

Watch Dr. Seabrook's presentation.