In December, our Faculty received news that six of our graduate students have been chosen for the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships/Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Competition. We saw this news as an opportunity to highlight some of our extraordinary graduate students and their research.
Our spotlight today is shining on PhD student Whitney Blaisdell (BA-Visual Arts/BEd-Arts Education’14; MEd’21) one of the six competitors. On top of her work as a sessional instructor and research assistant with the Faculty of Education, Whitney works with Project Play YQR, a community-based organization founded out of her master’s thesis research. Her thesis, (Re)Claiming Play: An Individual and Community Movement Towards Playfulness, was deemed meritorious for nomination for the President’s Distinguished Graduate Student Award and her presentation in the University of Regina Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research 2021 Three Minute Thesis competition won first place.
For her PhD research, Whitney is picking up a thread from her undergraduate studies in the arts. Her arts-based, action research project focuses on “children’s involvement in outdoor play reclamation and responsible urban planning that re-centres children and non-human beings. I hope to invite children, teachers, urban planners, city councillors, and other community members in relevant roles to reimagine and participate in creating more vibrant, natural, and playful communities,” she says.
One experience that highlighted the need for her research was work Whitney did with a development company, informing the design of parks and playspaces. Whitney says, “It was an amazing opportunity that first and foremost increased my desire to see more natural spaces and native flora and fauna centred in design. Furthermore, the experience made me appreciate the unique challenges that Canadian prairie cities face in attempting to increase outdoor play and centre children or even humans (instead of cars) in communities.” Still, Whitney has big hopes for Regina. She says, “I imagine Regina as a leading prairie city in connectivity, nature-centred design, playfulness, and community nature-based offerings”.
Whitney says: “I appreciate the faculty, fellow students, and community I am surrounded by. I’m looking forward to doing some arts-based research, especially alongside children. I am eager to see what may be co-imagined and co-created as visions and pathways for a more desirable, vibrant, joyful, playful, and just urban community that centres and fosters relationships with children and the natural world.” As the University tagline goes, let’s “Go Far, Together.”
Whitney’s supervisor is Dr. Marc Spooner, and her committee members are Dr. Emily Ashton, Dr. Valerie Triggs, and Dr. Vanessa Mathews (Arts-Geography).
Whitney’s published works:
Blaisdell, W. (2014). Reimagine education in Regina. Education Matters: The Journal of Teaching and Learning, 2(2), pp. 10-14.
Blaisdell, W. (2022). Untangling the benefits of play from play advocacy. Play, Policy, and Practice Connections, 2(1), 13-15.
Lewis, P., & Blaisdell, W. (2020, December 23). Make room for play as we stumble through this pandemic holiday and new year. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/make-room-for-play-as-we-stumble-through-this-pandemic-holiday-and-new-year-151351
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