FIMS Professor Nadine Wathen awarded a new Canada Research Chair

Nadine WathenJune 2019

Professor Nadine Wathen has been awarded a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in “Mobilizing Knowledge on Gender-Based Violence.” Wathen is a professor with the Faculty of Information & Media Studies (FIMS) and this marks the first CRC awarded to a faculty member in FIMS.

Announced in mid-June 2019, the appointment is one of 12 CRCs given to Western faculty this year. The seven-year, Tier 1 position will be funded through SSHRC and will allow Wathen to further an already well-established research program in gender-based violence and health equity.

“Gender-based violence is what we call a ‘wicked’ social problem—it defies easy solution,” says Wathen. “The large social and economic burden of gender-based violence, gaps in knowledge about effective responses, and a lack of consensus about how to approach the problem by stakeholders make this a very complex issue to address.”

Wathen, who is also cross-appointed in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, and the Faculty of Education’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children, with an Affiliate appointment in the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, identifies knowledge mobilization, and the ability to guide Canadian policy around gender-based violence and equity-oriented responses using reliable research, as key components of her work. To that end, she will continue making monthly trips to Ottawa for policy work with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada—work that began several months ago.

"The Federal Government has made significant investments in gender-based violence in the past several years, and along with social movements like #metoo, there’s recognition that violence and its impacts have to be brought into the open, examined, and addressed head-on.”
“I’ll be working with PHAC and the Department for Women and Gender Equality Canada on ways to examine and adjust public narratives about these things, and especially intimate partner violence against women, explains Wathen.”

Her work will be informed by emerging data from a new national survey on which Wathen consulted. The Survey of Safety in Public & Private Spaces includes an instrument that Wathen helped to develop with colleagues at Western and elsewhere. She has been striving for several years to make quality evidence and research available to service providers, researchers and educators via online resources. That process will continue as part of her focus on knowledge mobilization.

Nominations for CRC positions are made by universities, with funding coming from the relevant Tri-Council agency, and further contributions made by both Western and FIMS.

Lisa Henderson, FIMS Dean, identifies Wathen as a prime candidate for a Canada Research Chair appointment.

“Nadine is an extraordinary colleague doing extraordinary work at FIMS, in collaboration with the Faculty of Health Sciences and many others in research, government and community development. She goes to the heart of what we know is a complex ‘wicked’ problem—gender-based violence—whose solution needs dramatically improved research methods, close attention to people’s stories, and lots of knowledge sharing across the ‘social ecology,” says Henderson.

“I have great admiration for Nadine’s commitment, creativity, and engagement—she is exactly who should hold a Tier 1 CRC appointment at Western and in FIMS.”

The Canada Research Chair Program was established by the federal government in 2000 as a way to attract and retain exceptional researchers. Each year the government invests approximately $265 million to support the program. There are currently 52 active Tier 1 and Tier 2 CRC appointments across disciplines at Western.