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From urban gardens to unknown food: 5 Concordia students put their research to work

Thanks to Quebec bursaries, these grad students are exploring their academic connection to the community
March 6, 2018
By Daniel Bartlett

Five Concordia graduate students are taking their research skills into the workplace thanks to funding they’ve secured from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Sociéte et culture (FRQSC).

Through the Scholarship for internship in a practice environment (BSMP) program, the provincial funding body recently awarded 29 bursaries to students who will be doing internships with various Quebec organizations over the next few months.

The aims of the initiative are to foster collaborations between universities and organizations in the public, parapublic and private sectors, stimulate interest in knowledge translation and the acquisition of work experience, and support workplaces in their efforts to integrate individuals with advanced degrees into the job market.

To be eligible, students must be enrolled full-time in a master's or doctoral program in a Québec university, and the internship must be conducted in the province.

Students receive $1,500 per month through the provincial program, and internships last between two and six months. There are two application deadlines each year — one in April and a second in October. Internships can’t start earlier than a student’s fourth semester of grad school.

Food security in Nunavik

Marion Macé is a master’s student in Concordia’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment. She received a bursary to intern at School Arsaniq in Kangirsujuaq for two months. She will be working with youth to start a gardening project.

“The larger issue is food security, but the focus will be on gardening and food habits,” Macé says.

“There have been other gardening projects in northern Canada and they showed a lot of potential. People are really open to adapting their ways of living to be more resilient and less dependent on stores.”

Common goals

As a co-founder of Jardins Collectifs des Nations in Sherbrooke, Jean Doyon is looking forward to developing a strong partnership with Croquarium, the not-for-profit organization he is interning with for six months.

A PhD student in the Individualized Program, Doyon says he hopes this opportunity will help both organizations collaborate and plan common projects.

“The objective of the urban garden is to promote urban agriculture, not just the production of food,” he explains.

“This project is really related to what we want to accomplish. It is just a perfect match.”

Sustainable food solutions

Didier Marquis investigates food neophobia — the fear of eating unknown foods.

The humanities interdiscplinary PhD student will spend his six-month internship at the Montreal Biodome evaluating organic waste through the production of insects. The project will be delivered in partnership with Blanc de Gris, a local company that uses coffee-based compost to grow oyster mushrooms.

“Using insects to create a circular economy network is the missing component to try to evaluate organic waste in cities,” says Marquis.

“People are starting to understand why we have to change our consumption patterns — we’re so disconnected (from) what we put in our mouths.”


Research that helps parents

When Katie Boodhoo’s supervisor Diane Pesco, an associate professor of education in Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science, first told her about the provincial internship program, she saw it as a perfect opportunity to bring her research into practice.

For her two-month internship, the master’s student in the Department of Education will draw on her work in parent-child interactions and language development at Le Rond-Point, a centre that offers psychosocial, medical and other services to families of parents with substance abuse problems.

"I’m really looking forward to getting feedback from the parents, interacting with them and having them inform me about challenges they want help with,” Boodhoo says.


Art museums and immigration

Having immigrated to Canada from Brazil in 2006, Tanha Gomes knows first-hand how contemporary art can help bridge the gaps between cultures and people. She was so inspired by her own experiences that the master’s student in art education decided to make this line of inquiry the focus of her research.

“I’m looking at the social role of art museums and how they can help create a sense of community, especially with recent immigrants,” Gomes says.

For her six-month internship, Gomes will be creating programs for the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) that engage different publics to make lasting connections at the museum.


Learn more about graduate studies at Concordia.


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