Stephany Peterson is a doctoral student of the University of New Brunswick, with a concentration in interdisciplinary studies – focusing on the spaces between the traditional disciplines. This has flourished in all facets of her life, as an intersection of her academic, professional, and philanthropic passions.
As an academic, Stephany has served in a variety of capacities for executive representation: Graduate Student Association executive and council rep, as Arts Representative, and President of the Sociology Graduate Society. She has presented and attended academic and industry conferences across the country, and her work has been published on topics of criticality and social construct temporalities.
Tea and Empathy: recontextualizing impact assessment of age-related cultural initiatives
Globally, we are experiencing a profound demographic shift: for the first time, seniors outnumber youth. Across Canada these trends are four times greater, and concentrated again still in New Brunswick. Considering age as a social construct (and as a relatively undisrupted stigmatization) both ends of the continuum – the young and the old – are constrained as vulnerable sectors. My interdisciplinary research frames narratives of disruption as an articles-based dissertation in three research components: two distinct projects on life stages, ageism, and age-related issues [the lived experience of senior financial exploitation and an autoethnography of implementing intergenerational cultural programs]; and, the third as a synthesis between the projects as an analysis of assessment methodologies such as social return on investment model. Their integration finds a common ground among multiple disciplines, stakeholders, and perspectives in both New Brunswick and Sri Lanka.
The lived experience of senior financial exploitation in New Brunswick research is being conducted with partial funding from an arm’s length crown corporation – organizations founded on a model of acting as an instrument of public policy. Public information sessions will be coordinated across the province in the context of elder financial abuse prevention, protection, and prosecution. I will develop these initial interactions into consenting semi-structured interviews with multiple stakeholders that will become the basis of my phenomenological research data.
The second research project is an autoethnography of the process of establishing an intergenerational cultural program in Sri Lanka. For this portion of the research, my primary support partners are service organizations. In this way, my research data will be collected and analyzed with the self as instrument of service. The first iteration of cultural projects is trilingual literacy as a means by which to address social exclusion.
The synthesis of these research projects is assessment of impact of these ‘instruments’: of public policy and instruments of service, and measuring the accomplishment of their mutual goal of fulfilling the gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought’ – need. Both projects use cultural artefacts, particularly evocative narrative, as data and as collection tool. From this foundation, I seek to articulate a resonant resistance to constraining ageism, and conceive of the young and old as symbiotic resources. These processes will be assessed to conceive of value and impact with the goal of a critical recontextualization of age framed in the discourse of combating ageism (addressing abuse against older persons and social exclusion).