Public Engagement Award winners 2023

The UBC-V Public Humanities Hub is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Public Engagement Awards. These awards are given to individuals and partner organizations who have exhibited outstanding public humanities engagement in the past two years, and whose work has contributed to the expansion of the range of voices in public discourse. Congratulations to the winners.

Tenured or Tenure-Track Faculty

Yue Qian (Sociology)

The winner of the award to recognize the contributions of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member is Dr. Yue Qian, for her innovative approaches to advancing scholarship across her expansive digital platforms, the timeliness of her research on gender and racial inequality amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the breadth of her audiences that range from youth to policymakers alike. Dr. Qian’s work consistently ignites and extends into public conversation, and she has shown an unwavering commitment to mentoring students in public humanities and public engagement in addition to producing her own research.

Dr. Yue Qian sits at a desk with her hand on her computer mouse looking at data on a monitor. She has black hair and is wearing a black blazer.

Dr. Qian is Associate Professor of Sociology at UBC. Her research concerns inequality at the intersection of gender, family, and work in North America and East Asia. Her work examines two lines of inquiry: (1) how couple dynamics in intimate relationships reflect and shape gender inequality in the broader society; (2) how social and mental health inequalities manifest and evolve in the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Qian is committed to conveying academic research to wider audiences. As a gender scholar, Dr. Qian is particularly passionate about translating gender research into the empowerment of women and advocacy for gender equality around the world.

Lecturer, Sessional Instructor, or Post-doctoral Fellow

Celia Edell (Philosophy)

The winner of the award to recognize the contributions of a lecturer, sessional instructor, or postdoctoral fellow is Dr. Celia Edell, for the impressive digital reach of her work on scapegoating and representation, her ability to address important social issues through diverse mediums ranging from popular culture to public policy, and her commitment to engaging publics outside of academia at community events.

Dr. Celia Edell smiles in a black-and-white headshot. She has blonde hair and wears a collared shirt.

Dr. Edell is a Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQSC) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Philosophy Department at UBC-Vancouver. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from McGill University where she was a SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Edell’s research lies at the intersection of feminist theory, social epistemology, and ethics with a special focus on guilt, blame, and group oppression. Her current research examines the internet as a shared social space that is rife with public shaming and social exclusion. She is passionate about using philosophical ideas to explain contemporary popular culture by drawing out the relevance that old or abstract ideas can have in our modern world.

Graduate Students

Denise Fong (Interdisciplinary Studies)

Denise Fong’s Public Engagement Award recognizes her anti-racist approach to museology through participatory exhibit curation and knowledge co-creation with the Vancouver Chinatown community. Her work reimagines how diasporic experiences are represented and promotes a timely reform of colonial museum structures.

Denise Fong smiles while leaning against a red door frame wearing a black sweater. She wears glasses and has brown hair.

Denise is a Chinese Canadian immigrant settler, UBC Public Scholar and Ph.D. candidate in the UBC Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program. Her dissertation research focuses on community engagement and decolonizing museums. She currently serves as the research director of UBC’s Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian studies. She has co-curated two award-winning history exhibitions — Across the Pacific at the Burnaby Village Museum, and A Seat at the Table at the Museum of Vancouver and the Chinese Canadian Museum of BC. She is also the co-author of Challenging Racist “British Columbia”, and author/researcher of the Chinese Canadian History in Burnaby resource guide. Denise is grateful for the support of the UBC Public Humanities Hub, which previously supported museum programming for the A Seat at the Table exhibition at MOV.

Olivia Dreisinger (English Language & Literatures)

Olivia Dreisinger’s Public Engagement Award recognizes her commitment to accessibility and open-access across both traditional and non-traditional mediums (podcast, documentary, archive), and for her multidirectional approach to disability research that looks outward to examine timely social issues as well as inward to explore the embodied experiences of disabled scholars within academia.

Olivia Dreisinger smiles while wearing a black sweater. She has brown hair.

Olivia is a disabled artist, scholar, and writer. Her own fluctuating physical abilities often dictate how she produces work—a process that regularly leads her to new and generative mediums to explore. Her work has been supported by Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, the National Film Board of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. In 2021, she received the Emerging Digital Artist Award from EQ Bank. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in English Literature at the University of British Columbia.

Emily Jean Leischner (Anthropology)

Emily Jean Leischner’s Public Engagement Award recognizes her contribution toward decolonizing university-community relations through her engagement in ongoing research co-creation and community-based projects with the Nuxalk First Nation that counteract colonial logics by centring Nuxalk laws and protocols. 

Emily Jean Leischner smiles in a photo taken outside on a boat with the ocean in the background. She has brown hair and wears a blue hat that says "You are on native land" in white letters.

Emily is a settler, community-based researcher who studies and works with museums and archives. In reciprocity with colleagues and friends from the Nuxalk First Nation, she researches the historical and contemporary appropriation of Nuxalk knowledge and heritage, collaborating on projects that reclaim and uphold Nuxalk sovereignty. Her dissertation examines resource extraction and settler colonialism in the capture, imprisonment, and return of sound recordings of Nuxalk voices in museums and archives. She’s also the co-host of Using and Refusing Museums on Nuxalk Radio.

Partner Organization

hua foundation

The winner of the award to recognize the contributions of a partner organization is the hua foundation in partnership with Dr. JP Catungal, for the timeliness of their C19 Response Coalition amid the pandemic; the intersectional, anti-racist, and anti-colonial approaches used to develop their culturally and linguistically appropriate resources through the Response Coalition and Language Access Project; and their engagement of youth and student community members.

Since 2020, hua foundation has been working in partnership with Dr. JP Catungal (UBC Social Justice Institute and Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies) to respond to language and cultural inaccessibility as an issue faced by Asian Canadian communities in Metro Vancouver. Their partnership began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, working with community partners as part of the C19 Response Coalition. Collectively, they produced culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate COVID-19 resources for Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Chinese speaking communities, and witnessed how systemic language inaccessibility is entrenched in public sector communications. In 2023, they launched the Language Access Project, which aims to support capacity and competency building toward language justice.

Left: the logos of the hua foundation appears in teal. Centre: the logo for the Language Access Project appears in yellow. And Right: the language for the Covid 19 Response Coalition appears in yellow.