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Dean’s Network Awards

This fall, FIFSW launched the Dean’s Network Awards to foster educational and research collaborations and illuminate the distinct areas around which our education and research coalesce. Proposals were sought that would lead to the development of networks or collaborations among FIFSW faculty members and other U of T departments or faculties, and provide a central role for community partners. The following faculty received awards:

Assistant Professors Bryn King and Stephanie Begun, Assistant Professor Rachelle Ashcroft, Associate Professor Izumi Sakamoto, and Assistant Professor Toula Kourgiantakis.

Read more about their winning projects, below.


Bryn King and Stephanie Begun
The Youth Wellness Lab: Developing a Collaboration between Researchers, Community-Based Partners, andYouth

The Youth Wellness Lab is a collaborative “hub” for researchers who are interested in the well-being of young people across a broad spectrum of domains, including community-based agencies and networks that partner on youth-related research — as well as youth who are interested in participating in the design and dissemination of research. The Dean’s Network Award is allowing for further development of the Lab’s infrastructure (including recruiting youth advisors, engaging research and community-based partners, and designing the Lab’s website and social media strategy) while the Lab’s researchers further define the vision, mission, processes and best practices for youth-led collaborative research and knowledge mobilization.

Assistant Professors Stephanie Begun and Bryn King are the Co-Principal Investigators. Co-Investigators include Assistant Professor Tara Black, Associate Professors Lin Fang and Tanya Sharpe, Professors Shelley Craig and Barbara Fallon, and Associate Professor Lance McCready from OISE.


Izumi Sakamoto
Tacit Knowledge in Anti-Oppressive Community Organizing

Led by Associate Professor Izumi Sakamoto, the Tacit Knowledge in Community Organizing project documents community-based activism led and organized by migrants and people of colour against intersecting oppressions such as racism, sexism, and xenophobia. An interdisciplinary team of researchers are also studying the mobilization of Japanese art-based activism in response to the wartime incarceration of Japanese-Canadians, advocacy for migrant women, and fostering Trans Latina community inclusion. Launched in 2019, the project is forging exciting new research connections globally, including work with colleagues in Japanese universities, to learn how allyship occurs within the global disability movement. The project hopes to create a community that brings together a range of social work scholars, practitioners, educators, students, and community leaders to learn about the organizing efforts of those directly impacted by structural oppressions.

The research team includes FIFSW faculty (Associate Professors Rupaleem Bhuyan, Eunjung Lee, Charmaine Williams, and Lin Fang) researchers from U of T’s Faculty of Nursing (Associate Professor Denise Gastaldo) and Faculty of Public Health (Associate Professor Blake Poland), George Brown College (Natalie Wood) and Concordia University (Jessica Blueur), along with community-based social workers and MSW, PhD, Master’s and undergraduate students at the University of Toronto and beyond.


Toula Kourgiantakis
Facilitators and Barriers for Families Seeking Mental Health Services for Emerging Adults

Emerging adults aged 16 to 24 have the highest rates of mental health and addiction concerns in Canada and the most untreated mental health care needs. There are several barriers faced by emerging adults and their family members when accessing mental health services including long wait lists, screening and assessment challenges, and lack of culturally adapted services. Moreover, emerging adults and families face inequities accessing services due to racism, poverty, social exclusion, and geographic location. In collaboration with the Family Navigation Project and Stella’s Place, this project explores the barriers preventing access to these crucial services from the perspectives of family members, emerging adults, and service providers. The project team is working to establish actionable recommendations to improve access to mental health and addiction treatment.

Co-applicants include Assistant Professor Rachelle Ashcroft, Associate Professors Eunjung Lee and Charmaine Williams, Assistant Professor (Status) Roula Markoulakis (Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy), Professor Anthony Levitt (Psychiatry), Associate Professor Abby Goldstein (OISE), Executive Director Sugy Kodeeswaran (Family Navigation Project, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre) and Executive Director Jenny Carver (Stella’s Place – Young Adult Mental Health).


Rachelle Ashcroft
Health Policy Evidence Exchange Network (HPEEN): Strengthening Social Work’s Capacity for Health Policy

This project seeks to include the unique perspectives of social workers in better understanding the impacts of health policy on people’s lives, as well as utilizing social work skills in developing health policy. By identifying and promoting social workers’ perspectives and skills, we can highlight the competencies required for social workers to make a meaningful impact on health equity and population health. Our goal is to enhance social workers’ knowledge and competencies to engage in health policy issues that align with provincial health system and priorities. To do this, HPEEN will serve as a responsive dissemination network to emerging health policy issues. This network will connect social workers across the country in linking issues to relevant research and knowledge and translating it into practice. By bringing researchers and policy makers together, HPEEN will work to strengthen policy-informed social work practice in healthcare, social work education, and social work’s professional engagement with policymakers on key health policy related issues.

Co-Applicants include FIFSW Assistant Professors Toula Kourgiantakis, Stephanie Begun, Keith Adamson and Professor Shelley Craig, PhD student Andrea Greenblatt, MSW alumni Simon Lam, Assistant Professor Michelle Nelson (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto), Professor Susan Cadell (Renison School of Social Work, University of Waterloo), Dr. Deepy Sur (Ontario Association of Social Workers), and Dr. Frank Sirotich (Canadian Mental Health Association).