PhD (Criminology), 2011
MA (Criminology), 2003
PBD (Criminology), 2001
Camilla Sears credits faculty members at Simon Fraser University for molding and nurturing her passion for teaching and research as a Criminology graduate student. Her education paved the way for her current position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Thompson Rivers University.
Born in Vancouver, Sears’s family left for Europe when she was two years old, travelling around the continent for two years before settling in London, England where they lived for 20 years before moving back to Canada. During a visit with Canadian friends and family, Sears took a tour of the SFU Burnaby campus and decided it was her “dream” to continue her education at SFU.
After graduating in 1997 with a B.A. in Sociology from the Thames Valley University (UK), Sears moved back to Canada to begin her studies at SFU, enrolling in the Post Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in the School of Criminology. It was while taking CRIM 412: Crime, the Media and the Public with Dr. Dorothy Chunn (now Professor Emerita), that Sears discovered her love for the subject. She describes CRIM 412 as a “life changing course” which inspired her so much that she would often go to the library after class to find more books on the topic.
Sears’s budding passion for the study of crime and media motivated her to enrol in the M.A. programme to study the criminalization of rap music, which included interviews with students, parents, musicians, and police officers. As discussed in a 2003 interview profiling her M.A. research, she concluded that there is “no consensus about where the boundary lies between licit and illicit, or acceptable and unacceptable, suggesting the music, like all forms, remains open to interpretation.” Sears completed her M.A. in 2002.
Her intellectual curiosity unsatiated, Sears continued at SFU with research and teaching as a Ph.D. student. Her dissertation, “Policing the Grotesque: The Regulation of Pornography in Canada,” examined 50 years of legal cases in Canada on adult pornography and, using critical discourse analysis, traced the changes in judicial discourses in terms of how the legal system talked about and regulated it. Working under the supervision of Dr. Simon Verdun-Jones (Senior Supervisor), Dr. Margaret Jackson, and Dr. Zoë Druick, Sears successfully defended her doctorate in the spring of 2011.
At the same time she worked on her PhD, Sears was a Sessional Instructor. She taught a variety of Criminology courses in her area of interest – crime and media, sociology of crime, and pornography and the law in Canada – and her positive experiences teaching and inspiring the minds of the next wave of Criminology graduates worked to solidify her desire to pursue an academic career.
In addition, Sears held a number of positions representing graduate students interests. For three years, she was the Graduate Issues Officer with the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), when the student organization still represented the whole student body at SFU (graduate students are now represented by the Graduate Student Society). She also sat on the SFSS’s Board of Directors and chaired many committees; she was a student senator and the Chair for the Criminology Graduate Student Caucus for a number of years.
After taking some time off after the birth of her daughter Charlotte in October 2011, Sears began a tenure-track position at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops in 2012. Sears has developed new courses in Criminology at TRU, and is already earning a positive reputation amongst students who flock to her courses. She was also recently awarded funding for a research project titled “Crime Causation Theories: An Examination of Public and Service Providers' Perceptions” through TRU’s Internal Research Fund.
Working with two psychologists, Sears is conducting a qualitative study of people’s perceptions of crime and crime-related causation. This funding has also enabled Sears to hire and train three student research assistants and to complete the interview phase of the project with TRU faculty, staff, and students, giving her the opportunity to play yet another rewarding role in student mentoring and training.
While SFU set the stage for Sears’s scholarly pursuits, she affirms the importance of “maintaining connections” post-graduation. Indeed, she has cultivated many long-lasting relationships with former peers and instructors, constructing a close-knit group who support each other professionally and personally. All her training and education has prepared her to now step into the role of mentor, and to be a support for students forging their own academic paths. As Sears happily explains, one of her former students was accepted into SFU’s School of Criminology’s M.A. programme fall of 2014.
- Written by the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences