Rewarding scholarship

May 29, 2003, vol. 27, no. 3
By Julie Ovenell-Carter

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Adrienne Burk (left ), winner of the dean of graduate studies convocation medal in arts, is the first student in the history of SFU's geography department to earn a PhD without first completing a master's degree.

Burk, who enrolled in the masters program in 1997, quickly demonstrated an unparalleled level of scholarship, according to her departmental nominator. As a result, she transferred to the doctoral program. She continued to thrive despite the accelerated program, ultimately earning a 4.0 cumulative grade point average.

Burk received a four-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral fellowship to pursue research for her thesis, A politics of visibility: public space, monuments, and social memory. Her study focuses on the social, political, and geographic complexities of three separate monuments located in Vancouver's downtown eastside, and brings together several bodies of disparate scholarship to examine, among other things, “how collective memory is recorded, re-made, and erased,” according to her nominator.

Burk says the three monuments she examined - which focus on issues of violence, especially to women and the socially marginalized - “did not follow the norm for public monuments, which are generally meant to foreclose interpretations of events rather than stimulate debate. But careful discussions around permanence and the icons and rituals of memory, present unique opportunities to enrich our social worlds. By what they obscure, and what they make manifest, monuments reflect what is socially possible, what is warned against, and what is dreamt."

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