Dr. Robin Freeman


Areas of Focus: Climate Solutions; Democratic Participation; Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access; Teaching and Learning
Pronouns: she/her
Email: robin_freeman@sfu.ca

Robin Freeman grew up in northern Maine and spent her summers camping among the trees on the unceded and ancestral territories of the Mi’kma’ki, Wabanaki and Wolastoqiyik Nations. 

She recently relocated to the Vancouver area from Regensburg, Germany with her partner and two children. She brings a background in adult learning facilitation, research, philanthropy, communications, and project management to her work at the Centre for Dialogue.

Trained as a singer and choral conductor, Robin is an award-winning educator with years of experience teaching both in higher education and community-based settings. She has developed arts-based community engagement initiatives and is enthusiastic about harnessing the creative power of the arts for personal and social transformation. Having made her home with her family in several different countries, she is fascinated by how artistic practices and ways-of-knowing can help foster connection and bridge cultural differences (and she is still searching for the best Bavarian-style pretzel in Vancouver).

Robin’s experiences in music and education sparked her interest in collaboration and dialogue. Robin holds a Doctor of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, where her research explored equitable and democratic approaches to adult learning. She has published on collaboration in adult learning, the importance of self-reflection in facilitation, motherhood in academia, and community-building through artistic practice. She is honoured to be part of the Mitigating Wildfire Initiative team and looks forward to building relationships that advance climate action.

What is your role at the Centre for Dialogue?

My portfolio with the Mitigating Wildfire Initiative currently includes developing and stewarding funding relationships, financial management, report writing and editing, and event management. I also contribute to process design, data analysis, and evaluation. I am most energized by creating and deepening relationships, and so I love the many opportunities I have to meet people, learn from them, and build collaborative partnerships.

What does dialogue mean to you?

As a musician who loves to sing with others, I think about the practice of dialogue through the lens of group music-making. Both require the ability to listen deeply to others and to respond skillfully in the moment to what we hear. In dialogue, as in music, we try to find a way to weave multiple voices together, and to be vulnerable and take risks. There’s a kinetic energy and a sense of flow when we do it well. In the end, we can find ourselves—and hopefully our communities—changed by the process.

What is a common assumption you'd like to demystify?

I’m not sure if this is a common assumption, but something I’ve learned about dialogue, especially as a parent and a teacher, is the need to listen beyond the words someone is saying and tune in to the emotions they’re expressing. Listening, and not merely hearing, can be healing. And I think I’ve found that creating an atmosphere for that kind of deep listening is as much an art as it is a practice.

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