Dr. Suzanne Smythe

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
Academic Coordinator, PhD in Languages, Cultures and Literacies
Faculty Teaching Fellow

  • Email: sksmythe@sfu.ca
  • Phone: 778-782-8882
  • Office: Vancouver Campus, Harbour Centre 7363

Research Interests

I work at the intersections of adult literacy, digital equity and community-based learning. My current research program explores new technologies, literacies and digital justice in community-based adult learning settings, asking questions such as,

  • How are automation and datafied ecosystems transforming literacies and pedagogies in community settings?
  • How do we perceive and intervene in digital and algorithmic discrimination and exclusions as these occur in everyday encounters in digital education?
  • What new theories, methods and critical and experimental pedagogies make more just digital ecosystems possible? 

See for example, The new literacies of automation (SSHRC IG) with Nathalie Sinclair (co-PI), Gwenaëlle André and Haidekaye Williams. 

I have recently taken a detour to explore COVID19 as literacy work. In the project Mapping and theorizing technology innovations among digitally excluded communities during COVID19 with Nathalie Sinclair, Amea Wilbur, Marcela Mancilla-Fuller, we ask how frontline literacy and language outreach workers repair gaps, fissures and inequalities in advice and technologies available to newcomer communities during the pandemic:

  • What do these pedagogic inventions and practices say about information ecoystems available to racialized communities? 
  • How might these interventions inform more responsive and intuitive health literacy advice and information? 

Teaching practice

I am currently the faculty's "University Teaching Fellow" though I much prefer the term Teaching Mentor, a colleague to support teaching interests in the faculty. 

I teach in the Languages, Cultures and Literacies (LCL) PhD program and in Equity Studies in Education (ESE). I co-cordinate Languages, Cultures and Literacies with Dr. Steve Marshall.

With the assistance of Pedro dos Santos, I developed and regularly teach EDUC 341 Literacy, Education and Culture and will offer a new graduate course entitled Digital literacies and digital justice in the Fall of 2022.


I am priviledged to be a Research Associate and member of the Research Advisory Committee of  the BC Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a board member of Collège Éducacentre, and a member of the Downtown Eastside Literacy Roundtable and the Burnaby Now Literacy Roundtable. I am the Faculty of Education liaison for a Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP) in digital literacies at the Burnaby Neighbourhood House (funded by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education).  


Smythe, S. (2022). Beyond crisis, toward justice: New technologies in community-based adult learning. Adult literacy education, 1(4), 50-55. 

Butterwick, S. J., Smythe, S., & Li, J. (2021). Learning from a decade of the Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education Publications: Community-based research with marginalized adults. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education33(2). 

Toohey, K. & Smythe, S. (2021). A different difference in teacher education: posthuman and decolonizing perspectives, Language and Education.DOI: 10.1080/09500782.2021.1980002

Smythe, S., Wilbur, A. & Hunter, E. (2021). Inventive pedagogies and social solidarity: The work of community-based adult educators during COVID-19 in British Columbia, Canada, International Review of Education,  67, 9–29 (2021). 

Smythe, S., Grotlüschen, A. & Buddeberg, K. (2020). The automated literacies of e-recruitment and online services, Studies in the Education of Adults, 53:1, 4-22, DOI: 10.1080/02660830.2020.185587

Research Highlights