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Doctoral student Steven Zhao receives 2020 Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship

July 31, 2020

Congratulations to Steven Zhao, a doctoral student in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University!

Zhao, a student in the Educational Theory and Practice: Philosophy of Education Stream PhD program, was recently announced as a 2020 recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier scholarship, valued at $35,000 per year for three years.

“I am incredibly grateful to be supported financially as well as intellectually by those who are generous enough to believe in the potential and value of this research direction,” says Zhao. 

The Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship, established by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) federal agency, provides financial support to scholars, allowing them the opportunity to fully concentrate on their studies and further develop their research skills.

Zhao’s research proposal Situating Radicalization as a Learned Outcome of Interpersonal Experience aims to philosophically elaborate upon the nature of the moral person within the context of education as well as the learning process intrinsic to its situations. 

“I'm exploring certain philosophical 'terrains' to see if it's possible to arrive at certain understandings of the meaning of morality and the lived situation of the person so as to reveal some potential connections between them," says Zhao. 

With this scholarship, Zhao hopes to conduct qualitative research on prison populations with histories of radicalization in local correctional institutions.

“The specific connection to this scholarship is that through undertaking such explorations, I hope to illuminate certain insights on the educational processes of immoral beliefs and actionsMainly, I seek to contribute to the current discourse on the transformative processes of violent ideological extremism as well as the pedagogical implications of its prevention through certain philosophical insights.”

Zhao has received valuable support, encouragement and inspiration in the form of “personal scholarship” from mentor and Faculty of Education professor Dr. Heesoon Bai.

“I am deeply appreciative and relieved of the fact that her span of generosity is as far and wide as my desire for intellectual and dialogical freedom,” says Zhao. “To emphasize her impact on my intellectual directions and depth would be to inadvertently dismiss the deeper lessons that she exemplifies – that underneath the expected rigor of scholarship lies first and foremost the tended vigour of a person. It is a person that is not separate from their scholarship but by very nature part of its outcome.”

“Steven has an unbelievable passion for intellectual pursuits, only matched by his deep and wide care for people whose real lives are impacted by certain societal beliefs and values that rob them of their autonomy and narrow their vision of life and the world," says Dr. Bai. “I find the balance of Steven's intellect and heartfulness to be admirable and inspiring."