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Dr. Tanya Behrisch receives Dean’s Convocation Medal
As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Education, Dr. Tanya Behrisch is recognized with the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Behrisch on her outstanding achievements.
Dr. Tanya Behrisch’s doctoral research focused on how mastery relates to strangeness—that is, anything we encounter as threatening or uncertain. Although modern humans are taught to respond to strangeness by trying to control or colonize it, Behrisch drew on multiple thought traditions to propose a different way of understanding mastery, in terms of the dynamics of abundance and scarcity. Behrisch found that practices of mastery as abundance make room for mastery as scarcity; these depend and co-arise with each other in a contradictory fashion.
Behrisch wove together her lifelong practices of oil painting and long-distance kayaking, her parents’ teachings and her professional career as a university administrator to explore how mastery plays out paradoxically as control over and surrender to strangeness. Pursuing mastery in art or team management combines patient disciplined practice and humility to accept unknowns. These offer creative and leadership potential and a means to face our uncertain futures.
While undertaking her research, Behrisch worked full-time managing teams of up to 100 people in SFU’s Work Integrated Learning unit during COVID. She published papers in top peer-reviewed journals and won the President’s PhD Scholarship in 2022.
Behrisch’s supervisor, Dr. Mark Fettes says, “Throughout her studies, Tanya showed herself to be in every way an exceptional doctoral student, with an enormous appetite for learning and scholarship. I have rarely encountered a student with a comparable work ethic and range of accomplishments, and none who coupled that with such swift progress through her program and such whole-hearted participation in the intellectual life of the academy.”
Behrisch says Fettes pushed her “to write and think at the peak of my intellectual, creative and emotional capacities. He pared down my writing to be more succinct while granting me freedom to take intellectual risks and enjoy scholarship as a lived experience. He urged me to read widely and changed how I see myself in relation to modernity; I’m embedded in a complex ecology of thinking, both human and more-than-human. I’m very grateful to Dr. Fettes. He’s an excellent mentor.”
Behrisch applies the wisdom she’s learned through her doctoral studies to managing SFU’s Applied Sciences Co-op Program, facilitating over 2000 student work experiences in industry a year. Philosophy, scholarship, oil painting and writing are integral to Tanya’s life. She plans to continue leading large groups of professionals through change, fiscal austerity and innovation in the educational or private sectors. She’s currently writing about ecological mastery and the colour blue and belongs to several creative and scholarly communities of practice. Her paintings are held in private collections globally.
- Academic Unit: Educational Theory and Practice, Philosophy of Education Stream
- Thesis: Making friends with strangeness: Practices of mastery within an ontology of abundance
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tanyabehrisch/
- Artistic Website: https://behrisch.com/
- Research Website: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9179-8139
- Email: email@example.com