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Student Profile: Darya (Dasha) Berezhnova
I completed my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Peace & Conflict Studies at the University of Waterloo, where I also had the invaluable experience of participating in the co-op program. Having lived in six countries throughout my life, I decided to specialize in International Relations during my graduate studies here at SFU, as it allows me to combine many of my areas of interest, including politics, culture, identity, conflict and conflict resolution, and many others. During my time at SFU I have been lucky enough to be a teaching assistant for a variety of courses, and developed a passion for pedagogy which I plan to pursue further.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
I chose to come to SFU because of its strong reputation as a research school and its marvellous location. I was particularly interested in pursuing a degree in the Political Science department because the research interests of my supervisor, Dr. Jérémie Cornut, align very closely with my own. Once here, I immediately appreciated the emphasis on methodology in the Political Science department, and the flexibility that allows me to tailor my program to my needs (completing a thesis option and a co-op).
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.
My research focuses on Track II diplomacy, that is to say, unofficial dialogues between academics, policy experts, and retired government officials, rather than the official diplomacy that we typically think of when world leaders visit other countries. This type of diplomacy is very interesting when the dialogues that happen unofficially find their way to the official level, and end up influencing policy in a tangible way. I take a practice theoretical approach to studying Track II diplomacy in Canada and in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on the day to day lives of the people who participate in these unofficial dialogues.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
My courses at SFU have been incredibly interesting and directly applicable to my program, and instructors have been kind and supportive, even in matters not directly related to coursework. Being located in Vancouver is also a unique opportunity, as my research involves interviewing experts in Track II diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region, who tend to live and work on the West Coast. Finally, I am very appreciative of the many practical learning opportunities available at SFU that have provided a well-rounded educational experience, such as the co-op program, the Instructional Skills Workshop, the Certificate Program for University Teaching and Learning, and opportunities to be a teaching assistant. Throughout these experiences I have supplemented my academic learning in unexpected ways and developed brand new interests. My co-op position at SFU External Relations has allowed me to get experience in conducting a survey research project from beginning to end, and get a glimpse into the inner workings of a higher education institution. TA positions and instructional training I've completed have not only uncovered a passion for pedagogy, but also taught me to take a rigorous and inventive approach to my teaching, just as I do to my research.
HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR FUNDED AWARDS?
I have received the BCGS and the SSHRC CGS Masters Scholarship.
These awards have helped immensely in funding my studies and relieving significant financial anxiety. I have been able to focus more on my coursework and thesis research thanks to these funding opportunities.