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Student Profile: Mark James Dunn
master's student in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology
I'm just a regular guy, passionate about labour and criminal "justice" reform. Maybe it was the decade plus of service-industry jobs that ignited a desire to learn more about the labour movement, and a criminology minor (also at SFU) that made me realize there must be another way to deal with the administration of justice in this country. I've since started working as a social worker with people with mental health disorders and a history of criminal justice involvement. I've also been working on an international project focused on gig worker organizing, specifically rideshare drivers in California. My research hopes to combine a thorough critique of how labour is used in North American prisons with an exploration of better solutions focused on rehabilitation first and foremost.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
I love SFU. I grew up in Vancouver, but never really thought about SFU as a real option until I was in my early 20s and realized, after just finishing a diploma in radio broadcasting, that communication theory was just the most interesting thing to me. I did my undergraduate degree in the School of Communication because of its strong international reputation, and minored in criminology. When I was thinking about where to do my master's degree, it just made sense to stay. Here I'm incredibly lucky to be working with Dr. Enda Brophy in the School of Communication, and Dr. Curt Griffiths in the School of Criminology.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?
Mum, I've told you a thousand times. My focus is on prison labour. I'm doing a political economy of prison labour in North America. Yeah, I know, but it's hard to explain. Basically there are two narratives about prison labour in the West. First, that job programs give people who are incarcerated experience that will benefit them upon release, and second, that incarcerated people are an under-utilized labour force that should be working. See, one rationale is rehabilitative, and the other is economic. My research is going to explore these two narratives, interviewing people who have worked while incarcerated, and get to the bottom of this whole situation! Yes, I know you didn't ask. No. I won't stop talking about it.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
My favourite part about doing a graduate degree at SFU is working as a Teaching Assistant. Working with undergraduate students, helping to teach the classes that really resonated with me during my bachelor's degree, has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I'm especially excited about in-person tutorials again. It's been just a dream to be back in the classroom and off of zoom.
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org