I am interested in how people tell stories about their neighbourhood in order to advocate for their sense of home in the face of change.

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Student Profile: Jennifer Chutter

November 06, 2019
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PhD student in Individualized Interdisciplinary Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

I have always been fascinated with the concept of home, and I have looked at it from different angles throughout the course of my academic career. During my undergraduate degree, I looked at the concept of home in relation to national identity. What does it mean to be a Canadian and feel like you belong to Canada? During my teaching career, I worked with my students, who were mostly first or second generation immigrants, unpacking the concepts. However, I still had more questions, and I felt graduate studies was the best way to pursue those answers. I did an MA in Liberal Studies, and explored home from an interdisciplinary perspective. My MA in History looked at a specific house design, the Vancouver Special. My PhD work brings both of these research threads together. 

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I did my undergraduate degrees at UBC and I knew I wanted to pursue graduate studies at a different university. However, for a variety of reasons, I needed to remain in Vancouver. SFU offered me flexible options for pursuing my graduate studies. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.

Housing is a hot topic in Vancouver, whether it is discussing the empty house tax, new construction disrupting existing neighbourhoods, or the cost of buying. What I explore in my research is the concept of housing being more than a shelter or economic commodity, but how attachment to a dwelling creates a sense of home. These attachments to home extend out to the wider neighbourhood. I am interested in how people tell stories about their neighbourhood in order to advocate for their sense of home in the face of change. 

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

I'm enjoying drawing on the expertise of supervisors from very diverse fields. I like the flexibility of being able to create my own program of study. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM?

This program is great for someone who is intellectually driven to explore a topic from multiple perspective on their own. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE GRADUATE STUDENTS/POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS?

Spend your time finding a supervisor who is excited by your project idea, and read the work of their past students. There are lots of free resources and workshops on campus to support your research and writing. It is important to recognize that you are not alone in your struggles, and reaching out and asking for help is important part of successfully completing.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

MA Thesis: What's so special about the Vancouver Special? http://summit.sfu.ca/item/16832
MA Extended Essays: http://summit.sfu.ca/item/11702

Contact Jennifer: jac24@sfu.ca