Assistant professor Gillian Russell awarded grant to support Ocean Futures project

March 14, 2024
Ocean Futures Team going on a tour of False Creek with Captain Zaida, director of False Creek Friends. From Left to Right: Dr. Gillian Russell, Lauren Thu, Captain Zaida, Dr. Katherine Reilly, Jihyun Park.

School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT) assistant professor Gillian Russell was recently awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant to support her research.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grants support research in its initial stages. The grants enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas. 

The $58,731 grant was awarded to Russell to support a new and innovative research project titled "Community Ocean Futures: activating data for alternative knowledges."

Learn more about the research project:

Community Ocean Futures: activating data for alternative knowledges

Ocean Futures is a research creation project led by Dr. Gillian Russell and SFU School of Communication's Dr. Katherine Reilly, that explores and investigates how Speculative Design Methodologies can interact with Citizen Science projects to support the development of ocean futures literacies for British Columbians.

Through explicit linkages between culture, ecology, and environmental politics, the project aims to cultivate citizen and stakeholder awareness and action around the complex challenges and pressures confronting our oceans and inland waters. These challenges encompass a spectrum of interrelated issues including habitat and biodiversity loss, pollution from various sources such as litter, plastic, chemicals, excess nutrients, light, and underwater noise, as well as the proliferation of invasive species.

Through their research, Russell, Reilly and their team will design and deploy a series of community engaged speculative interventions across diverse regions like Galiano Island, Pender Island, Vancouver, and the Sunshine Coast. By combining scientific fact with creative speculation, the research aims to develop a series of community developed alternative ocean futures, in an effort to explore how we might think more creatively and radically about the environmental challenges facing marine ecosystems while empowering individuals and communities to become agents of change.

Shoreline cleanup probe kit 1.
Shoreline cleanup probe kit 2.

Working at the intersection of design, anthropological futures, and narrative environments, Dr. Gillian Russell’s research investigates how design can be used as a method for actively engaging publics in unveiling present realities and future possibilities. Drawing on tactics of speculative intervention and value-sensitive design her practice explores the potential for the imaginary as a design tool for social change.

Her work has been featured at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon, in the Porto Design Biennale, Helsinki Design Museum, Design Museum London, London Design Festival, Milan Furniture Fair and the Victoria & Albert Museum. She holds a PhD in Design History (2017) from the Royal College of Art, London, and was a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow at the Digital Democracies Institute, SFU. Gillian is co-director of the Imaginative Methods Lab, an international working group developing practices and tools to re-imagine design research.