Supervision for the 21st century

The supervision for the 21st century key action area will improve the supervisory experience for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; bringing clarity and consistency around research assistantships.

Impact on Student Experience

Initiative Highlights

Graduate supervision is the heart of graduate education and can be the source of a very productive professional relationship between the student and faculty member that extends beyond degree completion. However, it can also be a relationship filled with anxiety and troubled by murky communication. The consultations for S21C indicate we need to provide clarity around supervisory relationships and expand the notion of supervision beyond traditional model

  • The working group drafted the new supervisory handbook that is written with the intention to provide a positive framework for the supervisory relationship at SFU.
  • S21C hosted a number of mental health workshops by Dr. Susan Brook, a clinical counsellor, to support graduate students through various stages of their student life at SFU.
  • In partnership with the Healthier Campus Community, the working groups created ‘A Guide for Action on Well-Being through the SFU Supervisory Process’.
  • In January 2021, the working group introduced its speaker series and hosted a conversation with Dr. Jordan Abel, a Nisga’a writer and scholar from Vancouver and assistant professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta.
    • Dr. Abel was joined by Dr. Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), an associate professor in the Departments of Indigenous Studies and the Department of English at Simon Fraser University
    • Dr. Abel was invited to share his experiences as a graduate student and researcher.


In the coming year, workshops for graduate students and faculty members will follow the publication of the handbook and will reinforce the set of respectful and professional practices we wish to highlight. Simultaneously, the S21C working group is planning on hosting a speaking series to discuss topics on fostering a positive supervisory relationship, ‘From Grad to Prof’ and ‘Remote Supervision’. Additionally, the working group seeks to continue hosting the mental health workshops delivered by Dr. Susan Brook.