PhD thesis

Since 2012 I have been a PhD student at the University of Toronto. I completed my coursework and comprehensive exams in Canadian politics and public policy and am now working on a thesis entitled: “Persuasion Strategies: Canadian Campus Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns and the Development of Activists”.

Since 2011, climate change activists have been trying to persuade institutions including universities to sell their stock in fossil fuel corporations (divestment). Three core objectives have been articulated for the campus fossil fuel divestment (CFFD) movement:

  1. delegitimizing the fossil fuel industry in the eyes of the public,
  2. changing the behaviour of targeted institutions,
  3. and developing student participants into committed and effective activists.

My research project focuses on the third of these: seeking to provide the first comprehensive account of what involvement in CFFD activism has done to activists and whether the objective of activist development is being achieved.

The project is under the supervision of Professor Robert Vipond, with Professor Steven Bernstein and Professor Joseph Carens as committee members.

This project will use a variety of research methods to produce a comprehensive account of what CFFD campaigns have happened at Canadian universities. It will then use a close examination of a smaller number of campaigns to evaluate what effect participation has had on activists.


In August 2017, my research proposal was approved by the Department of Political Science: Canadian Campus Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns and the Development of Activists

In October 2017, I submitted a proposed research ethics protocol to the University of Toronto’s Office of Research Ethics.

As of June 2018, research is actively ongoing on the basis of the approved research proposal and ethics protocol.

Last updated: 2017-07-10