Canada Research Chair in New Media and Digital Humanities


The Canada Research Chairs program is a federal government research program to “retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds… in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences” as it states on its website. The program evaluates each university and allocates Canada Research Chairs (CRC) based on performance.

Currently StFX has five Canada Research Chairs (CRC): Dr. Hugo Beltrami with a Tier 1 CRC in Climate Dynamics; Dr. Todd Boyle has been granted a Tier 2 CRC in Quality Assurance in Community Pharmacy (a CRC that is coming to its ten-year maximum length this year); Dr. Petra Hauf has a Tier 2 CRC in Cognitive Development; Dr. John Langdon has a Tier 2 CRC in Sustainability and Social Change Leadership, as well as a CRC in Health Inequity and Social Justice which is currently under evaluation.

There are two types of CRCs. Tier 1 Chairs, tenable for seven years and renewable, are for those acknowledged as world leaders in their fields, while Tier 2 Chairs, tenable for five years and renewable only one, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged as having potential to lead in their field.

Here at StFX, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada has assigned the CRC in New Media and Digital Humanities, explains Dr. Richard Isnor, Associate Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies. The CRC in New Media and Digital Humanities will replace the ending CRC held by Dr. Todd Boyle in Business Administration.

Dr. Isnor continues to explain that a Selection Committee was formed with four faculty members chosen to review the candidates for the new CRC. Two candidates, Dr. Laura Estill and Dr. Mary Elizabeth Luka were chosen to present their proposals for the position.

Dr. Laura Estill presented on Friday, March 24th in the Schwartz building on campus to a group of faculty and students, along with the Selection Committee. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University and specializes in Shakespeare and early modern culture.

Throughout her presentation, titled “Cultures, Collaboration, and Community”, Dr. Estill explains the ways she has incorporated digital projects and tools into her teaching and research in order to study the response to early modern works from the time they were written to today’s

times. She has created and updated many websites, such as the Database of Dramatic Extracts (DEx) in order to ensure accessibility to a comprehensive catalogue of literary sources – plays, images, poetry, and more.

Dr. Estill suggested that, should she be the recipient of the CRC in New Media and Digital Humanities, she would work with the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI), a program that she has both attended and participated in running, to create DHSI East at StFX, because as of right now, the only Canadian DHSI is run at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia.

Dr. Laura Estill proposed that she work with the programs already in place at StFX, such as Service Learning and the Humanities Colloquium to incorporate digital methods of learning and utilize the media that is already such an immense presence in todays’ society into students’ education.

The second candidate chosen to present in front of the Selection Committee is Dr. Luka, who is currently a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at York University in the Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technology and her interests include broadcasting, telecommunication and culture policy, creative industries and the culture sector, among other similar focuses.

After the presentation by Dr. Luka on March 31st, the university will select a candidate and the federal CRC program will perform a peer review and decision-making process for the application presented by StFX.

The subsequent funding provided by the CRC program helps to pay for both the Chairholder’s salary and their research projects.