UVicEd PhD candidate wins Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship

Robyn Shenfield
UVicEd PhD candidate Robyn Shenfield. Credit: Provided by Shenfield.
Congratulations to UVic Faculty of Education student Robyn Shenfield, current PhD candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, on winning the $105,000 Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Shenfield’s research focuses on the intersections between moral education and drama pedagogy, and explores how dramatic role play and collaborative theatre can support the development of philosophical thinking in young people.

Shenfield has been passionate about theatre from a young age, eventually earning bachelor degrees in drama and education from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. After completing her undergraduate studies, she taught drama at a girls’ high school in Australia, and later taught English in Canada. “As a practising teacher, I found myself asking ‘why?’ a lot, and became very interested in new research and developments in drama education and theatre for young people,” Shenfield says.

When she decided to pursue graduate studies, Shenfield discovered that “UVic is a hub for amazing drama educators,” and began working with her current supervisor, Faculty of Education Professor Monica Prendergast, as a graduate student.

During her time at UVic, Shenfield’s research interests grew: “Drama is a creative, collaborative, and deeply aesthetic embodied learning medium that helps students understand humanity and the world in which we live. By exploring plays, stories, characters, and different kinds of performance, drama can help students crystallize the complexities of the world and explore big questions and ideas.” Shenfield has found that drama-based pedagogies like devising, role play, theatrical creation, and imaginative play can help students develop empathy for others and view the world from multiple perspectives.  

Shenfield currently lives in Saskatchewan with her husband and two young daughters. She says this funding will allow her to visit UVic in person more frequently and to pursue more professional and research opportunities. “It has also given me a huge boost in confidence to continue with my work during this challenging time of the pandemic. I’m so grateful.”