Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe (she/her)

Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe (she/her)
Assistant Professor and Academic Undergraduate Advisor
Office: HSD A346

PhD (University of Ottawa)

Area of expertise

Environmental justice, Public engagement, Critical policy studies, Climate emergencies and displacement, States of emergency, Interpretive research and arts-based methods, Community development, Indigenous community engagement and governance

Sarah Marie Wiebe, PhD (University of Ottawa) Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe grew up on unceded Coast Salish territory in British Columbia, BC. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Hawai'i, Mānoa. Her research focuses on community development and environmental sustainability. She is a Co-Founder of the FERN (Feminist Environmental Research Network) Collaborative and has published in journals including Critical Policy Studies, New Political Science, Citizenship Studies and Studies in Social Justice. Her book Everyday Exposure: Indigenous Mobilization and Environmental Justice in Canada's Chemical Valley (2016) with UBC Press won the Charles Taylor Book Award (2017) and examines policy responses to the impact of pollution on the Aamjiwnaang First Nation's environmental health. Alongside Dr. Jennifer Lawrence (Virginia Tech), she is the Co-Editor of Biopolitical Disaster and along with Dr. Leah Levac (Guelph), the Co-Editor of Creating Spaces of Engagement: Policy Justice and the Practical Craft of Deliberative Democracy. At the intersections of environmental justice and citizen engagement, her teaching and research interests emphasize political ecology, policy justice and deliberative dialogue. As a collaborative researcher and filmmaker, she worked with Indigenous communities on sustainability-themed films including  To Fish as Formerly. She collaborated with artists from Attawapiskat on a project entitled Reimagining Attawapiskat which is a companion website to her recent book Life against States of Emergency: Revitalizing Treaty Relations from Attawapiskat. Sarah is also a Co-Director for the Seascape Indigenous Storytelling Studio, with research partners from the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia and coastal Indigenous communities.

Courses Taught:

  • ADMN504 - Government and Governance
  • ADMN 470/SJS 400A - Contemporary Topics in Public Administration – Grounded Governance: Cultivating Social Justice through Community-Engaged Learning
  • ADMN602 - Research Design and Methods in Public Administration
  • CD501 - Setting the Foundations for Community Change
  • CD526 - Communication and Engagement

Research Interests/Active Areas of Student Recruitment

  • Environmental justice, sustainability politics and policies, environmental politics and theory, critical ecofeminism, gender and the environment, climate emergencies, climate change
  • Public engagement, deliberative democracy, grounded theory
  • Critical policy studies, governmentality studies, Intersectionality-based policy analysis
  • Biopolitics, health policy and politics, reproductive health and justice
  • Interpretive research and arts-based methods, political ethnography, critical discourse analysis, mixed media storytelling
  • Crisis, disaster and emergency planning, preparedness and response
  • Indigenous community engagement and governance

Informed by the prismatic and layered lenses of interpretive analysis, policy justice and participatory policy-making, my research explores the entanglements between citizens, policies and ecosystems. In general terms, my research interests are oriented around four areas of inquiry.

First, I examine how public policies affect situated communities and citizens, and how these citizens encounter, resist, respond to political forces in their everyday lives. My current work examines how environmental justice public policies - or the lack of such policies - affect Indigenous peoples in Canada. To address apparent gaps in policy-making, I am interested in the politics of citizen engagement and creative deliberative dialogue.

Second, to evaluate these policies, entanglements, engagements and encounters between affected parties and decision-makers, I employ a critical policy studies approach. From a sensing policy framework, I suggest that policy-makers will be better-equipped to explore alternative forms of communication and reflect diverse voices through creative public engagement. As discussed in my book Everyday Exposure: Indigenous Mobilization and Environmental Justice in Canada’s Chemical Valley and in the journal article Sensing Policy: Engaging Affected Communities at the Intersections of Environmental Justice and Decolonial Futures, sensing policy entails recognition that policy-making is a multi-dimensional process, which necessarily involves recognition of: citizen's lived-experiences, situated bodies of knowledge, multi-layered analysis and geopolitical location.

Third, to connect this sensing policy framework to practice, I draw from tools of arts-based participatory action research to document, visualize and give presence to embodied encounters between citizens and politics through a multi-layered analysis, scaled from the global to the intimate. This approach engages with tools of participatory governance and deliberative dialogue.

Fourth, contributing both to the theory and practice of environmental justice scholarship, I am particularly interested in interrogating political encounters at the biopolitical and geopolitical nexus, to explore human/more-than-human relations in order to expand debates in environmental political theory, ecofeminist thought and deliberative democracy.

In all the work that I do, I attempt to challenge extractivism and centre a caring, embodied approach to research, teaching and engagement. I tend to ask political questions such as: what vital and geopolitical forces are at stake in the citizen's everyday experiences living in compromised environments? How do officials represent the experiences of those most directly affected by environment, health and natural resource policies? In what ways might these relationships be thought of and felt otherwise to enable healthy, vibrant and environmentally sustainable futures?



For further elaboration of Dr. Wiebe’s publications and scholarly interests, see: www.sarahmariewiebe.com