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Research jackpot

Fogo retreats bring academic insights into rural community

Research | Frameworks in Action

By Jeff Green

Dr. Mark Stoddart hit the jackpot earlier this year.

For a researcher examining the linkage between tourism and coastal communities, the sociologist couldn’t have found himself in a more ideal location: Fogo Island.

Dr. Stoddart is one of four inaugural recipients of Fogo Island Research Fellowships, established by the university in close collaboration with the Shorefast Foundation.

Select faculty members are awarded the unique opportunity to travel to the region to complete the writing of a significant manuscript which disseminates the results of a major research project or complete work on a major work of artistic creation.

Social-environmental research

While on the historic island, Dr. Stoddart completed three different writing projects focused on his recently completed research project, Puffins, Kayaks and Oil Rigs: Shifting Modes of Society-Environment Interaction on the Newfoundland Coast.

The papers address different dimensions of the social-environmental benefits, as well as challenges, for rural coastal communities that engage with tourism as a form of development.

“I also purposefully timed my residency to correspond with the residency of Natalie Slawinski from the Faculty of Business Administration,” said Dr. Stoddart, who joined Memorial in 2010.

“I’m working as a collaborator with her on Fogo Island-focused research about the impacts of the Shorefast Foundation and tourism development on communities on the island. As part of this work, we also had a few research meetings during the time on the island.”

‘Vital’ opportunities for researchers

In addition to writing, Dr. Stoddart spent time meeting with locals, including staff from the Shorefast Foundation and organizers of an economic development forum planned for Fogo Island where he “provided input based on my research on tourism development and rural coastal communities.”

Dr. Stoddart says he hopes to maintain—and build on—relationships forged during his time on Fogo.

“I believe the Fogo Fellowship is a particularly valuable model for encouraging connections between our research and writing and community engagement.” –Dr. Mark Stoddart

He says programs such as the Fogo Island Fellowship are “vital,” for researchers conducting important community-minded research.

“Getting to work for an extended period in a rejuvenating setting away from the day-to-day demands of the university is extremely valuable for creating the time and space to do high-quality research and writing,” he said.

“Beyond that, I believe the Fogo Fellowship is a particularly valuable model for encouraging connections between our research and writing and community engagement in ways that promote bringing academic insights into rural community development in the province.”

In addition to Dr. Stoddart, Memorial faculty members Dr. Natalie Slawinski, Business Administration; Dr. Maura Hanrahan, Grenfell Campus; and Dr. Ursula Kelly, Education; were also awarded fellowships.

Enhancing research expertise

The research fellowships are one of the outcomes of Memorial’s Strategic Research Intensity Plan 2014-20 which is focused on strengthening all aspects of research at Memorial University, including scholarship and creative activities, as well as the translation of knowledge into products, practices and policies and other forms of community engagement.

Dr. Richard Marceau, Memorial’s vice-president (research), says the unique collaboration with the Shorefast Foundation provides rewarding experiences for faculty members.

“Memorial is committed to enhancing all areas of research in all disciplines,” said Dr. Marceau. “Through the ongoing support of the Shorefast Foundation, select researchers get the opportunity to focus on important knowledge and artistic creations in one of the most historic areas of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

This story was also published in the Aug. 1 edition of The Telegram as part of a regular summer series on research at Memorial University.


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