Dr. Sally Chivers, professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies, renowned across the globe for her outstanding contributions to research in disability and critical aging studies, is being honoured with Trent University’s Distinguished Research Award.
“Dr. Chivers’ outstanding contributions to knowledge creation and her innovative approach to examining pressing issues of aging and care have played a major role in shaping research in this field, and rightly earned her international recognition as a top scholar of age and disability studies,” says Dr. Cathy Bruce, acting vice-president of Research and Innovation at Trent. She adds “Professor Chivers is a prolific scholar and worthy recipient of this prestigious award.”
Trent’s Distinguished Research Award is presented annually to a deserving faculty member in recognition of outstanding achievements in research and scholarship. Prof. Chivers will be presented with the award at Trent’s Celebration of Excellence: Teaching and Research virtual event on May 3.
“Trent is the ideal place to embark on research that cuts across boundaries and makes a difference, while remaining creative and engaging,” says Prof. Chivers. “I am so grateful to have been able to come here to follow in impressive age studies footsteps, while also developing national and international collaborations with remarkable colleagues who want to build a better world for all of us as we age. That dozens of such colleagues joined in supporting this nomination is testament to the generative spirit of critical gerontology, age studies, and health humanities.”
Since joining Trent in 2003, Prof. Chivers has had a far-reaching impact in the interdisciplinary study of aging and society, with work spanning five disciplines – Canadian studies, film, disability, age and women’s studies.
“Dr. Chivers’ internationally acclaimed interdisciplinary research has profoundly shaped how aging and disability are currently known and studied within the social sciences and humanities,” states one of Prof. Chivers’ nominators. “Her impressive research program, critical scholarship, creativity, and success in knowledge mobilization gained national and international recognition as a leading cultural studies scholar.”
Exceptional scholarly depth and breadth
Aging has always been a significant part of Prof. Chivers’ research trajectory – from her early career study of the representation of older women in Canadian literature, to studying film and thinking about the relationship between disability and aging. Her career came full circle when she came to Trent and was invited to join a collaborative research team by the chair of Trent’s Canadian Studies Department looking at the hidden contributions of older adults, which then led her to ethnographic work in nursing homes and the community.
“I feel like now I’m at a place where I really can talk about how the ways we imagine aging affect everyday life, and how the everyday life affects how we imagine aging,” she explains. “I’m continually surprised by how the stories we tell about aging matter.”
A leader in her field
One of Prof. Chivers’ career highlights is co-founding the Trent Centre for Aging & Society (TCAS), of which she was also the director. TCAS is an interdisciplinary group of faculty (including two Canada research chairs), students, staff, and community stakeholders building meaningful dialogue that challenges entrenched ideas about aging, old age and older people. TCAS has been home to other Distinguished Research Award recipients, including Dr. Jim Struthers, Dr. Stephen Katz and Dr. Barbara Marshall.
“The collaborative spirit and the genuine interdisciplinarity of the Centre really show the strength we have in research on aging. We have people from the humanities, from the sciences, social sciences, the professional schools, as well as students and community members. So it’s really one of the ways that Trent allows for working across boundaries to create something that brings international renown.”
Over her career, Prof. Chivers has received considerable recognition through research funding awards, including several major Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grants, the most recent of which was a SSHRC Insight Grant to study the popular depictions of nursing homes, how the media curates a fear of institutional life, and how that fear is proliferated. She is also an accomplished author with four books (and another in the works) and more than 35 articles and book chapters, which have been quoted in esteemed publications including The New Yorker, Global News, The Guardian, and Maclean’s.