Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Community-Partnered Social Justice
Professor in Sociology
Research interests: Social inequality; poverty; youth homelessness; youth justice; child welfare; education; "youth at risk"; youth mental health; higher education research impact and community-academic research collaborations
Adding to Trent’s long-standing reputation as an institution with strong social justice expertise, Professor Nichols is building on a decade’s worth of research into youth homelessness. Her research is developed collaboratively alongside youth with lived experiences with homelessness in Montreal and in Peterborough, with a focus on driving institutional change for Canada’s most vulnerable youth. Prof. Nichols is establishing a lab dedicated to community research for social change – which will allow a diverse range of activist and advocacy groups the ability to engage in social research, access and own their data, and participate equitably in evidence-based decision-making.
“It is an opportunity to create new ways of understanding, and redress the root causes of Canada’s most entrenched social problems – including homelessness and housing. But this is only true if the work is understood to be inherently political and values-driven – rather than a rational and objective means of understanding and governing social life. I hope that my research continues to support young people with access to internships and other opportunities to build social networks to become passionately engaged and to make a future that they can be excited about.”
Prof. Nichols truly challenges her students to move outside of their comfort zones as they confront entrenched and naturalized patterns of social inequality. She also actively supports and mentor students who have experienced homelessness, poverty, racism, mental illness, gender-based violence, and other forms of systemic exclusion. Through her CRC, Prof. Nichols aims to support young people with access to internships and other opportunities to build social networks, to be passionately engaged, and to make a future that they can be excited about.