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Amber McNeil 

Amber McNeil is fourth-year student specializing in International Development Studies (Co-Op) at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As part of the Jackman Scholars-in-Residence (SiR) program, Amber participated in a faculty-led research project “Liberating the Land: Campus Foodscapes in the GTA.” 

This project introduced Amber to “action research”, an approach to research that seeks to foster social or environmental change while conducting research. Indeed, a key component of this research project was to design a layout for the Innis College Garden— a space to grow food in the heart of downtown Toronto. This required extensive engagement with the community to better understand first-hand perspectives of how to address campus food security.

Reflecting on her experiences, Amber shared the importance of the collaborative research team and the relationships she formed. Entering into the SiR program, Amber only knew one other student. However, she became fast friends with those she would work with on the Innis College Garden as well as those working on other research projects. Over meal time especially, everyone would come together learning about each other and approaches to research. As she shared, “Because everyone came from vastly different academic backgrounds, I learned new perspectives and opinions while engaging in meaningful discussions.”

Along with peers, Amber also had the opportunity to work closely with the faculty members leading the research project. For four hours every day, their research team would meet with Professors Eva-Lynn Jagoe, Michael Classens and Nicole Spiegelaar. As she shared, “Many of our research days were spent brainstorming as a group, drawing on chalkboards, and working together at the garden. Doing this work independently would simply not have been possible.”

Research Type(s): Summer Research Programs