Ashlee Cunsolo

Ashlee Cunsolo (photo)
Degree Title: 
BA Honours, Major in ID with Area of Emphasis in Political Economy and Administrative Change
Graduation Date: 
2004

As a social science and health researcher and educator, my undergraduate training in the International Development program has been integral to my approaches to work, research, and community-engagement. I transferred into the International Development program during my second year of undergraduate studies, after trying unsuccessfully to find a single discipline that allowed me to unite all of my areas of interest into a rigorous, challenging, and multidisciplinary degree. After transferring into ID, I felt I had finally found a program that reflected not only my academic interests and interdisciplinary pursuits, but also my commitment to uniting a university education with community-based development issues.

After completing my undergraduate degree in 2004, I worked in various capacities at the Learning Commons—a department in the Library of the University of Guelph that provides learning, writing, and research assistance to undergraduate and graduate students—before beginning a Master’s in Capacity Development and Extension at Guelph. Since my focus throughout my university education has been to contribute to development issues through research, writing, and teaching, I transferred into an interdisciplinary Rural Studies doctoral program in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development after my first year of Master’s work.

My doctoral research worked with Inuit communities to explore and analyze the climatic and environmental determinants of Indigenous health, and to collaboratively identify and prioritize community research and health needs, and represented the first case study in a Canadian Inuit context to study the implications of climate change on mental and emotional health and well-being, and one of the first such studies globally (defense date: April 11, 2012). In addition to my doctoral research, I also work and research within human rights and responsibilities (particularly related to climate change), Indigenous health, health equity and social justice, capacity development, and critical pedagogy and adult education. Since 2009 I have been working with the Inuit community of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut as the Co-Director of the Changing Climate, Changing Health, Changing Stories project, a multi-year, community-based project dedicated to using digital media and qualitative methods to examine the impacts of climate change on health and well-being (www.rigolet.ca).

I have also had the great pleasure and privilege of teaching IDEV 2500: Introduction to International Development at the University of Guelph for the past three years, and to continually work with, and be inspired by the passion, motivation, and intellectual endeavours of Guelph’s undergraduate ID students.  I am pleased to be able to contribute to such a dynamic and exciting program, and to continue to engage with International Development students through these courses. The IDS program continues to influence my work, research, and teaching, and has provided me with the educational foundations upon which to pursue my academic and professional career, while solidifying my commitment to community-based, participatory research and development issues.  The skills, theory, and approaches I learned throughout this program have situated me to work with development issues in both Canada and abroad, and have continually opened doors to new opportunities for teaching, research, and community engagement (www.ashleecunsolowillox.ca).