Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe
Informed by the prismatic and layered lenses of interpretive analysis, policy justice and participatory policy-making, my research explores the entanglements between citizens, policies and ecosystems. In general terms, my research interests are oriented around four areas of inquiry.
First, I examine how public policies affect situated communities and citizens, and how these citizens encounter, resist, respond to political forces in their everyday lives. My current work examines how environmental justice public policies - or the lack of such policies - affect Indigenous peoples in Canada. To address apparent gaps in policy-making, I am interested in the politics of citizen engagement and creative deliberative dialogue.
Second, to evaluate these policies, entanglements, engagements and encounters between affected parties and decision-makers, I employ a critical policy studies approach. From a sensing policy framework, I suggest that policy-makers will be better-equipped to explore alternative forms of communication and reflect diverse voices through creative public engagement. As discussed in my book Everyday Exposure: Indigenous Mobilization and Environmental Justice in Canada’s Chemical Valley and in the journal article Sensing Policy: Engaging Affected Communities at the Intersections of Environmental Justice and Decolonial Futures, sensing policy entails recognition that policy-making is a multi-dimensional process, which necessarily involves recognition of: citizen's lived-experiences, situated bodies of knowledge, multi-layered analysis and geopolitical location.
Third, to connect this sensing policy framework to practice, I draw from tools of arts-based participatory action research to document, visualize and give presence to embodied encounters between citizens and politics through a multi-layered analysis, scaled from the global to the intimate. This approach engages with tools of participatory governance and deliberative dialogue.
Fourth, contributing both to the theory and practice of environmental justice scholarship, I am particularly interested in interrogating political encounters at the biopolitical and geopolitical nexus, to explore human/more-than-human relations in order to expand debates in environmental political theory, ecofeminist thought and deliberative democracy.
In all the work that I do, I attempt to challenge extractivism and centre a caring, embodied approach to research, teaching and engagement. I tend to ask political questions such as: what vital and geopolitical forces are at stake in the citizen's everyday experiences living in compromised environments? How do officials represent the experiences of those most directly affected by environment, health and natural resource policies? In what ways might these relationships be thought of and felt otherwise to enable healthy, vibrant and environmentally sustainable futures?