The Change Project

Ginette Lafrenière, Director, Social Innovation Research Group

The Change Project aims to explore the institutional and cultural climate of WLU relative to the issue of gendered violence in order to provide evidence-based recommendations to improve prevention and response efforts. The mixed methods research project which surveyed almost 600 students and interviewed 50 key informants, reported that WLU students experience a range of incidents that fall along the spectrum of gendered violence; however, there is ambiguity around identifying, reporting and responding to these experiences. Among its recommendations are:

  • institutionalization of policies and procedures aimed at supporting students;
  • implementation of a pro-social bystander program as well as other strategies to ensure an authentic, consistent and sustainable commitment to addressing gendered violence at WLU.

The Change Project emerged from a collaboration between the Social Innovation Research Group and the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region and was funded by Status of Women Canada. Dr. Lafrenière has also been involved in Bringing in the Bystander program, which has trained almost 800 students, faculty and staff on bystander issues. And, along with her SIRG team of researchers, she has produced a documentary called It’s About Time: Gender, Violence and Minoritized Students at WLU to be released this January.

Dr. Lafrenière’s other current and upcoming research includes:

  • A SSHRC-funded project on the post shelter experiences of survivors of domestic violence whereby over 100 survivors and 50 service providers were interviewed in order to shed light on how to best integrate survivors within the larger community;
  • An arts-based social development summer program for school-aged children on the issue of building healthy relationships;
  • Exploring how gendered violence impacts both faculty and staff at WLU given that their voices also need to be honoured as stakeholders within the WLU community;
  • Creating a needs assessment for a Child Advocacy Centre for children who have experienced sexual violence in Windsor-Essex.

The guiding philosophy for Dr. Lafreniere’s work is etched in a firm commitment and belief that public intellectuals have a responsibility to work within a framework of university-community collaboration in order to be relevant to community partners with whom we work in ways which are meaningful and mutually beneficial.  She hopes that ongoing work both within and outside the academic community will lead to discerning and intentional ways to address and combat gendered violence.

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