About the project

This research proposes to investigate marginalized urban youths’ media arts practice in community digital-mediated arts programs in Vancouver and Montréal, exploring how it impacts their engagement around identity, culture, health and wellbeing. This research is timely because youth on the margins are important resources of society, and like other diverse populations in Canada, today they face technological competencies that emphasize the capacity for innovation, leadership, collaboration, multimodal communication, and collective problem resolution in a digital environment. Equipping marginalized youth with digital skills needed in their future professions and society is a pressing issue for policy makers, researchers, and educators. This research will help us understand the potential and challenge of media arts practices in presenting an avenue for marginalized urban youth to develop the skills and competencies needed, and will help develop pedagogical approaches to digital media and technologies for young people from diverse segments of Canadian society.

Responses to Expected Outcomes

(1) To deepen our understanding of the role of digital technologies and media, we will use qualitative methodologies and mixed methods research designs to investigate ways in which media arts as mixed genres can be used by marginalized urban youth to increase the visibility of their stories and perspectives in both local and broader context, as well as to identify and articulate hopes, aspirations, and situational dilemmas related to system barriers and personal challenges.

(2) To deepen our understanding of the evolving digital economy, its opportunities, challenges and impacts on society, industry, individual and the environment, we will use image-based research methods to showcase publicly what young people are doing creatively with digital media, and what curriculum innovations offer in promoting life-long learning, career preparation, and knowledge sharing.

(3) To inform policy and actions through evidence, analysis, and insights on key issues and problems, we will offer suggestions on new curricula, pedagogies and policies for policy makers, educational practitioners, and researchers to understand the benefits of a media arts curriculum in economic and social terms, as well as ways of understanding how the enabling support and teaching infrastructure for media arts can be embedded more consistently across our societies.

(4) To promote engagement in research and sustained relationships with policy makers, practitioners, professional associations, community organizations and end users of research, through the project website and knowledge mobilization activities, we plan to facilitate dialogue about the specific qualities and characteristics of community arts programming, as well as initiate a discourse on how media arts can potentially encapsulate many of the aims of arts education and literacy education for a digital age.

(5) To provide new research insights on individuals and their societies through the creation and use of digitized content, we respond to the challenge of digital skills deficiency of marginalized youth and the need to reduce the digital divide in developing a knowledge-based digital economy, as addressed in one of lines of inquiry: Building Digital Skills for Tomorrow. We intend to produce a synthesis of insights into issues of literacy practice and development, creativity, and educational equity that are raised by the pursuit of digital skills development. This research goes far beyond merely the identification and articulation of an enlarged set of literacy skills and practices as a proficiency that meets job markets and societal needs: it crucially examines how digital media encourage creating and critiquing genres that tie to youth culture and active learning.


April 2011- May 2016