With Western’s new creative arts and production program (CAP) officially underway, the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) is welcoming a new faculty member who will begin teaching in the program next term.
Nataleah Hunter-Young completed a PhD in Communication and Culture at York University and Toronto Metropolitan University in August and will join FIMS as an assistant professor in January 2023.
Hunter-Young brings a strong and varied background to their new role, including a degree in social work and a professional practice spanning 10 years. In academia, they see an opportunity to have a different kind of impact on issues they previously tackled through social-work practice and community advocacy.
“I went into social work with a desire to serve communities of criminalized young people, but up close over 10 years of service I witnessed how Canadian social-services infrastructures broadly, and their provincial and municipal subsidiaries, are again and again reorganized to keep Black and Indigenous lives quietly in peril,” they said.
While working with youth in community arts programs across Toronto, Hunter-Young recognized there were opportunities to pursue crucial cultural work outside of the social-service infrastructure of a city. There was a need to “redetermine where transformative and critical conversations are being had,” they said. “I was done having them in boardrooms, behind closed doors.”
Teaching in the CAP program will afford Hunter-Young the opportunity to continue a creative practice begun as a doctoral student. While exploring the mediation of anti-Black police brutality through representations in contemporary art for their doctoral research, Hunter-Young was also creating silkscreen prints. In these works, they attempted to apply some of the visual strategies learned from conversations with visual artists and other creative practitioners.
“In my research and pedagogy I treat practice-based knowledge — such as that available in the works of visual artists — as evidence of theoretical application,” they said. “I am still learning about how my scholarship will include creative practice going forward, but the advantage of joining FIMS is the latitude to continue to explore the scholarly practice of research-creation [such as making new knowledge through art practice] alongside colleagues and students in the creative arts and production program.”
Hunter-Young will also teach courses for the Media, Information and Technoculture program and is developing a graduate-level course focused on multi-modal research, which will explore the opportunities that creative inquiry and making can bring to scholarly practice.
Currently a postdoctoral fellow in Black studies at Queen’s University, Hunter-Young will join FIMS after the fellowship wraps up in December. They also served as an international programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), looking after film selections from Africa and Arab West Asia this year.
In taking up this new appointment, Hunter-Young will be moving to London, Ont. from Toronto and is looking forward to finding out what the city and its surrounding area have to offer.
“I am definitely looking forward to exploring the benefits that give the ‘Forest City’ its name as well as finding my way to the independent cinema. I look forward to settling in, learning first-hand what FIMS and London have to offer, and how I can best contribute.”
About the creative arts and production program
Launched in Sept. 2022, the creative arts and production program (CAP) aims to broaden students’ awareness of the role creativity plays in the world, their communities, and as an essential job skill for the 21st century.
The four-year program is centered on three Cs — creativity, collaboration and community — and is offered across three faculties: arts and humanities, information and media studies, and music.
Registered in one of the three home faculties, CAP students will work toward a degree that integrates both theory and production from a broad range of elective courses within arts, media studies and music.
The program comes just a year after the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, underscoring the increasing role creativity plays in addressing global challenges.