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Woodsworth College welcomes Assistant Professor, Dr. Jennifer Ross

February 27, 2023
Image of Dr. Jennifer Ross
Professor Jennifer Ross

Woodsworth College is pleased to welcome Dr. Jennifer Ross, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream of Digital Humanities and Writing to the University of Toronto. Professor Ross is cross appointed between Woodsworth College and the Transitional Year Programme. Her research centers on contemporary American literature, digital humanities, literary and cultural theory, and critical disaster and terrorism studies. Her recent research focuses on counterterror tactics in the United States.

At Woodsworth, Professor Ross will be teaching in the Digital Humanities Program. Digital Humanities is a discipline that combines humanities studies with digital tools and technology. DH studies human culture – art, literature, history, geography, religion – through computational tools and methodologies; and, in turn, DH studies the digital through humanist lenses. The interdisciplinary collaboration results in thought provoking research which, Professor Ross says, “can propel you forward in a way that a single discipline wouldn’t. [Digital Humanities] takes critical theory and emphasizes humanities questions while examining how power and culture are working in the digital context.” While completing the DH program at Woodsworth College, students gain a critical perspective on digital technologies and learn to consider the ways in which digital platforms shape and are shaped by, the currents of wider social and cultural forces.

This semester, Professor Ross is teaching Virtual Worlds: Introduction to Spatial Digital Humanities and a 400-level capstone course titled Research Projects in Digital Humanities. Virtual Worlds focusses on mapping and explores the relationships between the environment, living organisms and ideas, as well as virtual worlds and their algorithms, bias, and infrastructure. The capstone course places undergraduate students with instructors and graduate students who are working on a digital research project. In this course, Professor Ross supports students with their skill building and knowledge of working with digital tools while students gain hands-on research experience.

Professor Ross is also teaching Climate, Technology and Justice in the Transitional Year Programme (TYP). TYP is an eight-month access-to-University program for adults who may not have the formal qualifications for university admission or are returning to school. Students participate in full-time studies and bring their life experiences and perspectives into their courses. While working at the Writing Centre at the University of Michigan-Flint, Professor Ross worked with a diverse student body including mature students, members of underserved communities and US immigrants. She enjoys the partnership and collaboration that occurs while working with students who have taken a non-traditional path to university. In this course, Professor Ross and her students explore different DH technologies, their costs and how they affect the environment in the age of climate crisis. They will also be mapping climate and environmental conversations across Ontario. 

The faculty, staff and students of TYP welcome Jennifer to the TYP family," says Lance McCready, Director, TYP. "We look forward to Jennifer’s innovative scholarship, caring approach to teaching, and commitment to equity and social justice. A great listener and thinker, we are delighted to work with Jennifer to continue TYP’s legacy of serving as a pathway to university for Black, Indigenous, and other mature students facing barriers to postsecondary education."

We are also looking forward to the fascinating research that Professor Ross will feature in her two upcoming books. The first book will feature her dissertation research on Hurricane Katrina and the counterterror state that developed post-Katrina. Her second book will feature her newer research that explores the use of private security contractors to execute law enforcement tasks and their eventual incorporation into the US Department of Homeland Security. Her involvement in Critical Digital Humanities will also contribute to important conversations related to digital technology, its tools and how they reinforce or perpetuate systems of inequality.

We are happy to welcome Professor Ross back to U of T and to Woodsworth College. Principal Carol Chin, who chaired the hiring committee, remarked, “We are delighted to welcome Jennifer to the Woodsworth family. We loved the energy and insights she brought to her interview and teaching demonstrations (all conducted over zoom) – it made me want to take her classes! And I know that her commitment to equity and access make her a perfect fit for TYP as well...Welcome, Jennifer!”

Although Professor Ross lived in Toronto in 2020, when she was awarded the JHI/CLIR Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship, and again in 2021, when she served as the Educational Research and Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow for the Failure: Learning in Progress (FLIP) research at the University of Toronto Mississauga, the pandemic limited her exploration around the city so she is looking forward to, as she calls it, “The Great Canadian Do-Over,” where she will get to explore Toronto and it’s food scene.

Welcome to Woodsworth College Professor Ross! 

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