Clarke receives research award

Photo courtesy of CPAM
Photo courtesy of CPAM

In recognition of her avid dedication to research and publishing, sociology professor Juanne Clarke has been selected as Wilfrid Laurier University’s Research Professor for the upcoming school year.

“We’re really happy about it,” said Clarke. “It is a confirmation of the department for sure. I think you probably see that there are fewer in arts and more in science of these.”

Clarke, who received her PhD from the University of Waterloo, is the second sociology professor to be selected for the award since it was established in 1988 and the fourth woman. She follows chemistry professor Dmitri Goussev, who was the University Research Professor for 2012-13.

The decision, announced at Laurier’s Celebrate Research event on May 2, was ultimately made by a committee after she was nominated by the chair and dean of her department. Clarke also had to provide five letters of reference from international scholars.

“So the final decision is internal but the intermediate decision has to do with international reputation,” she explained.

The recognition is, according to Clarke, “a reflection basically of an active publication career.” She has published sixteen books over the course of her career and numerous articles.

In addition to two course remissions, Clarke will receive $10,000 to put toward her research as part of the award.

Much of Clarke’s recent research has been directed toward children’s mental health issues. While she acknowledged the importance of having good mental health, Clarke is also evaluating some of the detriments of the way society approaches this issue.

“I’m interested in the tendency we have increasingly in our society to medicalize, which means to see things, to see behaviours, attitudes, feelings and beliefs as medical problems,” she explained. “I think the problem is the definition that mental health gets is quite problematic…There’s all kinds of evidence that the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders] is neither valid nor reliable and that the final definitions of what constitute mental illness are the result of compromise, conflict of interest, notions of normality and other problematic social issues.”

Clarke is also examining media presentation of mental health issues by doing a historical and cross-national analysis of English-language newspapers in a variety of countries. Her other main focus is gender.

Clarke has actively engaged students in her research and is currently working with an undergraduate student and a former master’s level student.

The award will be presented at this year’s fall convocation at the Waterloo Recreation Complex.

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