Jason Waters is a husband, father to three young children and first-year MA student in political science. Jason lived in communities in Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba prior to moving to St. John’s in 2013 to begin his undergraduate studies. He obtained his BA (Honours) in political science with an emphasis on municipal/regional governance. Before attending Memorial, Jason worked in the nonprofit sector with a variety of roles in food banking, disaster relief work and in the court system. He enjoys cooking and spending time with his family.
How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your graduate degree?
I completed my bachelor’s degree at Memorial and enjoyed the community that I experienced here. I felt that my familiarity with my department, the university and the broader community would be beneficial to my graduate education. Also, as a parent I needed to consider the impact of relocating on my family.
What drew you to explore political science originally?
When I came to Memorial to do my undergrad degree I had planned to complete a Bachelor of Social Work. I have a background in nonprofit and human service work and was drawn to a related degree. I took a couple of political science courses in my first year because I was interested in social policy. I really enjoyed the introduction to public policy class with Dr. Christopher Dunn and decided to focus on political science.
Can you tell us a bit about your current research – I understand it’s about food security in Newfoundland and Labrador.
I am studying different approaches to food security challenges on the island of Newfoundland by looking at what government is doing and how nonprofits and other groups are responding to this problem. My work focuses on the production and distribution side of food security, rather than on a poverty reduction or health outcomes approach. I want to understand how the choices governments make shape the agricultural sector and our food system more broadly.
Over the past year or so there have been several government announcements related to increasing the province’s food production levels, especially in the agricultural sector. I’m looking at these initiatives to understand what kinds of ideas are shaping these changes and to think about what kind of food system that might lead to.
I’m also looking at some of the initiatives that nonprofits and other civil society groups are doing to promote food security through skills, knowledge and production. I want to understand what kinds of ideas they value and how different ideas might lead to a different kind of food system.
A supervisor can be key to the success of any grad student. What does your supervisor, Dr. Sarah Martin bring to her role as your advisor and mentor?
I am very grateful to have Dr. Martin as my supervisor. She is a genuine and supportive person who is concerned about me person, not just a student. She is sincere in her criticism and praise to help me improve and to encourage me.
Starting from our first conversation when I asked her to consider being my supervisor she has emphasized my success and has been clear about her expectations for me. Dr. Martin has taken a real interest in my ideas and research, and she has shared some of her knowledge and experience with me so that I can do better work than I could otherwise do.
Have you attended any conferences/delivered any papers this year? Can you give details?
I have attended four conferences over the past year and presented at each of them. This is something I started doing during my undergraduate years and I appreciate the opportunity to meet new people, grow my networks and present my work.
In October 2016, I travelled to Saint John, NB for the Atlantic Provinces’ Political Science Association annual conference at UNB Saint John. My presentation of the potential impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement on the Newfoundland food system was part of a project I had been working on last summer.
The Department of Political Science hosted a student conference in April 2017, organized by a group of undergraduate and graduate students. The “Changing Political Landscapes” conference was a one-day event with over 20 student presentations. I presented on some previous work I had done looking at the role of Regional Districts in British Columbia on regional economic development.
Most recently, I was privileged to attend my first national conferences at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. I presented a preliminary version of the theoretical framework for my master’s thesis at the Canadian Association for Food Studies (CAFS) and Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research (ANSER) conferences over the week of May 27 – June 2.
Are you involved in any organizations on-campus or off? If so, can you explain and detail such involvement?
On campus, I am the co-editor of the political science student journal, Mapping Politics. The journal is currently in the process of producing its eighth volume and leading the editorial side of its development has taught me a great deal about the peer-review process. I’ve also had the pleasure of reading some excellent writing and working with some great people.
This past year I was also part of the founding executive of the MUN Political Science Graduate Student Society. I’m hoping that this is a group that will continue into the coming year and begins to find a role for itself in the department.
Off campus, I joined the Board of Directors for Happy City St. John’s this past year. We’re a non-partisan group which focuses on facilitating civic dialogue in the city of St. John’s. Over the months that I’ve been involved, I have had the opportunity to help plan a couple of events around the upcoming municipal elections and the regional plan for the Northeast Avalon.
What do you like most about being a graduate student at Memorial?
I love graduate student life because I have had more flexibility to shape my own education. I’ve been encouraged to pursue my scholarly interests and to think about how those interests fit into both broader academic conversations as well as issues outside of academia.
What do you hope to do after completing your graduate degree?
At some point, I would like to continue my research at the doctoral level. I’m not sure if that’ll be immediately after I finish my MA or if I’ll take a break for a bit. I am interested in connecting my research with communities through participatory and engaged research as well as through applied settings.