Dal’s new Trudeau Scholar seeks to break down barriers

- May 24, 2013

David Morgan (provided photo)
David Morgan (provided photo)

“I believe that an Arts degree encourages creative and independent thought, allowing us to explore and understand the various dimensions of social and economic problems.”

Dave Morgan, a Dalhousie doctoral candidate, is an exceptional student to say the least.  Originating from Hampton, N.B., Dave first came to Dalhousie in 2005 as an engineering undergrad only to soon realize his true passion was in policy.

“I found that I was more interested in what was going on in the world, and in understanding how Canadian foreign policy fit in to the broader picture,” he explains. “My first classes in international relations and international development cemented this… they allowed me to explore both the broader structure of the international system and its effect on the everyday lives of people in developing and developed countries.”

This month, Morgan was awarded a Trudeau Doctoral Scholarship — one of the most prestigious scholarships of its kind, presented to a maximum of 15 students each year across Canada.

A celebrated scholar

Morgan initially chose to study at Dal because of the school’s reputation. He came back for his PhD because of its size.

“Its faculty may be small, but it’s strong,” he says. “Grad students can receive the attention they need and deserve, which has been an invaluable asset in my own education. I’ve had opportunities at Dal that I would never have had at other universities.”

The number of major awards he’s received while studying at Dal is impressive, to say the least: a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, a Killam fellowship, a Vanier Award, a President’s Award and the Glyn Berry Memorial Scholarship. Now he adds a scholarship from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation to that list.

“When I was initially preparing for my interview with the Trudeau Foundation, I asked someone what the ideal Trudeau candidate looked like,” he explains. “She replied that they were looking for someone who would ‘change the world.’ No pressure there,” he laughs.

But when he received word about the scholarship, he immediately got excited.

“It offers the chance to work with a mentor, and to learn from someone who has gone out and made a difference in the world. It’s definitely a game changer.”

Six Dalhousie students have received Trudeau scholarships since the program was founded 10 years ago.

The power of protection

Morgan’s PhD research focuses on international and local understandings of civilian protection.

“In other words, what does ‘protection’ mean in the halls of the UN or humanitarian organizations, and how does this translate into practice in the field?” he asks. “What does ‘protection’ mean at the local level, among the survivors of war and armed violence? Researchers looking into the issue of civilian protection tend to focus on the international level, looking at the challenges and dilemmas inherent in providing protection to civilians on the ground. As a result, we rarely acknowledge the experiences and the knowledge of the survivors of armed violence, or how they are able to survive the threats arising from their environments.”

His research hopes to break down the barriers between local and international understandings of civilian protection to identify strategies that work in both arenas.

His advice to his fellow students is to get involved as much as possible outside of class.

“There’s much to learn in school, but it’s too easy to get completely caught up in your readings and in your work. Go out and explore new opportunities. I think there’s often a lot of pressure to go back to school, because a BA just doesn’t get you as much these days. And while I think that there is always value in more education, I also believe that there is much that can be done with an arts degree. And if you are planning on entering a graduate program, you should take the time to make sure that the program and the school you choose are the best fit for you.”


All comments require a name and email address. You may also choose to log-in using your preferred social network or register with Disqus, the software we use for our commenting system. Join the conversation, but keep it clean, stay on the topic and be brief. Read comments policy.

comments powered by Disqus