Ryan Weston, Ph.D.

Teaching and Research Interests

  • Religion, the arts, and popular culture; cultural studies; performance and ritual
  • Religion and social change; Catholic, ecumenical, and interfaith social justice movements
  • Canadian studies; religious and cultural diversity in Canada; race, ethnicity, and identity 
  • Anthropology and sociology of religion; ethnographic methods; folklore

Education

Education
Sep 2006 - May 2012

Doctor of Philosophy

Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Dissertation: It's Not Like Going to Church and Singing a Hymn: Performance, Identity, and Canadian Gospel Music (Supervisor: Dr. Carol Duncan)
  • Comprehensive examinations: (1) Religious Diversity in North America; (2) Performance, Ritual, and Popular Culture.
  • Nominated for a Medal for Academic Excellence.
Sep 2004 - May 2006

Master of Arts

York University
  • Major Research Project: Dressing Down the Holy: Roberto Cavalli's 'Holy Bikinis' and the Cultural Appropriation of Hinduism (Supervisor: Dr. Teresa Holmes)
Sep 2000 - Apr 2004

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Received Faculty of Arts Alumni Gold Medal for top graduating student
  • Minor in Philosophy

Professional Experience

Work History
Jun 2014 - Present

Social Justice and Advocacy Consultant

Anglican Diocese of Toronto
  • Coordinate and facilitate grassroots social justice initiatives for more than 200 parishes from Peel Region to Peterborough and the City of Toronto to Haliburton
  • Research and draft speaking notes, policy briefs, and campaign materials related to diocesan advocacy with elected officials.
  • Collaborate with ecumenical, interfaith, and secular networks and justice partners
Jan 2014 - Jun 2014

Recruitment Coordinator

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul - Toronto Central Council
  • Created and implemented a comprehensive strategy to recruit and retain active volunteer members and parish-based conferences for a grassroots poverty-relief charity.
  • Developed materials and training modules while engaging with internal and external stakeholders
Sep 2012 - Dec 2013

Animator - Central Ontario

Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace
  • Developed and implemented public engagement and fundraising strategies for a pan-Canadian international development and solidarity non-governmental organization
  • Liaised with regional and national stakeholders ranging from Roman Catholic clergy and school board officials to Members of Parliament and individual donors.

Teaching Experience

Contract Academic Faculty

  • "Religion and Social Change," Winter 2011, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Religion & Culture (cross-listed in Dept. of Sociology; third year, enrolment: 65)
  • "Introduction to Critical Thinking," Fall 2011, Sheridan College, Department of General Arts and Sciences (College Profile Program; first year, enrolment: 30)

Teaching Assistant with Tutorials

Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Religion & Culture

  • Love and Its Myths (Winter 2012)
  • Religions of the Americas: Indigenous, African, and European Traditions (Fall 2009)
  • Religion and Visual Culture (Winter 2009)
  • Religion and Cinematic Culture (Winter 2007, Fall 2007, Fall 2008)

York University, Department of Humanities

  • Introduction to the Study of Religion (Fall-Winter 2005-2006)

Teaching Assistant without Tutorials

Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Religion & Culture

  • Gandhi: Nonviolence and the Struggle for Freedom (Fall 2011)
  • Evil and Its Symbols (Fall 2010)
  • Studying Religion/Readings in Religious Studies (Winter 2010
  • Religion and Popular Culture (Fall 2006, Winter 2008, Fall 2009)

Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Contemporary Studies

  • Understanding Popular Culture (Winter 2012)

Research Experience

  • 2011. Research Assistant for Dr. Carol Duncan (Dept. of Religion and Culture, WLU).  Provided bibliographic research assistance for Dr. Duncan's research on medical education for Black persons in North America and the Caribbean as part of an ongoing research project.
  • 2010. Contract Researcher for TVO Kids The Space for a planned children’s series on religious diversity in Ontario.
  • 2008-2009. Research Assistant for Dr. Faydra Shapiro (Dept. of Religion and Culture, WLU).  Provided interview transcription and conducted internet research on Christian Zionism, Messianic Judaism, and contemporary Jewish identity as part of Dr. Shapiro’s ongoing research project.
  • 2008-2009. Research Assistant for Dr. Natasha Pravaz (Dept. of Anthropology, WLU).  Conducted interviews for Dr. Pravaz’s project on identity in the Brazilian music scene in Toronto.
  • 2003-2004. Research Assistant for Dr. Peter Erb (Dept. of Religion and Culture, WLU).  Conducted bibliographic research on St. Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich for Dr. Erb’s ongoing research.

Instructional Development

  • 2010. Desire2Learn (mylearningspace.wlu.ca) software faculty orientation and training, WLU Information Technology Services
  • 2008. Completed the “Foundations in University Teaching” course offered through the WLU Office of Teaching Support Services (non-credit; 24 hours instruction)

Publications, Popular Articles

  • 2004. “More than a name could be forgotten,” The Globe and Mail (Facts & Arguments Section), March 30, 2004, A16.

Publications, Submitted

  • It's Not Like Going to Church and Singing a Hymn: Performance, Identity, and Canadian Gospel Music. Submitted to the Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World book series, a partnership between the American Folklore Society, the University of Illinois Press, the University Press of Mississippi, and University of Wisconsin Press.

Works in Progress

  • "Playing Black, Playing Church: Performing Religious and Racial Identity at Canadian Folk Festivals." For submission to the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.
  • "And He Saw That it Was Not-so-good: Canadian Christian International Development Agencies Pursue Ecological Justice." For submission to Alternatives Journal.

Conference Presentations

  • 2013. "A Home in Beulah Land: Borders, Migration, and Canadian Gospel Music." Paper presented to the Straddling Boundaries: Culture and the Canada-US Border conference, Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, May 2013.
  • 2012. "Playing Black, Playing Church: Performing Religious and Racial Identity at Canadian Folk Festivals." Paper to be presented to the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, May 2012.
  • 2011. "'There's Just Something About it': Folk Festivals, Gospel Music, and Audience Reception." Paper presented to the annual meeting of the Popular Culture Association of Canada, Niagara Falls, Ontario, May 2011.
  • 2009.  “‘You all ever heard of Amber Valley?’: Gospel music performance and local history at the Edmonton Folk Festival.”  Paper presented to the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, May 2009.
  • 2009.  “Gospel Music, Born Again: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Development of Canadian Gospel Music.”  Paper presented to the American Academy of Religion—Eastern International Region, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York, May 2009.
  • 2007.  “Avatar TV: Incarnations of God in Joan of Arcadia.”  Paper presented to the American Academy of Religion—Eastern International Region, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, May 2007.
  • 2007.  “Enlightened Underwear: Roberto Cavalli’s Entitlement and ‘Erotic Hinduism.”  Paper presented at the Joint National Conference of the Popular Culture and American Culture Associations, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, Massachusetts, April 2007.
  • 2006.  “Religious ‘Gitch’: Roberto Cavalli’s Underwear and Western Entitlement.” Paper presented at the Wilfrid Laurier University Interdisciplinary Arts Conference (theme: “The Other”), Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, March 2006.
  • 2003.  “Om My Goodness—Reflections on Racism and Pedagogy in the Study of Religion.” Paper presented at the Wilfrid Laurier University Interdisciplinary Arts Conference, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, March 2003.

Invited Presentations

  • 2012. "It Just Makes Me Feel Good: Rethinking the Work of Gospel Music," a public presentation featuring special musical guest Natasha John. Presented by the WLU Department of Religion and Culture and Maranatha Evangelical Lutheran Church. St. John's Lutheran Church, Waterloo, Ontario. April 2012.
  • 2011. Guest Lecture. "The Development of the Gospel Music Tradition" in RE 220: Religion and Popular Culture, Department of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University.
  • 2010. Guest Lecture. "Gospel Music and the Blues: Challenging the Sacred/Secular Distinction in Popular Music" in RE 285: Religion and Culture of the African Diaspora, Department of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University.
  • 2009. Roundtable participant: “Storytelling From/Through Transnational Experience.”  Part of the Religion and Public Life Conference: Transnational Artistic Expression and Community Response, Department of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, February 2009
  • 2009. Guest Lecture: “Religion, Fashion, and Dress” in RE 106: Religion and Visual Culture, Department of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University.
  • 2006. Guest Lecture: “Meet me on the Couch: Ritual Elements in Television Viewing” in RE 220: Religion and Popular Culture, Department of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University.
  • 2006. “Threads of Enlightenment: On Fashion, Religion, and Appropriation.”  Presentation to the Weekly Colloquium Series, Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto, Ontario.
  • 2001. Guest Lecture: “Selling Poverty and Selling your Soul: The trap of the ‘Starving Baby’ Image” in CS 310: Mass Communication, Anthropology, and Development, Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University.

Awards and Scholarships

International, National, and Provincial Awards:

  • 2009 Ontario Graduate Scholarship ($15 000)
  • 2005 Ontario Graduate Scholarship ($10 000)
  • 2004 SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship - Master's ($17 500)
  • 2004 Ontario Graduate Scholarship (declined)
  • 2004 Commonwealth Scholarship - India (declined)

University Awards:

  • 2009 Incentive Scholarship ($2000, WLU)
  • 2008 Laurier Graduate Scholarship ($7000, WLU)
  • 2007 Laurier Graduate Scholarship ($4000, WLU)
  • 2007 President Marsden Scholarship ($2145, WLU)
  • 2006 Laurier Graduate Fellowship ($8000, WLU)
  • 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 Dean's List (WLU)
  • 2004 Alumni Gold Medal for the Faculty of Arts (WLU)
  • 2003, 2002 In-Course Merit Scholarship ($1000/year, WLU)
  • 2000 Entrance Scholarship ($1000, WLU)

Departmental Awards:

  • 2010 Gotthard Booth Award ($215, Religion and Culture (R&C), WLU)
  • 2005 Sally Jefferson Award for Best Essay ($100, R&C, WLU)
  • 2004 Sally Jefferson Award for Outstanding Senior Student ($500, R&C, WLU)
  • 2003 Sally Jefferson Award for Service to School and Community ($200, R&C, WLU)
  • 2002 Sally Jefferson Award for Outstanding First Year Student ($100, R&C, WLU)
  • 2002 First Year History Award ($50, History, WLU)

Community Service

University Service

  • Chair of student representatives for Departmental Hiring Committee (Limited-Term Appointment), Dept. of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2008.
  • Graduate Student Representative, University Librarian Review Committee, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2006-2007.
  • Executive Member, Religion and Culture Society, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2001-2004
  • Religion and Culture Representative, Faculty of Arts Council, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2003-2004
  • Undergraduate Member, Hiring Committee, Dept. of Religion & Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2002

Additional Training and Workshops Attended

  • "9 Guiding Principles of Successful Fundraising" - Henry Freeman, H. Freeman & Associates
  • "Advanced French" - Explore French Immersion program at the University of Saskatchewan Language Centre (5 weeks; non-credit)
  • “Government Relations and Advocacy for the Non-Profit Sector”—Canadian Fundraising and Philanthropy (formerly Canadian Fundraiser)
  • “Cultural Appropriation”—Dr. Rozena Maart
  • “Dealing With Difficult Volunteers”—Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area
  • “Train the Trainers: The Brown Book: Voices of Young Pakistani & Muslim Activists From Toronto and Lahore”—Shakil Choudhury, presented by the Waterloo District School Board
  • “White Skin, Unnamed Masks”—Dr. Rozena Maart
  • “Power & Privilege”—Dr. Rozena Maart

    Professional Memberships