Dr. Kirsten Fantazir, President’s Applied Research Chair in Public Safety

Lethbridge College is taking a proactive approach to creating change in the public safety field and Canada’s criminal justice system, by appointing its first President’s Applied Research Chair in Public Safety. Dr. Kirsten Fantazir has been chosen for the role and will work directly with partners to identify knowledge, skill and research gaps in the Canadian public safety industry and create potential solutions.

Through consultations with justice-related industry partners, the School of Justice Studies’ (SJS) faculty and administration have begun development of a five-year applied research plan for the Public Safety Applied Research Initiative (PSARI) that will focus on areas such as public safety innovation, community partnerships, wellness initiatives, and organizational structure and culture. Meaningful reconciliation and collaboration with Indigenous organizations and partners will be foundational throughout the plan and its implementation, which will concentrate on creating real-world solutions that can be implemented by public safety organizations and key community partners.

“We want to be responsive to the public safety industry, specifically to inform evidence-based practices in the field,” says Fantazir. “There's a lot of information and data out there; however, one of the challenges we often have is how can we use this information to help our partners make well-informed decisions and policies. Building bridges between academia and industry to apply research findings and theories in the field is something I've always been interested in as a researcher. I’m excited to work strategically with our partners to help solve current challenges and problems and share those successes with other organizations.”

Lethbridge College is an established leader in the field of justice and public safety, with more than 50 years of experience in delivering justice, policing and corrections curriculum, including facilitating professional development and recruit/cadet training programs for partners. As part of the creation of the President’s Applied Research Chair in Public Safety position, the college’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) is pursuing federal funding that will allow Fantazir to expand the college’s footprint in the research field, creating new opportunities for faculty, students and staff.

“Expanding our research activities in the Centre for Justice and Human Services aligns with our college’s strategic priorities, as well as the priorities of the Alberta 2030 report,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Lethbridge College Vice President – Research and Partnerships. “Dr. Fantazir’s work in this role will directly support the Justice Studies – Bachelor of Applied Arts program and create opportunities to strengthen our industry partnerships, leading to increased opportunities for students and faculty members. It is exciting to have someone with Kirsten’s expertise and experience leading our expansion in this important research area.”

The college’s work in this field is directly supported by local, provincial and national justice-related organizations, who see the value in using data to drive decisions.

“In today’s era of policing and public safety, it is paramount that research-driven solutions are the hallmark of future actions taken by police and programs developed within our service,” says Chief Wayne Balcaen, Brandon Police Service and Lethbridge College alumni (Law Enforcement Diploma - Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration, 1990). “Data-driven research leads to informed systemic changes that will establish best practices in our profession. I am proud to support and partner in this significant investment in public safety research as both an alumnus and a Chief of Police.”

Fantazir joined Lethbridge College in 2003, has been a faculty member in the SJS since 2010 and spent this past academic year as the SJS Distance Learning Program Chair. She is also an experienced researcher, completing multiple projects focused on exploring student motivation, engagement and retention in non-traditional adult learning settings using digital role-playing technologies. Her PhD in Psychology focused on studying game-based learning technologies through gamification.

Fantazir is the college’s second President’s Applied Research Chair, following in the successful footsteps of Mike McCready who was named President’s Applied Research Chair in Virtual and Augmented Reality in 2019. McCready’s work led to the creation of the college’s Spatial Technologies Applied Research and Training (START) centre.

Public safety industry partners and professionals interested in learning more or getting involved in Fantazir’s work can reach out to [email protected].