The Risky Business of Advocacy to be explored in a public talk at the University of Regina

Posted: March 18, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Gloria DeSantis’ research explores nonprofit sector advocacy in Canada.
Gloria DeSantis’ research explores nonprofit sector advocacy in Canada. Photo courtesy of Dr. Gloria DeSantis, Justice Studies

A public talk at the University of Regina will examine the thorny landscape of advocacy for charitable and nonprofit organizations in Canada, and explore why advocacy work has become such contested terrain.

Department of Justice Studies professor Dr. Gloria DeSantis will present “Advocacy: Risky Business for Charitable/Nonprofit Corporations” at the College Avenue Campus on March 21. She argues that the advocacy landscape has been challenged by a rise in government surveillance of charitable/nonprofit activity, ongoing funding cuts to these organizations, and a general lack of clarity around the rules of engagement.

“Recent research in Canada shows that charities in particular, and nonprofit corporations to a lesser extent, express confusion about what is and isn't permitted regarding the ‘doctrine of political purposes,’ ” says Dr. DeSantis. “This confusion has led to fear about repercussions from governments – funding cuts for example – for some organizations.”

“Yet,” she says, “there are reasons for optimism in all of this; those who work/volunteer in the sector keep pushing for needed reforms and there have been shifts in governments' perspectives.”

DeSantis joined the Department of Justice Studies last fall, and has worked/volunteered in social justice-oriented nonprofit organizations over the past 25 years. Her research interests focus on nonprofit sector advocacy in Canada, health inequities and social justice, mixed methods research, participatory action research, community engagement in public policy, and knowledge creation from the ground up.

Says DeSantis: “Research on charities and nonprofits in Canada is still in its infancy and we have much to learn about the sector. Exploring the public policy advocacy work of the sector is imperative given this sector works with many marginalized societal issues where countless inequities exist. Further, advocacy is a form of civic engagement in Canada's democracy.”

DeSantis’ talk is part of the Open Minds series of public discussions, which intends to spark lively dialogue between university professors and members of the community. This is a free event and all are welcome to attend.

Event:        Advocacy: Risky Business for Charitable/Nonprofit Corporations?

Date:         Monday, March 21, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Location:   Room 106, College Building, College Avenue Campus; free parking in Lot 20M