Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Gender and Women's Studies student laughs at something her classmate says

The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers students the opportunity to explore significant social issues through research and critical methodologies from several disciplines.  Criminology, Indigenous Studies, Social Work, and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies coalesce to promote academic and professional training in criminality, the law, social justice, community sustenance, indigeneity and gender roles and development.  The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies is committed to social justice education. Our mission is to generate and transmit knowledge through multi and interdisciplinary study, innovative pedagogies, and community service. Students in our courses deepen their understanding and appreciation of the complexities of research and study, and learn to apply their education to their own experiences of social phenomena and problems.

Disciplines in the department

Examine crime as both an individual and social phenomenon. Courses focus on causes and consequences of crime, victimization, delinquency and deviance, as well as response to crime in the criminal justice system. Engage with topics like Canadian law and legal institutions, human rights and ethical issues confronting professionals in the criminal an associated justice systems.

Indigenous Studies courses focus on Indigenous oral histories, kinship, economics, community life, spiritual relationships and ways of knowing. Study offers a holistic understanding of Indigenous peoples, their perspective and politics, as well as their past and present.

Gender is an influential organizing feature in all human society. Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies (GSWS) addresses questions related to gender through an interdisciplinary perspective that includes law, political science, health, and media. If you want to obtain a global understanding of race, class, gender, sexuality, feminism and ethnicity, consider enrolling in some of Okanagan College’s wide variety of GSWS courses. 

Studies in Social Work explore topics in poverty, inequality and effecting social change. The learning environment focuses on issues related to social justice, health, family and children. Learn how social workers intervene effectively and facilitate positive change for oppressed and marginalized groups. Social Work courses at Okanagan College are a comprehensive introduction to the role social workers play in formulating policies and developing programs that address oppression and social injustice.

Associate of Arts, Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Emphasis

Diploma in Criminal Social Justice


The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers courses in Criminology, Indigenous Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, as well as Social Work.

Faculty and instructors

Olivia Sullivan

Interdisciplinary Studies - Chair
Office: Lab Building 283
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445 ext. 4560
Headshot of Olivia Sullivan

I became interested in the profession of Social Work through my experience as a Big Sister, witnessing the ways that social workers impacted her life and the experience of her family. I am passionate about social justice, gender equality, and ending violence against women and girls. It is a privilege to teach the exceptional students at Okanagan College. When I am not teaching, I am working at my counselling practice, hanging out with my kids, or enjoying the Okanagan's great outdoors.

RSW, British Columbia College of Social Workers
MSW, Social Work, University of British Columbia
BSW, Social Work, University of British Columbia

Dr. Norah Bowman

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Lab Building 265
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445 ext. 4215
Interdisciplinary Studies instructor Norah Bowman

My recent research focuses on resource extraction on unceded Indigenous territory, feminist resistance movements, and quantum theory for social sciences and humanities.

PhD, English, University of Alberta
MA, English, University of Manitoba
BA Hons English, Okanagan University College

University of Toronto Press

Google Scholar Profile

Natalie Chambers

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Business Building 236A
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445 ext. 2329
Chambers, Natalie photo

Natalie is a first-generation settler with extensive experience and education working in Indigenous education and language and cultural resurgence projects in her children’s Syilx community and nation. Natalie’s doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Studies explored the development of Language Nests, Indigenous early Indigenous language immersion programs for infants, toddlers, and preschool aged children, and her master’s degree focused on Indian residential schools.  

As an educator, Natalie draws on her personal and professional experiences in Indigenous education, as well as several years of creative facilitation training with IndigenEYEZ and Partners of Youth Empowerment to foster inclusive, heart-centered and compassionate communities of life-long learners. She continues this work as an associate facilitator with kinSHIFT, an Indigenous-led social enterprise of IndigenEYEZ that supports settlers to cultivate relationships with Indigenous peoples and place.  

Craig DuckChief

Innovation Projects
Office: Salmon Arm Building 108
Campus: Salmon Arm
Phone: 250-762-5445
Profile silhouette to show profiles with missing headshots

Emily Fedoruk

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Business Building 233
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445
English instructor Emily Fedoruk

I joined Okanagan College in fall 2019 and have been teaching across English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. Anti-disciplinarity is a fundamental part of my teaching and scholarship, as well as my creative practice. My research engages the political economies of urbanism and the contemporary built environment, and I come to these questions with a background in poetics, contemporary art, critical theory, geography, and urban and suburban history.

Laura Hockman

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Business Building 233
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445
Interdisciplinary Studies Laura Hockman

I'm from Gitanmaax, which is near Old Hazelton, in northern BC. Following a matriarchal clan system, I'm a member of the Wolf clan. My maternal grandfather was hereditary chief of the Frog Clan. My maternal grandmother was the hereditary chief of the Wolf Clan. Cultural traditions and protocols and traditional governance all strongly guide my practice as a social worker.

I completed my Bachelor of Social Work Degree in 1999. Immediately I took on the position of Executive Director of Independent Living Vernon (ILV), a disability resource centre for people with a variety of disabilities. I still love my work at ILV. In 2010, I completed my Master’s of Arts (Interdisciplinary Studies) at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. My thesis was titled “A Longer Journey” An Exploration of Individuals’ with Disabilities Experiences of Employment Programs in Vernon, BC. The research highlighted the importance of connection and control within the realm of employment for people with disabilities.


MA, Interdisciplinary Studies, UBCO

Dr. Jarkko Jalava

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Sunoka Building 007
Campus: Penticton
Phone: 250-492-4305 ext. 3292
Interdisciplinary Studies instructor Jarkko Jalava

I am originally from Finland, with a B.A. in English, another in Psychology, and an M.A. in clinical psychology, and a Ph.D. in Psychology (theory and methods). I have worked for Correctional Service Canada as a psychologist. My research is on psychopathy.

PhD, Psychology, Simon Fraser University

Denise Lecoy

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Faculty Office 100
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445
Lecoy, Denise

I am a Syilx-Okanagan woman, blessed to live in my home community on the Penticton Indian Reserve.  While new to Okanagan College, my professional experience and educational background span 30 years, situated primarily within the health and social services areas, on reserve, off reserve, within Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and institutions, as a facilitator, instructor, program manager and elected leader.  My approach to learning is rooted in our own syilx pedagogy, of which my learning is ongoing; I aspire to bring all voices into the room and situate our dialogue in place.  What brings me joy is being out on the land, RunWalking, with my family.   

BA, Psychology & Indigenous Studies

Emma Lind

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Main Building C301
Campus: Vernon
Phone: 250-762-9445
Interdisciplinary Studies instructor Emma Lind

I have been teaching Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Okanagan College since 2018. I am interested in feminist education as a tool of social and cultural change. My research explores the connections between power, knowledge production, bodies, space, and identity. I am currently working on three simultaneous projects: an edited collection on queer fat femme identity, research into digital storytelling as a critical research method in fat studies, and my dissertation research on settler colonial urban space.

PhD Candidate in Cultural Mediations, Carleton University
MA, Women's and Gender Studies, York University
BA, Women's Studies, University of Toronto

Dr. Saran Mallinson

Field Placement Coordinator, Applied BA: Community Research & Evaluation
Office: Lab Building 161
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445 ext. 4381
Mallison, Saran

Hi, my name is Saran. I have British and Canadian citizenship, with Welsh, Channel Islands and Manchester (England) ancestry. I grew up in Iran, France and Greece. After graduating from a high-school in France, I studied literature, history and art in Spain for one year, and then completed a BA in Anthropology in England, with a field placement in Peru. I then worked in government capacity-building and information in Iraqi Kurdistan and returned to England to complete a PhD in Ethnic Relations. After working for a substance use harm reduction agency and taking a career break, I moved from England to Kelowna in 2016 where I obtained a Human Service Work Diploma from Okanagan College. Following frontline work in several local non-profits, I most recently worked for the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society, implementing Kelowna’s five-year strategy to address homelessness. When I have spare time on my own or with family or friends, I enjoy trail running, paddling, skate-skiing, back-country camping or just walking my dog, Primo.

Dr. Ann Marie McKinnon

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Lab Building 223
Campus: Kelowna
Phone: 250-762-5445 ext. 4327
Interdisciplinary Studies - Ann McKinnon

I teach Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies, with a focus on ecofeminism, reproductive justice and feminist film studies. In am interested in the ontological divide between human and non-human animals, specifically how this informs the relationship animality has to femininity, in that both are ranged against masculine humanism. Almost universally, women and animals have been stranded in a notion of “nature” that masculine culture defines and therefore controls, ideas that hold fast today in struggles for reproductive justice and animal rights. In my research and classes, I take up how these ideas are represented in film and popular culture. 

PhD, English and Cultural Studies, University of Alberta
MA, English, UBC.
BA, English, UBC

John Mott

Interdisciplinary Studies / Education Advising
Office: Ashnola Building 142A
Campus: Penticton
Phone: 250-492-4305 ext. 3219
Educational Advising - John Mott

I have a background in Administrative law and have worked as a refugee lawyer for a private practice firm in Vancouver, a Human Rights Officer for the BC Human Rights Commission, and as the Workplace Harassment Prevention Officer for the Yukon Government. I joined Okanagan College at the Penticton Campus in 2006 and have been teaching courses in Canadian law since 2007. Law touches our lives in so many ways and I enjoy sharing this with students and challenging them to think critically about the law.

LLB, University of British Columbia
BA, English, University of Victoria

Dr. Melissa Munn

Interdisciplinary Studies/Sociology
Office: Main Building C319
Campus: Vernon
Phone: 250-545-7291 ext. 2222
Interdisciplinary Studies instructor Melissa Munn

I am an activist and criminologist who joined Okanagan College in 2010. I teach sociology, criminology and gender studies classes in Vernon and Salmon Arm. I operate the only open-access, virtual library of Canadian prisoner-generated materials ( and have used these materials to co-author a book (with Prof. Clarkson, History department) on early penal reform in Canada. My areas of expertise are the effects of long-term imprisonment, penology, parole, and the rehabilitation & reintegration of prisoners. When not teaching or doing other professorial things, I travel to prisons to work with convicts, their support people and community agencies.

PhD, Criminology, University of Ottawa
MEd, Counselling, University of Northern BC
B.Soc.Sc, Criminology, University of Ottawa

Grant Valentine

Interdisciplinary Studies
Office: Sunoka Building C09B
Campus: Penticton
Phone: 250-762-5445

Mitchell Walker

Interdisciplinary Studies/Sociology
Office: Sunoka Building C01
Campus: Penticton
Phone: 250-492-4305
Interdisciplinary Studies instructor Mitch Walker

I have been teaching Criminology at Okanagan College since 2014. In 2019, I started teaching Sociology.
I am the Vice-Chairperson and co-founder of the Gladue Writers Society of British Columbia and an independent Gladue Writer on the Legal Services Society Gladue Writers roster. I am also a Board Member with the John Howard Society of the Central Okanagan and Kootenays.
I hold a Masters Degree in Criminology from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as well as a Bachelors Degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Victoria.
I have worked in various roles in the Criminal Justice System for the past 15 years, with a consistent focus on Restorative Justice and capacity building in Indigenous communities.


M.Sc, Criminology (Hons), Queens University Belfast


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