Photo of Kara Brisson-Boivin

Kara Brisson-Boivin

Adjunct Research Professor

Degrees:Ph.D. Sociology (Carleton)

Research Interests:

  • Digital publics and digital citizenship, digital well-being and online resiliency, youth and technology.
  • Critical prison studies, carceral expansion, indigenous justice, material politics.


Dr. Brisson-Boivin is the Director of Research at MediaSmarts, Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy. Kara oversees all of the planning, methodology, implementation, and dissemination of key findings from original MediaSmarts’ research studies as well as all program and resource evaluation. She researches the various impacts of digital technology and digital culture on Canadians broadly and youth in particular.

Kara’s current research projects examine digital citizenship and the intersections of digital publics and democracy, digital well-being and online resiliency, and what life online looks like for young Canadians. Specifically, Kara is leading a project that examines the barriers and enablers to youth pushing back against hate online as well as a project that reimagines online consent from the perspective of young Canadians. She is also the lead researcher on MediaSmarts’ Young Canadians in a Wired Word research project, which has been tracking young people’s experiences with technology since 2000.

Prior to joining MediaSmarts, Kara was the Graduate Student Transitions Mentor in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Carleton in a new graduate student service program that she created called the Graduate Student Career Transitions Program. She remains passionate about graduate student career mentorship especially in regards to alternative career paths for PhDs.

Kara’s background is in Criminology and critical prison studies. Kara has examined prison standards as a tactic of colonial penal government in Indigenous justice contexts in Nunavut (Canada) and Haiti. This project uses material politics as a framework in which to investigate objects of punishment; specifically, how penal objects are imbued with cultural meanings (by who and how) and the political consequences of these meanings.

Current Research Initiatives (with MediaSmarts):

*Young Canadians Push Back Against Hate Online
(Funded by Public Safety Canada)
This project addresses a gap in research and resources for countering online radicalization and hate speech by surveying young Canadians about their experiences with casual prejudice (i.e. hate content not directed at a specific target, or perceived as not being malicious in intent), including why they do or don’t intervene when they see it. The project aims to empower youth to push back when they encounter hate content in order to establish tolerance for diversity as a social norm in their online communities.

*Young Canadians Speak Out: A Qualitative Study on Privacy and Consent
(Funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner)
This project gives youth an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which they conceptualize consent online, to design new tools and concrete methods for obtaining meaningful consent, and to assert their rights and share their insights with academics, policymakers and representatives of the online platforms that they use.

*Young Canadians in a Wired World (Phase IV): To be or not to be Resilient
(Funded by CIRA – Canadian Internet Registration Authority)
This project investigates to what extent (if at all) resilience is adopted by Canadian youth and their parents as a strategy to deal with online challenges, and whether or not, from their perspectives, resilience is a positive quality for young people to have when navigating life online. This project uncovers what changes youth and their parents see as necessary for children’s rights of protection, provision, and participation to be actualized in the spaces and communities they engage in online.

*DigitalSmarts: Combatting Canada’s Digital Divide
Digital literacy is an essential factor in fostering social inclusion. Digital literacy divides map onto existing inequalities based on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, education, immigration status and gender. The DigitalSmarts project aims to combat digital literacy divides through the development and delivery of a digital literacy skills program for under-represented populations in Canada with the goals of empowering and supporting these Canadians.

Recent Publications

Brisson-Boivin, K. (2019). “Pushing Back Against Hate Online.” MediaSmarts. Ottawa.

Brisson-Boivin, K. (2018). “The Digital Well-Being of Canadian Families.” MediaSmarts. Ottawa.

Brisson-Boivin, K. (2018). “Standardizing ‘Corrections’: The Politics of Prison Expansionism and Settler Colonial Representations of Punishment in Nunavut.” Interdisciplinary Justice Research. (7). 372-405.

Brisson-Boivin, K. (2017). “Institutionalizing Support for Grads Transitioning from Student to Professional.” Beyond the Professoriate Blog. University Affairs. November.

Brisson-Boivin, K. (2017). “The Matter of Penal Standards: An Emerging Scholar’s Research Blog.” Carleton University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Brisson-Boivin, K. (2016). Ph.D. Dissertation: The Matter of Penal Standards: The Material Politics of Penal Government in Haiti and in Nunavut. Carleton University.

Brisson-Boivin, K. (2016). “The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy.” By Yves Engler. Alternate Routes. (27). 341-343.

O’Connor, D., K. Brisson-Boivin, and S. Ilcan. (2014). “Governing Failure: Development, Aid, and Audit in Haiti.” Conflict, Security, and Development. (14) (3). 1-22.

Brisson-Boivin, K., and D. O’Connor. (2013). “The Rule of Law, Security-Development and Penal Aid: The Case of Detention in Haiti.” Punishment and Society. (15) (5). 515-533.