S. Karly Kehoe

Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Communities
Saint Mary's University
S. Karly Kehoe
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

Karly is a university professor who uses history to study how the past affects community development and sustainable development today.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Peterborough, Ontario and grew up in Margaree Forks, Nova Scotia

I now live in: Halifax, Nova Scotia

I completed my training/education at:  Saint Mary's University, Nova Scotia, Canada, BA (Hons); University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, PhD

What I do at work

I carry out research on the religion, migration and minority identities of people in Atlantic Canada. This research is for benefit of communities of this area. I use history to understand how the past affects community development and sustainability today.

I am involved with a range of things through my work. I spend a lot of time reading research articles and books. I identify materials to explore in local, national, and international archives. I visit sites to explore historic settlements. I write books and articles, and present papers at conferences and seminars. I give public lectures. In terms of research projects, I manage a research team of between 12-14 people for funded research projects and international research teams.

There is also a teaching component to my work. I prepare and deliver courses that help students understand the significance of their local communities. Through these they learn how they can apply historical methods and training to real-world situations. I support and supervise students undertaking research. I write lectures, mark work, and oversee teaching assistants.

Public engagement is another major component to my job. I spend a lot of time ensuring that university-level research is accessible to rural communities. I run a program with Cape Breton high schools to help students understand what research looks like, and how it happens. I also work with heritage groups to help update interpretations.

Finally, science diplomacy is an ongoing part of the job. I am involved with several organizations that promote research collaborations across national borders and disciplines. I collaborate with colleagues around the world on migration research. I am a strong advocate for inclusive excellence and the plight of academics displaced due to war, conflict, and/or persecution. I attend international meetings and participate in panels and discussions. I lead workshops. I am the president of the Royal Society of Canada's College. I am an ambassador of Canadian research excellence at home and abroad.

My career path is

Hard work is the long and short of it. I did all the required education and worked hard. I also did a lot of the jobs others didn't think were important or high-profile enough. I thought differently. I was the first in my family to go to university so my approach was different. I didn't fit it, so I made it fit me. So far, so good!

I am motivated by

The most interesting aspect of my career is how I have connected my research on religious minority migration with present-day issues about migrant integration. I enjoy the freedom to design my own research agendas and to build research and activity teams. I am in this career by accident. I went on an exchange to Scotland in my 4th year, did really well, did a PhD there, and ended up in an academic job. I followed my interests. I wasn't super focused on the career, I was more interested in doing what I liked so long as it enabled me to pay the bills.

How I affect people’s lives

I love my job. It's fulfilling because the research that I do changes how people think about their communities. In turn, this helps them change what they are capable of doing. I help people to understand where they come from and how they might imagine new futures. I get people interested in thinking about things differently and collaborating.

Outside of work I

I love interior design and reclaiming old buildings. I do a range of volunteer work. I run and walk my dog.

My advice to others

Work really hard and don't put all of your eggs in one basket. Don't assume anyone owes you anything - it's on you.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Music
  • Art
  • History
  • Literature and Language Arts
  • Physical Education/Health
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Organized Activities for my friends
  • Was motivated by success
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Was really creative
  • Never wanted to be in the classroom
  • Always threw the best parties
  • Didn't really care about grades
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Learned best “by doing”

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Royal Society of Canada

Let’s Talk Science appreciates the support of the Royal Society of Canada in connecting us with this individual. 

The Royal Society of Canada is a member driven organization that recognizes Canada's leading scholars, researchers, artists and scientists from across disciplines and across generations in order to help build a better future in Canada and around the world. Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada work together to provide timely content on issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries.

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