Boundary Vision is written by Marie-Claire Shanahan, Associate Professor of Science in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She studies identity, language, media and gender and their influence on participation and engagement with science by people of all ages. She tweets as @mcshanahan, can be found on Google+, and reached by email at mcshanahan [at] boundaryvision dot com.

Want to know more?

I am a science education and communication researcher interested in the social parts of science. Why does the social part matter? It’s important because the choices that people  make to engage with science or turn away from it are often social decisions.

I have been interested in science as long as I can remember but the same isn’t true for everyone. My interest brought me to Queen’s University to study physics and mechanical engineering as an undergrad, where I got involved in doing science outreach for kids in local and Northern communities. After finishing my degree, I realized that I was really interested in why and how people choose to do science. I returned to university to train as a physics and math teacher, and it was as a middle and high school science teacher that I realized how complicated those decisions are for many people. Even students that I thought showed real promise in science would often say things to me like “Oh miss, I’d never study science after high school. I’m just not a science person.”

Inspired by those students I returned to graduate school to do research in the sociology of science and science education. After completing an MA and PhD at the University of Toronto, I am now a faculty member at the University of Calgary. I do research into language, communication and identity in science both in education settings and in public communication, such as on blogs and in comment spaces. This blog is a place for me to share some of my own work and that of my colleagues and also to write about the social spaces of science that are all around us.

Why is the blog called Boundary Vision?

As an MA student, one of the papers that I most vividly remember changing my understanding of science was Thomas Gieryn’s (1983) Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science. In it and his later work he creates a very striking analogy of cartography as a way of thinking about science. Nothing is as simple as science vs. not-science or science people vs. non-science people. Instead it’s a complex terrain with boundaries that are negotiated and fought over but also very real. The topics that I cover here take this view. I’m interested in shining a light on the places where science and education and culture overlap and have to share and negotiate territory. To reflect that aim, my brother Vancouver musician and artist Tony Dubroy created Boundary Vision’s beautiful light bulb header image.

And if you really want to learn more about what I do: Shanahan CV February 2016

Leave a comment


  1. Kathleen

     /  July 29, 2011

    Hello Marie-Claire–I really enjoy your blog. You knit together the practical and theoretical challenges of communicating science in a clear and fresh style. One area that fascinates me and that I wonder if you’ve done any research on, is the anit-science allure of cosmetics. Why do highly educated women succumb so easily to the wiles of cosmetic salesman/womanship (I include myself in this demographic)? Especially when reports of cosmetic ingredients include items that appear to be almost as lethally potent as the lead that people used in the 15th century to whiten their skin and hide pox scars.

    I’d interested in hearing your thoughts.

  2. Thanks Kathleen. That’s a very interesting problem to consider. I have certainly seen lots of smart friends be influenced by cosmetics sales (and I have been too). Thanks for the idea – I’ll look into it!

  1. Trivial Pursuits | The Finch and Pea
  2. It’s hard work being a role model | The Finch and Pea
  3. Song of the Week: OK Go -This Too Shall Pass (the one with the Rube Goldberg machine) | The Finch and Pea
  4. What rhymes with “Spinoza”? – Ros Peters’ “The Philosophy Song” | The Finch and Pea
  5. KFPR 1865AM – The Finch & Pea Radio | The Finch and Pea
  6. Marie-Claire’s belly button has passed peer review | The Finch and Pea
  7. Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the first Rock and Roll show with…biological classification and Guided by Voices? [Repost] | The Finch and Pea
  8. Plants as a metaphor for adulthood?: Frank Turner’s Photosynthesis [Repost] | The Finch and Pea
  9. Don’t count the feathers: Dan Mangan, nature study and a surprise Charley Harper reference [repost] | The Finch and Pea
  10. Commenters | The Finch and Pea
  11. The Finch & Pea at ScienceOnline 2013 | The Finch and Pea
  12. Moms are awesome, both in science and in song [repost] | The Finch and Pea
  13. Stargazing to Randy Described Eternity [repost] | The Finch and Pea
  14. Song of the Semi-Regular Time Unit | The Finch and Pea
  15. Whitehorse’s Achilles’ Desire [Repost] | The Finch and Pea
  16. Morning Feature – Scientific (Il)Literacy | BPI Campus
  17. Please don’t blindly follow PopSci’s lead and get rid of comment spaces | The Finch and Pea
  18. Call for Papers: Women in Science | Feminist Voices in Archaeology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: