Christopher B.R. Smith Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Christopher B.R. Smith

Assistant Professor
Memorial University, Schoool of Social Work

Christopher B.R. Smith is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research focuses on critical drug studies and harm reduction policy/practice. Christopher’s first book manuscript – Addiction, Modernity, and the City: A Users’ Guide to Urban Space (2016) – was published in Routledge’s Advances in Sociology series. Over the past five years Christopher has lived and worked in Philadelphia, Toronto, Melbourne, and St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he is presently a faculty member at Memorial U


Dr. Christopher Smith is an inherently interdisciplinary scholar, whose diverse multiplicity of research interests contain a central, recurrent focus on the socio-spatial dimensions of mental health, addiction/treatment, and harm reduction policy and practice. His particular emphasis is on the biopolitics of methadone maintenance treatment, socio-spatial stigmatization concerning what he has termed the ‘contested space of addiction treatment’ and community opposition to the perceived (socio-spatial) ‘disorder of drugs’. Moreover, his most recent academic and professional research involvements are specifically focused on both the increasing impetus for direct service user engagement in public health policy and programming relating to people with lived experience of substance use and/or mental health issues, as well as the role and significance of psychiatric survivor initiatives and autonomous organizations of people who use drugs in the development, implementation, delivery and evaluation of the policies, programs and interventions that are ostensibly conducted in their interest.
Christopher’s teaching orientation is firmly rooted in praxis, as he consistently attempts to both bridge the gap between elitist, ‘ivory tower’ theory and everyday lived experience, the university and the surrounding community, as well as illustrate what he perceives to be the mutually-constituting, interdependent relationship between his teaching/learning responsibilities, academic research endeavors, and community-based, policy-relevant public engagement and professional consulting involvements.
A dual Canadian-U.K. citizen, Christopher primarily grew up in southern Ontario, completing his BA (Hons) in Cultural Studies at Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario), and both his MA and PhD in interdisciplinary studies at York University (Toronto, Ontario).
Before beginning his tenure-track appointment in the School of Social Work at Memorial University in November 2014, Christopher taught as a contractually based full-time faculty member in the Urban Studies program at York University (2008-2009), completed a two-year SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) under the supervision of internationally renowned medical anthropologist Dr. Phillipe Bourgois (2009-2011), and taught in a tenure-track capacity at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia (2012-2013), where he was awarded a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
Throughout the course of his academic career Christopher has been involved in numerous complementary public engagement and professional research consulting endeavors, including:
(1) acting in the capacity of co-investigator for both the Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Site Needs Assessment project (TOSCA, 2008-2012: and the Toronto Public Health Safer Crack Use Kit Program Evaluation (2008-2010);
(2) serving as a member of the Research Advisory Group for the most recent iteration of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program Standards and Clinical Guidelines (2009);
(3) working as an Advisor to the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (MoHLTC) as part of the Minister’s Advisory Group on Mental Health and Addictions, charged with developing a 10-year metal health and addiction strategy for the province of Ontario (2008-2010); in this role, Christopher co-authored an evidence-based literature review concerning ‘service user involvement’ in mental health and addiction policy and practice entitled Engaging People with Lived Experience for Better Health Outcomes: Collaboration with Mental Health and Addiction Service Users in Research, Policy, and Treatment in collaboration with with Raymond Cheng, Policy Analyst and Knowledge Exchange Facilitator for the Ontario Peer Development Initiative (OPDI), and;
(4) serving as a consultant for numerous projects led by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), including acting as a reviewer for the Opiate Treatment Interprofessional Education Program (2009), as well as various sub-projects within the larger CAMH Opiate Awareness, Treatment and Education Project (OpiATE, 2008).
Since relocating to St. John’s, Newfoundland to take up his appointment as an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Memorial University in November 2014, Christopher has additionally taken on several new academic and community- based involvements, including:
(1) completing and submitting a co-edited book manuscript entitled Critical Approaches to Harm Reduction: Conflict, Institutionalization, (De-)Politicization, and Direct Action in collaboration with Memorial University PhD Candidate and Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) Fellow Zack Marshall;
(2) established an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral, service-user-centric Research Exchange Group (REG) with the Newfoundland Centre for Applied Health Research (NLCAHR) on the theme of Harm Reduction and Critical Drug Studies;
(3) co-organized a conference entitled User-Driven Interventions in the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm: Everything you wanted to know about harm reduction but were afraid to ask, in collaboration with Tree Walsh, Founder and Manager of the first and only harm reduction agency and needle exchange program (NEP) in Newfoundland, for the St. John’s based Addiction Treatment Services Association (ATSA), and;
(4) assumed the position of St. John’s Site Coordinator for the Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (CCENDU), an initiative of the Canadian Centre for
NOTE: For further information regarding Dr. Smith’s academic and professional background, experience, and publications, please visit:, or


    Postdoc, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 2009-2011
    PhD, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2008
    MA, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2003

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Critical Drug Studies; Harm Reduction; Drug Policy, Paradigm Shifts in Popular and Professional Perceptions of 'Addiction'; Service User Involvement; Organizing and Activism Among People who Use Drugs; Methadone Maintenance Treatment; Overdose Prevention; Qualitative Research; Ethnography

Personal Interests

    Literature/Reading, Bicycling; Hiking; Fly-Fishing/Fly-Tying; Travel; Martial Arts/Acrobatics



Featured Title
 Featured Title - Addiction, Modernity, and the City - 1st Edition book cover


International Journal of Drug Policy

What is low threshold methadone maintenance treatment?

Published: May 08, 2013 by International Journal of Drug Policy
Authors: Carol Strike, Margaret Millson, Shaun Hopkins, Christopher B.R. Smith
Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice, Sociology & Social Policy, Health and Social Care

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) services take different forms, based on the policies and practices applicable in various jurisdiction. Commonly based on the reduction of barriers to accessing MMT services, and traditionally designed for opioid-dependent poly-drug users, the notion of low threshold MMT does not, however, have a commonly accepted definition. This article thus examines several low threshold MMT programs in Canada to identify commonalities with regard to barrier reduction.

Critical Public Health

Harm reduction as anarchist practice

Published: Jan 06, 2012 by Critical Public Health
Authors: Christopher B. R. Smith
Subjects: History, Media and Cultural Studies, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Sociology & Social Policy, Health and Social Care

Tracing harm reduction philosophy and practice in North America from its origins as an explicitly oppositional, grassroots, 'illegal' social movement, to its present manifestation as de-politicized, institutional public health policy, this article illuminates the uncanny parallels between the fundamental tenets of social anarchism, and elements central to the founding philosophy of harm reduction, concluding with a series of recommendations for reclaiming and re-politicizing harm reduction.

Space and Culture

A Users’ Guide to ‘Juice Bars’ and ‘Liquid Handcuffs’

Published: Jan 27, 2011 by Space and Culture
Authors: Christopher B. R. Smith
Subjects: Built Environment, Media and Cultural Studies, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Health and Social Care, Anthropology - Soc Sci

Drawing from an ethnographic investigation of service users' experiences negotiating both socio-spatial stigmatization, and the biopolitics of methadone treatment police and practice, this article critically interrogates the fluid, interdependent nature of space, subjectivity, and the substance of methadone treatment through the perceptions and experiences of service users' in Toronto, Canada.

Journal of Transgressive Culture

The Intoxication of Narcotic Modernity

Published: Jan 01, 2011 by Journal of Transgressive Culture
Authors: Christopher B. R. Smith
Subjects: Built Environment, Geography , English Language & Linguistics, Media and Cultural Studies, Health and Social Care, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Communication Studies

Locating the force or phenomenon popularly termed ‘addiction’ in the mutually constituting interrelationship between subjectivity, space and (‘controlled’) substance, this article critically traces the history of body/space metaphors in Western culture, argues that the sense, state, or ‘scape’ of (creative-destructive) intoxication is central to the socio-spatial experience of (late-)capitalist (narco-)modernity.

Social Science & Medicine

Socio-spatial stiugmatization and the contested spce of addiction treatment

Published: Jul 21, 2010 by Social Science & Medicine
Authors: Christopher B. R. Smith
Subjects: Built Environment, Media and Cultural Studies, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Health and Social Care, Anthropology - Soc Sci

Drawing from a community conflict regarding the relocation of a methadone clinic into a gentrifying neighborhood in Toronto, Canada, this article critically analyzes oppositional discourse premised on the perceived (socio-spatial) 'disorder of drugs', posing addiction as a 'pathology (out) of place' and the city itself as a site of 'supervised consumption.

Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MoHLTC)

Engaging People with Lived Experience for Better Health Outcomes

Published: Jan 07, 2009 by Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MoHLTC)
Authors: Raymond Cheng and Chritsotpher B.R. Smith
Subjects: Sociology & Social Policy, Health and Social Care

Commissioned by the Ontario 'Minister's Advisory Group on Mental Health and Addictions', this co-authored professional research report entails an evidence-based literature review concerning the role and importance of directly involving mental health, harm reduction, and addiction treatment service users in all aspects of the policies and procedures that are ostensibly conducted in their interests.