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: http://www.stmichaelshospital.com/pdf/research/SMH-TOSCA-report.pdf) 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: https://mun.academia.edu/ChristopherSmith, or https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christopher_Smith27.
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