CBU Receives CFI Award for New Media Lab

A Media Interpretation and Reception Lab (MIRLab) that will allow researchers to study how people interact with media will soon have a home at Cape Breton University (CBU). Dr. Ian Brodie, Associate Professor of Folklore and Dr. Rubina Ramji, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, have been awarded $111,310 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Leader’s Opportunity Fund to construct this innovative space.

“This is a great vote of confidence from CFI for the type of research that Dr. Ramji, my partner on this grant, and I are conducting at Cape Breton University. We are both investigating the impact media has on issues of self-perception, and how viewers are actively and critically engaged in interpreting the multiple messages that all forms of media – from music to film to videogames – communicate,” says Dr. Brodie.

The MIRLab will be the only research infrastructure of its kind in Eastern Canada, with only a few in the world being similar. What is innovative about this lab is its capability to engage in both qualitative and quantitative research.  It will provide what folklorists and ethnologists refer to as an induced natural context for viewing media. For participants the lab will be like watching television at a neighbour’s house: unlike a classroom setting with media capabilities, the lab is a comfortable and familiar space for doing the sort of media consumption that is done in the home. The lab is designed to facilitate both the research participants’ engagement with media and the researchers’ engagement with the other participants.

The lab will have easily moveable furniture so researchers and participants can quickly reassemble the area from a media watching space to a conversation pit.  Built in cameras and microphones will unobtrusively record free-flowing interviews and discussions with little to no set-up required. Moreover, by recording directly to a server, the files can be easily accessed by the researchers. 

“Awards by national funding bodies make it possible for our researchers to enhance their research programs by helping with infrastructure that supports the innovative work being conducted at CBU. These spaces offer opportunities for collaborative projects and add value to the diverse research culture found on campus. Funding also helps us provide students with access to top facilities where they can engage in research that will prepare them for their future endeavours,” says Dr. Dale Keefe, Dean Research and Graduate Studies.

The lab also presents great opportunity for collaborative work with many disciplines, in addition to Dr. Brodie’s research into the collective nature of experiencing certain forms of mediated performance such as his interest in stand-up comedy. The lab also holds great potential for work being conducted by Dr. Ramji, whose research will concentrate on understanding the impact of the role of visual media on religious identity. The objective of her research is to extend the question of religion’s role in the lives of Canada’s more recent immigrant populations by assessing the conditions and media influences of religious identity formation, especially among Muslim immigrants, in small homogenous host populations.

“The investments being announced today for Cape Breton University will further enhance our country’s reputation as a destination of choice for outstanding researchers,” said Dr. Gilles G. Patry, President and CEO of the CFI. “They will make our universities even more competitive when it comes to attracting the best and brightest researchers from around the world.”

For more information on research at CBU visit www.cbu.ca/research.