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Sarah Switzer

Senior Researcher

PhD Environmental Studies 
York University

Sarah Switzer is an adult educator, interdisciplinary scholar, and community-based participatory researcher with twenty years of experience supporting community-based approaches to social change and health equity. She believes in working collaboratively, imaginatively and equitably for social justice and is committed to research done in partnership with communities and community-based organizations.  As an arts-based researcher, her toolkit often contains a cellphone or camera, flip-chart markers, a bag of lego blocks, glue sticks, a vial of glitter, and an expired box of tick-tacks (or other fun objects). She works collaboratively with communities and multi-stakeholder teams to co-create podcasts,  photography exhibits, installations, digital storytelling screenings, written articles, curriculum, trainings, and more. Her lived experiences as a white, cis, queer settler, with an invisible disability has motivated her desire to co-design and co-imagine participatory spaces with accessibility, anti-racism and social justice at the centre. 

In the summer of 2021, Sarah joined the CCBR team as a senior researcher.  Inspired by past front-line experience working at the intersections of community arts, peer programming, and HIV and Harm Reduction, her larger program of research focuses on how to meaningfully engage communities who experience marginalization in program or policy change within the the HIV and Harm Reduction sector, as well as other fields concerned with health equity.


Prior to joining CCBR, Sarah held a SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her SSHRC-funded post-doctoral (participatory) research focused on how community-engaged practitioners (participatory researchers, community artists and community facilitators) are adapting their participatory work with communities to online and remote settings during COVID-19, and the unique ethical and pedagogical issues that emerge (see: 


She has published in the fields of:  participatory visual methodologies; community-based participatory researchharm reduction and HIV/AIDS; youth engagement; creative knowledge translation and co-design; participatory research ethics; and the critical study of participation and engagement.


Sarah spends her free time hiking, gardening, creative writing and cycling. She lives in Tkaronto (Toronto), as covered by Treaty 13 with her partner.

For publications and other resources >> 

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