Don Shafer is a veteran broadcaster/podcaster, settler scholar, and community activist. He served as a cryptologist in the US Army, studied Psychology and English at the University of Texas and Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California. As a lifetime learner he completed his master’s degree in the Humanities at Simon Fraser University in 2018, and is currently a PhD student with the Social Justice Institute at UBC, a sessional instructor at BCIT, City University, and UBC’s Climate Hub.
Don is the recipient of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015 and was recognized for his work in media and in his community. His leadership was responsible for developing iconic radio brands across Canada such as CHOM FM, CHUM FM, Q107, CFOX FM, ROCK 101 as well as Roundhouse Radio. He was a pioneer in developing online interactive branding platforms and webcasting for the Toronto Star Newspaper Group. Don is strong supporter of community organizations promoting the important work that they do on and off the air. He has served on the boards of Variety the Children’s Charity, PFLAG, the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, the Canadian, Ontario, and British Columbia Association of Broadcasters, and Advisory Boards of the University of British Columbia and The British Columbia Institute of Technology. He volunteers with Vancouver Co-op Radio and the Downtown Eastside Community Coordinated Response Network.
Don’s research at UBC explores the words we use and how people talk about climate change and its interconnectedness with settler colonialism, white supremacy, and other intersecting social justice issues. His work explores these intersections and how these conversational ecosystems influence our thinking and meaning-making. He argues that many of these issues sit on the same foundations and that there are tipping points in conversations that open up or shut down how we talk across difference, which include race, gender, culture, politics and climate. He wants to find out if we can learn to speak to individuals and communities from different social, economic, religious, political or cultural backgrounds and fill structural holes where we can build trust and bridges of understanding.