Burstow Scholarship for Studies in Activism from the Margins

Award Overview


The Burstow Scholarship for Studies in Activism from the Margins was established with the support of Professor Bonnie Burstow and other donors. This scholarship is awarded based on academic merit to registered graduate students working on a thesis focused on activism by populations traditionally thought of as mad, or which would once have been so conceptualized. The School of Graduate Studies is expecting to award approximately eight scholarships per year.


Recipients must:

  • Be registered in a full-time master’s or doctoral program at the University of Toronto in the 2024-2025 academic year. Please note: students must be registered in a program with a thesis; students in professional degree programs without a thesis are ineligible to apply.
  • Be conducting research leading to a thesis, in the field of radical mad perspectives or mad studies, which may include trans-disciplinary mad studies focused on non-medicalized approaches to madness in relation to disability, history, gender, sexuality, age, culture, normalcy, and other intersections.

Selection Criteria

Applications will be assessed on their merit, quality of research, the vision that they bring to their endeavours, and the significance of the applicant’s work, as indicated by:

  • The statement of research that demonstrates how the applicant’s work falls within the field of radical mad perspectives or mad studies and its potential contribution to the advancement of knowledge in this field;
  • Academic achievements, demonstrated by transcripts, awards and distinctions;
  • Relevant professional, academic, and extracurricular experience, including research training, as evidenced by papers presented at conferences, the candidate’s publication record, and community or volunteer work in related areas; and
  • The letter of recommendation.

Application Process

To apply, students must complete the Online Form by the submission deadline (May 10, 2024 at 4:30 PM ET). Please note that you must have an activated UTORid (with utoronto email address) in order to complete the form; if you do not have one yet and wish to submit an application, please contact janine.harper@utoronto.ca for assistance. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

A complete application will include the following items:

  1. A statement of research written by the applicant (maximum 1 page; minimum 10 pt font).
    • The statement should describe the research to be undertaken during the award period, and it must clearly indicate how the applicant’s work falls within the field of radical mad perspectives or mad studies.
    • A maximum of 1 additional page is permitted for bibliography.
    • The statement (plus bibliography if applicable) must be uploaded as a single PDF file.
  2. All undergraduate and graduate transcript (combined as a single PDF file).
    • ACORN printouts are acceptable for U of T transcripts. All other transcripts must be official transcripts issued by the institution’s Registrar’s office.
    • Transcripts must be current as of February 1st, 2024, including grades for the Fall 2023 session (if applicable).
    • Legends must be included for all non-U of T transcripts.
    • Official e-transcripts are acceptable, but encryption may need to be removed before uploading or combining with other transcript files. Students may use freely available PDF software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader or their internet browser (e.g., Firefox, Chrome) to “print to PDF” in order to create an unencrypted copy of the file, which will remain acceptable. Students must retain all original transcripts, as they may be asked to provide the originals for verification purposes at a later date.
  3. Curriculum vitae (no page limit).
    • Applicants are encouraged to disclose any special circumstances that may have interrupted or had a negative impact on their academic or career paths on the last page of their CV (1/2 page max). SGS asks its selection committee to consider special circumstances that could have affected applicants’ research, professional career, record of academic or research achievement, or completion of degrees. Relevant circumstances could include administrative responsibilities, maternity/parental leave, child-rearing, illness, disability, cultural or community responsibilities, socio-economic context, health-related family responsibilities, trauma and loss, or the COVID-19 pandemic. Specify the dates for any delays or interruptions.
  4. One confidential letter of recommendation (maximum 1 page, signed by the referee and on institutional letterhead).
    • The letter must be emailed directly from the referee to janine.harper@utoronto.ca as a PDF attachment before the deadline.
    • The subject of the email must be “Burstow 2024 Reference_NAME OF APPLICANT”.
    • For the PDF file, please use file naming convention “Applicant Last Name, First Name_Burstow 2024 Ref”.
    • Letter should describe how the applicant meets or exceeds the evaluation criteria, e.g., academic merit of the candidate, as well as relevant community or volunteer contributions, and provide an evaluation of the applicant’s research to date and the relevance of the research being undertaken.
    • The letter should be from the supervisor/advisor if the applicant has one.


The SGS Graduate Awards Office will notify applicants of the results in late June 2024.

Contacts & Resources

Please direct all questions regarding the Burstow Scholarship for Studies in Activism from the Margins competition or application process to:

Janine Harper
Graduate Awards Officer
Phone: 416-978-3555