Dr Sarah Jane Meharg

Department of Defence Studies

Dr Sarah Jane Meharg

Tel: 416-482-6800
Fax: 416-482-6802
Address: Canadian Forces College
215 Yonge Blvd
Toronto ON M5M 3H9

Areas of Interest

  • Post-Disaster, Post-Conflict Reconstruction
  • Peace Operations
  • Military Design Thinking, Professional Military Education, and Adult Learning and Learners
  • Identity Implications from Moral Trauma and Injury in the Canadian Armed Forces
  • Identity Conflict, Political Tribalism, and Digital Conflict in Contemporary Complex Warfare

Educational and Professional Background

Dr Meharg is a global authority on economic, cultural, and security reconstruction of post-disaster and post-conflict environments. Dr Meharg is Assistant Professor at the Canadian Forces College and is the recent recipient of the prestigious Top Women in Defence and Security 2020 award. She is a recognized expert in managing the competing interests of defence, diplomacy, and development stakeholders in post-disaster and post-conflict planning.

Dr Meharg has extensive teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and of note, with more than 1,100 senior military officers and civil servants, in institutional, operational, and cross-cultural contexts across national and international settings. She holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from University of Guelph, a Master of Arts in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada, and a Ph.D. in Cultural Geography from Queen’s University, where she studied the intentional destruction of cultural heritage sites during contemporary armed warfare. Dr Meharg has served as a research fellow with organizations such as the Centre for Security and Defence Studies, the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, and the Security and Defence Forum.

Dr Meharg is the only Canadian civilian who has worked for the Peace Support Training Centre at Kingston, Ontario, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre at Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, and Ottawa, Ontario, and the US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, developing curricula, managing international research projects, and producing training and education results which help diplomacy, development, and defence stakeholders understand the impact of interventions on local cultures affected by complex emergencies.

Dr Meharg has written many chapters and articles, some of which are used as NATO training materials, including two books: Helping Hands and Loaded Arms: Navigating the Military and Humanitarian Space, Measuring What Matters in Peace Operations and Crisis Management, and Security Sector Reform: A Case Study Approach to Transition and Capacity Building. She has received many commendations for her unique Identicide: Precursor to Genocide, which defines the precursor stages of genocide.

Dr Meharg has planned, coordinated, and implemented two international multi-year research projects. She has conducted in-depth one-on-one interviews with hundreds of senior-level representatives at NATO Headquarters, Crisis Management Initiative, European Union, Organization for Security and Co-operation, and the French, Croatian, Bosnia-Herzegovinian, Canadian, and US Governments.

Current Research and Projects

Dr Meharg’s research draws from theoretical perspectives and methodological traditions across cultural and political geography, critical perspectives, sociology, and the philosophy of transactionalism. Of utmost interest to her are ontological questions related to threats to identity, namely within the Canadian Armed Forces, Other Government Departments, and conflict-affected peoples.

Dr Meharg will complete a book manuscript as the final installment in a three-book series of lessons learned and international best practices for post-conflict and post-disaster reconstruction.

This book examines how and why the international community of stakeholders brings its norms, beliefs, and ethics to field operations, and the effects of recipient populations and host nations adopting liberal democratic frameworks. Preliminary conclusions suggest that international actors risk bringing, to fragile and vulnerable communities, ethnocentric reasoning, thinking, and framing that could reduce the sustainability of peace and security in areas of operation. Dr Meharg continues to concentrate on issues related to ontological identity and asks urgent questions about social, cultural, and economic conditions of local populations in areas to which CAF and other government departments deploy.

During the next year, Dr Meharg will examine the forces shaping the future of defence economics in an emergent pandemic environment. This research will review Canada’s security and defence budgets, strategic investments, and spending priorities within the context of moving through global policy shifts and financial swings. As her past research has focused on post-conflict cultural and economic reconstruction, she will evaluate how post-disaster pandemic recovery connects to, and has an impact on elements of, defence economics in Canada.

Research in this vein is of increasing importance as Canada, and other allies, grapple with possible economic solutions to the emergent pandemic phenomenon, which is transnational and not limited by international borders.

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