Susan O'Donnell

Adjunct Professor




My research interests:

  • technology adoption in communities, particularly rural and remote communities
  • socio-economic aspects of energy technologies, particularly nuclear technology
  • the climate crisis
  • sustainable futures
  • political economy of telecommunications
  • media and online communications
  • social movements online
  • alternative media and the public sphere
  • online research and survey design
  • activist research

For the first half of my 25-year research career, I worked in Ireland and the European Union. In 2004, I returned to Canada to join the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Digital Technologies Research Centre as a Senior Research officer. At the same time, I joined the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Department of Sociology as an Adjunct Professor. After 13 years, I retired from the NRC and continued as a researcher with UNB.

Over the years, I have supervised and taught research skills to dozens of graduate students and worked with many community partners across Canada, Ireland and the EU. Together we have produced more than 50 peer-reviewed publications on topics ranging from social media and community development to First Nation community perspectives on telehealth.

As an activist and popular interest writer, my primary interests are environmental, feminist, labour and political issues. Most recently I have published articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The Hill Times, the NB Media Co-op, and Rabble.

While a researcher at the NRC I was also the vice-chair of the NRC Research Ethics Board and, for my last three years, the President of the NRC Research Officers group of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. (PIPSC). In that role, I worked with other PIPSC federal government science group presidents to negotiate a scientific integrity clause, including a "right to speak," into the collective agreements of more than 15,000 researchers and scientists across the federal public service.

Since 2004, I have been the principal investigator on a series of research and outreach projects at UNB funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) with collaborators and partners across Canada. The First Nations Innovation project ended in 2018 and continues as a national non-profit policy advocacy organization, the First Mile Connectivity Consortium with Indigenous partners across Canada.

My current research project, RAVEN (Rural Action and Voices for the Environment) is working with a dynamic interdisciplinary team of researchers at UNB and community partners and collaborators. Together we are creating digital media to support the voices of rural champions and environmental activists in New Brunswick.


  • PhD (Dublin City University)
  • MA (Cardiff University)
  • BA (University of Ottawa)

Selected publications

O’Donnell, S. & Edwards, G. (2021). Will Canada remain a credible nonproliferation partner? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 14.

Reeder, R., O'Donnell, S. & Prado, A. (2020) Leadership for Climate Change Adaptation in a Rural Region in New Brunswick, Canada. The Journal of Rural and Community Development, 15(2), 55-74.

Aspinall, M., O'Donnell, S., Glynn, T. & Beckley, T. (2019). Manufacturing Consent for an Extractive Regime in Rural New Brunswick, Canada. The Journal of Rural and Community Development, 14(4), 27–49.

O'Donnell, S. & Beaton, B. (2018). A “whole-community” approach for sustainable digital infrastructure in remote and Northern First Nations. Northern Public Affairs, October, 34-37.

O’Donnell, S. & Perley, D. (2016). Toward a Sociology of the Reconciliation of Conflicting Desires. Canadian Review of Sociology. 54(4) 474-481.

Beaton, B., Perley, D., George, C. & O’Donnell, S. (2016). Engaging remote marginalized communities using appropriate online research methods. In N. Fielding, R. M. Lee & G. Blank (Eds) The Sage handbook of online research methods (Second Edition). Sage, London. Pg. 563-577.

O’Donnell, S. (2016). Digital Skills: Unlocking the Information Society (Book Review). Information, Communication & Society. 19, 1770-1772.

Beaton, B., Burnard, T., Linden, A. & O'Donnell, S. (2015). Keewaytinook mobile: An Indigenous community-owned mobile phone service in northern Canada. In L. Dyson, S. Grant & M. Hendriks (eds.), Indigenous People and Mobile Technologies. New York, NY: Routledge. Pg 109-125.

McMahon, R., Gurstein, M., Beaton, B., O’Donnell, S., Whiteduck, T. (2014). Making Information Technologies Work at the End of the Road. Journal of Information Policy 4(1).