Dr. Adam Ellis, PhD was named a 2016 Vanier Scholar in support of his doctoral project “Reconceptualizing Urban Warfare in Canada: Exploring the Relationship between Trauma, PTSD and Gang Violence”.
Adam’s doctoral work is inspired by his own lived experience within the ‘street’ sub-culture. He has worked on several research projects focusing on urban marginality, youth mental health and ‘crime’; the socio-psychological impact of colonialism and the ‘justice’ industrial complex; street trauma, collective memory and violence; street indoctrination, mental health and identity; vicarious trauma and frontline work; anti-colonial criminology; and decolonizing/arts-based research.
Building on his doctoral work Adam recently completed his first edited text “Thug Criminology”. He is currently developing his second monograph, “A Cold World: Trauma, Mental Health and Street Violence”. In addition, he has a number of peer reviewed papers in a range of academic journals including the Journal of Gang Research, Journal of Community Corrections and the United Nations to name a few. He has also written formal reports on youth/gun violence for government decision-makers, such as the 2020 report he submitted to the Youth Violence Unit at the City of Toronto.
The urgency of understanding the societal implications of ‘gang’ violence and its policing has meant Adam’s research has garnered significant attention both inside and outside of the academy. As such, he has been invited to present on this work in a range of venues including academic conferences (e.g., American Society of Criminology, Western Society of Criminology, Ontario Psychiatric Association etc.) and civil state organizations (e.g., the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Durham Regional Police Service, Toronto Police Service, Senate of Canada, City of Toronto etc.).
Beyond academia, Adam is also committed to community transformation, with specific focus on projects that uplift communities and enhance protective factors that can mitigate the effects of structural, community and interpersonal violence. Drawing on the data/knowledge acquired through his doctoral work, Adam developed and launched his first community-based program Hip Hop Healers. The pilot project utilized Hip Hop social workers to support racialized and criminalized youth who have experienced complex and cumulative forms of trauma across their lives. Further, in early 2021 Adam founded The Street Institute, an international research collective that draws on the experiences and knowledge of racialized and criminalized academics who have been able to transcend a street-life themselves.