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Athabasca University

Dr. Deborah Foster, RSW




  • B.Sc McMaster University, Hamilton, ON
  • MSc. University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
  • PhD University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB


I grew in Toronto in the 1960's and 70's, graduating from high school in the Yonge Eglinton area of Toronto in 1980. I headed off to McMaster University to enter medical school but changed my mind mid way and did a Science degree in Psychology, which I finished in 1984. During that degree I became very interested in the fields of Human Sexuality and Women's Studies. Since it was the early 1980's there were no Sexuality or Women's Studies courses available to take. After my Bachelor's degree I worked on a project that used youth theatre to teach human sexuality then went back a year later to do my Masters at the University of Guelph in Human Sexuality and Marriage and Family Therapy. I moved to Alberta to work for the Government in 1988 and in 1990 I started teach at Athabasca University. After being out of school for 15 years and holding a variety of jobs in the private and public sector (while still teaching part time for Athabasca University) I returned to school to do my PhD in Human Ecology at the University of Alberta. My dissertation has been published by VDM Verlag as a book entitled: The experiences of planned two-mother families: How to grow a lesbian family.

I currently work as a Social Worker/Therapist in an EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program) and a Women’s Reproductive Health Clinic as well as teaching Women's Studies and Health Studies at Athabasca University, where I have just began my 25th year of teaching with AU. Teaching currently preoccupies most of my work life, but when I get a break from it my research interests lay in the areas of human sexuality, lesbian issues, women's issues, the ethics of research on human subjects, and andragogy of teaching. When not at work I enjoy  exploring urban environments and spending time with extended family.

Along with teaching I have sat on numerous committees including Boards of Governors, Academic Councils, and Research Ethics Boards and continue to sit on a variety of Regulatory committees for ACSW (Alberta College of Social Workers). The following is a list of selected recent conference presentations and publications over my academic career.


Select Recent Articles

Foster, D. (2007). Considerations for educators: Not everyone knows what a Barb is, do they mom? Health and Learning Magazine. Spring, 23-25.

Foster, D., & Fownes, L. (2002). Social work manifesto on HIV: A discussion from the Canadian annual social work conference, June 2002. Alberta Social Work Journal, 27(3), 22-23.

Foster, D. (2005). Why lesbian households are so good for kids! Research on lesbian parenting. Canadian Women's Studies. 24(2/3), 51-56.

Foster, D. (2005). The formation and continuance of lesbian families in Canada. Canadian Bulletin of Medical History. 22(2), 279-295.

Select Recent Presentations

Foster, D., Littell, M., & Morin, L. (in press). Life in a Fish Bowl: The emotional and physical safety of Rural Human Services Workers. In J. Malone & P. Jerry. (Eds.). Rural Linkages. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.

Foster, D. & Littell, M. (in press). In J. Malone & P.  Jerry. (Eds.). I’ll trade you 3C’s for 1P: Community/College Collaborations for Social Work Practicums. In J. Malone & P. Jerry. (Eds.). Rural Linkages. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.

Foster, D. & Perry, K. (2009). Out in the classroom? Lesbian and Gay Psychology Review. 10(1). 27-31.

Foster, D., Rotheram-Borus, M.J., Travers, R., & O-Brien Teengs, D. (2009, August). Adapting Interventions to Address Gay and Lesbian Youth Issues. America Psychology Association Annual Conference – Families Front and Centre Day, Toronto, ON.

Foster, D. (2009, May). Are you prepared to cross the line? Canadian Society for the Study of Edmonton (CSSE) Preconference of Congress, Carleton, ON.

Foster, D. & Seebarran, D. (2008, May). Access and Utilization of STI/HIV Treatment and Services by Male Transient Workers in Northern Alberta's Oil, Gas and Forestry Industries. Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health Biannual Conference, Edmonton, AB.

Select Recent Athabasca Course Design and Revisions

Foster, D & Davison, K. (2015). Introduction to human health. Health Studies 200. Athabasca: Athabasca University

Foster, D. & Nielsen, K. (2007). Feminist issues and practice in family counselling. Women's Studies 425. Athabasca University.

Updated February 25 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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