a professor talking in front of her students

Teaching difficult topics: managing discomfort in the classroom (2024 edition)

[Please note that this event will be held in French. An English session took place on March 5.]

Are you a university professor seeking innovative ways to teach challenging topics? Do you want to learn how to manage discomfort in the classroom effectively?

Join us to hear firsthand testimonies from experienced colleagues, gain insights into their teaching methodologies, and discover practical suggestions for handling difficult classroom situations that arise around complex and sensitive subjects such as historic or contemporary racial injustice, sexual violence, health issues, LGBTQ+ issues and war, among others.  

This event is an opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions, share experiences, and learn from peers. This 2024 edition will begin with a panel discussion, followed by a live Q&A session.

Don’t miss this chance to enhance your teaching skills and create a more conducive learning environment for your students!

Moderator: Marie-Ève Sylvestre (Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section)


  • Jean-François Cauchie (Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Dave Holmes (Faculty of Health Sciences)
  • Modeste Mba Talla (Faculty of Social Sciences)
Dr. Jean-François Cauchie

Jean-François Cauchie

Faculty of Social Sciences

Jean-François Cauchie is an associate professor in the Department of Criminology. As a sociologist and criminologist, his research addresses suicide as a transdisciplinary object, as well as the study of the posthumous self through farewell letters. He is currently the principal researcher of an SSHRC project on the understanding of the suicidal gesture. His studies focus on the epistemological, ethical, and methodological issues around the creation of a digital database informing on the management of the suicidal gesture in Quebec between 1763 and 2021. His work embraces the evolution of criminal law -including innovative ideas in terms of legal punishment-, as well as racialization and racism in the criminal justice system.

Professor Dave Holmes

Dave Holmes

Faculty of Health Sciences

Dave Holmes is a full professor andholds the University Research Chair in ForensicNursing (2010-2025). AftercompletinghisBSc, MSc and PhD in nursing, hecompleted a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)post-doctoralfellowship in health care, technology and place at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work. He iscurrently a fellow at both the American Academy of Nursing and Canadian Academy of Nursing. Professor Holmes conducts research on risk management in the fields of public health, psychiatric nursing, and forensic nursing. His researchisaccomplishedexclusively by workingwith and for marginalized populations.

Dr. Modeste Mba Talla

Modeste Mba Talla

Faculty of Social Sciences

Modeste Mba Talla is a part-time professor at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa and the School of Conflict Studies at Saint Paul University. After obtaining his master’s degree in international development studies from Saint Mary’s University in June 2003, he completed his PhD in Political Science at the University of Ottawa in June 2012. As a polemologist, Professor Mba Talla is passionate about history and memory-related issues. His areas of research and teaching interest include armed conflicts, terrorism and counterterrorism, insurgency, conflict studies, restorative justice, anti-colonialism, historical trauma, and international development. He is the founder of the news website Ici Cemac.com, which asserts the presence of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa : (CEMAC) on the world wide web. His last published book is entitled. Remember Um Nyobe 100 ans de lutte au Cameroun: Resistance-nationalisme et mémoire (Bamenda/Johannesburg, Edition Langaa -RPCIG, 2021).

Dr. Marie-Ève Sylvestre

Marie-Ève Sylvestre

Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section

Marie-Eve Sylvestre is Dean and Full Professor at the Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section of the University of Ottawa. She is the co-President of the Senate Standing Committee on Academic Freedom.

Her research focuses on the criminal justice system, and, more specifically, on policing and judicial practices that have a discriminatory impact on marginalized populations. She is also interested in alternative responses to criminalization, including in the Indigenous context. Her book Red Zones: Criminal Law and the Territorial Governance of Marginalized People, co-authored with Nicholas Blomley and Céline Bellot, focuses on the judicial control of homeless people, street-level sex workers and drug users, as well as demonstrators and political dissenters who use public spaces.


This event is organized by the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic Affairs in response to the mandate of the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom to ensure training and support activities for our academic community.

If you require resources for teaching assistants, please consult the TLSS page Training for Teaching Assistants, which features the "Managing challenging conversations as a TA" webinar, offered earlier this winter, along with related resources.

If you require accommodation, please contact [email protected] as soon as possible.
Date and time
Mar 25, 2024
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Format and location
Via Zoom
An English session is taking place on March 5.
Faculty members
Available to uOttawa full-time professors (tenured or tenure-track) and part-time professors.
Organized by
Academic leadership