Initially pursuing a career in astronomy, Robert’s experience of teaching university courses in West Africa for 2 years led to a shift in attention from the mysteries of the universe to trying to understand the processes of economic development and social change.
For the past three decades Robert has been involved in community economic and social development work, mostly in First Nations communities in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. In this work he draws on group process practices and the participatory learning methods associated with the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. Some of his most challenging and rewarding work has been in engaging communities to address difficult social problems, including violence, substance abuse and youth suicide.
Robert volunteers with the Peace and Social Action Committee of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Cambrian-Agassiz Regional Coordinating Committee of Kairos Canada, focusing on treaty relations and reconciliation.