Laura Yvonne Bulk, PhD, MOT, BSW

Assistant Professor of Teaching

phone: TBA



With sincere gratitude I acknowledge that I am a Dutch settler and am privileged to belong among, be in relationship with, and engage in meaningful occupations on the unceded, ancestral, and continually occupied territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), Tsleil-Waututh (Slay-wa-tuth), and W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) Peoples

At age 16, based on my experience in the disability community, I articulated what I wanted to do with my career:

“I want to come alongside other Disabled people to gain the skills and confidence to live the lives they desire.”

At first, I thought this was a job I would have to invent, but thankfully someone introduced me to Occupational Therapy which seemed to be just the right fit.

Through some serendipitous situations, I walked the path of getting my undergraduate education in anti-oppressive social work. The elders, students, and faculty from whom I learned in this process helped shape my perspective as I moved into the Master of Occupational Therapy program. 

In 2014 I was finishing up my Master of Occupational Therapy when Dr. Tal Jarus (hyperlinked) asked if I want to do a PhD with her. My thought was, “I’ll have to google what that means.” Being a first-generation university student and having previously pursued professional degrees, I did not have a strong interpersonal reference point for understanding academia. This became both a challenge and a strength – I entered with a fresh perspective, unencumbered by some of the expectations and socialization some might find restrictive. For example, I expected that the priority of a PhD is to promote justice for the community with which the research is done, that researchers should humbly learn from participants, and that academics should be kind to one another. An academic career trajectory, getting data as quickly and efficiently as possible, or impressing academics higher in the hierarchy were absent from my agenda. 

Working alongside people gaining the skills and confidence to thrive is one of the great privileges of practicing occupational therapy. I said “yes” to Tal’s invitation to pursue a PhD because I observed that sometimes people cannot thrive due to social and institutional barriers. I believed that doing a PhD would provide opportunities for involvement in creating change and promoting justice at social and institutional levels.

During the first few years of my PhD, I worked as an occupational therapist with people who had been injured in motor vehicle accidents and with veterans in pursuit of their occupational goals. In January 2020 I was very fortunate to accept a position working with UBC’s Centre for Accessibility and UBC’s health programs to support access for students and medical residents with disabilities and chronic physical or mental health conditions. Working with these learners, the team at the Centre for Accessibility, and partners across UBC’s health programs was one of the highlights of my journey.

My teaching and scholarship are not the only meaningful occupations in my life. I find great joy in preparing food for a small gathering, a meeting with colleagues, or an even in my spiritual community. And if you wonder where I am at any moment, there is a good chance I am walking/rolling with a friend – walking is my favourite mode of being.


“I know I belong when …” 

How does that sentence finish for you? Throughout my research journey I have become fascinated to learn how people experience belonging, and how we can foster spaces where people who bring diverse lived experiences can create a shared space of belonging. Right now, my focus is on understanding how belonging can be fostered in spaces of learning especially in a distributed program model and particularly for people from equity-denied groups.

My research and advocacy also include access in health professions education for disabled, mad, and neurodivergent people and people with chronic physical or mental health conditions. Here too I explore belonging, both how ableism acts as a barrier and how people choose to create belonging in the professions.

I aim to contribute to shaping a more hospitable world for everyone wherever I can in my research, educational leadership, and teaching.


I know teaching and learning as essentially relational processes that involve all of who we are as people. I am a daughter, a cousin, friend, scholar, occupational scientist, learner, woman, occupational therapist, mentor, disability activist, and a teacher. I am constantly teaching something through my actions and words, through inactions and silences. At the core of my practice as a teacher is justice, which I understand as being I right relationship with oneself, other human and non-human actors, with nature, and with Creator. 

Belonging in teaching and learning spaces is an important part of my educational and scholarly work. It is vital to feel heard and seen as our authentic selves, to share in one another’s transformation, and know that our unique contributions are valued. This is the foundation of the hospitable learning environments I strive to co-create with students. 

My objectives as a teacher can only be collaboratively approached along with the OSOT teaching team and students, they include:

  1. to facilitate the co-creation of constructive, flexible, and respectful learning environments;
  2. to remain humble and ready to learn and be transformed;
  3. to challenge learners to employ creative methods, enter critical reflection and, engage in transformational learning that will lead to action; and
  4. to equip learners with the basic strategies, knowledge, and skills they need in order to become confident, socially accountable, and competent Occupational Therapists.

As I continue along my journey as a teacher, I will continue playing with approaches to teaching and learning, especially in the affective domain. I am curious and hopeful that we can use theatre, story-telling, and other creative methods that challenge traditional colonial structures and expectations. For example, I bring stories of my experience as a disabled healthcare professional into the classroom as a way of challenging common assumptions and demonstrating vulnerability and effective use of personal story as a pedagogical tool.

My approach to teaching is ever-evolving, fluid, and never fixed. It transforms throughout my interactions and in response to feedback. This is important – I aim to remain humble and constantly ready to learn.

Graduate and Postdoctoral Research Opportunities

I am not currently supervising any research students. 


  • Registrant, College of Occupational Therapist of British Columbia
  • Member, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
  • Member, World Federation of Occupational Therapists
  • Co-Chair, Association on Higher Education and Disability – Access in Health Sciences Knowledge Practice Community
  • Member, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

Select Publications

Easterbrook, A., Bulk, L., Ghanouni, P., Lee, M., Opini, B., Roberts, E., Parhar, G., & Jarus, T.  (2015). The legitimization process of students with disabilities in health and human service educational programs in Canada. Disability and Society, 10, 1505-1520. 

Bulk, L., Easterbrook, A., Roberts, E., Groening, M., Murphy, S., Lee, M., Ghanouni, P., & Jarus, T.  (2017). “We are not anything alike”: Marginalization of health professionals with disabilities. Disability and Society, 32, 615-634. 

Easterbrook,A., Bulk, L., Jarus, T., Hahn, B., Ghanouni, P., Lee, M., Groening, M., Opini, B., & Parhar, G.(2019). University gatekeepers’ use citizenship rhetoric to relegate the status of disabled students. Disability & Society, 34, 1-23. 

Teng, M., Brown, M., Jarus, T., & Bulk, L. Y. (2019). How does a sense of belonging develop in postsecondary? A conceptual Belonging in Academia Model (BAM) from sighted perspectives. American Educational Research Journal, 108(1), 80-103.

Bulk, L.Y., Drynan, D., Murphy, S., Gerber, P., & Jarus, T. (2019a). Four pillars of professionalism: Client perspectives. Journal of Patient Experience, 6(3). 72-81.  

Bulk, L.Y., Tikhonova, J., Mayer, Y., Batalova, A., Gagnon, J., Krupa, T., Lee, M., Nimmon, L., & Jarus, T. (2019b). Disabled healthcare professionals’ diverse, embodied, and socially embedded experiences. Advances in Health Sciences Education. 25(1). 111-129. doi:10.1007/s10459-019-09912-6.

Bulk, L.Y., Smith, A., Nimmon, L., & Jarus, T. (2020). A closer look at opportunities for blind adults. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 38(3). 

Bulk, L.Y., Kimel, G., King, N., & Nimmon, L. (2020). Understanding experiences in hospice: Exploring temporal, occupational, and relational dimensions using pictor technique. Qualitative Health Research, 30(12). 

Bulk, L. Y. (2020). Occupational rights, choice and variety: A critical occupational analysis of British Columbia’s Framework for Accessibility Legislation. Journal of Occupational Science, 1-9. 

Hammell, K.W., Jarus, T., Bulk L.Y., Collins, B., Grenier, M-L., & Mahipaul, S.. (2021). Letter to the editor. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. doi:10.1177/00084174211045857. 

Bulk, L.Y. (2022b). Co-creating spaces of belonging on campus: A workshop using research-based theatre for affective learning. LEARNing Landscapes. [Special Issue – Arts-based Performances, Perspectives and Approaches in Research and Pedagogy]. doi: 10.36510/learnland.v15i1.1063.

Hammell, K. W., Laliberte Rudman, D., Zafran, H., Schmidt, J., Lee Bunting, K., Bulk, L.Y., Marie-Lyne Grenier, M.L., Désormeaux-Moreau, M., Lee, M., Jarus, T., & Moretenson, W.B. (2022). Unbecoming change agents [Guest Editorial]. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. doi: 10.1177/00084174221089.