Alumni Profile: Saambavi Mano

Saambavi graduated from the University of Toronto in 2018 with a specialist in Peace, Conflict and Justice and a minor in Political Science. She is currently a first-year JD student at UofT’s own Faculty of Law and describes how the interdisciplinary nature of the program has helped her with the wide variety of mandatory courses. The opportunities and extracurriculars offered through the program have helped her engage with the law program and she’s become involved with various activities like first-year moot, the Litigation Association and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review. Saambavi also works for labour law clinic Advocates for Injured Workers, which takes on cases not only in defense of injured workers’ rights but also violations to the Human Rights Code such as wrongful dismissal.


How would you say the program has helped you since graduation?

My PCJ362 placement was with the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Healthcare. This was crucial for my clinical work later on, especially in developing skills like communicating with people who speak other languages and general processes of intake in organizations like these. It was great to have the time to debrief about these experiences as well and to be able to receive a course credit for that work.

On another note, the work I did towards my PCJ461 thesis was very helpful in preparing me for a writing-intensive program like law. There, I was able to pursue a thesis of my own interests—in my case, on contentious cultural property. It was great how the classes we had together showed us different avenues for research while we worked individually. Furthermore, developing and applying the interdisciplinary lenses that we learn from PCJ were integral to this project and have been helpful since.


A key aspect of the program is providing opportunities for international experiences and entrepreneurship. Could you speak briefly about your experiences with one or both of these and their significance?

Entrepreneurship can mean many things. In my case, it was taking the initiative to do my own research. Beyond my research on contentious cultural property, I also took on another research project in partnership with the Jackman Humanities Institute and was able to have it count as a PCJ499 independent study. This project was on the Sri Lankan Office on Missing Persons Act and once again, the interdisciplinary nature of the program helped as I found anthropological and sociological lenses useful for my analysis.

Globally, I was able to engage in two projects in relation to PCJ. The first was a trip to London  funded by the William Beattie scholarship. I visited the Tower of London and the British Museum where the Kohinoor Diamond (a relic from India) and the Parthenon Marbles (from Greece) are held, respectively. It was great to be able to interview people in person, whether they be museum workers and curators or visitors, and seeing how their views on the legitimacy of holding these cultural properties varied.

The second experience was my research with the Reach Project, for which my team travelled to the West Bank in April of my final year. This was a much more formalized process, as we had to submit multiple research proposals and undergo training. I heard about this opportunity through PCJ given its interdisciplinary focus, and knowing that this was the kind of opportunity I wouldn’t have the chance to take during law school, I was very eager to work with the Reach Project.


Would you care to offer any advice to current or prospective students?

While it can seem a long way away for some, I’d advise students to take advantage of research opportunities and other experience in their final years of undergrad. You generally won’t have that kind of time or opportunity available to you afterwards, and the final years tend to be less intensive course-wise than the first few. Self-directed research, particularly when conducted for course credit, allows you to buy yourself time to delve into your interests and figure out exactly what you want to go into—be it law school, a graduate program or a particular field of work.


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