A Tribute to the 2019 SSHRC Storytellers

Hey everyone, Steph here.  This is a bit of a different post than what you might be used to for us, but I wanted to take a moment to share some insights from a project I’ve recently taken on. If you follow the @meaningfulpe team on Twitter, perhaps you’ve seen our tweets about my recent success in the SSHRC Storytellers competition, where I was named a finalist and will be competing for a place in the top 5 in Vancouver, British Columbia in June. If you haven’t already seen it, take a look at my three-minute video submission here.

The competition in a nut-shell: graduate students across Canada are invited to share a short submission outlining a research project that has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. While the submission can be any format you’d like (e.g. video, audio, written), it can be no more than 3 minutes or 300 words in length and must be presented in a creative format that is easily accessible and understandable by the general public (i.e. not in academic language). And let me tell you, this is not as easy as it might seem.

Last weekend I took the time to view all of the submissions from all 25 Finalists, and I wanted to share a couple things that struck me as I watched them. First, being a part of this competition and viewing the submissions from other Finalists has really opened my eyes to the potential of using diverse and creative research dissemination strategies. Journal articles and conference presentations undoubtedly have their place, but could we be more effective at sharing our research with our target audience if we go a step beyond that? I know for me at least, the answer at times is yes. A few examples from the Storytellers: writing a song that encapsulates the basis of your research project, creating a video that gives voice to the population your research is aimed at representing, or writing a poem that tells a story. Check out the 25 submissions here to see these ideas and more in action.

Second, I am amazed at how much I learned about a vast array of topics, each of which highlighted in only 300 words or 3 minutes. I had no idea how important (and valuable $$$) nightcrawlers can be, that incarcerated women in Canada are not being prepared with employment skills, that breast cancer rates are a staggering sixteen times higher for women working in areas with high pollution, or that Canadian filmmakers are starting to turn to crowd funding to be able to produce their films. Sometimes as researchers it can be very easy to get caught up in our silos and only pursue knowledge that relates to our own topic of study, but viewing my fellow finalists’ submissions made me realize the importance of broadening my horizons in this area.

Lastly, I just want to say how blown away I am by the high quality of work being produced by Canadian graduate students on a diverse range of topics. I may be biased, but I think we’re pretty amazing.  The 25 Finalists will be facing off at the Storytellers Showcase on June 3 at 9 am, Pacific time. The Showcase will be live streamed on Facebook via the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Facebook Page. If you’re in a time zone that has you up at that hour, check out our world-changing research!  See you in Vancouver, Storytellers!

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