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‘We are both researchers and communicators’

From op-eds and articles with global reach to anti-discrimination workshops, Concordia’s 10 inaugural public scholars are making moves
November 13, 2017
By Tatiana St-Louis

The Public Scholars Program is embedded in the university’s strategic directions for building a next-generation university. | Photo by Emily Gan Photo by Emily Gan

Six months ago, 10 PhD candidates were selected from a pool of applicants to represent the vibrant research happening at Concordia.

The Public Scholars Program supports the university’s strategic directions for building a next-generation university. 

You’ve been following the inaugural cohort on Twitter, reading their blogs and going to their events. This fall, we caught up with them to find out what they’ve accomplished so far, and what they plan to do next. If you're interested in joining the next cohort, the deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Monday, November 20.    

‘An incredible impact’

Psychology researcher Gonzalo Quintana Zunino explains the program has had “an incredible impact” on his current and future work.

“Thanks to the program and the opportunities it unlocked, I have been able to disseminate my research to audiences that I would have not been able to otherwise,” he says. “In Canada, but also in several other countries around the world.”

This summer, Zunino wrote about his research on fetishes for The Conversation Canada. His article has been read close to 18,000 times since publication. He was also part of this fall’s Beyond Disciplines: ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ expert panel, organized by the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Academic and professional endorsement

Erin O’Loughlin, a PhD candidate in the Individualized program, was recently appointed to the student committee of the Games for Health Journal, an influential academic publication in game research, including exergaming (or active video games), which is the focus of her research.

“I was competing with students from around the world,” says O’Loughlin. “I would have never even thought of applying had I not been a public scholar.”

Recently, she was contacted about a potential partnership with the private sector in the area of games for health. 

Place des Alt was an immersive narrative experience set in Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. Place des Alt was an immersive narrative experience set in Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles.

Inducing change

Other scholars have also been actively engaged in addressing real, pressing issues.

In September, Nadia Naffi (a PhD candidate in Educational Technology) organized a three-day workshop on using social media for Creating Learning Against Radicalization (CLEAR), a first-time initiative presented at the 3rd International Symposium on Teaching about Extremism, Terror and Trauma.

Alexander McClelland focuses on the legal implications of HIV non-disclosure among people living with HIV. He has been approached by policy advisors from Canada’s Department of Justice to use outcomes from his dissertation to inform current efforts to reform the way the law is applied. His op-ed on the right to research confidentiality was published in The Montreal Gazette earlier this summer.

And Leanne Keddie, a PhD candidate in Business Administration, was named among the latest recipients of the Canadian Foundation for Governance Research (CFGR) scholarships. Each year, these scholarships are awarded to the most promising doctoral students undertaking corporate governance research.

Both researchers and communicators

“Some people are researchers, and others communicators. We’re trained to be both,” says William Robinson, a Humanities PhD candidate whose research is at the crossroads of game studies, cultural studies and communications.

Robinson was recently part of a collaborative project called Place des Alts, an immersive narrative experience set in Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. He says he’s learned a lot about how to present his work for public consumption.

“It’s not always easy to simplify what you’ve been working so hard on,” he says. “There’s a big difference between the expectations of academics in your field of study and those of the general public, who is nowhere close to being as interested in your topic as you are.”

Of the public scholar adventure, Robinson says: “The program is very demanding, but you do get a whole lot of value out of it.”

The inaugural public scholars hold their positions until May 2018.

Find out how you can join the next cohort of
Concordia’s Public Scholars Program. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Monday, November 20.    


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