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Clear and compelling

Student researchers―and storytellers―in the national spotlight

Research |

By Jeff Green

Two master’s students have landed themselves on a prestigious national research list.

Erin Mobley, Department of Gender Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, is one of 25 finalists in this year’s Storytellers Challenge, sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). She has received a $3,000 prize and will now vie for a top spot during the Storytellers Showcase at the 2016 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences May 28-June 3 in Calgary, Alta. The top 25 finalists were selected from among nearly 200 entries by some 30 expert judges in Canada and abroad.

Zak Keeping, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science, received an honourable mention in the challenge and was awarded a $1,000 prize.

Watch Ms. Mobley’s story below via the SSHRC YouTube channel.

Short stories

SSHRC’s annual contest challenges post-secondary students to demonstrate how SSHRC-funded research is making a difference in the lives of Canadians. Participants must tell their story in a three minute video or 300 words.

Ms. Mobley’s story—and her master’s thesis—focuses on the experiences of trans- youths in high schools in Ontario.

“I entered the challenge because of the possibility that the research might reach a wider audience and, in turn, invite dialogue around—and the rethinking of—gender in education,” said Ms. Mobley, who lives in Hamilton, Ont.

“The research, in particular, focuses on young trans- peoples’ particular encounters with and interpretations of ‘safe’ space—a familiar and yet slippery concept that I became curious about during my teacher education, where very few moments in classroom discussions were dedicated to the specificities of teaching and learning among trans- youth.”

Relevant research

For Mr. Keeping, who is originally from the Annapolis Valley, N.S., and has lived in St. John’s since 2009, the SSHRC Storytellers Challenge provided him the opportunity to showcase his research on the national stage in a creative way.

His research examines the effect of social influence tactics on witness information provision.

Watch Mr. Keeping’s story below via the SSHRC YouTube channel.

“I think the subject matter is relevant for today’s society,” said Mr. Keeping. “It seems we can’t get away from bad policing: in newspaper headlines, in protests in the streets and in seemingly endless Netflix documentaries. People are demanding that police culture change to reflect transparent, empirically based, ethical policing.

“My research shows that if many police departments made a few simple changes to their interviewing procedures, witnesses would feel more comfortable and provide more checkable and verifiable information, which would allow the police to base investigations on objective facts rather than simple testimony.”

Finalists online

Starting April 12, SSHRC will feature five finalists each week via its website and on social media.

“Every year, the Storytellers contest lets us recognize, reward and encourage the very best in research communication,” said Ted Hewitt, president, SSHRC. “These students have taken complex ideas and communicated them in clear, compelling ways. These skills will serve them throughout their careers, and will help shine a spotlight on the benefits of research in the humanities and social sciences. My congratulations to our top 25!”

Follow SSHRC’s Twitter feed and #SSHRCStorytellers to find out more about the campaign in the leadup to the Storytellers Showcase at Congress 2016.

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