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Internationalization

What are the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?

Universities draw upon global framework to boost social impact of learning, research, and outreach.

[Graphic image: "Q" Sustainable Development Goals]

For universities, research and teaching excellence have traditionally been the key measures of success, however the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings provide a new and complementary opportunity to look at the social impacts post-secondary institutions are creating locally and abroad. At the heart of these rankings are the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are a set of 17 wide-ranging goals adopted in 2015 by UN member states – including Canada – as central to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They cover an array of objectives including, but not limited to, eradicating poverty and hunger, increasing health and wellbeing, achieving gender equality, advancing climate action and clean energy, stimulating economic growth and innovation, and improving education. While distinct, the goals are interdependent. True progress requires committed action on each and every one.

In reflection of its UN commitment, Canada has asked every segment of society to contribute to advancing the SDGs, calling for leadership, engagement, accountability, and investment on all fronts. The country’s post-secondary institutions are uniquely positioned to help accelerate this progress in all categories.

The THE Impact Rankings measure a school’s performance against the SDGs. This year, Queen’s, in its first-ever submission to THE Impact Rankings, demonstrated notable progress on all 17 SDGs, including on the eradication of poverty and hunger, improvement of local urban sustainability and ecosystems, and promotion of peace and inclusivity. Queen’s placed first in Canada and fifth in the world in these global rankings.

More broadly, a concerted, strategic approach to advancing the SDGs aligns all participating universities in Canada and abroad toward a common vision. As Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane writes: “[The SDGs] provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research.”

The SDGs also align with Queen’s emerging strategic framework which, through Principal Deane’s ongoing consultations with the university community, underscores Queen’s efforts to champion equity, diversity, inclusivity, and Indigeneity, as well as grow local, national, and international partnerships that increase the impact of its education, research, and social contributions.

Visit the United Nations website to learn more about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and read about Queen’s stand-out performance in the Times Higher Education 2021 Impact Rankings.

Seeing the world through the QUIC Student Photo Contest

Images submitted to the annual photo contest transport the viewer around the world and share a sense of wonder in the ordinary and extraordinary alike.

  • Overall Winner: Veronica Opreff – Mountain Reflection,
    Overall Winner: Veronica Opreff – Mountain Reflection,
  • Critical Global Issues Category Winner: Jiawei Wen – All You Need Is Love
    Critical Global Issues Category Winner: Jiawei Wen – All You Need Is Love
  • People and Culture Category Winner: Ziou Zheng – Have a Rest
    People and Culture Category Winner: Ziou Zheng – Have a Rest
  • Nature Category Winner: Emily Marriott – Majestic Sheep
    Nature Category Winner: Emily Marriott – Majestic Sheep
  • People’s Choice Vote Winner: Rebecca Laskin – Face Amidst the Foliage
    People’s Choice Vote Winner: Rebecca Laskin – Face Amidst the Foliage

The past year has seen students ushered into virtual spaces as they continue their studies from all over the world. This makes it easy to forget the diverse physical spaces Queen’s students inhabit. 

While travel is still limited, this year’s submissions to the 13th annual Queen’s University International Centre Student Photo Contest transport the viewer around the world and share a sense of wonder in the ordinary and extraordinary alike. These photos serve as a reminder of the diverse experiences Queen’s students bring to their studies as they remain dedicated to their education across nations and time zones.

Contest winner Veronica Opreff is a fourth-year Continuing Education student majoring in Language, Literatures, and Cultures. She shared the story behind Mountain Reflection, her winning photo taken while she visited Japan.

“This photo was taken on Christmas Day 2019. As we went throughout the day, my friend and I realized how lucky we were to have an amazing clear view of the iconic Mt. Fuji,” she explains. “We decided to go explore a traditional Japanese village, and as we were walking around and within the different buildings, I came across this window reflection. I knew I had to capture the framing because the image perfectly encompassed the beauty of the mountain within the culture that surrounds it.”

This year’s contest saw close to 80 students submit photos. It served as an opportunity for international and domestic students to highlight their interest in photography. The contest winners are chosen by a panel of local photographers and arts leaders who asses the photographs on aspects such as composition, visual impact, and idea behind the piece.

The contest is part of an enhanced effort by QUIC to engage Queen’s students, wherever they may be, during this unique period.

“To support international students studying remotely in Kingston and around the world, we have doubled our program offerings with an intention to accommodate different time zones,” says QUIC coordinator Hanna Bathurst. “We continue to explore more ways to deliver our programs and services, and we are open to hearing about new innovations from our students. This enhanced use of technologies has taught us how we can be more accessible to students. We can confidently say that some of our virtual activities will remain long after the health and safety restrictions are lifted.”

In addition to the overall contest winner, the QUIC Student Photo Contest highlights winners in four categories:

  • Critical Global Issues Category Winner: Jiawei Wen – All You Need Is Love
  • People and Culture Category Winner: Ziou Zheng – Have a Rest
  • Nature Category Winner: Emily Marriott – Majestic Sheep
  • People’s Choice Vote Winner: Rebecca Laskin – Face Amidst the Foliage

The complete 2021 QUIC photo contest gallery is available on Flickr.

Visit the QUIC Facebook page and website to learn more about all of the events and activities underway.

Recruiting the top international scholars of tomorrow

Queen’s unveils improved financial support for international PhD students.

Photograph of PhD convocation robes
This new policy is one of the first outcomes of the report released by the Working Group on Graduate Student Success in fall 2019. (University Communications.)

International PhD students are an integral part of the life of Queen’s, bringing diverse perspectives to campus and contributing to the university’s research mission. Soon these students will have improved financial support from the university. Starting September 2021, tuition fees for international PhD students will be assessed at the same rate as those of domestic students, which will result in a substantially lower cost to pursue their education.

“With this new tuition policy, we are setting up international PhD students for success and making Queen’s a more attractive choice for graduate education for the most promising emerging scholars from around the world,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). “This decision is a part of a broader set of efforts underway to enhance the overall graduate student experience at Queen’s.”

This new policy is one of the first outcomes of the report released by the Working Group on Graduate Student Success in fall 2019.

“The report on graduate student success has provided us with excellent guidance on how we can strengthen graduate education at Queen’s. This decision on tuition exemplifies our commitment to enhancing our programs by supporting the many contributions international PhD students make to our research,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.

The Working Group on Graduate Student Success, chaired by Dean Quadir, was established in 2018 after a Board-Senate retreat in March of that year. The Working Group was tasked with assessing the state of graduate education at Queen’s and making recommendations for ways to promote excellence in graduate education and experience. Throughout the process, the Working Group consulted extensively with current graduate students, faculty, and staff, and it examined the policies of other Canadian universities to learn best practices.

In its final report, the Working Group made 35 recommendations focused on six areas of strategic importance: student-supervisor relationships, professional and academic development, wellness and community, research excellence, communication, and financial support.

Following the release of the report, SGS established another working group to focus on graduate student funding. This working group developed the proposal for assessing domestic and international PhD student tuition fees at the same rate, which was then approved by the senior leadership of the university and the Board of Trustees.

“After reviewing the state of funding for international PhD students at Queen’s, we concluded that it needed to be revitalized if we want to remain competitive in recruiting high quality students. This new policy brings Queen’s in line with many of our peer institutions across Canada, including other research-intensive universities in Ontario,” says James Reynolds, Chair of the Working Group on Graduate Student Funding and Associate Dean of SGS.

Along with this tuition change, SGS is working to implement other recommendations from the 2019 report, including a new policy on graduate supervision for which feedback from graduate students, faculty, and other stakeholders will be sought in the coming weeks.

 “We’ve been listening closely to the concerns and ideas of our students to find out what they need to be successful at Queen’s. The recommendations and changes we are making are coming out of these consultations, and we thank our students for the insights they have been providing us,” says Reynolds.

SGS will be holding a town hall for current international PhD students to discuss the new tuition policy. The town hall will be held Wednesday Feb. 3 at 10:00 am EST. Students should email sgscomms@queensu.ca if they have questions about the event.

Learn more about graduate studies at Queen’s on the SGS website, where you can also read the 2019 report from the Working Group on Graduate Student Success.

Threatened artist and academic creates new life for her family

Queen’s Scholars at Risk committee works to welcome first Artist Protection Fund Fellow.

Canan Altinkas
Canan Altinkas, a Turkish artist and scholar, is Queen's University's first Artist Protection Fund Fellow. (Supplied Photo)

After hours of writing, Canan Altinkas stood from her seat, approached jury members at the front of the examination room, and handed in her six-page English assessment. It was 2010 and she had applied for an assistant professorship, so was required to complete the university’s in-house language test to qualify. As an academic in Turkey, she had excelled previously at a mandatory state-issued proficiency test, so she was confident she would do well. She walked immediately back to her desk, quickly gathered her belongings, and headed toward the exit. Passing by the examiners’ table, her chest tightened when she glimpsed a hand scrawling on her test in red ink: failed.

“Fifteen seconds,” says Dr. Altinkas, a Turkish artist and scholar who, together with her family, left her home country for Canada to escape sustained institutional and state persecution. “Six pages of written answers evaluated in 15 seconds; the time it took me to walk back to my desk and collect my jacket. This wasn’t the first time I was actively blocked from career advancement and it wouldn’t be the last, but with every instance my frustrations grew, and my opportunities diminished.”

In the years after, Dr. Altinkas and her husband Evren Altinkas – an academic as well – faced increased harassment in their workplaces. The couple had been active in protesting the conservative Turkish government, resulting in backlash from university administrators. Dr. Altinkas faced increasing exclusion, arbitrary administrative warnings, and social media monitoring and harassment. She and Evren were eventually forced to resign their positions.

“I continued to apply to new positions but received responses citing the ‘impossibility’ of my recruitment due to social, cultural, and political reasons,” she says.

In 2018, she and her family left Turkey and settled in Guelph, Ont. Her husband had been supported by the Scholars at Risk (SAR) network – of which Queen’s is a member – so he was able to join the faculty and return to his profession. Until now, she has struggled to find work due to restrictions on temporary residents of Canada.

Artist Protection Fund

As an artist and a scholar, Dr. Altinkas describes painting as a form of storytelling that captures the struggles of an artist who seeks artistic and academic freedom. Throughout her career, Dr. Altinkas has faced economic challenges that prevented her from pursuing her career as an artist. Instead of giving up, she has always looked for innovative and creative solutions to the production of art pieces.  She used whatever means available, including paper and stain (instead canvas and paint) to tell stories through her paintings. These challenges dramatically affected her style, allowing her to develop new skills and techniques.

Canan Altinkas' painting "Three Gems of Balance"
Canan Altinkas' painting "Three Gems of Balance". (Source: artist)

Dr. Altinkas eventually discovered and applied to the Artist Protection Fund (APF) – an initiative of the Institute of International Education (IIE) that provides fellowship grants to threatened artists and places them with host institutions in safe countries.

Her application was successful and she was awarded an APF fellowship in September 2020, joining Queen’s University’s Fine Art (Visual Art) Program and Agnes Etherington Arts Centre as an Artist Protection Fund (APF) Fellow in residence.

Queen’s decision to join the SAR network is based on the university’s commitment to support academic freedom. It was reflective of the initiatives already undertaken by different academic units and associations on campus, including at the Faculty of Health Science through the Medical Students Association.

Since joining the network in late 2018, Queen’s has formed a pan-university committee, and hosted guest lectures. With the support of the Artist Protection Fund and a generous donation from alumni, Queen’s is thrilled to host its first Artist Protection Fund Fellow in residence.

“The hosting of Dr. Altinkas is reflective of Queen’s desire to contribute to the common good,” says Fahim Quadir, Dean and Vice-Provost of Graduate Studies and the chair of Queen’s Scholars at Risk Committee. “We are welcoming Dr. Altinkas at a time when the world is witnessing frequent attacks on scholars, writers, and artists. Queen’s is grateful to APF and our donor for their generous support for welcoming a scholar and artist at risk to our campus.”

Dr. Altinkas’ presence at Queen’s will help build an awareness about the importance of protecting artistic and academic freedom and stimulate dialogue and discussion about creating a safe space for threatened artists and scholars to freely share their ideas. As articulated in Principal Deane’s report on the Conversation, the activities of SAR Queen’s will bolster Queen’s image as a globally engaged university.

“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Altinkas as our first Scholar at Risk at Queen’s,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the university. “This program is so important for supporting academic scholarship across the globe. It exemplifies the power of intellectual pursuits even when facing great adversity and the impact higher education institutions can have when we support and collaborate with another.”

In her new role as an Artist Protection Fund Fellow in residence, Dr. Altinkas will have the freedom to expand her artistic practice, and gain opportunities to meet fellow artists and grow her network in Canada.

“Art, for me, is not just a job, it is a lifestyle,” she says, “so, I am deeply grateful to APF and Queen’s University for this opportunity. But, more than that, this is not only about me or my career, it is about helping my family build a new life. This is a dream come true.”

The Queen’s community will have an opportunity to hear from Canan Altinkas during her time at Queen’s. Upcoming events details will be posted on the Queen’s Scholar at Risk website, Facebook Page and Twitter page.

A global leadership role

Principal Deane takes on a lead role with the Magna Charta Observatory of universities committed to academic freedom, and human and societal good.

Principal Patrick Deane signs the Magna Charta Universitatum during an event hosted at McMaster University on Oct. 17, 2019. (Supplied photo)

Principal Patrick Deane has been named the next President of the Governing Council for the Magna Charta Observatory, a global association of over 900 post-secondary signatories committed to promoting and defending institutional autonomy and academic freedom in universities. The group’s fundamental values and principles are set out in the Magna Charta Universitatum—a document created in 1988 that celebrates university traditions, like the integration of teaching and research and social responsibility. Last year, Queen’s University became the tenth Canadian school to become a signatory.

“I am delighted and honoured to be appointed to serve the Magna Charta Observatory as President of its Governing Council,” says Principal Deane. “It has never been more important to strengthen and celebrate university values, as well as the diversity of the global academy, and I look forward to working with colleagues at the Observatory and around the world to do that over the next four years.”

As president, Principal Deane will oversee the Governing Council, which is comprised of 11 to 15 members chosen for their leading roles in the defense of fundamental university values and rights. He will assume the role in June 2021 for a four-year term.

In March 2020, the organization prepared and adopted an updated version of the Magna Charta Universitatum to reflect the increasingly global nature of what universities do and the wider range of local responsibilities they bear.

“While the Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988 beautifully articulated the fundamental values of universities,” says Principal Deane, “the Observatory has this year published an update to that document—one that recognizes the changed and continually changing circumstances within which universities around the world do their critically important work.”

The update commits members to the original declaration, as well as to strengthening the role of universities in the preservation of the planet and promoting health, prosperity, and enlightenment around the world.

To learn more about the association, its mandate, and its work, visit the Magna Charta Observatory website.

An inclusive approach to disability research

Queen's researchers Heather Aldersey and Beata Batorowicz are collaborating with youth with disabilities to understand factors affecting their participation in mainstream educational settings in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa.

[Zoom screenshot of a meeting with Aldersey and Batorowicz]
Project team members collaborating remotely. (Photo supplied by Dr. Heather Aldersey) 

Dec. 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD). This year’s theme for the United Nations-sanctioned day is “Building Back Together: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world,” underscoring the continued importance of disability inclusion work in a pandemic-free future.

Youth with disabilities face significant challenges as they access and navigate mainstream educational settings across Africa, an unfortunate reality that has been further exacerbated by the global pandemic. To effectively include and support talented yet disadvantaged youth with disabilities in their education, we need to know more about the factors affecting their participation.  

Two researchers at the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) at Queen’s University are committed to demystifying what those factors may be. Heather Aldersey, Scientific Director of ICACBR and Canada Research Chair in Disability-Inclusive Development, and Beata Batorowicz (School of Rehabilitation Therapy), are currently collaborating on a multi-country participatory action research (PAR) project. Their work, funded by a $330,000 grant (US $250,000) from the Mastercard Foundation, is being conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Gondar, Ashesi University, and the University of Cape Town. The project aims to explore what barriers and facilitators affect education access and inclusion for youth with disabilities in middle school, high school, and university in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa.

What makes this project unique is how it is being studied. PAR is a research approach that focuses on enabling positive community action as its key objective. PAR researchers work in collaboration with key stakeholders of the research findings, recognizing them as equal partners in the study process. A PAR approach challenges inequality and promotes democracy, helping stimulate social change.

In this work, Dr. Aldersey, Dr. Batorowicz, and their academic colleagues from Africa are collaborating with youth with disabilities as core members of the research team, incorporating youth insights in all stages of the research process, including design of study components, implementation of focus groups, analysis of collected data, and dissemination of key findings.

“The youth researchers on our team are a force for change. I am excited to see how they will take our study findings to advocate for lasting change for their own lives and for the lives of others with disabilities in their communities,” says Dr. Aldersey.

[Photo of a focus group supplied by Heather Aldersey]
Project team members in Ethiopia piloting a focus group discussion. (Photo supplied by Dr. Heather Aldersey)

One of these youth researchers is Tewodros (Teddy) Leulseged Mamo, a PhD candidate and teacher educator in Ethiopia. His personal experiences with physical disability and academic interests in interdisciplinary studies and qualitative inquiry have inspired him to dedicate his career to the empowerment of persons with disabilities in Africa and globally.

“Assuming active roles in research, dissemination, and implementation of such projects is an uplifting experience for disabled researchers,” he says.

Dureyah Abrahams, a fellow youth researcher from South Africa with interests in universal design and accessibility, adds “[As persons living with a disability], we are the experts and thus we should be the ones pioneering our access and inclusion in this world.”

Study results will inform cost-effective changes that can be made at every educational level to better support youth with disabilities in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa to reach their full potential. Additionally, Dr. Aldersey and Dr. Batorowicz anticipate that some aspects of students’ experiences in these African contexts may also resonate with students’ experiences in Canada, for example as it relates to stigmatizing attitudes or the need for public policy adjustments here at home.

Both agree that no country has gotten inclusive education completely right yet. International collaborations and stakeholder partnership, however, are two big steps in the right direction.

Two Queen’s students earn Rhodes Scholarships

Matthew Hynes and Jevon Marsh
Matthew Hynes, a second-year medical student, and Jevon Marsh, who recently earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Queen's, have been selected as 2021 Rhodes Scholars. (Supplied / Mike Ritter/Memorial University)

Queen’s University students Matthew Hynes and Jevon Marsh have been selected as 2021 Rhodes Scholars, earning each of them a prestigious scholarship to the University of Oxford worth more than $100,000.

With their selection, Hynes, a second-year medical student, and Marsh, who recently earned a master’s degree in chemistry, bring the university’s overall Rhodes Scholars total to 60.

“On behalf of Queen’s, I congratulate Jevon and Matthew on this great accomplishment,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Their academic careers, community commitments, and records of achievement are inspiring to us all, and I have no doubt that they will both thrive during their time at Oxford.”

During his time at Queen’s Hynes has served as co-director for the Medical Variety Night charity show as well as steering committee member on the Canadian Queer Medical Students Association. His current research interests are focused on 2SLGBTQ+ populations and dermatology.

Hynes completed his BSc at the University of New Brunswick where he performed research in molecular microbiology and co-founded the UNB Lifesaving Sport Team.

Following Oxford, he intends to complete his MD and pursue a career as an advocacy-oriented physician.

“I am thrilled to continue my education at the University of Oxford made possible by the Rhodes Scholarship,” Hynes says. “I would like to thank my family, friends, Queen’s Medicine community, and the many incredible mentors from both UNB and Queen’s who have supported me on this journey. I am excited to expand my global perspective and meet fellow advocacy-oriented leaders while completing my MSc in Epidemiology and Master of Public Policy. This opportunity will better enable me to effectively implement social policy changes to further support marginalized communities.”

Marsh recently received a Master of Science degree in chemistry from Queen’s after completing his undergraduate studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Outside of academia he is an active volunteer working largely as a mental health advocate, where he helped pioneer a peer support program at Memorial. He is an Alexander Graham Bell National Scholar and has won numerous awards throughout his academic career.

At Oxford, Marsh will pursue a DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry where he will focus on the development of novel therapies as potential treatments for children with rare brain cancers.

“I am very grateful to have been selected for the Rhodes Scholarship and I am excited for my next chapter at Oxford,” Marsh says "It is a tremendous opportunity and I look forward to continue growing as a chemist and be a part of a group of inspiring individuals from all around the world. I am so thankful to everyone that has supported me throughout my journey – my parents, family, friends, and the fantastic mentors I have had at Queen's, Memorial and abroad. I am excited to begin my DPhil in Chemistry at Oxford in Autumn of 2021, where I will develop novel therapeutics for rare brain cancers.”

Funded by the Rhodes Trusts, 11 Rhodes Scholars are selected each year from across Canada. These outstanding students demonstrate a strong propensity to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”

The scholarships to Oxford University are for postgraduate studies or a second bachelor’s degree and cover tuition and fees and provides a stipend to help cover living expenses for two to three years of study while at Oxford.

Learn more about Rhodes Scholarships.

Committing to global impact

Queen’s is participating in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings focused on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Image of Earth seen from space.
Principal Deane is committing Queen's to the Sustainable Development Goals to promote the wellbeing of people and the survival of the planet.

Universities are communities of teaching and learning, but they are also some of the world’s most powerful engines for driving positive social impact. With this in mind, and as outlined in Principal Patrick Deane’s Report on the Conversation, Queen’s is embracing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the United Nations (UN) in its strategic efforts to articulate a global purpose. These 17 goals were adopted by the UN in 2015 and provide a framework for creating a sustainable future and addressing global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and climate change by 2030.

To measure its progress toward these goals, Principal Deane has committed Queen’s to take part in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings. THE launched these rankings in 2019 to show how the sector is working toward the SDGs and addressing today’s most pressing challenges. For the 2020 Impact Rankings, THE received submissions from over 850 institutions around the world, including 19 from Canada.

“As we determine the new strategic framework for our university and our future, we need to consider social impact as one of our top priorities. By aligning our emerging vision with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we will be able to develop a clear sense of social purpose for Queen’s that emphasizes the wellbeing of people and the survival of the planet,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Taking part in the 2021 Impact Rankings demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our institution is focused on the UN SDGs – the hallmarks of which are community, sustainability, equity and internationalization efforts – all integral to our current and future state.”

How the rankings work

When submitting to the Impact Rankings, universities must demonstrate the ways in which they are working toward meeting at least four of the SDGs. THE then evaluates each institution’s submission based on metrics and indicators associated with each SDG, drawing on the data provided by the institution as well as bibliometric datasets provided by Elsevier, a data and analytics company. In their assessments, THE considers several different aspects of the mission of higher education, including research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship.

While other THE rankings are designed with research-intensive universities in mind, the Impact Rankings are open to any institute teaching at the undergraduate and postgraduate level around the world.

The Queen’s submission process

To complete its submission, Queen’s has established a Project Team and Working Group comprised of staff and faculty from units across the university, who are responsible for gathering data and evidence and preparing the submission. The process is overseen by a Steering Committee, which meets quarterly and is made up of members of the senior leadership and decanal teams.

Queen’s will be submitting data on all 17 SDGs. As with all institutions, THE will determine Queen’s ranking based on the 3 SDGs it scores highest in, as well as on SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals. Work is well under way, and the submission is due on Nov. 30.

Learn more about the THE University Impact Rankings on their website, where you can also find the 2020 rankings.

For more on the SDGs, see the UN website.

Queen’s PhD candidate wins Matariki 3MT contest

Sean Marrs presents during Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.
Sean Marrs presents on his research into state surveillance in 18th century Paris during the Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Sean Marrs, a PhD candidate in the Department of History, has won the Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Marrs’s research delves into state surveillance in 18th century Paris and his 3MT presentation connects it to modern day anti-espionage efforts and even COVID-19 tracking.

Marrs was one of 10 presenters taking part in the second annual competition between Queen’s, Durham University, University of Otago, and University of Western Australia. The virtual competition was judged by a panel of experts from across the international network.

“The Matariki 3MT brings together the best presenters from several universities across three continents, so winning was unexpected,” Marrs says. “The process has been equal parts fun and challenging. Presenting the significance of your research to a broad audience in only three minutes is a unique prospect. The 3MT forces you to define what is most important about your research and why it resonates with a public audience. It is a challenge like no other.”

First developed by Australia’s University of Queensland in 2008, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) challenges graduate students to communicate the significance of their projects to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.

Queen’s was also represented by Alastair Kierulf (PhD candidate, Chemistry) and Alice Santilli (Master’s, School Computing). All three participated in the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis competition earlier this year, where Santilli took first place, followed by Marrs. The recordings from this event were submitted to the Matariki event.

“The 3MT has become a familiar, well-established event at Queen’s and the expansion of 3MT to include our Matariki partners in Australia, New Zealand and the UK for the second year is an exciting opportunity to share research and to consider its impact,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice Provost (International).

Through its membership in the Matariki Nework, Queen’s students, faculty, and staff have access to a variety of opportunities to share their research, experiences, and knowledge while also hearing from peers from around the world.

Second place went to Olivia Johnston of UWA, and Otago’s Victoria Purdy claimed the People’s Choice award. Each participant’s presentation is available on the Matariki Network’s YouTube channel.

The Matariki Network of Universities is an international group of leading, research intensive universities, each among the most historic in its own country. Along with Queen’s, members include: Dartmouth College (U.S.); Durham University (UK); University of Otago (New Zealand); Tubingen University (Germany); Uppsala University (Sweden); and University of Western Australia. The network celebrated its 10th anniversary early this year.

Mentorship opportunity builds international partnership

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars program is currently recruiting supervisors for its incoming fall 2021 cohort.

Mastercard Foundation workshop participants from Queen's and the University of Gondar gather for a team photo in Ethiopia.
Participants gather for a team photo following an Occupational Therapy workshop hosted at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia as part of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars program. (Supplied photo)

In 2017, with the support of The Mastercard Foundation, Queen’s University and the University of Gondar (UoG) entered a partnership to advance inclusive education for young people with disabilities in Ethiopia and other countries in Africa. 

As part of the partnership, the UoG/Queen’s Mastercard Foundation Scholars program is designed to provide up to 60 of the African university’s faculty members the opportunity to pursue graduate training at Queen’s. Now in its fourth year, the program is currently recruiting Queensupervisors for the 2021 cohort of incoming PhD candidates from the University of Gondar.  

Funding for the program is part of a $24.2 million grant from The Mastercard Foundation. 

“Queen’s has been fortunate to benefit from the inclusion of UoG faculty members in our classrooms across campus: in the Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Law, and Engineering faculties,” says Heather Aldersey, Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and Scientific Director of the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation, which administers the program. “We would love to see this program continue to cut across disciplines to create a diverse cohort of experts on disability inclusion at the UoG. With only two remaining recruitment cycles for this project, I am hopeful that we can continue to make meaningful matches between applicants and potential supervisors.”  

A rewarding experience 

Faculty members who have supervised current and previous cohorts of Mastercard Foundation Scholars have found it to be a rewarding experience. Jordan Miller, Assistant Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and Associate Director of the Physical Therapy program at Queen’s, currently supervises two scholars and will welcome a third this fall. 

“I’ve learned as much from my students as they have from me, I’m sure,” says Dr. Miller. “Working with them has really opened my eyes to new avenues for research and they have enriched my life and research program in many ways.” 

Dr. Miller says that through his work with the Ethiopian students, he is building a hub of researchers with cross-cultural expertise in musculoskeletal conditions and pain. He explains that because this field has not been fully developed in Ethiopia, there is the opportunity to help Ethiopian clinicians and researchers avoid some of the mistakes that have been made in North America, such as reliance on imaging and medication for people with musculoskeletal conditions like back pain. 

Mulugeta Chala, one of the students currently working with Dr. Miller, is studying the lived experience of Ethiopians with low back pain and how healthcare providers can better understand patients and their experience and provide treatment primarily through self-management strategies. The end goal is to design health-care programs specifically for the Ethiopian context.  

Mr. Chala – already an established physiotherapist and educator at the University of Gondar – says he is pleased with the progress his project is making. 

“Dr. Miller is an amazing person and helpful supervisor who has always been easy to approach and work with,” says Mr. Chala. “He does not push you, but he will always ask questions that help you move forward. I am really happy with where I am at – he has really helped with designing the project and sticking to a workable timeline.” 

A unique opportunity 

Faculty supervisors may be from any field that would permit a PhD dissertation related to disability in Ethiopia (or Africa more broadly). Currently, Mastercard Foundation fellows are studying in fields as diverse as occupational therapy, engineering, kinesiology and health studies, law, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences at Queen’s. 

For more information about how to become a supervisor of a Mastercard Foundation Fellow, email Heather Aldersey at hma@queensu.ca. For more information on the Mastercard Foundation Scholars program visit the website. 

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