Steve White talks to Vancouver Sun about research plays a role in generating better public policy, and promoting good citizenship.

“I think it is an increasingly important part of the work for scholars, especially in the humanities and social sciences, to show the relevance of their work outside of academia,” said Steve White, an assistant professor of political science Carleton University and a director of the CPSA. “I think our research plays a role in generating better public policy, and promoting good citizenship.”

Explaining academic work and its relevance in plain language to the media — and through the media, to the public — is “something the academic community has gotten much better at, certainly,” White said. “But of course, it’s still a challenge.”

That’s one reason, White said, that the CPSA holds an event called the Three-Minute Thesis Competition. As the event’s name suggests, a group of graduate political science students took on the task of distilling months or years of research into three minutes, the length of a round in a boxing match and almost short enough for an average reporter’s attention span.

White chaired this year’s Three-Minute Thesis Competition, which took place last Thursday at UBC. The competition’s four finalists were to be judged by a five-member jury, like an academic Dragon’s Den, on a list of criteria including enthusiasm, clarity, and jargon-free language. The event’s terms of reference dictated the jury should include two political science professors, as well as three “non-expert members.”

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