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Ideas about knowledge mobilization from Queen’s University’s “death and grief girl”

by Shari Graydon

When Jill Scott, a professor in Queen’s German department, participated in an Informed Opinions workshop last year, I had no idea she was the self-proclaimed “death and grief girl”… Until a few months later, she wrote a thoughtful op ed for the Toronto Star, providing insight and analysis relating to the outpouring of emotion that greeted NDP leader Jack Layton’s death.

In a recent presentation at the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Science’s annual Congress — as accessible as it is thoughtful — Scott spoke about how she came to have a public voice on death and grieving, and why its relevant to other scholars working in humanities fields:

Humanists are trained to complicate stories, to show the complexities and ambiguities in any given situation, where mainstream media often tend to focus more on the black and white.

I couldn’t agree more — and that’s why writing op eds is a great place for scholars interested in contributing to the public discourse to start: your analysis doesn’t get processed through the media’s default two-sides-to-the-story filter: you can offer a more nuanced and complex perspective.

Scott also says:

Some people think that speaking to general audiences dumbs down research and devalues it. Quite the contrary, I think that connecting research to current events in the media reaffirms its value.

She sent us the link to her cartoon-festooned slides because she makes mention of Informed Opinions. But her provocative and entertaining reflections on how and why researchers might want to replace yelling at the TV, with being on TV will be of interest to many others, and you can access them here.

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