Campus Life

Women Scholars’ Speakers Series simplifies research with only 1,000 Words

The University of Lethbridge Women Scholars’ Speakers Series takes the ten hundred word challenge in the upcoming panel discussion How We Came to Study The Things We Do.

Inspired by a panel held at the American Association for Physical Anthropology called Communicate Your Science Using English’s Ten Hundred Most Common Words, “the challenge aims to improve science communication in a jolly way,” says series co-chair Dr. Louise Barrett (psychology).

“The idea is that you explain what you do using only the most common words in the English language, forcing you to avoid jargon, and offering the possibility for some inspired renaming of things,” explains co-chair Dr. Josephine Mills (art). “Examples from the AAPA sessions include, ‘Dogs go places they are not from and eat weird animals in their homes: Reasons for fewer weird animals’, or my favourite, ‘The relationship between the soft pink things and the hard white things.”

During the panel discussion (Wednesday, Nov. 22, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Dr. Foster James Penny Building), five speakers from the University of Lethbridge take the challenge: Christine Clark (new media), Dr. Liz Galway (English), Dr. Habiba Kadiri (math), Darlene St. Georges (education) and Dr. Amy Shaw (history).

Each speaker will create a maximum three sentence description of what they do in their research using only the ten hundred most common English words.

“You can’t imagine my relief that ‘art’ is in the ten hundred words,” laughs Mills. “But art gallery is not. So my example if I were on the panel would be something like, ‘I want to understand better how people, especially if the people who come to see the art come from many places, think and feel about art that was made now when they go to the places that show this art. The places that give the money to make these plans want us to say how we know that our plans work, but these places do not have very good ways to understand how we know when the places that show art have done a good job.’”

The panelists are then able to use their full vocabulary to provide a 10-minute talk about how they came to work in their field.

How We Came to Study the Things We Do is free to attend, with a cash bar available. For more information on the Women Scholars' Speaker Series, check out their list of events.