Lakehead University student one of 25 finalists in SSHRC Storyteller competition

May 6, 2020 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

A Lakehead University graduate student is a finalist for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Storyteller competition.

Robert Sanderson is a Master of Health Sciences student who received $3,000 for placing in the top 25 for his three-minute video describing strategies that organizations and governments can use to have more success communicating climate change to promote citizen engagement.

Dr. Lindsay Galway, associate professor in Health and Behavioural Sciences, led the two-year SSHRC-funded project that ended in March, which included a total of 4,000 surveys mailed to residents in Thunder Bay, Ont., and Prince George, BC and several in-person interviews to gather more information.

“When it comes down to it, climate change needs to be personal. We need to tailor our messages and communications in a way that targets the values of the people we're talking to,” Sanderson said in the video.

Sanderson decided to enter the SSHRC Storyteller competition as way of sharing information about the research project.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have been involved with this project and to explore the complex challenges inherent with communicating and engaging with climate change,” he said in an interview.

“Having an opportunity to highlight the research through a somewhat less conventional, more creative means was incredibly appealing and presented an avenue to raise further awareness and understanding of the project,” he said.

“I feel strongly that this research has tremendous potential to spark meaningful conversation and enhance citizen engagement surrounding climate change action in Thunder Bay.”

Sanderson’s work on this project impressed Dr. Galway.

“The Storytellers contest challenges university students to communicate research in creative and inspiring ways,” Dr. Galway said.

“With this video, Rob has shown that he is one of Canada’s brightest young research storytellers,” she said.

“He did a fantastic job distilling our research project into three short minutes while clearly highlighting the value and impact of our work on climate change communication.

“Impressively, Rob has also put into practice some of the lessons that we are learning about climate change communication in our research, the importance of storytelling, acknowledging emotion, and weaving together urgency and hope for example.”

“This year’s 25 Storytellers competition finalists show exceptional creativity in communicating the relevance of social sciences and humanities research to the daily lives of Canadians,” said SSHRC President Ted Hewitt.

“I commend each of them for their outstanding talent and ability to convey concisely and with great impact, why such research matters. Congratulations to the finalists.”

Given the circumstances caused by COVID-19 and the nature of the Storytellers competition, where the finalists must learn to effectively communicate their research in front of an audience, SSHRC has postponed the Storytellers Showcasethat was to take place at the 2020 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Western University in London, Ont. 

The 2020 Storytellers finalists received their cash prize of $3,000 and SSHRC will invite them to participate in the Storytellers Showcase at the 2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which will take place from May 29 to June 4, 2021 at the University of Alberta.

The Final Five winners chosen at that event will be featured at SSHRC’s Impact Awards ceremony, to be held in fall 2021.

To watch Sanderson’s video, visit this page.







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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. In 2019, Maclean’s 2020 University Rankings, once again, included Lakehead University among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, while Research Infosource named Lakehead 'Research University of the Year' in its category for the fifth consecutive year. Visit