Benefits of Academic Research in the Mainstream

When bogged down in the process, deadlines and stress of research we can forget that results of academic research can impactful. Academic research can catch the eye of the media or expose crucial facts that need to be heard by the mainstream. In fact, maybe academics should be actively sharing their results in new ways…

Ian Mosby, a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in History at the University of Guelph, had his research take such a turn. Mosby’s research exposes Federal Government nutritional experiments performed on Aboriginal children and adults in Winnipeg during WWII.

“In the 1940s, there were a lot of questions about what are human requirements for vitamins. Malnourished aboriginal people became viewed as possible means of testing these theories.”

The study exposes disturbing evidence of starvation beginning in northern Manitoba in the 1940s and in time spanned across the country, many subjects were children attending residential schools (See full article here).

Mosby’s research has made a lot a press, seen the front page of many Canadian city news papers today, and social media has played a role in its dissemination. It goes to show the importance of sharing research though other mediums other than academic publication. Academic research, particularly research concerning Aboriginal issues, can play a role in exposing and potentially reconciling some of the hardships of the past. Twitter, for example, has a significant academic usage and many scholars connect and share ideas daily. Make your results known to others, to the mainstream, and increase the degree of education academic research can provide.

Research and exposure, such as this, reminds us of the importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in telling the stories of those in residential schools and the travesties, like those exposed by Mosby in his research, to increase awareness of Canada’s history to the citizens of the country and hopefully give a degree of peace to those affected by the policies of the Canadian Government.

Mosby, Ian. “Administering Colonial Science: Nutrition Research and Human Biomedical Experimentation in Aboriginal Communities and Residential Schools, 1942-1952″ Histoire sociale / Social History XLVI , no 91 (Mai/May 2013): 145-172.

(Photo source @Ian_Mosby/@org9 twitter)