Editor”s notebook Bringing some of Montreal”s finest minds to our Opinion pages

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When it comes to intellectual capital, Montreal has a head start over most other places in North America. We are home to a half-dozen universities, and we have the highest proportion of post-secondary students of any city on the continent.

Last February, we were named the world’s best city for students in annual rankings by higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds. 

That gives Montreal a leg up in a world where innovation is key to a thriving economy. And it is one of the reasons we are excited about partnering with Concordia University in an initiative called the Public Scholars program.

The goal of the program, created at Concordia in 2015, is to help some of this city’s best and brightest young academics and researchers share their knowledge with the rest of the community.

Students who are making their way through university now will have a direct impact on how we live our lives here in Montreal and around the globe. But the stereotype of universities as an “ivory tower,” disconnected from the community in which they are located, still exists. 

That’s where the Montreal Gazette comes in. Newspapers have a long tradition of offering audiences a way to engage with ideas and arguments in the community via the Opinion pages. So in 2016, we began working with Concordia on a way to help these gifted thinkers connect with people in Montreal.

I had the great honour of being part of the selection committee for the 10 Public Scholars, chosen in December 2016. Their research ranges from needle-free liquid jet injection — a way to deliver medication without using hypodermic needles — to dealing with the aftermath of organized violence.  The diversity of topics is dizzying, their research fascinating.

Please watch for these names, the 2017-18 Public Scholars, on the Opinion pages over the course of the next year:

Desirée de Jesus, film and moving images

Lucas Hof, mechanical engineering

Leanne Keddie, business administration

Alexander McClelland, humanities

Nadia Naffi, educational technology

Lisa Ndejuru, individualized program

Erin O’Loughlin, individualized program

William Robinson, humanities

Rocco Portaro, mechanical engineering

Gonzalo Quintana Zunino, psychology

We were pleased to feature two Public Scholars on our print Opinion page on Tuesday. In the first, program participant Alexander McClelland and his colleague Gillian Kolla call for better confidentiality protections for research participants, particularly necessary when the research involves sensitive subjects. And in the second oped, Erin O’Loughlin says exergaming is kids’ screen time that parents can feel good about.

lchodan@postmedia.com

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