York grad student relishes his Three Minute Thesis experience

Bart Danko
Bart Danko at the Three Minute Thesis Challenge
Bart Danko at the Three Minute Thesis Challenge

Communicating complex research and its impact on society is nothing new to Bart Danko. After all, the joint MES/JD student’s film — Terra Communis — has already encouraged innovative environmental action in the municipality of Brampton, Ont.

The film’s reach took another step forward with a presentation at the Ontario Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition on Thursday, April 24. Speakers have only three minutes or less to share the results of their work without the use of props and only a single media slide to support them.

“It’s fun, it’s fun… once you’re up there though, it’s intense,” says Danko immediately following the competition.

Hosted by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., competitors from 19 Ontario universities presented their research to a judging panel ranging from higher education administrators to notable writers to a renowned Canadian rock star. The competition puts some of the province’s foremost student researchers on the clock to effectively explain their work to a non-specialist audience.

Danko’s research focuses on green roofs and green roof policy in the Greater Toronto Area. Through interviews with academics, green roof installers, green roof manufacturers, municipal policymakers, green roof owners and others, his film — Terra Communis — explores green roofing as a tool to mitigate local and global environmental problems.

3MT® was initially developed by the University of Queensland in Australia in 2008. Since then, the event has been adopted around the world and is considered an invaluable exercise in the development of academic communication skills.

“The talks those students put on were absolutely fabulous, and I am continually amazed at the incredible research being conducted in our province,” says Faculty of Graduate Studies Dean Barbara Crow, who attended the event. “Having a strong presence of environmental and social justice themes amongst so many presentations was also great to hear.”

Next year’s provincial finals will take place at Western University in London, Ont. York University will send its top speaker from their 2014 competition to square off.

Terra Communis Trailer from Bart Danko on Vimeo.

Despite not placing in the top three, Danko says the experience was one of the highlights of his graduate career at York. “The connections I made at this event were worth the trip alone,” he says.

To read more about Danko’s work — and watch his film Terra Communis — visit the Terra Communis website.

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