Jan. 18, 2016

Quick Chat: Academic Research and International Attitudes

Werklund School postdoc and doctoral scholar discover differences in words and meanings at international conference
Werklund postdoctoral fellow Angela Alberga and doctoral student Sarah Nutter

Angela and Sarah discuss differences in words and meanings when research is shared internationally

Academic researchers regularly collaborate with colleagues at their home institutions—in their own faculties and in others—as well as with academics working in the same subject areas in other parts of the world. They attend conferences, make presentations and exchange ideas.  It’s part of learning more about different perspectives in their own research areas.

Often, what many researchers find, is that certain words, terminologies and understandings about their field are viewed very differently from what would be considered appropriate or acceptable in other circles.

Take for example, the subject of obesity. When Werklund School of Education postdoctoral fellow Angela Alberga and doctoral student Sarah Nutter attended and presented papers at the Third Annual Weight Stigma Conference in Iceland last fall, they heard a full range of words and phrases used by people from different parts of the world to describe obesity—words many, in some cultures, might find shocking or offensive.

According to Alberga, who currently holds a Banting fellowship for her work in examining weight stigma and discrimination, and Nutter, who is working towards a PhD in Counselling Psychology, understanding the meanings and attitudes behind the words is the key to engaging in meaningful international discussions.

Note: Alberga and Nutter are both part of Werklund’s Body Image Research Lab, headed by Associate Professor Shelly Russell-Mayhew.  Russell-Mayhew is giving this year’s Werklund Distinguished Research Lecture on January 28, and all are invited to attend this free event.