Three-minute thesis winner looks at connection between human rights and the environment

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Environment and resource studies student Julie DeWolf won first place in the university-wide Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition for her thesis regarding the relationship between human rights and the environment in the Canadian legal system.</p>

 “I’m looking at section seven of the Canadian Constitution,” DeWolf said “And I’m basically trying to say ‘can we link the human rights within section seven, to an environmental context?’”

DeWolf just finished law school and said the competition was a way to combine environmental studies with the law.

“[I have] been interested in environmental law and constitutional law and administrative law, and [this] kind of ties all of these together,” she said. 

The 3MT competition is for research-based master's thesis and doctoral students from the university. Competitors have three minutes to explain their thesis to an audience.

The winners of the competition, which were announced April 2, also included a people’s choice award, which was given to history student Joseph Buscemi.

“My thesis is on [Britain at] the end of the Cold War,” Buscemi said. He explained that the government “developed a public advice booklet and video on what to do in the event of nuclear war.” The program was called “Protect and Survive” but was derided as useless shortly after.

“I just thought ‘well I wonder how this came to be’ and I found that there wasn’t much on it, so I thought maybe I could do that,” Buscemi said.

Both of the winners said the competition was a great opportunity to improve their public speaking and research skills.

“I’m very thankful for the experience” Buscemi said. “I think it would be very useful for any student that really needs to just kind of know where they are with their research and get some good feedback on it.”

“I would encourage people to give this competition a shot, it’s a lot of fun,” DeWolf said. “Anybody who has any desire to improve their public speaking skills, for whatever reason, I would highly recommend doing this process. It’s really fun and beneficial.”

DeWolf’s thesis is moving on to the 3MT provincial final at the University of Western Ontario next week. Buscemi says he will keep working on his.

“I’m just desperately trying to get mine done,” he said.

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