Editor's note: The following story was written by IABC staff with input from the Gold Quill entrant’s submission materials. What follows is a summarized version of the entry.
The University of Toronto, with its rich history dating back to 1827, is a global center for research and academic excellence. Renowned for its vibrant learning community and pioneering research initiatives, the university recognized the imperative to continually recruit top talent while raising awareness of its impactful endeavors.
However, conveying the intricate, interdisciplinary nature of academic research to broader audiences posed a challenge. The solution arrived in the form of Groundbreakers, a video series accompanied with articles and social media content, tailored to spotlight the driving forces behind innovative research within the university.
Not just a video series but a strategic move, Groundbreakers is about sparking discussions and driving real change — emphasizing U of T's commitment to pioneering research and supporting impactful narratives.
Using cross-divisional research and collaboration to address complex societal issues, U of T brings scientists, researchers and the broader research community together to showcase and ignite groundbreaking research in an easily digestible video series. This initiative ultimately sheds light on the institution’s efforts to tackle pressing issues such as inequality, climate change and infectious disease, while highlighting the impact of its research initiatives on these communities.
By featuring researchers and their work, the series encourages collaboration internally and partnerships externally to address real-world challenges. Top-tier researchers, and specifically those in the Institutional Strategic Initiatives program, were tapped to share their research and innovation.
These individuals, at the forefront of intricate global problems, leverage their expertise to navigate complex social issues, as seen in episode four of the series titled AI, Tech and Social Justice. Touching on subjects like bias in AI algorithms and The Land Refinery project, Kristen Bos, assistant professor of indigenous science and technology, and engineering alumna Deborah Raji, translate cutting-edge discovery into societal solutions.
Throughout its journey, Groundbreakers has showcased the impactful research efforts of 80 U of T scholars to over 1.3 million people, generating strong engagement across social media. Beyond their release, these videos persist in delivering ongoing value, meeting the university's strategic goals. Notably, the Climate Positive episode gained recognition at the Climate Economy Summit, captivating over 300 industry leaders in attendance.
Groundbreakers is a symbol of U of T's dedication to cutting-edge research. It's a showcase of real people tackling real problems in their community. With its strategic storytelling approach, Groundbreakers bridges the gap between academic research and public understanding. Its creative narrative offers audiences an intimate insight into the researchers' world, humanizing their quests for groundbreaking discoveries. Closing its second season, Groundbreakers solidifies its place as U of T's longest-running video series, exemplifying the university’s unwavering commitment to pioneering exploration and impactful storytelling.