John Bonnett

Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities

Tier 2 - 2005-01-01
Renewed: 2010-07-01
Brock University
Social Sciences and Humanities


Research involves

Using new media—specifically virtual reality and augmented reality—as instruments to support research, communication and teaching in the humanities.

Research relevance

The research focuses on the generation, appropriation and dissemination of 3D objects and environments.

3D Computer Graphics For Teaching History

You will find few humanities scholars as passionate about using the computer as Dr. John Bonnett. But there are times when Brock University's Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities has a sneaking suspicion that he has more in common with the ancients than with his post-modern contemporaries. Such a sentiment may seem strange coming from a digital humanities researcher who uses 3D computer graphics to teach history, but for Dr. Bonnett the comparison makes perfect sense.

During the Roman Empire, scholars were faced with a new platform—the codex (book)—and a corresponding challenge: to invent new ways to tell stories and represent and organize information. Today, scholars are faced with a new platform: the computer. If scholars are to harness the computer's latent potential, argues Dr. Bonnett, humanities researchers must devise and test ways to communicate in virtual reality and augmented reality as well as in other emerging media.

As a Canada Research Chair, Dr. Bonnett intends to continue his research on the 3D Virtual Buildings Project, which is devoted to just that purpose. This project, which he helped to develop at the National Research Council of Canada, is designed to encourage people's critical thinking skills. Specifically, the project supports students and scholars as they create models of historic settlements, using 3D modelling software. The project's website combines tutorials that help historical research and 3D model construction with a location where students can display their work.

By combining technology with history, Dr. Bonnett is providing scholars and students—particularly in the fields of history, the humanities, and computer science—with the tools they need to re-think the current linkages they may have within and between their disciplines.

Already highlighted in popular and academic periodicals, Dr. Bonnett's project has potential applications in the fields of education and commerce and thus could wield a powerful influence in Ontario's cultural sector.