President of SSHRC kicks off national dialogue at York

The following article was submitted by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

On Jan. 21, Marc Renaud, president of Canada’s Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), visited York to kick off a national dialogue on the future of SSHRC.

Renaud held a series of events at York including an open forum that attracted more than 75 faculty members, a roundtable with deans and associate deans responsible for research from each of York’s faculties, and a reception to honour York’s SSHRC-funded Canada Research Chairs.

Left: Marc Renaud, president of SSHRC, kicked off a national dialogue on the future of SSHRC with a presentation delivered at York.

At the open forum, Renaud pointed to the fact that SSHRC’s transformation process is one of renewal of the human sciences in Canada, and discussed how it conducts research, ensures impact at all levels of society and prepares the next generation of skilled workers in this country.

“Wealth is not the sole condition for a prosperous society. To prosper, a society has to be civil, democratic, tolerant and nurturing of talent,” said Renaud. “A vibrant social sciences and humanities community is crucial, and so is the need for SSHRC to find better ways to support this human science research.”

In late November 2003, Renaud wrote to the approximately 10,000 SSHRC-funded researchers across Canada outlining his vision for transforming SSHRC from a “granting council” to a “knowledge council”.

Following that, Renaud wrote to university presidents asking them to appoint a SSHRC campus representative, who would help serve as a channel for ideas and information between SSHRC and the university campus.

Right: During his presentation, SSHRC President Marc Renaud spoke to university faculty members.

He also asked university presidents to help identify a process to involve researchers, students, staff and the outside community in a dialogue about the transformation of the council. The result is a 30-page consultation framework document entitled “From Granting Council to Knowledge Council: Renewing the Social Sciences and Humanities in Canada”, which sets the context for the national consultation process.

Over the next few months, SSHRC will talk to researchers and users-of-research across the country about how SSHRC can better support research through its full cycle, from idea to impact.

“The transformation of SSHRC is very important to York University,” said Stan Shapson, York’s VP research & innovation and a member of the SSHRC governing council. “As one of Canada’s largest recipients of SSHRC funding, and with one of Canada’s largest cohorts of researchers in the human sciences, it is crucial that York takes an active role in shaping the future of SSHRC.”

At York, an extensive consultation process will be undertaken in order to build awareness of the national consultation while soliciting input from all stakeholders and providing for the development of an institutional response from Lorna R. Marsden, York’s president & vice-chancellor. In addition to the institutional response, the community is encouraged to provide input directly to SSHRC.

Professor Paul Axelrod (left), dean of the Faculty of Education, has been appointed as York’s SSHRC campus representative and will lead the consultation process with the assistance of a steering committee, which includes Professors David Dewitt (right), Bernie Lightman (middle left), Brenda Longfellow (middle right), Leah Vosko (lower left) and Patricia Wood (lower right).

Axelrod and the steering committee, with the support of the Office of the VP Research & Innovation, will hold campus-wide discussions through open forums, faculty council meetings, the Senate Committee on Research and the Senate’s Academic Policy & Planning Committee, along with other key groups, such as York’s SSHRC-funded Canada Research Chairs. In addition, discussions will take place with some of the University’s key external stakeholders, including government, community organizations and industry. A schedule of consultation meetings will be available soon.


Full information about the transformation consultation process, including relevant documents, a schedule of events and links to the appropriate SSHRC Web resources is available on the York Research Web site by clicking here.