York researchers receive more than $3 million in SSHRC funding

Thirty-seven York faculty members have attracted more than $3 million in grants from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for 2004. The awards, made earlier this month, are part of the total of $86 million in standard research grants made by the arm’s-length federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the social sciences and humanities. This year’s recipients number among the more than 300 faculty and graduate students at York whose work is supported by SSHRC.

“These grant awards reflect York’s vibrant humanities and social sciences research community,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation. “Investments into social science and humanities research by the federal government, through SSHRC, are a key contributor to Canada’s knowledge base, culture and quality of life. Through these grants, our researchers are able to contribute significantly to scholarship, public policy, and national and international dialogue across the full range of disciplines.”

Six of the major awards to York faculty in this year’s competition are featured below.

Study charts variation in Franco-Ontarian speech

raymond mougeonRaymond Mougeon (right), professor in Glendon’s Department of French Studies, received $246,217 to continue a study of linguistic variation among Franco-Ontarians, with Professor Terry J. Nadasdi of the University of Alberta. A specialist in the study of variations in the French language in Ontario, Mougeon looked at the speech of adolescents in the late ’70s in places such as Hawkesbury, Cornwall, North Bay and Pembroke. In their SSHRC-funded project Mougeon and Nadasdi will analyze data gathered in 2004 among Franco-Ontarian adolescents in the same localities. This will make it possible to examine patterns of linguistic change over a period of 25 years.

“The originality of this…research lies in the fact that no one has yet investigated linguistic change with real-time data in minority speech communities,” Mougeon said in his proposal. The study will help researchers better understand the reasons for changes in the same language spoken in a variety of locales and has implications for the teaching of French as a minority and second language.

Luxton looks at households and social policy in real-life Ontario

meg luxtonMeg Luxton (left), professor with the School of Social Sciences, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, and the Graduate Program in Women’s Studies, received $156,989 for a three-year study she is conducting with Kate Bezanson of Brock University of households and social policy in three Ontario centres. The pair will look at families in the Niagara region, the Greater Toronto Area, and a rural community in central Ontario. Over the past 20 years, major changes in the organization of paid employment and in state policies, programs and services have affected the way people make a living so that many face complicated challenges trying to manage the demands of their paid employment and care-giving responsibilities. The project examines the ways in which “family-friendly” or “work-life” policies, such as maternity and parental leave, child-care provisions and home care, affect the day-to-day lives of the people they are designed to help.

Ali, Keil study SARS and the global city

harris aliroger keilContagious local health problems, such as the first outbreak of SARS in China, are only a plane ride away in the modern global economy, say professors Harris Ali (far left) and Roger Keil (left) of the Faculty of Environmental Studies. The two York researchers were awarded $154,000 to look into the “direct connection between global city formation in Toronto and the way in which SARS has affected the city.” In their proposal, Ali and Keil said the spread of the disease was a “somewhat predictable consequence of contemporary globalization” that interacted with “economic, political and social factors to represent a threat to human development.” Ali and Keil study the relationships of infectious disease and the global city network, changes to health governance in an era of globalized urbanization and the racialization of the SARS crisis in Toronto. Their investigation is intended to “enable better management of future outbreaks of emerging disease by ensuring that detection, monitoring and response strategies are compatible with the current political, social, economic and ecological develpments unfolding in our increasingly complex world.”

Ali’s current research focuses on the analyses of “disaster incubation”: how normally unnoticed social and ecological processes converge to create a disaster. He has also completed studies on a large chemical fire in Hamilton, the outbreak of E. coli in Walkerton and the spread of SARS in Toronto and has published in such journals as Social Science and Medicine and Social Problems. Keil, who is currently resident in the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York, studies politics and urban political ecology in world cities. His most recent book, Nature and the City (with Gene Desfor, FES, York), has just been published by University of Arizona Press. He is a founding member of the International Network for Urban Research and Action.

Study looks at popular education practices of ’60s Latin America

deborah barndt“Popular education as a field of practice and a body of theory emerged in Latin America in the 1960s in a context of social movements challenging dictatorships,” writes Professor Deborah Barndt (right), associate dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies, in her research proposal. Barndt met with colleagues from Canada, the US and Latin America this week at an event organized by the VIVA! Project, for which she received $152,720 to do a transnational study of creative tensions in community art and public education. The group is looking at art in Latin communities in Canada, Bolivia, Los Angeles, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru in search of ideas that will be of interest to adult and popular education theorists.

York health team looks at social science methods to control diabetes

dennis raphaelFollowing on successful studies showing how people’s socio-economic status can affect their risk of heart disease, Professor Dennis Raphael (left) has been awarded $123,500 to look at similar issues involved in the dramatic increase in mortality and morbidity from Type II diabetes. Raphael, director of undergraduate studies in York’s School of Health Policy and Management, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, will work with colleagues Isolde Daiski and Florence Pilkington of Atkinson’s School of Nursing, Kim Raine of the University of Alberta, and Ronald Colman of Genuine Progress Indicators, Atlantic, to look at the social determinants of the incidence and management of diabetes. Since 1986, Canadian mortality rates from diabetes has increased to pandemic levels, especially among low-income urban communities, yet the causes are largely unknown, despite conventional beliefs that blame diet and activity patterns.

Raphael says that even once identified, issues such as income and social status, education, stress and social exclusion that structure health-threatening behaviour patterns are largely ignored by the medical community. He and his colleagues hope to change that through this study of marginalized and vulnerable Canadians. Raphael recently edited the volume Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives (Canadian Scholars Press 2004) now into its second printing seven weeks after its release.

Historian to research psychology’s American functionalist school

christopher greenChristopher D. Green (right), professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, has been awarded $118,538 to research the school of psychology known as American functionalism, the first indigenous school of thought in North America, current from the mid-1890s to the mid-1920s. In addition to a series of journal articles, Green plans to produce three 40-minute videos that tell the story of what was one of the leading approaches to scientific psychology of the period. The material used in the documentaries will be collected in what he calls MARCs, multimedia academic research complexes, which are made available to historians and teachers working in the field.

A specialist in the history of psychology, Green hopes to raise the documentary form to the level of serious academic research by embedding the videos in a Web site-like interface containing not only the usual scholarly apparatus such as references but also full text transcriptions of many of the primary source documents used. Green is also the founding editor of the History & Theory of Psychology Eprint Archive (HTP Prints), an open-access repository of articles and other related documents relevant to the historical and theoretical psychological issues.

Statistical research will improve econometric software

rilstonePaul Rilstone (right), professor of economics in the Faculty of Arts, received $193,852 for his work on the higher order statistical properties of econometric estimators. The research is aimed at improving the accuracy of these statistical tools and applying them to a number of examples which are very popular in applied work. Ultimately, the results will be used to create software that can better approximate the factors used in econometric research.

“The results [of these studies] will help Canadians create effective public policies, compete in the global economy, educate their children, improve their health care system, build strong communities and strengthen their cultural heritage,” said Marc Renaud, president of SSHRC.

The researchers above are just six of the 37 York faculty who were successful in attracting $3,052,434 in funded research in this year’s competition. York also received a further $455,364 in post-doctoral fellowship awards announced by SSHRC on Oct. 25. For a complete list of standard research grant recipients (280kb PDF file), visit the SSHRC Web site. For more information on research at York, visit the Office of Research & Innovation home page.