York awarded $4.2 million to build two national research networks

Two York University professors have received $4.2 million, over seven years, to build new national research networks on homelessness and refugee studies, from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Professor Susan McGrath (right), director of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, will lead the Canadian Refugee Research Network: Globalizing Knowledge, which will study refugee and forced migration issues to find solutions to the plight of refugees worldwide. A nationally-recognized expert in community organizing and social development with strong international ties, McGrath is president-elect of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration and an associate professor in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.

Professor Stephen Gaetz (left) will lead the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, which seeks to enhance the impact of research on homelessness and the housing crisis by increasing collaboration and discussion among researchers, policy-makers and community workers. One of Canada’s leading experts on homelessness, Gaetz created the Homeless Hub – the world’s first digital hub to mobilize homelessness research – to support collaboration, knowledge exchange, and public engagement among regional and clustered research networks. He is also associate dean, research and field development, in the Faculty of Education.

"These networks provide unique opportunities for researchers, in partnership with non-academic stakeholders, to mobilize research of social, economic, political and cultural importance," says Stan Shapson, York vice-president research & innovation. "They are key components of York’s leadership in social innovation, which promises to help Canadians find better solutions to these and other social problems."

The Canadian Refugee Research Network involves 22 researchers at 12 Canadian universities, including the University of British Columbia, Queen’s University and the University of Toronto; researchers at 10 international universities; and 17 partner institutions, including the Canadian Council for Refugees, the World Food Program and IBM Canada. Under McGrath’s leadership, the network will facilitate interaction among academics, policy-makers and practitioners through innovative online activities. It will also create spaces to present and disseminate the experiences and concerns of refugees while cultivating more dynamic and responsive research projects.

Co-investigatiors at York include – Professor Wenona Giles of the School of Social Sciences in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, associate director of CRS and senior co-investigator of the CRRN; Professor Michael Barutciski of Glendon’s International Studies Department; political science Professor Nergis Canefe of the Faculty of Arts and resident faculty at CRS; and political science Professor Gerald Kernerman in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and associate director of CRS.

The Canadian Homelessness Research Network builds upon past York research successes, including the Homeless Hub and the 2005 Canadian Conference on Homelessness. The network includes 15 Canadian researchers at four Canadian universities, including Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph and the University of Ottawa, along with 13 partner institutions including the City of Toronto, the Sherbourne Health Centre and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. York Professors Janet Mosher in the Osgoode Hall Law School and Uzo Anucha in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies are also co-applicants for the project. Professor Roger Keil, director of the City Institute, and Professor Valerie Preston, director of the Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration & Settlement (CERIS) are also collaborators

The projects are part of the SSHRC’s Strategic Knowledge Clusters comprised of national and international research networks with partners in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. They coordinate and synthesize research on issues that affect Canadians’ quality of life. The 11 networks chosen in a peer-reviewed national competition will each receive up to $2.1 million over the next seven years.

York was the only university to receive multiple awards in this category, building on its past successes. In 2007, York University Professor Emeritus Wesley Cragg in the Schulich School of Business was awarded $2.1 million to mobilize the University’s business expertise through the Canadian Business Ethics Research Network (CBERN). York professors were also co-applicants for two additional research networks that year: Professor Bernard Lightman is a member of a network focused on Canadian humanist and social studies of science, while Professor Colin Coates is a member of NiCHE – The Network in Canadian History & Environment. York is a partner institution for both research networks.

"This announcement underscores our government’s commitment to strengthen Canada’s competitive advantage," said Jim Prentice, federal minister of industry. "Canadian scholars and researchers will continue to produce world-class results so that we, as a country, may use this knowledge to enhance the quality of life of all Canadians."

For a complete list of strategic knowledge clusters, visit the SSHRC Web site.

Submitted to YFile by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer.