Promoting social science and humanities research in universities and colleges across Canada is charted here by Open Access Government
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is a federally funded research agency that promotes and supports social science and humanities research in universities and colleges across Canada (referred to as “post-secondary”(1) research). Their goal is to develop young talent within the social sciences by making connections with promising students on campuses across universities. The SSHRC was created by the Canadian Parliament in 1977, the SSHRC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Science.
Ted Hewitt is the current President of the SSHRC, as well as being the Chair of the Canadian Research Coordinating Committee, a committee specialising in “reinvigorating Canada’s support for science to meet the current and future needs of the country’s scientists, scholars and students.”(2) Before being appointed the Head of the SSHRC, Hewitt was a Lecturer in Sociology at Western University in London, Ontario.
Their aims are to promote work that “spurs innovative researchers to learn from one another’s disciplines, delve into multiparty collaborations and achieve common goals for the betterment of Canadian society.”(3) They state that their organisation “has taken its place as a central component of Canadian innovation.”
As cannabis has now been legalised in Canada, only the second nation in the world to fully legalise the drug, many research opportunities have become open to social societies and humanities researchers who were not able to certain types of the research on the drug when it was criminalised.
A researcher, Zach Walsh of the University of British Columbia, on the subject has said the following: “Legalisation presents an amazing opportunity to learn more about people’s motives for using cannabis and its effects without all the social baggage.”(4) The SSHRC have assisted with funding Walsh’ research, which is a study into personality and cannabis use and how smoking cannabis may affect individuals in different ways to one another. The research hopes to have a societal benefit – with Walsh stating “with cannabis now legal and more readily available, it’s important to understand how it interacts with other substances. If it is found that increased cannabis use actually reduces harmful alcohol use, for example, governments could have an incentive to price cannabis in a way that encourages people to choose it over other, more harmful drugs.”(5)
On July 17th, 2019, the Government of Canada announced that over $285 million (Canadian Dollars) were to be given to researchers over 6,900 social sciences and humanities researchers across Canada. This funding was supplied via the SSHRC and is focussing on funding research in the areas of: education, immigration, Indigenous health and the environment. This was announced by the previous Canadian Minister of Science and Sport (as of November 2019 Navdeep Bains now has that role), Kirsty Duncan, who said, “The social sciences and humanities are integral towards building a healthier, stronger and more prosperous Canada. Since taking office, our government has worked hard to put science and research back to their rightful place. Today’s grant recipients will help us make informed decisions about our communities, economy, health and future prosperity.”(6) This funding and support shows the Canadian Government’s commitment to investing in social sciences and humanities via the SSHRC.
Another recent funding initiative instigated the SSHRC is the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) which was created to fund the research of academics in the early stages of their career. The criteria is that the research has to be exploratory and crossed disciplinary boundaries. On this new initiative, Ted Hewitt said, “as society evolves, and the complexity of the challenges we face increases, so must our means of doing research evolve. The New Frontiers in Research Fund is designed to support leading-edge research and exciting new methodologies that have the potential to transform the way we approach scientific discovery and problem-solving.”(7)
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