Federation News

The “SSH” is part of “S&T”

Our mission at the Federation is to promote the value of research and learning in the social sciences and humanities (SSH). Often we’re asked, don’t you feel  excluded when people  talk about “science and technology (S&T)” or “science” as a catch-phrase for all research? Of course we’d like a greater focus on the value of the SSH in conversations about research, and that’s something the secretariat works on in our discussions with policy makers. But the basic answer to the question is no, we do not feel excluded.   Today, “S&T” is increasingly defined to include the arts, humanities and social sciences, as well as the natural and health sciences and engineering. We know that SSH research in Canada is world-class, and believe that collaboration between the SSH and organizations in the natural and health sciences and engineering makes all research stronger.  

This type of interdisciplinary collaboration and understanding is something the Federation actively promotes....

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Canadian archeology loses a champion

Nicola Katz, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Canada has lost a gem of an archeologist this month with the passing of Dr. Priscilla Renouf. A pioneer in her field for over thirty years, she conducted research in Labrador, Arctic Norway and Greenland, with a particular focus Port au Choix in northwestern Newfoundland. Holding a BA and MA from Memorial University, and a PhD from Cambridge University, she was Canada Research Chair in North Atlantic Archaeology at Memorial University, where she has taught since 1981.  Among her many achievements, she was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and 1992-1993 recipient of the President's Award for Outstanding Research.

Dr. Renouf was exemplary in her interdisciplinary, holistic and innovative approach to her work. Her talent lay in the...

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SSH News: Contributions of social scientists, Federation’s 2014 Annual Conference, 2014 Canada Prizes finalists

Last Friday, Chad Gaffield, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), spoke at Carleton University about whether social scientists have an obligation to solve society’s problems. In a subsequent article about the event, “Contemplating the Contribution of Social Scientists”, Susan Hickman remarks that Gaffield suggested that “we live in “a profound period of change,” [and] went on to say we still have much to learn about human thought and behaviour and it’s essential that researchers collaborate and inter-...

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2014 Annual Conference to be live streamed

Only days away! The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences will be hosting its 2014 Annual Conference at the McGill Faculty Club on Friday, March 28. Can’t make it to the Conference? Good news: you can still catch the day’s events.

The Federation will stream live throughout the Conference here.

The full day event will include panel discussions on the themes of transformations in undergraduate teaching and the future of the PhD. The event also includes workshops on the future of Congress and Big Data, a Big Thinking lecture on "Borders without Boundaries" by Kevin Kee of Brock University, an address by Chad Gaffield, President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the announcement of the...

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Transformations in graduate education: the future of the PhD

 

Does anyone think the current PhD training in Canada is perfect?  If so, they are a quiet minority; re-imagining PhD training is one of the hottest topics in higher education policy. For example, the most popular post last year on University Affairs’ Margin Notes Blog, was “The PhD is in need of revision”.

Considering how to approach PhD training in the 21st century is important across all disciplines, but the humanities face a particularly urgent problem with non-completion rates as high as 50% and only about 20%-30% of graduates finding employment within the academy.

So it makes sense for the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences to explore this issue at our annual conference, a forum for representatives of the Federation’s member organizations, and other...

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Alberta shows leadership with billion dollar investment in social innovation

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences applauds the creation of the Social Innovation Endowment Fund by the Government of Alberta.  With an investment of $500 million in Alberta’s 2014 budget, and another $500 million next year, earnings from the endowment will fund projects in three streams: Research and Knowledge; Funding Models and Partnerships; and Prototyping (implementing innovative interventions to address social challenges).

“This is an important initiative by Alberta” said Jean-Marc Mangin, Executive Director of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences “and we are particularly pleased to note that the fund will focus on creative collaborations among the public, private and not-for profit sectors. Through research advances and campus-community collaborations, social science and humanities researchers are ready to contribute to understanding and...

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AAAS, Chicago and the humanities

Jean-Marc Mangin, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) traditionally offers little space for the humanities. There were however several panels which included  social scientists, especially in reframing the discussions on innovation away from a simplistic discovery to commercialization linear model to one embracing a complex eco-system supporting creativity . Nonetheless, the need for the humanities was a recurrent motto by several speakers — in his welcoming address, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel,  called for a more inclusive approach to learning and solving our global challenges: transforming Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics —the STEM subjects—  into STEAM (STEM + Art = STEAM).

Nobel Prize winner and former Energy Secretary for President Obama, Dr. Steven Chu, delivered a very powerful, often funny and quietly moving keynote on energy and climate change...

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AAAS 2014: Where was Canada?

Jean-Marc Mangin, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

This last weekend, Chicago hosted this premier inter-disciplinary academic conference by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) which focussed a great deal on innovation and climate change.

However,  our Government  was missing. No booth; no reception; no breakfast; no sponsored programming.  I understand that dollars are scarce and choices have to be made. However Ottawa is less than a two hour flight from Chicago where Canada has a large consulate. Yet we could not muster any official Canadian presence.  In comparison, Japanese, Korean and European agencies were highly visible and there was some even science Ministers from developing countries. 

The lack of a Canadian presence at AAAS was puzzling. Science diplomacy is a theme that our Governor General has stressed during his mandate. The...

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