Philosophy researchers bring their perspectives to partners’ research challenges

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Robyn Dugas, Communications Coordinator, Mitacs

Mitacs and the University of Waterloo’s Department of Philosophy have partnered on an initiative that sees graduate and postdoctoral researchers using philosophical approaches in their collaborations with regional partners.

The collaboration emerged following a 2014 internship between Teresa Branch-Smith, a philosophy PhD candidate at the university, and Philip Beesley Architects. Together, they examined philosophical constructions of life and living as applied to “near-living” architecture. The project’s success demonstrated the potential for collaborations between philosophers and industry or non-academic partners.

With the launch of a new Doctorate in Applied Philosophy (the first of its kind in Canada), the partnership has emerged at just the right time. Its pilot phase has kicked off with projects that will explore topics such as:

  • Developing tools to assist organizations that provide decision-making, life-planning, and employment support for people with developmental disabilities through applications of philosophy of science and action theory
  • Designing procedures for distinguishing hate literature from controversial speech to be implemented at a book publisher using philosophy-based constructions of ethics
  • Creating policies for residential facilities to address issues of consent for people with severe cognitive decline through applications of theories of autonomy

The initiative will be realized through Mitacs Accelerate, a research internship program dedicated to advancing Canadian innovation by connecting universities and non-academic partners. Interns apply their skills to research challenges within the partner organizations, which gain a competitive advantage through high-quality academic expertise.

“This partnership is an opportunity to advance a new approach to humanities education. The Mitacs internships will enable students to apply their research, contribute to Canadian innovation, and become better philosophers,” said George Dixon, Waterloo’s Vice-President University Research.

Want to know more?
Mitacs Accelerate accepts applications anytime and all disciplines are eligible. If you’re interested in pursuing a research project with a partner, visit the Accelerate web page to learn more about the program.

Mitacs is hosting the following events at Congress:

About Mitacs
Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that delivers research and training programs. We work with universities, companies, and governments to build partnerships that support social and industrial innovation in Canada.


Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2016