SSH News: Big Thinking, Canada’s Innovation Challenge, AAAS 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This month’s Big Thinking lecture presented by Joseph Heath, Director, Centre for Ethics, and Professor, Department of Philosophy and School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, is now available to view online. This lecture addressed "reason versus passion" in politics and what we are sacrificing when we allow our political system to be dominated by appeals to passion rather than reason. The event was also captured in an article in The Hill Times this week: U of T prof calls for Enlightenment 2.0 to combat environment of ‘truthiness’ (available by subscription only).

On the heels of the federal budget being announced last week, focus remains on the next wave of funding for innovation and research in Canada. A Hot Topics Panel discussion led by Mitacs addressed this week “Why is innovation so important for Canada?” while Minister of State (Science and Technology) Greg Rickford has been busy highlighting the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). An initiative of the Economic Action Plan 2014, the CFREF aims at “driving Canadian post-secondary institutions to excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada” (Government of Canada).

The importance and necessity to move innovation to the next level are also being echoed across the border. Addressed at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Chicago last week, Phillip Shark, president of AAAS, noted that “the next wave of innovation must couple technology, the life sciences and physical sciences in order to change — and improve — humanity” (Canada Foundation for Innovation). Unfortunately, the AAAS meeting was a missed opportunity to showcase Canada’s place as an innovative society. Helen Murphy, Assistant Director, Communications, for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada noted that “Canada was notably lacking in any official promotion as a destination of choice for top researchers – at a time when we do a lot of talking, at the federal level at least, about the need to do more to attract top researchers from around the world” (University Affairs). In parallel, Jean-Marc Mangin, Executive Director for the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, noted that “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 Government has made several significant investments in research, notably in last week's budget, that deserve international attention” (Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences).


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