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.
That’s why, earlier this year, the Federation partnered with the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE) to host an event on urban transportation on Parliament Hill. The Federation regularly hosts a successful Big Thinking lecture series, and PAGSE hosts a breakfast series called Bacon and Eggheads, which brings scientists and engineers to the Hill. So we joined forces to host a special event called Bacon and Big Thinking. In a conversation moderated by John Geddes, Ottawa Bureau Chief at Maclean's, engineer Dr. Jeff Casello, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo, and geographer Dr. Zachary Patterson, professor and Canada Research Chair in Transportation and Land Use Linkages for Regional Sustainability at Concordia University, discussed research advances in urban transportation and policy implications for all levels of government. You can watch the full event here, and listen to Professors Casello and Patterson’s CBC Ottawa Morning interview here.
We also welcome “science” organizations to Congress. For example, Genome Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and Mitacs were sponsors of Congress 2014, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) was also present with a booth and Career Corner session. These organizations all see the SSH as being a crucial part of their mandate, and the sessions they hosted were popular among attendees.
We believe that big thinking calls us to move beyond narrow interpretations of labels. At the Federation we see the SSH, like all sciences, as playing a crucial role in the greater context of research and innovation.