Message to SSHRC: as you remodel the house don’t forget the foundation

Renovations are all the rage. Witness the Home Improvement Tax Credit (I’m looking forward to my $1,350 that will help pay for the new furnace, air conditioner and water heater), all the DIY shows on Home & Garden Channel and the boom in stores like Home Depot, Rona and Lowes. SSHRC has jumped on the reno bandwagon. The first time I heard about the new SSHRC Program Architecture was at the KIS/Cluster meeting in Ottawa on October 23-24, 2009 (see our blog post on that meeting). Since then SSHRC has released increasing amounts of information to SSHRC academic leaders (December 2009) and to research administrators in a CAURA webinar (January 29, 2010) and on March 1, 2010, Chad Gaffield released the new architecture and draft call for applications for consultation.
KMb practitioners take note: you no longer have to pose as researchers
SSHRC has retooled their programming into 3 broad categories of insight (= research), talent (= training) and connections (= knowledge mobilization). The three are not mutually exclusive, in fact, in many constructions of SSHRC funded scholarly endeavours they are intrinsically linked (think of a CURA which fosters engaged research, training and KMb). Moving from a prescriptive, program directed mode of grant seeking, SSHRC is allowing applicants to define the funding package that fits their own scholarship within some very broad frameworks.
KMb community take note: there is funding for KMb
Whether you want to hold a small workshop, publish a journal, develop a KMb tool kit or create a national framework for community engaged scholarship, there’s a welcome mat out for you. If you wish to study the science of KMb, that’s research (sorry, insight) but if you want to do KMb that’s connections. Look for programs supporting partnerships, workshops and conferences, journals, tools and outcomes to be launched over the next 2 years.
But SSHRC take note to maintain the foundation as you remodel the house
Not every NSERC Discovery Grant should result in a patent. Not every research grant under the insight umbrella should be mobilized or connected. When MRC became CIHR in 2000 and assumed a mandate for knowledge translation, new funds were given to the CIHR Operating Grant competition. Sure, new funds were provided for strategic competitions as well but CIHR not only protected but grew their support for fundamental research.
Not all will welcome this new program architecture but as KMb practitioners we are pleased to see SSHRC champion a connections agenda. We are also pleased to see funding maintained for research grants and priority funds as directed by federal budget priorities set by the Federal Government. As far as the limited allocations in Federal Budgets allow please continue to invest in the foundation of social sciences and humanities research. KMb is great but is must be built on a sound base of fundamental scholarship.
And federal government, listen up
The vast majority of public servants has degrees in the social sciences and humanities and were taught by professors, many of whom were supported by SSHRC. If you want informed policy makers you need a strong social science and humanities community. If you want a strong social sciences and humanities community you need a strong SSHRC. SSHRC receives 13.5% of the total federal investments in the three granting councils but supports over 50% of Canada’s academic researchers and graduate students. You do the math.
Thank you for the $3M increase to SSHRC’s budget in Budget 2010 but SSHRC needs more, much more, in 2011 if you expect informed debate and responsive public policies in security, finance, immigration, homelessness, mental health, education, aboriginal affairs, globalization, climate change, racism, multiculturalism, urban planning, rural economies, northern Canada, politics, heritage, literacy, employment, peace keeping, sport, volunteerism, federation, government reform, bilingualism, equity, infrastructure, economic renewal, sustainability, the arts, accessibility, digital literacy, transportation, poverty…