Chad Gaffield, one of Canada’s foremost historians, was appointed president of SSHRC in September 2006 and reappointed in 2011. As president of SSHRC, he has helped define a new model of innovation that places understanding of human thought and behavior at its core, and reaffirms the contributions of social sciences and humanities research to our economy and quality of life.
Gaffield came to SSHRC from the University of Ottawa, where he held a University Research Chair and was the founding director of the Institute of Canadian Studies. During his 20-year University of Ottawa career, he also served as vice-dean of graduate studies and on the executive committee of the board of governors. He is a former president of the Canadian Historical Association and the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
An expert on 19th- and 20th-century Canada, Gaffield has analyzed the ways demographic, economic and cultural changes influence, and are influenced by, institutional and political history. He is most well known for his reinterpretation of major historical events in the making of modern Canada as expressions of micro-historical transformations—changes occurring in the lives of everyday people. He has also led major research initiatives, including the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure project, which involves universities and partner organizations from St. John’s, Nfld. to Victoria, B.C.
Gaffield has won many awards for his teaching, research, and innovative theories and methods related to computer-based, interdisciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration. The University of Ottawa named him Researcher of Year in 1995 and Professor of the Year in 2002—only the second time that a professor has been chosen for both awards. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he received the society’s J.B. Tyrrell Historical Medal in 2004 for his outstanding contribution to the study of Canada. In 2007, the Canadian Association of University Teachers presented him with its Distinguished Academic Award in recognition of excellence in teaching, research and service to the community. In 2011, he was the inaugural winner of the Antonio Zampolli Prize, awarded by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations to recognize a single outstanding output in the digital humanities by a scholar at any stage in their career. Gaffield’s other honours include the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003; an honorary doctorate from Thompson Rivers University in 2007; the Prix de la francophonie de l'Ontario in 2008; and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Chad Gaffield received his BA and MA from McGill University, and his PhD from the University of Toronto.