Future Challenge Areas

Goal
Context
Objectives
Funding Opportunities



Goal

Through its Imagining Canada’s Future initiative, and with a focus on six future challenge areas, SSHRC seeks to advance the contributions of the social sciences and humanities towards meeting Canada’s future, long-term societal challenges and opportunities.



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Context

Research on people, both past and present, provides a strong foundation for Canada to be able to adapt and succeed in the future. In keeping with its mandate and tradition, SSHRC promotes and supports the very best talent and ideas in the social sciences and humanities, to help build a better future for Canada and the world.

Canada’s success in the 21st century will depend on research preparedness. We need to think ahead, and collectively imagine all possible futures, so that we can anticipate and be prepared to address emerging economic, societal and knowledge needs, and to guide the best choices going forward.

This is the inspiration for SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative, launched in June 2011.

Six future challenge areas

An extensive foresight exercise led by SSHRC, involving a two-year national and international consultation, resulted in the identification of six key future challenge areas that are likely to emerge for Canada in the next few decades. Each challenge area includes a range of possible—yet, not exclusive—issues and subquestions that explore the complexity of the respective issue.

  1. What new ways of learning, particularly in higher education, will Canadians need to thrive in an evolving society and labour market?
  2. What effects will the quest for energy and natural resources have on our society and our position on the world stage?
  3. How are the experiences and aspirations of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada essential to building a successful shared future?
  4. What might the implications of global peak population be for Canada?
  5. How can emerging technologies be leveraged to benefit Canadians?
  6. What knowledge will Canada need to thrive in an interconnected, evolving global landscape?

Challenge areas could also be addressed through the lens of the following cross-cutting components, which emerged through the foresight exercise as being essential for Canada and Canadians in an evolving global context: sustainable, resilient communities; creativity, innovation and prosperity; values, cultures, inclusion and diversity; and governance and institutions.



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Objectives

The six challenge areas have been integrated within SSHRC’s Talent, Insight and Connection programs, to encourage and promote research, talent development, and the mobilization of knowledge in focused challenge areas, complementing SSHRC’s support of these activities across all research areas.



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Funding Opportunities

In keeping with its tradition and mandate, SSHRC will continue to invest in humanities and social sciences research addressing a broad range of topics, while also promoting and investing in the future challenge areas.

SSHRC funds research carried out by individual scholars, teams of researchers and, in some cases, institutions, through its Insight and Connection programs. SSHRC’s Talent program supports students and postdoctoral fellows in acquiring research and professional skills.

SSHRC invites all applicants to its funding opportunities to review the six future challenge areas and subquestions, and to consider addressing one or more of these areas in their research proposal. While this is not an evaluation criterion for merit review, research that addresses one or more of the future challenge areas further positions the value of the social sciences and humanities to meet Canada’s future, long-term societal challenges and opportunities.

SSHRC monitors research capacity in these areas, and organizes knowledge mobilization activities, including Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunities, to enhance the contribution of the social sciences and humanities across the six challenge areas.

Researchers are invited to apply to the next Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunity to contribute social sciences and humanities insights in the future challenge areas.