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COVID-19: Impact on SSHRC programs, experts database and perspectives from our community.


Momentum: SSHRC’s Strategic Plan 2020 to 2022

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada,
represented by the Minister of Industry, 2020

Cat. No. CR22-42/2020E-PDF
ISBN 978-0-660-36178-9

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President’s message

As a new decade begins, the pace of global change continues to accelerate. Thriving in this changing world requires innovative thinking, and new ways to use knowledge and ideas. In this regard, the social sciences and humanities have never been more important, responding to emerging challenges and taking full advantage of new opportunities. In the end, our disciplines will provide the tools and the knowledge required to ensure the well-being of Canadians and of societies around the world.

The social sciences and humanities have an even larger contribution to make as we confront the realities of racism and discrimination and deal with major social upheavals such as those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Events such as these create widespread impact on the economy, global and domestic politics, international collaborations, social interactions, use of technologies, and the daily lives of individuals. Social sciences and humanities research is at the core of studying and documenting new phenomena, bringing forward historical and ethical perspectives, and contributing to finding new, innovative solutions—not only during the crisis itself, but also as Canada strives to find its place in the emerging postpandemic world order.

As a steward of public funds and the public trust, SSHRC is responsible for using resources wisely and effectively, and is accountable to the people of Canada. We are grateful for the government’s unprecedented investment through recent federal budgets, including $215 million for social sciences and humanities research over five years, and $55 million per year onward, to be used in support of research excellence. SSHRC has also taken on an expanded leadership role in delivering interdisciplinary research programs on behalf of all three federal research granting agencies.

Our plan for the next two years is firmly grounded in harnessing our strengths for the benefit of all Canadians: world-class research, a talented and diverse research community, strong partnerships across a range of sectors, and a never-wavering commitment to innovation. At the heart of our ability to achieve the objectives set out in this plan rests one critical resource: our dedicated staff. I am so very proud of their ingenuity, grit and flexibility in these challenging and complex times. On behalf of the senior leadership at SSHRC, I look forward to working with all of our colleagues to continue realizing our ambitions as agents of knowledge creation, knowledge sharing, and talent development in the public interest.

President Ted Hewitt

Ted Hewitt, PhD
President, SSHRC

Introduction: staying on course in uncertain times

Over the past five years, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has advanced the contributions of world-class research in the social sciences and humanities to meet Canada’s long-term challenges and promote new opportunities for Canadians. A strong research ecosystem is vital to improving our communities, our economy, our cultural fabric, and the overall quality of life in this country.

SSHRC supports research excellence and innovative ideas emanating from a research community of 25,000 full-time university professors, over 65,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and thousands of college faculty—representing roughly 54% of Canada’s postsecondary researchers. Through grants, fellowships and scholarships, SSHRC helps Canada’s researchers do what they do best: train the next generation of talented, creative thinkers and doers; build knowledge and understanding about people, cultures and societies; and work with partners across all sectors to drive innovations that address the challenges of today and tomorrow.

SSHRC also oversees the delivery of a number of large programs that support interdisciplinary research and strengthen the overall research environment. Via the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS), SSHRC administers these programs on behalf of the three federal research granting agencies: SSHRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

We are currently navigating uncertain times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and unprecedented mobilization around issues of racism and social justice. In the midst of these challenges, SSHRC will stay on course. Our plan for 2020 to 2022 enables us to move steadily forward with ongoing initiatives and priorities, as we build on the momentum generated over the past five years. It also allows us to respond with agility and flexibility to help Canada flourish now and in the future.

Building on our achievements

Research in the social sciences and humanities contributes to the economic, cultural, social, technological, environmental and intellectual well-being of Canadians. In the past five years, SSHRC has increased support for social sciences and humanities research, while assuming a larger role in advancing excellence across Canada’s research community as a whole. Throughout the period, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to foster, support and promote top-tier Canadian research and talent.

“Social scientists and scholars push the boundaries of knowledge and help us better understand the world around us. To be the best and most innovative country that Canada can be, we always have to consider that human dimension. This means that we need cutting-edge thinking about people, human behaviour and culture when we make decisions about communities, businesses, and government. Simply put, technology and humanity must progress in equal measure.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, SSHRC Impact Awards, 2019

Here are some of the highlights from our many achievements over the past five years:

Increased support for world-class research in the social sciences and humanities
Our investments in the production and use of knowledge have continued to grow. Over 2014 to 2019, SSHRC awarded more than $2.4 billion in funding to social sciences and humanities research and researchers in Canada. Total funding increased by 43% over the period, and the share of total researchers receiving support increased from 17% to 27%. SSHRC programs promote the training of highly skilled people; develop talent; support world-class research that improves our collective understanding of individuals and societies; provide opportunities to connect researchers and research with a variety of audiences; and uniquely assist in the formulation of lasting solutions that produce productive and prosperous communities.

SSHRC's Spending on its Main Funding Opportunities from 2014 to 2019
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SSHRC’s spendings on its main funding opportunities from 2014 to 2019

This stacked bar graph shows SSHRC’s spending trends for its main funding opportunities, in total dollar amounts, from 2014 to 2019.

The x-axis shows each year from 2014 to 2019.

Each bar shows spending for that year, by program: Insight Research, Research Training and Talent Development, Research Partnership, and the New Frontiers in Research Fund. Total spending for all these program areas for the year is shown above each bar.

Spending amounts and totals per year are as follows:

  • 2014: $157.2 million for Insight Research, $114.2 million for Research Training and Talent Development, and $74.5 million for Research Partnership, for a total of $345.9 million
  • 2015: $157.4 million for Insight Research, $116.6 million for Research Training and Talent Development, and $79.2 million for Research Partnership, for a total of $353.3 million
  • 2016: $176.0 million for Insight Research, $118.2 million for Research Training and Talent Development, and $86.1 million for Research Partnership, for a total of $380.2 million
  • 2017: $186.0 million for Insight Research, $118.7 million for Research Training and Talent Development, and $83.4 million for Research Partnership, for a total of $388.2 million
  • 2018: $215.5 million for Insight Research, $116.5 million for Research Training and Talent Development, $89.3 million for Research Partnership, and $19.0 million for the New Frontiers in Research Fund, for a total of $440.3 million
  • 2019: $227.3 million for Insight Research, $126.3 million for Research Training and Talent Development, $88.9 million for Research Partnership, and $53.0 million for the New Frontiers in Research Fund, for a total of $495.6 million

A leadership role in interdisciplinary research and tri-agency programs
The Government of Canada has placed significant confidence in SSHRC to deliver key strategic programming in support of research in Canada, including through the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Research Support Fund and other programs. SSHRC’s funding of interdisciplinary research has steadily grown since 2014, and we have taken on a greater role in delivering tri-agency programs. In 2018, we launched the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF), which will invest $275 million over five years to support international, interdisciplinary and transformative research.

Tri-agency/Interdisciplinary funding programs managed by SSHRC
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Tri-agency/interdisciplinary funding programs managed by SSHRC (in millions of dollars)

This bar graph shows the total investments in the tri-agency/interdisciplinary programs managed by SSHRC, in millions of dollars, by year, from 2014 to 2019.

The x-axis shows each year from 2014 to 2019.

The y-axis shows amounts in millions of dollars, from zero to $900 million, in increments of $100 million.

The overarching trend is a slow growth of investments in the tri-agency/interdisciplinary funding programs, from nearly $600 million in 2014 to about $900 million in 2019.

The total investments in the tri-agency/interdisciplinary programs managed by SSHRC (including the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Canada Research Chairs Program, Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program, Canada 150 Research Chairs Program, Research Support Fund, and NFRF) represent a 44% increase between 2014 and 2019.

Promoting equity, diversity and inclusion
SSHRC has continued to work with CIHR and NSERC to advance research excellence by promoting broad and equitable participation in Canadian research. While more work remains to be done, we have made significant progress in addressing inequities in programs like the Canada Research Chairs, and in advancing the participation of designated groups in SSHRC programs and adjudication committees. Applying gender and diversity analysis is helping us to assess how diverse groups of people may experience policies, programs and initiatives, and to facilitate equitable access to funding, and a more inclusive research community.

Canada Research Chairs Program: Percentage of nominations submitted for individuals who self-identified as belonging to among the four designated groups, from 2006 to 2019

Tri-agency/Interdisciplinary funding programs managed by SSHRC
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Canada Research Chairs Program: Percentage of nominations submitted for individuals who self-identified as belonging to among the four designated groups, form 2006 to 2019

This line graph shows the percentage of Canada Research Chair nominations institutions submitted for individuals who self-identified as belonging to among the four designated groups, for the period during which data were collected, 2006 to 2019.

The x-axis shows each year from 2006 to 2019.

The y-axis shows percentage, in increments of 10%, from zero to 60.

The overarching trend is a slow growth in the representation of the four designated groups until the launch in 2017 of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, after which the nomination rate significantly increased across all four groups.

For example, in April 2019, institutions nominated 51% women, 27% members of visible minorities, 7% persons with disabilities, and 5% Indigenous Peoples.

The breakdown each year per designated group is as follows:

  • Women: Starting at 30% in 2006 and dropping to the group’s low of 20% in 2007, the line shows an overall upwards trend, with rises and falls throughout, until launching steadily upwards from 30% in 2016, to over 50% in 2019.
  • Members of visible minorities: Starting at about 4% in 2006, the line shows an overall upwards trend, with rises and falls throughout, until launching steadily upwards from under 20% in 2017 to nearly 30% in 2019.
  • Indigenous Peoples: The line remains at zero for most of the program’s initial years, going up to about 3% in 2012 and about 2% in 2014. A steady rise begins from about 1% in 2015, leading to about 6% for 2019.
  • Persons with disabilities: The line remains at zero for most of the program’s initial years, except 2009 and 2010, which show around 2% each. A steady rise begins in 2017, leading to about 8% for 2019.

Support for Indigenous research and research training
Through extensive engagement with Indigenous partners, and on behalf of the granting councils, SSHRC co-developed a strategy for an interdisciplinary research and research training model that contributes to reconciliation. The strategy sets out four directions to strengthen the capacity of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities to lead their own research and partner with the broader research community: building relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples; supporting research priorities of Indigenous Peoples; creating greater funding accessibility; and championing Indigenous leadership.

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Self-identified Indigenous organizations involved in SSHRC partnerships

This bar graph shows the total numbers of Indigenous organizations involved in SSHRC partnerships each year, from 2010 to 2019.

The x-axis shows each year from 2010 to 2019.

The y-axis shows amounts from zero to 100 in increments of 10.

The overarching trend shows fluctuating numbers of organizations overall, with a steady increase from 37 in 2017 to the highest total, 87, in 2019. The lowest number is 16, in 2016.

New partnerships and collaborations
In developing a range of new partnerships and opportunities across stakeholder groups, SSHRC has clearly demonstrated the value of social sciences and humanities research contributions, particularly in the area of policy development and planning. Increasing the number and range of SSHRC collaborations and partnerships creates unique opportunities for Canadians to learn and work with their peers, and to conduct and communicate their research.

Our plan for the next two years

Over the coming two years, we will build on these successes by focusing on five main objectives that represent the enduring ambitions of our work at SSHRC. For each objective, we have established a set of strategies that will help us sustain the momentum of our ongoing programs and projects, respond rapidly to evolving crises, and maximize the overall impact of the research we support.

Our plan builds on SSHRC’s strong record of achievements, to continue funding world-class research, training and innovation to Canada in a time of global turmoil and change. It also supports our efforts to create a more equitable, diverse and inclusive research enterprise in Canada, and to build a modern workplace for SSHRC. The plan is the result of community and staff consultation and engagement, and will enable us, over the two-year period, to maximize the value and benefits we provide to Canadians.

1. Enhance Canada's global leadership in social sciences and humanities research

Canada has a strong international reputation for producing high-calibre discovery research. As a recent Council of Canadian Academies expert panel studyFootnote 1 on research and development in Canada demonstrates, this is no less true in the disciplines supported within our mandate.

Pushing the boundaries of research excellence has inspired a renewed sense of Canadian leadership. Achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive research enterprise is essential to continue to generate the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and respond to national and global challenges.

Importantly, SSHRC also contributes to research excellence through our ongoing efforts to reduce the systemic barriers and biases experienced by women, Indigenous Peoples, people with disabilities, and members of visible minority groups. Helping to grow the capacity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to lead their own research and partner with the broader research community is an immediate priority.

Driving and delivering an increasing number of interdisciplinary and international research initiatives, along with our core programs in the social sciences and humanities, will also keep SSHRC—and Canada—at the forefront of research excellence. We will continue to base the awarding of all research grants, scholarships and fellowships on rigorous assessment criteria and merit review processes that align with international best practices.

We will achieve this objective by doing the following:

2. Grow Canada’s research talent

Producing impactful research requires developing, increasing and maintaining a talent pool of highly skilled researchers and innovative thinkers. Canada is striving to be a world leader in the development of talent throughout the entire research career life cycle.

SSHRC supports and trains researchers at all stages of their careers. We are committed to broadening and deepening Canada’s talent pool, with a strong focus on increasing access for our diverse population. Our ongoing work to advance EDI in the research ecosystem, and to remove barriers for Indigenous students, highlighted in the first objective, above, will help increase and diversify Canada’s skills base. Inspiring students and training early career researchers will equip Canada’s next generation of scientists and scholars for success, both within and beyond academia.

We will meet this objective by doing the following:

3. Strengthen the research enterprise in Canada

SSHRC has strong collaborative relationships with research institutions and other organizations with a stake in the future of Canada’s higher education and innovation systems: postsecondary leaders, research administrators, policy-makers, industry allies, and not-for-profit and community organizations. These relationships help us deliver effective policies and programs.

Cultivating new partnerships with Indigenous organizations, government, not-for-profit organizations, and industry will help create a more vibrant, inclusive research community. Diversity contributes to a strong and resilient community that will enable a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis and during the postpandemic recovery period. Efforts to promote a diversified community also include addressing differences in research approaches and perspectives based on language, and supporting research in areas such as social and political responses to inequality.

SSHRC is at the forefront of redefining practices in scientific and scholarly research, including promoting open science and responsible stewardship of research data. A robust culture of open access and responsible stewardship of research data will strengthen the research enterprise, enhance research excellence, and benefit Canadian researchers working in international partnerships, as funders around the globe implement more stringent data management requirements.

We will meet this objective by doing the following:

4. Contribute innovative solutions to global challenges and opportunities

Social sciences and humanities research can contribute greatly to our national debates, provide unique insights, and address complex global challenges—ranging from climate change to migration; anti-Black and other forms of racism, discrimination and inequality, to the wise use of emerging technologies. For example, by applying a social science and humanities lens to the federal pandemic response policies for COVID-19, we build understanding of their potential impacts on our behaviours, and can help strengthen cities, workplaces and educational systems.

SSHRC partners and shares research results with communities, businesses and governments who use the new knowledge to innovate and improve people's lives. In addition, our Connection program specifically supports activities, tools and networks that facilitate the flow, exchange and use of research knowledge.

We will meet this objective by doing the following:

5. Build a nimble, forward-looking SSHRC organization

At SSHRC, we recognize that our people are our most valuable asset. Our leadership role in Canada’s research ecosystem, and the service we provide to our community, is inextricably linked to the extraordinary efforts of our skilled and dedicated staff. As our organization continues to grow in size and scope, we are committed to developing and supporting our internal talent, while upholding values of respect, trust, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

At the same time, SSHRC must move quickly to meet the organizational challenges of this new decade. While we continue adapting to new ways of working that have been accelerated by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also ensure sustainability is embedded within the culture of our organization. Building the workplace of the future requires knowledge, dialogue, a shared sense of purpose, a culture of collaboration, and equipping staff with the right skills and most effective tools. By empowering our people to do their best work, SSHRC can continue to create innovative solutions to problems facing Canada and Canadians today and in the future.

We will meet this objective by doing the following:

Acknowledgements

We wish to acknowledge the contributions of our governing council members, SSHRC staff, and members of our diverse community of researchers and partners in the development of Momentum 2020-2022. We value your input and passion for creating a better world though social sciences and humanities research.


At a glance
SSHRC’s strategic objectives for 2020-2022
  1. Enhance Canada's global leadership in social sciences and humanities research by:

  • advancing equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • strengthening Indigenous research capacity; and
  • enabling interdisciplinary and international research collaborations.
  1. Grow Canada’s research talent by:

  • preparing students for future success in research;
  • increasing early career researcher opportunities and training; and
  • developing skills in communication and knowledge mobilization.
  1. Strengthen the research enterprise in Canada by:

  • building an inclusive research community;
  • strengthening research ecosystems at postsecondary institutions; and
  • promoting open science and stewardship of research data.
  1. Contribute innovative solutions to global challenges and opportunities by:

  • addressing global challenges; and
  • sharing and demonstrating the value of research.
  1. Build a nimble, forward-looking SSHRC organization by:

  • investing in its workforce and workplace; and
  • modernizing its operations.
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