Talent Award: Jeremy Schmidt

Jeremy Schmidt

Talent award:

Jeremy Schmidt

Carleton University


2015 Talent Award winner Jeremy Schmidt is an expert in water management, ethics and environmental governance. A past Banting Fellow at Dalhousie University, Schmidt currently teaches at Carleton University.

His research focuses on water issues, highlighting the role played by anthropologists and geographers in shaping global water governance. Schmidt’s work has been foundational in establishing the field of water ethics: his findings are the first to explicitly link the use of the social sciences by North American policy-makers to the water challenges faced in jurisdictions like Alberta, where his fieldwork is focused.

The impact of Schmidt’s research is already resonating across Canada and internationally. The University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute published Schmidt's work on Albertan water policy and his recommendations on justice and First Nations water rights have been put directly to the government on the floor of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly.

A collaborator on the SSHRC Partnership Grant, Economics for the Anthropocene, Schmidt has been an invited or keynote speaker at over 20 events around the world.

About the award

The annual Impact Awards recognize the highest achievements in SSHRC-funded research, knowledge mobilization and scholarship.

The Talent Award recognizes outstanding research achievement and career potential from a SSHRC doctoral or postdoctoral fellowship or scholarship holder.

Jeremy Schmidt shares his thoughts on environmental management, critical issues in his field and the role of the social sciences and humanities in shaping Canada’s future:

What aspect of your research work do you personally find most fascinating?

What I find most interesting is how much we value water, yet how little we understand the history of our ideas about it. Our accepted understandings of water often crowd out other ways of thinking and, as a consequence, other ways of designing institutions and policies.

What aspect of environmental management is most crucial for Canadians to better understand?

First, Canadians need to understand that our country was built through a series of treaties and agreements with indigenous peoples with whom we share our environment. We must respect these agreements.

Also, we are all aware of water’s importance. Managing it effectively presents an enormous opportunity for creating a more just society.

In what area(s) do you see the greatest potential for social sciences and humanities research to make a greater contribution to knowledge?

We are often inundated with information; but information is not neutral. It is produced through social practices that support particular understandings of things like water.

The social sciences and humanities are critical to helping us understand not simply that our knowledge doesn’t mirror reality, but that our practices result from social and political dynamics.