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Imagining Canada’s Future

Imagining Canada's Future

More than ever, society is looking to the social sciences and humanities to help understand and mitigate global challenges in the face of change. SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative mobilizes social sciences and humanities research and talent to address future and emerging societal challenges for Canada and help guide decision-making across all sectors, towards a better future.

In 2018, SSHRC partnered with Policy Horizons Canada on a comprehensive horizon-scanning exercise to identify 16 future global challenges that may have a major impact on Canada in the next decade. These global challenges have the potential to shape society in significant ways. All the challenges cross multiple sectors and research disciplines and require broad collaboration to address.


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Future Challenge Areas

Action Plan 2022-25

Over these three years, SSHRC will dedicate a series of funding opportunities and stakeholder engagement activities to addressing another set of four future challenges drawn from the 2018 horizon scan:

  • Shifting Dynamics of Privilege and Marginalization
  • Evolving Narratives of Histories and Cultures
  • Global Health and Wellness for the 21st Century
  • Envisioning Governance Systems that Work

SSHRC may also launch additional Knowledge Synthesis Grants competitions on emerging issues in the public interest, in partnership with other government departments and agencies.

Previous action plans and findings

Between 2014 and 2021, SSHRC held a series of Knowledge Synthesis Grants competitions. The results have highlighted gaps in current knowledge on global challenges. The research community may, also, be interested in further exploring these.

Between 2018 and 2021, SSHRC focused its knowledge mobilization efforts on a set of diverse topics associated with the global challenges identified in the 2018 horizon scan. It did so with two types of targeted funding opportunities (Knowledge Synthesis Grants and Ideas Lab grants), and stakeholder engagement activities. Several of the activities were co-funded with other federal departments, agencies or organizations. Partners included NSERC and CIHR, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, Infrastructure Canada, the Future Skills Centre, and Employment and Social Development Canada. Five knowledge synthesis grants and one ICF Ideas Lab addressed the following topics:

Knowledge Synthesis Grants results are reported in evidence briefs and can identify knowledge gaps researchers may be interested in further exploring.

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From 2014 to 2018, following the extensive foresight exercise that began in 2012, six key future challenges were addressed. Results and research gaps are identified in the summary reports.

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How can you contribute to Canada’s future?

Knowledge Synthesis Grants

SSHRC offers Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunities to address a number of future challenges. More information on these funding opportunities and other activities will be made available throughout the year. To learn more about the future challenge areas, check the latest news or connect with the Future Challenges Division

Evidence briefs

Knowledge Synthesis Grant holders produce two-page briefs to summarize their findings and highlight the policy relevance of their projects. These briefs mobilize research, help inform best practices, and help researchers effectively share information with policy-makers and potential partners in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

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Collaborate with SSHRC

Engaging with our community and stakeholders enables excellence in research and talent, and in partnerships that inform decision-making across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. As such, SSHRC invites leaders from these sectors to consider whether one or more of the global challenges might offer an opportunity for collaborations.

For more information on collaborating with SSHRC, contact the Future Challenges Division.

To explore how to connect your organization, department, or business with SSHRC-funded research experts from across Canada, consult SSHRC’s Awards Search Engine

See some of SSHRC’s recent collaborations


International Policy Ideas Challenge 2022

SSHRC and Global Affairs Canada have partnered for the sixth edition of the International Policy Ideas Challenge (IPIC). The challenge provides the authors of winning submissions with an opportunity to transform their ideas into policy briefs.

Meet the winners of International Policy Ideas Challenge 2022

IPIC is aimed at graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early career researchers from Canadian postsecondary institutions. Winning entries are awarded $3,000 each. Laureates benefit from coaching, networking and skills-development opportunities, culminating in presenting the policy briefs to Canadian officials during the National Ideas Symposium in fall 2022.

The future of knowledge mobilization

SSHRC has partnered with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and its Network of UNESCO Chairs, as well as Research Impact Canada, to examine promising practices in knowledge mobilization, inclusive knowledge dissemination, and knowledge engagement. Thought leadership papers address how knowledge mobilization can help us confront formidable future challenges (PDF, 12.4 MB) and how the active engagement of Canadian research institutions in these practices can support research impact in Canada and the world.