SSHRC Leaders 2018 Annual Meeting—Executive Summary

On December 6 and 7, 2018, SSHRC held its 11th annual SSHRC Leaders meeting at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa. This event was attended by 60 Leaders representing institutions across Canada. On December 5, Leaders also participated in an event led by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) in partnership with LAC and SSHRC, entitled “Memory Institutions in the Digital Age”. The event featured key speakers who examined the current state and future prospects for confronting challenges and seizing opportunities for libraries, archives, museums and other memory institutions in the Digital Age.

Ursula Gobel, Associate Vice-President, Future Challenges, provided welcoming and introductory remarks, and later that day Ted Hewitt, SSHRC President, delivered his opening remarks. He highlighted SSHRC’s 40th anniversary and provided a general update on the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC). He also provided a specific update on activities led by SSHRC undertaken as part of the CRCC’s priority areas. Hewitt highlighted the official launch earlier that day of the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) that aims to support international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and higher-risk research as well as the engagement activities underway to support the Strengthening Indigenous Research Capacity initiative.

Following Hewitt remarks, there was an open conversation session with members of SSHRC’s senior executive team that was moderated by Catherine Mounier from the Université du Québec à Montréal.

An update and discussion on Programs and Competitions provided an opportunity for meaningful exchange on a range of topics, including issues on funding eligibility and general administrative requirements; support for early career researchers and for undergraduate students; and international mobility.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) was the first of three thematic discussions and featured a panel with representatives from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat and SSHRC Leaders for Memorial University and York University. Key issues were: the importance of continuous learning and the exchange of best practices; the need for broader acceptance of the notions of EDI and excellence as mutually supportive; the nature of bias and the need for training; the limitations of self-identification data and the scope of discrimination factors; and the need to foster a culture of inclusion.

A panel on the topic of Fostering Research/Arts Community Collaboration featured the Director General for the Canada Council for the Arts and SSHRC Leaders for the Université de Montréal and the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design University. Presentations were followed by roundtable discussions and a plenary session. Small group discussions centred primarily in respect to research-creation, namely: trends, definition and areas of collaboration.

Finally, the theme of Early Career Researchers (ECR) was introduced by Dominique Bérubé, Vice-President, Research Programs, followed by a presentation of the ECR Action Plan. Two simultaneous roundtable discussions and a plenary facilitated by the SSHRC Leader for Dalhousie University and a Senior Program Officer from SSHRC ensued. The two themes explored were: the acquisition of professional skills by future researchers and the lifecycle approach to funding.

Guest speaker Stephanie Haustein from the University of Ottawa gave a brief presentation on the topic of Open Science and Scholarly Publications. She grounded her presentation on Plan S, a European-led initiative for open-access science publishing, launched in September 2018.

An orientation session with several SSHRC Leaders representing new and existing members of the network closed the first day.

On day two, Ursula Gobel gave a summary of the work accomplished during the inaugural phase of the Imagining Canada’s Future (ICF) initiative (from 2013 to 2017). She also gave an overview of some of the activities being undertaken within the context of the new ICF framework (from 2018 to 2021) and in particular the activities related to the recent foresight exercise and the identification of key global challenges.

SSHRC Leaders participated in a series of World Café sessions, rotating among four of five topics of their choice: CRCC: current priorities and discussion on ideas for future priorities; Indigenous Research; the Canadian Research and Development Classification; Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy; and Results of the Partnership Grants Program Evaluation.

The next SSHRC Leaders meeting will be held in June 2019, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in conjunction with the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.