February 26, 2008 09:00 ET

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Supports Major New Research Initiatives

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 26, 2008) - The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has announced a $10 million investment in four Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRIs).

"The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funds research that builds understanding of complex issues that affect our society," said SSHRC President Chad Gaffield. "The MCRI program supports leading-edge interdisciplinary research and fosters international collaboration, strengthening Canada's leadership role in global research."

SSHRC's MCRI program supports research projects that address critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance. The initiatives co-ordinate the work of many researchers from around the world under the banner of single, large-scale research projects.

Queen's University Professor of Sociology David Lyon will lead an MCRI project examining how and why everyday people are being watched by public and private entities due to modern dependence on computer technology. An internationally respected team, composed of leading surveillance scholars from around the world, will address three vitally important questions: What factors contribute to the general spread of surveillance as a technology of governance in modern societies? What are the underlying principles, technological infrastructures and institutional frameworks that support carrying out surveillance? And what are the social consequences of such surveillance, both for institutions and ordinary people?

Paul Lovejoy, a history professor from York University, will lead the Slavery, Memory, Citizenship MCRI. His team of scholars will examine the global migrations of African peoples, from the 15th century to the present, comparing historic patterns of slavery. The results will inform current public policy on issues arising from the persistence of slavery and racism into the 21st century.

Professor Gregor Murray, from the Universite de Montreal's School of Industrial Relations, has received his second MCRI grant for the research initiative he leads on the topic of labour. He and his collaborators will continue to study major changes taking place in the global work environment. The team's research has already shown that people working in institutions are more likely to thrive in the new economic environment if they are able to evolve and adapt to the challenges presented by globalization. The team will now be looking at issues such as global chains, citizenship at work, and state regulations dealing with labour and collective representation.

Scholars, practitioners, indigenous peoples and policy-makers have debated for years over access to ancient material and research data, as well as the use of ancient images for marketing purposes. George Nicholas, professor of archaeology at Simon Fraser University, will be leading a team of researchers to examine who owns, and has the right to benefit from, aboriginal artifacts. Nicholas and his collaborators will document past principles and interpretations of these issues to improve stakeholder interactions in the future.

MCRI grants span seven years. They are designed to contribute to deeper understanding of people and society, while also providing graduate students with opportunities for research training.

Note to editors: SSHRC is an independent federal government agency that funds university-based research and graduate training through national peer-review competitions. SSHRC also partners with public and private sector organizations to focus research and aid the development of better policies and practices in key areas of Canada's social, cultural and economic life.

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