March 16, 2009 16:00 ET

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Supports Major New Research Initiatives

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 16, 2009) - Andrew Saxton, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, on behalf of the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced today a $10-million investment in four new major research initiatives on topics such as electoral democracy, digital media, singing across cultures and international dispute resolution.

"Our government recognizes the important role that social sciences and humanities research excellence plays in furthering innovation and competitiveness, fostering job creation and helping to find creative solutions to social issues," said Saxton. "Canada's Economic Action Plan, Budget 2009, includes new investments of up to $2 billion in infrastructure for improvements on Canadian college and university campuses, including new funding for graduate scholarships. These will further enhance the quality of life of Canadians and contribute to building a more diversified and resilient economy over the long term."

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) program supports research projects that address important issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance. This initiative coordinates the work of researchers from around the world under the banner of a single research project. The successful applicants and their teams underwent a world-class peer-review process.

"The superb and innovative research initiatives launched this year illustrate how the social sciences and humanities build understanding of complex issues that affect our society. From the new knowledge environments of the digital era to global questions of people, policies, and practice, the MCRI program supports leading-edge interdisciplinary research and fosters international collaboration, strengthening Canada's leadership role in global research" added Dr. Chad Gaffield, President of SSHRC.

From the West Coast to the Maritimes, the following top researchers are leading the new MCRIs:

- From the University of Victoria, Dr. Ray Siemens will focus his team's research on implementing new knowledge environments. While today's world increasingly relies on digital media such as electronic books, Siemens' research will bridge the gap by theorizing the transmission of information in pre- and post-electronic media. His team's work will help to enhance the way Canadians read, write and exchange information.

- At the University of British Columbia, Dr. Pitman Potter will look at Asia-Pacific's dispute-resolution program. His team's research will aim to facilitate interdisciplinary scholars and policymakers, in Canada and internationally, to enhance understanding of the requirements for coordinated compliance with international trade and human-rights standards.

- In Quebec, Dr. Andre Blais from the Universite de Montreal will study electoral democracy. Dr. Blais, with an exceptional international team, will undertake the most ambitious study ever done on the impact of electoral rules on the functioning of democracy. They will look at twenty elections in five different countries to analyze party strategies, and will also conduct panel surveys of voters. This research will help us understand the relationship between the rules governing elections and the quality of democracy.

- Dr. Annabelle Cohen, from the University of Prince Edward Island, will explore the continuum between speech and song, as well as the particulars of singing development, focusing her research on how singing will revolutionize the identifying of cultural universals. Her research will provide best practices for teaching singing across cultures and generations, providing a means for enhancing quality of life through improved intercultural and intergenerational understanding.

MCRI grants are given over a period of 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: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is the federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences. Through its programs and policies, the Council enables the highest levels of research excellence in Canada, and facilitates knowledge sharing and collaboration across research disciplines, universities and all sectors of society.

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