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SSHRC invests more than $5.3 million in Memorial University

By Meaghan Whelan | July 26, 2012

Researchers in the Faculties of Arts and Education have received a significant boost thanks to a combined $5,309,540 investment from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

The funding comes from two separate programs, the Partnership Grants Program, which is aimed at building research partnerships among the academic, private, public and not-for-profit sectors, and the Public Outreach Grants program, which provides support for research-related events and outreach activities.

Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research) at Memorial University, said these latest research successes reflect the outstanding Calibre, importance and value of social sciences research at Memorial.

“Engaging with the community and responding to issues of importance to this province have always been a priority at Memorial,” he said. “With support from Canada’s premier funding agency for social sciences and humanities research, these projects will bring together collaborative teams and a broad base of expertise to address issues of international significance.”

Two projects funded under the Partnership Grants Program (November 2011 competition) will split $4.9 million.

A team of researchers working with Dr. Barbara Neis, University Research Professor working in the Department of Sociology and co-director of the SafetyNet Centre for Research in Occupational Health and Safety, have received $2.5 million to study the spectrum of employment-related geographical mobility in Canada, from extended daily travel to long distance travel for a period of weeks, months, and even years, and its impact. Employment-related geographical mobility entails extended travel and related absences from places of permanent residence for the purpose of employment.

“Existing research in this area is limited and fragmented, but it does show that employment-related geographical mobility is likely affecting key domains of Canadian life, such as labour recruitment, absenteeism, social relations at work and work-life balance as well as impacting infrastructure, such as housing, health, transportation and training,” Dr. Neis explained. “We know little about its consequences at work, home and in the community or about how changes in mobility patterns relate to larger-scale changes in the nature of work, competitiveness and prosperity.”

With a team of 42 researchers and two collaborators from 17 disciplines and 22 universities across Canada and four other countries, this project will track regional, sectoral and socio-demographic patterns and trends since 1980 as well as the changing policies that have contributed to it and its consequences. Researchers will work in seven provinces with multiple industrial sectors and will carry out in-depth field research among employers, employees and their families, community leaders and service agencies.

Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Canada Research Chair in Natural Resource Sustainability and Community Development in the Department of Geography, has received $2,498,895 for her project, Too Big to Ignore: Global Partnerships for Small-scale Fisheries Research, in an effort to address the marginalization of small-scale fisheries in national and international policies and to develop research and governance capacity to address global fisheries challenges.

“The majority of research and policy discourses about fisheries are centred on the large-scale, industrial fishing sector,” said Dr. Chuenpagdee. “The lack of detailed information about small-scale fisheries has resulted in systematic underestimation of their social, cultural and economic importance and their contribution to sustainable livelihoods, food security, poverty alleviation and environmental stewardship. In turn, this has led to policies that inadvertently undermine their ability to adapt to global pressure such as urbanization, globalization and climate change.”

This project involves 15 partners, including intergovernmental organizations, research and academic institutions, environmental organizations and non-governmental organizations and 62 researchers based in Canada and 23 other countries around the world.

The Public Outreach Grants program (November 2011 competition) earned $310,645 for three Memorial researchers.

Dr. Neis was awarded $118,052 for her project titled Rebuilding Collapsed Fisheries and Threatened Communities. This project focuses on sharing the knowledge generated through the SSHRC-funded Community-University Research for Recovery Alliance, a five-year interdisciplinary research project related to helping communities and organizations along Newfoundland’s west coast develop strategies for the recovery of fish stocks and fishery communities.  Specific activities include an international symposium to be held in Bonne Bay, the Fishing for the Future film festival (www.fishingforthefuturefilmfestival.ca), a radio documentary production workshop, a provincial tour of the Oracle at Gros Morne and exhibitions of the Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge in communities on the west coast. 

Mr. Vince Walsh, archivist and digital projects co-ordinator, Maritime History Archive, Faculty of Arts, was awarded $109,055 for his project titled Cod Trap to iPhone App: Bringing Newfoundland and Labrador History into the 21st Century.” Dr. Sean Cadigan, Department of History, is a co-applicant on this project, which entails redesigning the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website, including making it accessible to mobile devices and updating site content in light of recent scholarship in Newfoundland and Labrador history.

Dr. Dorothy Vaandering, Faculty of Education, was awarded $83,538 for her project titled Relationships First: Implementing Restorative Justice in Schools from the Ground Up. Restorative justice seeks to replace rule-based school cultures with relationship-based cultures.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is the federal agency that promotes and supports post-secondary based research and training in the humanities and social sciences. Through its programs, SSHRC works to develop talented leaders for all sectors of society, help generate insights about people, ideas and behaviour and build connections within and beyond academia that will build a better future for Canada and the world. For more information, visit www.sshrc‑crsh.gc.ca.


Aug. 23, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
University Centre
Aug. 24, 10:10 a.m.-4 p.m.
MUN Botanical Garden, 306 Mount Scio Road, St. John's, NL
Aug. 24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
University Centre
Aug. 24, 8-9:30 a.m.
MUN Botanical Garden, 306 Mount Scio Road, St. John's, NL
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