NEW COMMUNITY-UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE TO FORGE HEALTHY COMMUNITIES THROUGH RESEARCH
With a budget of $1.3 million over three years, a Community-University Institute for Social Research will be set up in Saskatoon to enhance health and community development across Saskatchewan, officials from the University of Saskatchewan and community-based organizations announced today.
The project is one of only 22 to be funded across Canada under the new Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) grants program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The winning projects were chosen from among 178 initial submissions through a rigorous competition process by an interdisciplinary committee of academic and non-academic experts.
John Manley, Canada's Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for SSHRC, announced late Wednesday that the Saskatoon institute will receive more than $591,000 over three years under the CURA program. The rest of the money will come from the U of S ($455,800) and community partners ($235,900) through both cash and in-kind contributions.
Partners include the City of Saskatoon, Quint Development Corporation, Regional Intersectoral Committee on Human Services, Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon District Health, Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority and The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.
The new institute will undertake research, education and training, and knowledge sharing in three areas - quality of life indicators, health determinants, and economic development. A wide variety of issues such as child poverty, social housing, and cultural, Aboriginal, gender, and environmental concerns will be addressed.
"This project is an extremely exciting initiative and a major achievement both for the U of S and the community," said U of S President Peter MacKinnon. "It will link the research needs and practical knowledge of community-based organizations with the technical expertise of U of S researchers in a wide range of disciplines. It will bring $600,000 into Saskatoon to help find collaborative, 'town-gown' solutions to community problems."
He noted the proposal grew out of the Saskatoon Quality of Life Roundtable meetings that have taken place regularly between university and community representatives over the past two years. "The fact that this institute is being launched today is a testament to the long-standing relationship of mutual learning and collaboration that has existed between the University and the community," he said.
Institute co-director and city councillor Kate Waygood said, "The new institute will be an easily accessible centre for research and analysis pertaining to the health, wealth and social cohesion of our community. This partnership between both the community and university experts will bring together the unique skills and assets of each sector. We hope to provide critical analysis based on recognized research methods to enable policy makers to make more timely decisions."
Co-director Jim Randall, a U of S geography professor, said he's excited about the prospect of undertaking community-based social science research and translating this into services and policy. "Instead of having abstract research that sits on a shelf, you can actually make a difference in the lives of people," he said.
Randall said the overall goal of the institute is "to build the capacity of researchers, community-based organizations and ordinary citizens to enhance the quality of life in healthy and sustainable communities throughout Saskatchewan."
Roughly 15 U of S faculty will be involved in the institute. As well, there will be opportunities for students to participate in research projects.
"Built into this proposal are a minimum of 15 graduate student scholarships and 30 paid internships so that graduate students will be able to work directly with community organizations," Randall said. "Not only does this provide a service to the organizations, it exposes students to the issues that are most relevant to the community and trains them to become future community leaders."
The institute will communicate its research findings to the community in a variety of ways including a Web site. It will also create a "data warehouse" accessible to the public and develop culturally and socially appropriate research techniques.
It is expected that the new institute will be self-financing after three years.
SSHRC is Canada's main funding agency for research and graduate training in the social sciences and humanities. A total of $13.6 million in new grants over three years will go to the 22 joint research ventures between universities and community partners announced Wednesday.
For more information contact:
Dr. James Randall
Professor of Geography
University of Saskatchewan
Councillor Kate Waygood
Community Development Worker
Saskatoon District Health
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