Signature Areas

Signature Area Titles

Following an extensive campus-wide consultation process, a consensus has emerged around a list of six distinctive research areas that will bring the University of Saskatchewan high-profile recognition, positioning us among the most distinguished universities in Canada and among the very best in the world.

This list was reviewed by President MacKinnon as Executive Sponsor of the Areas of Pre-Eminence commitment and presented to University Council in June of 2010 as a key outcome of the commitment in the Second Integrated Plan to enhance the university's profile in research, scholarly and artistic Work.

The signature areas will be shared widely with external and internal stakeholders to help the U of S achieve sustainable and pre-eminent research impact.

These "signature areas" are areas of outstanding achievement enabled by our research capacity, investments, history and sense of place.

Specific selection criteria included relevance to issues of national and international priority; impact for the benefit/betterment of society; contributions to innovation; strategic significance to Canada and the world; ability to attract resources; prominent reputation; and significant collaboration and engagement.

The University of Saskatchewan's "signature areas" are:

  • Aboriginal Peoples: Engagement and Scholarship
    By 2050, half of Saskatchewan's population may be of Aboriginal ancestry, a demographic shift that creates challenge and opportunity. Our shared journey will help advance Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of knowing and prepare a new generation of Aboriginal youth for the global knowledge economy.
  • Agriculture: Food and Bioproducts for a Sustainable Future
    Projections show that food production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population. We are working to strengthen Saskatchewan's agricultural leadership with new science, technology and policies to help feed a hungry world adequately, safely and sustainably.
  • Energy and Mineral Resources: Technology and Public Policy for a Sustainable Environment
    Demand for energy and natural resources is starting to outpace supply. Clean energy solutions, sustainable resource development and sound policy development are vital to meet future demand while conserving ecosystems and sharing the benefits with all.
  • One Health: Solutions at the Animal-Human-Environment Interface
    Health for all species is inextricably linked to challenges such as emerging diseases, water and food safety, and environmental degradation. We are working to develop scientific, public health and policy approaches that integrate human, animal and ecosystem health.
  • Synchrotron Sciences: Innovation in Health, Environment and Advanced Technologies
    With Canada's only synchrotron and the largest number of synchrotron users of any university in Canada, we are harnessing powerful imaging and analytical techniques to solve challenges in health, environment, materials science and other areas of global social and economic importance.
  • Water Security: Stewardship of the World's Freshwater Resources
    One in six people - 1.4 billion - live in water-stressed areas. Climate change, pollution and overuse are putting severe strain on quality and quantity of fresh water for drinking, sanitation and food production. We are developing new interdisciplinary science, technology and policy to address these urgent issues.

To download a one-page PDF on the U of S Signature Areas, click here.

For more information, please contact Kathryn Warden, Director of University Research Communications 966-2506

Advancing Signature Areas

Progress has been made during 2011 to advance the signature areas through major institution-wide initiatives this spring. Examples are highlighted below. Please visit this site for the latest developments as the work on the signature areas evolve.

Why Identify Signature Areas?

  • Identification of signature areas will help the University of Saskatchewan achieve sustainable and pre-eminent research impact, going well beyond a single individual or unit to advance the university as a whole.
  • These signature areas of research, scholarly and artistic activity are critical to advancing the U of S national and international profile, recruiting top students and faculty, and accessing resources in a post- secondary landscape that has become increasingly competitive.
  • They will help the U of S take its place as one of the most distinguished universities in Canada and among the best in the world.



How Did We Get Here? Building on What Has Been Done

  • 2004:
    • In January of 2004, the University of Saskatchewan made a commitment to enhance its research, scholarly and artistic culture through the approval of the Foundational Document on Research, Scholarly and Artistic Work.
    • This document articulated a plan to build on current and emerging U of S strengths and traditions to increase research intensity. This foundational document stated a commitment in future years to "identify areas of pre-eminence, areas of emerging strength, and targeted areas in which investments and development could occur to help increase research intensiveness at the University of Saskatchewan, while working to ensure the entire academic community continues to receive the benefits of a research-intensive university environment."
    • This process provided the U of S community with an exciting opportunity, not only to describe its research, scholarly and artistic work landscape, but to build upon synergies between seemingly disparate areas and to celebrate outstanding achievements.
  • 2004-2007:
    • The Office of the Vice-President Research, the Research, Scholarly and Artistic Work Committee of Council, the Associate Deans Research Forum, the Planning and Priorities Committee of Council, and the Deans' Council worked together to develop a strategy for identifying areas of strength and of promise. An Areas of Research, Scholarly and Artistic Work Advisory Committee was created which undertook an extensive cross-campus consultation.
  • 2007:
    • This consultative process culminated in Extending Horizons: U of S Research, Scholarly and Artistic Landscape, a document that was presented at University Council on April 19th, 2007.
      • This document was a mirror for how the University of Saskatchewan research community saw itself reflected in the many research, scholarly and artistic endeavors across the campus - from the arts to the synchrotron sciences.
      • The thematic areas - Indigenous Peoples; Culture and Society; Human and Animal Health; Environment, Resources and Sustainability; and Frontiers of Science and Technology - were expressed through researcher profiles in the Engaging Minds video series and in two U of S publications: Explore research magazine and Making Waves research brochure.
  • 2009-2010:
    • This Areas of Pre-eminence Commitment (in progress) initiative will put the spotlight on research that the University of Saskatchewan is particularly known for, going well beyond a single individual or unit to identify strategic themes that will advance the university as a whole.


Process Undertaken to Identify Signature Areas

  • Environmental scan of Canadian medical-doctoral universities to determine how many have identified areas of strategic priority/strength/prominence and what these are
  • Development of criteria and process to identify U of S signature areas
  • Campus-wide consultation (eight workshops since fall 2009)
  • Institutional Positioning research
  • Development of draft list of signature areas based on findings from campus-wide consultation


Criteria for Signature Areas

These distinctive areas are to be based on output and achievement, enabled by research capacity, investments, history and a sense of place.

In the fall of 2009, the Areas of Pre-Eminence Working Group identified the following more specific selection criteria:

  • Relevance to issues of national and international priority
  • Impact for the benefit/betterment of society
  • Contributions to innovation
  • Strategic significance to Canada and the world
  • Ability to attract resources (due to public/private interest orrelevance)
  • Prominent Reputation
    • International achievement
    • National and international awards and recognition
    • People of international stature
    • Publications, citations, performances, exhibitions, etc.
    • Direct economic and societal impact
    • Ability to attract resources
    • Success in attracting graduate students and post-docs
    • Invited presentations at national and international conferences
    • Contributions to service facilities, community organizations, public debate
    • National and international collaboration on creative activity/performance
    • Participation on national review committees, editorial boards, etc.
    • Public profile e.g., major media coverage
  • Significant (broad, deep, inclusive) collaboration and engagement
    • Cross-unit and cross-college critical mass
    • Use of local/national facilities, infrastructure and resources
    • International partnerships
    • Government agency/industry/community linkages