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Drinking water applied research fund sets sights on Faculty of Arts

By Rebecca Cohoe

On March 27, the Harris Centre put out a call for proposals for the Harris Centre-RBC Water Research and Outreach Fund. The fund awards up to $15,000 per project for a total of $100,000 every year for applied research projects related to drinking water in this province.

However, this time around Bojan Furst, the Harris Centre's manager of knowledge mobilization, has a special project of his own: increasing the number of proposals that come in from underrepresented faculties, specifically the Faculty of Arts.

"While we continue to encourage applications from science-based faculties, we're also challenging researchers in arts to consider whether their research is relevant," said Mr. Furst.

As long as the research proposals show how the work will help address regional issues related to drinking water, submissions from all faculties are welcome. Last year, all of the applications were science-based.

"I think the term "applied research" can discourage arts researchers, but applied research doesn't have to involve experiments and laboratory research," explained Mr. Furst. "Scientific research is crucial to water quality issues, but we're also interested in applied research on public policy as it relates to drinking water."

According to Mr. Furst, there are probably researchers doing work that is relevant to the fund, but who just haven't made the connection. There are plenty of angles from which to approach the fund, he explains.

"Along with technical and scientific analysis, we see room for projects related to people's perception of drinking water, the way the media reports on water-related issues or specific challenges related to drinking water in Aboriginal communities."

Dr. Carrie Dyck, associate dean, research and graduate programs with the Faculty of Arts, also believes arts students have a role to play in water research in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Arts researchers are skilled in conducting community-engaged research, and are ideally positioned to investigate the societal and human issues raised by water quality and conservation," she said. "I am very supportive of the Harris Centre's efforts to expand the pool of applicants for the Harris Centre-RBC Water Research and Outreach Fund to include more Faculty of Arts researchers."

The application deadline is April 27, 2012. To apply for the Harris Centre-RBC Water Research and Outreach Fund (no matter what your department or faculty), please visit www.mun.ca/harriscentre.

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