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Memorial students' research positions province for global success

By Rebecca Cohoe

The recipients of a Harris Centre research fund are proving that Memorial students have plenty to offer when it comes to positioning Newfoundland and Labrador for success. The Strategic Partnership-Harris Centre Student Research Fund offers funding for Memorial graduate student research projects that address public policy issues related to the province's social and economic development. Since its inception in 2005, the fund has supported 15 research projects for students in seven different Memorial schools, faculties and departments. The Harris Centre administers the fund in partnership with the Strategic Partnership, a partnership of business, labour and government organizations, represented respectively by the Newfoundland and Labrador Business Coalition, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (supported by the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development). The Strategic Partnership is dedicated to improving the quality of life of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador through sustainable, balanced social and economic development.
Raisa Mïrza is a 2012 research fund recipient. Her project focused on youth engagement in the rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Youth disengagement is a result of a variety of factors that also have solutions if governments, municipalities and schools are able to work together and be innovative in how they approach them," explained Ms. Mïrza, who is a master's student in Memorial's Department of Geography. "Youth need solutions that allow them to express their individuality within a collectivity."

According to Ms. Mïrza, the funding she received through the Strategic Partnership-Harris Centre Student Research Fund helped her travel more frequently to the communities she was researching.

"I was able to interact with youth and youth organizations more directly," she said.

The results of Ms. Mïrza's report are currently contributing to a number of other initiatives.

"My report was completed in conjunction with a project with the Grand Falls-Windsor, Baie Verte-Harbour Breton Rural Secretariat project called Developing Innovative Approaches for Community Engagement," she said. "That project is moving forward, working in partnership with the Rural Secretariat and the Department of Geography, using innovative approaches in order to understand how the community, including youth in the region, view land use planning."

The 2012-13 round of the Strategic Partnership-Harris Centre Student Research Fund opens Sept. 28. To apply, or to view the completed reports from last year's projects, please visit the Harris Centre website.

"We see this as an investment in the future of sound, research-based public policy capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Dr. Doug House, chairperson of the Strategic Partnership Council. "Memorial is an important player in the public policy landscape in this province, and we wanted to encourage students to put their considerable talents towards important issues of public relevance."Areas of specific interest to the Strategic Partnership include labour markets, recruitment and retention, family friendly policies, rural innovation, youth engagement and many others. For more information about fund specifics, please visit www.mun.ca/harriscentre/.

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