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$2.4 million in federal support for social sciences research

Dr. Josh Lepawsky of the Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts.


By Meaghan Whelan

Researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland have earned more than $2.4 million to advance their research thanks to investments from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

The federal funding awarded to faculty members, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows was announced on Oct. 1 by Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology), Government of Canada.

Researchers in the Faculties of Arts, Business and Education received funding under the Insight Grant and Insight Development Grant programs. For example, Dr. Joshua Lepawsky, Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts, received $469,480 for his study titled Geographies of Rubbish Electronics: Community Assets, Worker Skills and the Possibilities of Ethical Trade.

"The question of the "right" thing to do with the "developed" world's e-waste, including Canada's, is a deliberately broad and deceptively simple question. It raises intertwined, complex and urgent questions about sustainability, innovation, poverty and prosperity that transcend the political and legal boundaries of any one nation," explained Dr. Lepawsky. "This SSHRC funding enables international fieldwork by the research team, including graduate students, faculty and collaborators in Mexico, Bangladesh, China, Peru, the U.S. and Canada over the next five years. Without this funding, the research would not happen."

The funding announcement also included $965,000 for graduate student scholarships. Stephanie Sodero, PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, was awarded $105,000 over three years for her thesis research titled Sea Level Rising: Harbours as Sites of Climate Governance.

"Receiving a SSHRC doctoral award boosts my confidence as a researcher, and allows me to pursue practical research that benefits local communities," said Ms. Sodero. "My thanks to everyone in the Department of Sociology and the School of Graduate Studies for their support in the application process."

Dr. Noreen Golfman, dean, School of Graduate Studies (SGS), credits students and administrators with this competition success.

"The success of our graduate student SSHRC award winners depends on both their obvious talent and record of achievement and the attention SGS and graduate programs are paying to the success of the applications," she said. "It takes many eyes to make a strong application and our success rates demonstrate how well-focused we have become on coaching and crafting – essential parts of the process."

Kathleen Galloway, School of Music, received a prestigious SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship, an award given to the most promising new scholars in the social sciences and humanities. The award is meant to help them establish a research base early in their careers. This award, valued at $81,000, will support Dr. Galloway's work, titled Sounding Environmental Change: Representing Environment and Environmentalism in Contemporary Canadian Music Practices.
Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research), said the investments will have far-reaching impact.

"There is a renewed appreciation of the importance of the social sciences and the humanities in our efforts to build a just, prosperous and sustainable world. This funding will enable our scholars to undertake outstanding research inspired by the values we share as Canadians. It will also help train and develop the next generation of researchers on whom the future of our province and country depend."