The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has received a "special allocation" of $100 million over five years to conduct research into three areas considered key to understanding the ramifications of the New Economy. As announced in Finance minister Paul Martin's pre-election economic update, the award is a loud declaration that the Liberal administration is acknowledging the crucial role the SSHRC disciplines play in coping with and exploiting the forces propelling Canada's knowledge-based economy forward.
More specifically, the new money goes towards new research programs for business management, the education system and lifelong learning. The funds begin to flow April 1/01 and are contingent upon the re-election of the Liberals, giving the SSHRC administration more than six months to strike a task force that will design and develop the nature and scope of each new program.
"(The government) bought into what we've been saying. This will help Canada reap the benefits and adjust to the New Economy," says SSHRC president Dr Marc Renaud. "It happened rapidly because everybody was on the same wavelength."
New funding for Canada business management schools is considered a real coup, and is a testament to the effective collaboration between SSHRC and the Canadian Federation of Business School Deans (CFBSD).
It's expected that a good portion of the money will go towards new research programs, as well as targeted programs to boost the number of professors and graduates. The money is considered critical and will help to offset the low success rate business schools are anticipating under the Canada Research Chairs Program.
"This is a clear sign that business management and research are being recognized," says Dr William Blake, CFBSD chair and dean of Memorial Univ's faculty of business administration. "This is a great start, although when you compare it to what other S&T programs have been receiving, it's fairly modest. We hope there will be more."
Renaud says the new funding is also badly needed in the areas of lifelong learning and education research, which he contends are even worse off than business administration.
"The world is changing but teaching methods are old," he asserts. "We need a change to pedagogy. Evidence-based decision making is not happening in education so SSHRC will create a program for this."