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SSHRC invests in researchers studying issues related to individuals and society

July 7, 2020 — 

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has awarded $91 million in funding to more than 1,253 researchers from 60 different Canadian institutions, following the 2019-20 Insight Grants competition. Among these are 10 UM researchers who collectively received $1,796,707 in funding.

The UM researchers receiving Insight Grants funding are:

  • Daniel Bailis (psychology) $97,914, on consumer behaviour;
  • Sonia Bookman (sociology & criminology) $88,395, on cosmopolitan consumption in Canadian society;
  • Roisin Cossar (history) $90,060, on seasonality and Christianity;
  • Iain Davidson-Hunt (Natural Resources Institute) $358,178, on rural artisans;
  • Enrique Fernandez (French, Spanish & Italian) $88,689, on gender identities in Iberia;
  • Kent Fowler (anthropology) $399,511, on the Zulu Kingdom;
  • Verena Menec (Community Health Sciences) $220,476, on Age-Friendly Communities;
  • Tracey Peter (sociology & criminology) $212,170, on women in IT and engineering careers;
  • Virginia Tze (educational administration, foundations & psychology) $143,034, on empowering students to fight boredom; and
  • Zhenyu Wu (business administration) $98,280, on family involvement in joint ventures.

Among the successfully funded projects is a study by Dr. Verena Menec, who is looking at Age-Friendly Cities and Communities (AFCC). In Canada, the proportion of older adults (those 65 years or older) has increased from 13.2 per cent in 2006 to 17.2 per cent in 2018, and it is projected that 23 per cent of the population will be 65 years or older by 2029.

This has raised concerns about the sustainability of health care and social welfare systems, and some governments have started looking at policy initiatives that could promote healthy, active aging, civic engagement, and labor force participation. Furthermore, aging adults often find their environment is not ideal, with public buildings accessible only via stairs, uneven sidewalks, lack of transportation options and other negative impacts on older adults with mobility limitations, resulting in consequences for health, participation in society, and quality of life.

Dr. Menec explains: “We are in a unique position to examine these issues in Manitoba, given that the province has one of the longest running provincial AFCC initiatives in Canada, namely the Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative (AFMI). It was launched by the provincial government in 2008 through a partnership with non-profit organizations and university researchers funded by SSHRC. This has provided a solid foundation of knowledge to build on. Currently, 86 of a total of 137 municipalities in Manitoba are part of the AFMI, representing about 80 per cent of the population of Manitoba.”

Dr. Menec and her team of researchers will examine the impact of AFCC initiatives and determine which are the most sustainable and most useful in helping older Canadians in their daily lives.

The Insight Grants support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities, with funding available to both emerging and established scholars for research initiatives of two to five years.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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