University of Saskatchewan led partnership projects receive SSHRC funding

Three innovative research partnerships at the University of Saskatchewan addressing climate change, rural and urban policy and landscape digitization, have received a significant investments from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) partnership grants.

Toddi Steelman, executive director of the University of Saskatchewan's School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS), will lead a team of researchers from many disciplines in a project to share the knowledge and practices needed to sustain the lifestyle unique to some of Canada's most significant inland deltas.

The Delta Dialogue Network (DDN) brings together toxicologists, social scientists, biologists and hydrologists from the U of S along with partners from the University of Manitoba, the Saskatchewan River and Delta, the Peace-Athabasca Delta in Alberta, and the Slave River Delta in the Northwest Territories. The objective is to determine which air, water and wildlife research would be most useful to help delta communities in northern Canada address the effects of climate change and regional development on downstream environments, and how best to share that information.

"Deltas are facing great challenges globally and they are the canary in our river systems," said Steelman. "If we have a problem, the people in the deltas are the first to experience it. The Delta Dialogue Network will connect three northern delta groups and allow them to learn and share from each other in order to help sustain their distinctive northern lifestyles."

The DDN was awarded a $199,882 Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) as part of a national funding announcement.

Other U of S researchers were also recipients of SSHRC funding. Ken Coates and Rose Olfert from the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS), Philip Loring from SENS and Ryan Gibson from the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development are co-investigators with colleagues from Brandon University to create a learning commons to prepare policy makers for a world where rural-urban interdependence is the norm. The Rural Policy Learning Commons (RPLC): Building Rural Policy through International Comparative Analysis project will receive about $2.5 million over seven years to explore the impact of urban-based policies on rural and northern communities.

"The RPLC is a trans-national effort designed to address one of the most fundamental challenges of the modern era, namely the rapid demographic and economic decline of rural areas around the world," said Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the U of S. "The network is designed link researchers, community leaders and activists, rural organizations and government agencies in a problem-solving approach to the challenges and opportunities of rural life."

Coates, along with colleagues Carin Holroyd from the Dept. of Political Studies and Peter Phillips of the JSGS, are co-investigators on another project - Creating Digital Opportunity that received a $2.9 million SSHRC partnership grant. Led by the University of Toronto, PROGRIS brings together 16 universities and 11 partners from industry, government and community associations to look at what lays ahead for Canada in the rapidly changing digital landscape, particularly in traditional industries like agriculture and mining.

"The digitization of global production presents real opportunities to generate new value in Canada, but at the same time could threaten our position in many global production networks," said Phillips. "Generating innovation in this new world will be risky but could be very rewarding if we can get our policies, programs and industries aligned."
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Jennifer Thoma
Media Relations Specialist
Advancement and Community Engagement

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