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Huron wishes its sincerest congratulations to Professors Bill Irwin & Neil Bradford on receiving the SSHRC Partnership Development Grant valued at nearly $200,000

Jul 26 2021

We are delighted to share the great news that two of our professors have successfully applied for a significant SSHRC grant that will empower their investigation into how cities are working with community agencies to build social capital. This project is a joint effort with two principal partners - the Cities of Laval, Quebec and London, Ontario. Additionally, this project will engage Western University, Université Laval and University of Montreal as well as a number of community organizations. In addition to the $199,300 grant, each of the partners will contribute additional resources to the three-year project.

The grant will be put towards building understanding around how best we may create and nurture networks to enhance quality of life. The researchers will significantly benefit from this cross-provincial analysis, as it will empower them to see how the similarities and differences between cities that may affect how people work together and community agencies operate.

A great opportunity for students & our community partners

Our university’s dedication to giving student’s hands-on research experiences is entirely unique within the undergraduate landscape. In keeping with this prioritization, Drs. Irwin and Bradford will ensure our students are able to take part in this phenomenal opportunity. In addition to giving them a tangible component for their portfolios, this involvement aligns with our goal of showing students the importance of incorporating social responsibility and civic engagement into their personal and professional lives.

“This project is really exciting,” shares Dr. Irwin who is a Principal Investigator on the project. “It is the perfect example of how universities can work with their broader community partners to enhance quality of life. I am thrilled to be working with our partners in Quebec and to be creating really meaningful research opportunities for our students here at Huron. This is a great way for students to take their classroom learning into the community.”

Tackling the obstacles created by Covid-19 & the way forward

The ability to cultivate social capital has been directly and drastically affected by Covid-19. Even the first steps of this particular project will look differently, in accordance with the researchers’ inability to travel, arrange meetings and work within collaborative labs. Therefore, one of the major takeaways from this initiative will be how various institutions can work together – as effectively as possible – within the constraints of the pandemic to protect and nurture community vitality.

The next steps for this community vitality project will be the initial meetings with key community players to understand how they are currently working together and what this has empowered them to achieve. From there, our researchers will navigate how best to measure and replicate the most effective collaboration models. Then, they will move forward with articulating those best practices on a large scale to create widespread community benefit.

Dr. Pernelle Smits, the Project Lead in Laval, shares her excitement around moving ahead with this great new initiative: "Quelle belle nouvelle que ce projet collaboratif développé entre nos deux provinces, avec deux villes et leurs partenaires. We are lucky to be able to implement this project built with ideas from our two provinces, with insights and good spirit from municipalities and key partners. Maintenant, ready to start!"