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SSHRC President visits UVic

January 11, 2024

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council President Dr. Ted Hewitt put on his glasses and stepped close to the screen when research project manager Michael Abe brought up the government record of his own grandfather’s internment during the Second World War. It is one of thousands that have been collected, digitized and made publicly accessible through the SSHRC Impact award-winning research project Landscapes of Injustice.

“This is tremendously important,” Hewitt said. It was a frequent refrain throughout his hour-long tour of UVic’s Humanities Computer and Media Centre (HCMC), the first stop on his visit to the university on January 10.

In the bright open space full of screens, student researchers, programming and design staff and faculty scholars, digital projects like Landscapes of Injustice and 200 others have been imagined, created, funded, taught and disseminated over the past three decades.

“Because of our commitment to digital longevity, most of those projects are alive and well,” said Dr. Janelle Jenstad, director of the ground-breaking Map of Early Modern London, of the even more far-reaching Endings Project and acting academic director of the HCMC.

During the tour, Hewitt also heard from students, ranging from second-year undergraduates to a newly minted PhD, about the diverse projects that they helped with — or even ran themselves.

“This [centre] is a good model,” he said enthusiastically. “It’s a very important resource.”

His next stop was a round-table discussion with Indigenous scholars about Indigenous research priorities and how SSHRC programs are serving Indigenous scholars.

After that insightful conversation, eleven SSHRC-funded researchers from a range of disciplines provided three-minute summaries of their work, focusing on their impacts.

Throughout the day’s meetings, Hewitt was highly engaged and open to learning what UVic researchers have to offer both SSHRC and society as a whole.

At a town hall meeting in the afternoon, Hewitt provided an update on SSHRC funding programs, strategic priorities for the agency and outlined some of the key issues he sees facing social sciences and humanities researchers across Canada.

“We all need to talk about why the research is important,” he urged scholars, pointing out that research in the social sciences and humanities encourages creative, enthusiastic individuals and an enlightened citizenry.