SSHRC announces funding for 20 projects, 27 researchers

By Paul Mayne
September 19, 2013

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MacGeePaul Mayne, Western News
Western Economics profesor James MacGee will use his SSHRC Insight Grant to focus on the effects of consumer debt on the Canadian economy.

With projects ranging from the work of secondary school principals and the study of linguistic pluralisms, to realizing waste’s resource potential and disaster risk reduction, Western researchers will share more than $2.3 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), announced Monday at Western.

Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology), said Canada-wide recipients of the more than 760 grants, totaling nearly $107 million, will power new research initiatives in gaining a better understanding of human thought and behaviour.

The federal funding will be invested in Insight Grants to support 461 initiatives carried out by individuals and small teams of researchers throughout Canada, and by 306 scholars in the early stages of their research through SSHRC’s Insight Development Grants.

“It’s all about identifying the issues Canadians face daily and increasing our understanding and knowledge of these problems through responsible research and development,” Rickford said. “Western’s research activities and academic innovations have made it a leader in postsecondary education, and the pride and joy of this province. It’s places like Western that will lead the way in finding the right solutions to improve our quality of life and our nation’s prosperity.”

Western Economics profesor James MacGee will use his SSHRC Insight Grant ($223,237) to focus on the effects of consumer debt on the Canadian economy, and the relationship between household consumption and consumer interest rates, household debt and bankruptcies.

“When we see bad economic news in another part of the world, households tend to pull back dramatically in consumption of expenditures, which can trigger a recession. Or Canadian lenders tend to become much more conservative, which could also trigger a recession,” MacGee said. “I want to put these things together in a framework where we can think about both potential risks to financial economic stability from high debt levels, and what policymakers can do.”

MacGee looks to create learning tools to evaluate future risk, and helping both lenders and consumers make informed decisions about money, therefore better equipping Canadians with the resources to make more informed decisions about their future.

John Capone, Western’s vice-president (research), said investigators in social science and humanities disciplines comprise more than half of the researchers at Western, and their findings will have huge dividends in a number of areas.

“Their knowledge helps us to understand how we, and those around us, think, act and remember, and helps us grasp the experiences and complexities of the world in which we live,” Capone said.

 “Through the Insight Grants and Insight Development Grants, we are supporting the highest levels of research excellence,” said Chad Gaffield, SSHRC president. “This research will generate knowledge about the past and present that will lead to innovative solutions for today’s most pressing social, cultural, technological, environmental and economic issues, and improve the lives of Canadians.”

Twenty Western projects, involving 27 researchers, were funded through this latest SSHRC announcement. This list includes:

  • Katina Pollock, The Contemporary Work of Secondary School Principals, $63,492;
  • Farahnaz Faez, Subject-specific Vocabulary and Expressions of Academic Subjects: A Corpus-based Case Study of Mathematics and Geography, $46,200;
  • Heather Hill, Case studies of public library governance models, $57,421;
  • Anabel Quan-Haase, Seniors' Digital Life: Reading, Searching & Connecting, $74,250;
  • Ananth Ramanarayanan, The Optimal Maturity Structure of Public Debt, $57,377;
  • Erica Lawson, Drop-in Centre Programs for Young Mothers: A Standpoint Evaluation of How Drop-in Services Influence Motherhood Identities and Mothering Practices, $59,037;
  • Jamie Baxter, Realizing waste's resource potential: explaining uneven uptake of waste to energy technologies by Ontario municipalities, $74,880;
  • Gregory Pavlov, Multidimensional Mechanism Design, $61,898;
  • Robert Stainton, Linguistic pluralisms, $72,850;
  • Christopher Ellis, The Davidson site:  refining chronology and explanations of changing Late Archaic settlement systems, $73,445;
  • Aléna Robin, Towards a microhistory of Viceregal painting in new Spain:  the Enriquez' Way of the Cross, $135,784;    
  • J. Robert Mitchell and David Sparling, Innovation in response to regulatory change, $199,250; 
  • Elizabeth Greene and Alexander Meyer, The Vindolanda north field excavation and field school, $236,985;
  • William Fisher and Lorne Campbell, Attachment orientation and the impact of pornography on the couple relationship, $144,570;           
  • Robert Toft, From research to public performance:  historically-informed, re-creative singing, $85,385;
  • Nancy Christie, The invisible hand of modernity:  the relations of apprentices, servants, and their masters in Quebec - lower Canada, 1760-1820, $118,416;
  • Pratima Bansal and Michael Wood, The impact of organizational scale on business and society, $125,944;
  • Gordon McBean, Integrated Strategies for disaster risk reduction, $166,000;
  • Mary Crossan, Jeffrey Gandz, Mark Reno and Gerard Seijts, Leader character study, $277,070; and              
  • James MacGee, Consumer credit, bankruptcy and consumption over the business cycle, $223,237.


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