By Elizabeth Howell
Carleton has established a new research centre to promote, maintain and foster collaboration in the area of health research and policy.
The Centre for Research on Health: Science, Technology and Policy, which opened its doors last February, was born out of the realization that Carleton has leading-edge health researchers in disciplines that span the institution.
The research centre aims to provide opportunities to enhance collaboration, both within the university and with external partners, including government agencies and community, public or private organizations.
It’s affiliated with the Institute of Health: Science, Technology and Policy and the new master’s and diploma graduate programs it offers. The HSTP program aims to provide students with the skills and training required to work at the interface between research and policy in the health sector. It’s designed to provide students with the interdisciplinary training and skills necessary for them to be highly marketable in the health and/or policy sectors.
“We’ve consulted extensively, and found that there is a strong need for more training at the interface between research and policy,” said Susan Aitken, director of the new Institute of Health: Science, Technology and Policy under which the graduate programs operate.
We have expertise and conduct innovative research on health issues in all of our faculties
Given the complex and broadly interdisciplinary nature of the challenges facing the health sector, the research scope of the HSTP research centre and graduate program includes science, social science, engineering and design, business, and public affairs.
Faculty from 23 different academic units across campus participate and the aim is to obtain a diverse team, and work together in a unique, collaborative manner.
“We have expertise and conduct innovative research on health issues in all of our faculties,” said Carleton social work associate professor Karen Schwartz, who is the director of the research centre.
Part of its mandate is to host events to bring together Carleton researchers, external partners and members of the community. These events provide opportunities to showcase the excellence and diversity of health research at Carleton and to build relationships with the community that we are part of.
Last winter, the centre hosted a panel discussion that brought together researchers and policy makers to explore the challenges of integrating the two fields. It included participants from federal agencies, hospitals and community organizations.
“We are focusing on how to get scientists to talk to policy people, and policy people to talk to scientists, with the goal of creating evidence-informed policy,” explained Schwartz.
We are focusing on how to get scientists to talk to policy people, and policy people to talk to scientists
A recent headline event was a public lecture featuring Jan Wong, a former Globe and Mail writer who was promoting her new book addressing her experiences with depression in the workplace. The event, held late in 2012, attracted over 150 attendees, which demonstrates Carleton’s strong ties to the community.
Meanwhile, research opportunities within the centre are increasing as the events and graduate program bring together Carleton faculty members from different departments. The centre provides a forum in which researchers from fields as diverse as engineering and social work can find a common basis for working together.
“This is a good time for the centre,” Schwartz said. “There are a lot of opportunities for collaboration, and government funding is changing to emphasize interdisciplinary research. We’re more likely to receive funding in these collaborative projects.”
It is expected that the cross-disciplinary nature of the HSTP centre, institute and graduate programs will facilitate a variety of research opportunities.