The pace of change globally has accelerated vastly in recent decades with the development and deployment of transformative information and communications-enabled technologies. In this “mobile” epoch, there is need to reflect on what research and education will look like in the near term and unknown future.
It is appropriate to ask what the next generation of academic institutions will look like, and how will they interface with one another and also with public, private, and not-for-profit organizations. More importantly, how will society render itself future ready for the many issues surrounding human health, demographics, environment and economics amidst the political, social, cultural, and technological dimensions of our times?
Building on our strengths
To realize our goals, we must translate and mobilize research that embodies excellence, scholarship, and the creative enterprise. Carleton, as a single institution, must be selective in choosing research thrusts. Our research priorities need to build on our strengths, while recognizing ongoing and emerging challenges and opportunities in society.
We articulated this balance in our previous Strategic Research Plan. Building on our strengths – some long-standing and others that have evolved more recently – Carleton has focused its approach in the past few years to build research and academic programs, research centres, and cross-disciplinary capacity to address emerging issues.
Respecting a plurality of perspectives
This Strategic Research Plan continues to build on our excellence in disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields. We have a long history of working within and across disciplines to build new academic and research programs, with the full recognition that excelling in such endeavors requires strong disciplinary roots, and that truly grappling with the issues that confront us as knowledge creators and problem solvers requires bringing together a plurality of perspectives. Some of these perspectives come from researchers within the institution, but their freshness, edginess, and
relevance is also a result of our openness to working with partners from across social sectors.
For example, across Carleton and in collaboration with others, we have researchers and their students working on:
- the nexus between health and the environment;
- increasing the economic well-being of businesses and communities through entrepreneurship, innovation, and good governance;
- integrating knowledge in science, policy, and engineering to build sustainable and safe infrastructure;
- building on public memory, cultural expressions and digital media to enrich communities;
- expanding social justice and access that affect the abilities of individuals and different sectors of society to express their identities and to achieve their full potential.
Connecting locally, nationally and internationally
Collaborative partnerships across disciplines are a defining feature of Carleton University’s Research Centres (CURCs). Moreover, one only needs to look at our CURCs to see the central role community engagement plays in our institutional culture. These include the CURCs in public history, values and ethics, immersive media, transnational and Indigenous cultures, refugees and migration, community innovation, and the regional network of medical physicists. They all engage critically with their relevant communities.
Certainly our connections to communities go beyond the local to the national and international. For example, Carleton is home to the first European Union Centre of Excellence in Canada; recently, we have been building our relationships with Indian institutions through the Canada-India Centre for Excellence in Science, Technology, Trade and Policy. We also have a very productive Confucius Centre that is promoting bilateral understanding between Canadians and Chinese. From community-engaged pedagogy, outreach educational programs, knowledge mobilization initiatives, and partnerships in programs of research and economic development, our researchers are integrally connected to the community.
Increasing connectedness and impact
The vision for research that has been stated in the 2013 Carleton University Strategic Integrated Plan is to foster:
Research excellence and connectedness that focus on tangible outcomes as well as development of knowledge with longer-term impact. Carleton recognizes and supports basic research as a cornerstone of research excellence.
Our researchers have the expertise and have embraced the shared responsibility to contribute to defining issues, to realizing the promise of particular innovations, to solving specific problems that society now faces, and to creating the foundational knowledge to enable us to address the issues of the future. We value empowering others and being engaged in scholarship and research that has both short-term tangible outcomes and long-term impact.
In this light, Carleton’s engagement with communities ranges from those that are affected by the research (e.g., mobilizing social media to address youth education and unemployment) to global communities of scholars engaged in addressing big science questions (e.g., the worldwide research community of physicists exploring and discovering subatomic particles).
A fundamental strategy underlying the Strategic Research Plan is to enhance Carleton’s connectedness in order to maximize the impacts of our scholarly endeavors. These connections might occur by bringing together discipline-based expertise to contribute to interdisciplinary collaborations that address a particular social issue. They might occur through the co-creation of knowledge and solutions by working with different sectors in society, from the private to public, the for-profit to community groups, and from the regional to the international. They might occur through networks of association across academic institutions as part of a national or global effort to advance knowledge and understanding in a given domain.