Sustainable Communities - Global Prosperity

To provide a focal point to the many initiatives that build on our strengths, the strategic focus identified in Carleton’s Strategic Integrated Plan is ‘Sustainable Communities-Global Prosperity’.

This focus reflects the significant progress Carleton has made in building relevant academic programs and research initiatives, as well as our roots in the community, and our recognition of Canada’s social and economic priorities.

As stated in the Strategic Integrated Plan, “global prosperity can only be achieved through the building of sustainable communities.” Sustainable communities is not a novel or new concept, but its meaning in the Carleton context merits clarification.

Sustainability is key to this orientation, and places as a priority research that allows us to evaluate our real needs as a society, and to meet these needs without compromising the health and quality of life of future generations.

Community is also a broad term in this context. Communities can be subgroups within a population; they can be national or international. They can be communities of practice/discipline/interest. They can be the communities in which we live today, or the communities of tomorrow.

By defining a common platform, we are highlighting Carleton’s academic and research strengths that contribute to building sustainable communities, as well as providing an opportunity for our researchers to share their collective expertise to demonstrate leadership and work together moving forward.

The key is to foster points of connection across particular problem areas, and to articulate our activities and vision in a manner that highlights the relevance of our work to building a sustainable, healthy, and prosperous society for today and for future generations.

This entails attention to who we are as people, the environment or places in which we exist, the science and technologies that provide the basic tools for work, life, and leisure, and the social, cultural, and economic practices that govern our behaviors as individuals and as a society.

The research dimensions of connection

Carleton’s researchers demonstrate excellence in many areas of scholarship and outreach. The risk in defining specific areas of excellence is that this creates boundaries, as well as a perception that unspecified perspectives and paradigms are excluded.

In fact, research clusters shift over time as problems evolve, and areas that aren’t explicitly listed often operate at the intersections, bringing approaches together and creating the bridges that make interdisciplinary work possible. In this regard, these less visibly obvious areas of scholarly activity are integral to the success of collaborative approaches, as they shape the dialogue and increase the capacity for successful engagement and uptake across disciplines and sectors.

Carleton recognizes that to take full advantage of our strengths, we need to make room for a plurality of perspectives and enable the flexibility for different configurations of expertise to come together depending on the problem definition, the solutions being sought, and communities being affected.

To this end, although we have identified four broad areas of research, they are intended to represent intersecting dimensions that contribute to building Sustainable Communities. Some research questions will fall clearly along a single dimension. Many research questions will be multi-dimensional; depending on the problem defined and the solution sought, a researcher or team may be working along all four dimensions at once, or the emphasis might shift over the course of a project.

For example, understanding Indigenous communities is integral to developing policy associated with resource development; building sensor technologies for infrastructure protection may require collaborative expertise in climate and geology; understanding human illnesses affected by environmental toxins, which in turn can be technologically monitored can be the basis of regulatory considerations; policies that present systemic barriers to migrants may mitigate against achieving economic success; employing digital technologies may be critical to the production, preservation, and transmission of culture.

In effect, these research dimensions are points of connection that can be brought together and, in our work to build sustainable communities, ensure a viable future for generations to come.