Message From the Scientific Director

Social and human sciences, arts and letters as central to post-COVID reconstructive approaches

It is a very singular new year for our research community, which has been challenged by the issues that the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to and exacerbated. In addition to the health-related complications caused by the crisis, an array of systemic and situational needs became quite apparent. We all recognize how the pandemic has revealed and accelerated sometimes dramatic social, economic and socioemotional conditions. Even so, we can collectively take some comfort in knowing that it may also give impetus to solutions in so far as it fosters new approaches and collaboration. 

Once again, research in social sciences, humanities, art and literature (SSHAL) has a key role to play to elucidate social disruptions, explain the causes and translate the complexity of the distressing and sometimes disastrous phenomena and effects that can stem from certain living conditions. Above all, the SSHAL can propose initiatives and approaches to intervention, recommend actions and support reconstructive processes. More than ever, our research is essential to matters that touch upon planning, well-being, communications, economics, education, ethics and equity, change management, governance, relationships, mental health and work—in sum every issue that impacts individuals, communities and society—and can perhaps also provide meaning to the current situation and a direction for what we intend to build. We expect a lot from researchers' expertise and work, and I am committed to supporting our community members' efforts as best I can. 

Among the major projects the Fonds is currently focused on is the call to create the Québec network for circular economy research, the Réseau québécois de recherche en économie circulaire, which, we very much hope, will help revitalize the province's economy by ensuring it draws on the principles of sustainable development. Thanks to the reinvestment in the Fonds that was recently announced, other research initiatives in critical sectors are planned in areas including education. In partnership with government departments and agencies, we will also announce new competitions under the Concerted Actions program to lead research projects related to the pandemic. In addition, in collaboration with the Fonds Nature et technologies, we recently launched the first edition of the very promising PRISME program to cultivate closer links between art and science.  

Finally, as we do periodically, we are beginning work on our 2022–2026 strategic plan. It is the opportunity to review our objectives and commitments in collaboration with the members of our community. In this respect, a number of topics are now the focus of our attention, including access to data for research, equity, diversity and inclusion in the research grant review process, the development of relevant and reliable indicators to assess research impacts, the links between science and society, the need for open science and the simplification of our processes. 

In other words, there is no shortage of projects! With this in mind, I would like to thank all those who help us move forward in our discussions. There is your research, of course, but there is also the work of the board of directors, scientific advisors and, as always, the Fonds' extraordinary team, whose members were exemplary in their adaptation to the demands of confinement and telework and managed to meet our deadlines and adopt all the measures required to make the tasks of the members of our research community a tad easier. 

In closing, despite the significant challenges we face, I would like to wish us all a little more lightness and serenity in 2021.