Here we are at the end of a very unusual academic year that will be etched in our memories and in history both for the seriousness of the pandemic that is affecting us all, and for the radical changes it has brought about in the way we work, be it in research or teaching. New habits involving teleworking and distance learning are already forming, giving rise to experimentation and research to find methods that are better adapted to the challenges posed by confinement. The pandemic has also created many needs and opened up countless research opportunities in our sectors, especially as many believe that the current context is highly conducive to structural change, on social, economic and environmental levels.
The social sciences, humanities, arts and literature (SSHAL) will certainly be called upon to play a central role in the months and years ahead in measuring the impacts of the current crisis, helping to better grasp and understand the complexity of the phenomenon, and proposing alternative scenarios that take into account a more equitable sustainable development. Among the issues to be monitored are economic recovery and the circular economy, distance learning and digital education, the living conditions of the vulnerable, and the resumption of cultural activities.
I would like to applaud the contribution of the 84 researchers in our sectors who answered the call for solutions launched by the Fonds de recherche du Québec in the context of COVID-19. The Fonds de recherche du Québec–Société et culture (FRQSC) team forwarded all the projects to the nine government departments with which we have partnerships, and so far ten projects were selected for funding. The expertise of all those who submitted proposals will be listed in the database that the Québec COVID Network is working to build.
Among the projects we will be working on at the start of the new academic year, I would like to mention that we will resume the planning of a symposium entitled "Nos recherches changent le monde", organized in conjunction with the French National Centre for Scientific Research, on methodologies developed for SSHAL. We were unable to hold this event last March as planned, but it has only been postponed. We are also going to devote ourselves to drafting our next Strategic Plan, an exercise for which we will be consulting you in various ways.
I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate our scholarship recipients and the winners of our many grant programs. We expect your work and your dynamism to vitalize the research community and support the next generation of researchers. I also thank all those who generously and rigorously served on our evaluation committees as well as the Fonds staff, who adapted with flexibility and intelligence to the new working conditions and who oversaw the entire awards process. You have my sincere gratitude.
Finally, I wish you all a happy, rejuvenating and peaceful summer. And I hope to see you soon under more relaxed circumstances.