Message from the Scientific Director

This year promises to be rich in collaborations and achievements. But 2016 will also present challenges that require even more creativity, imagination, cooperation and exchanges to determine solutions to a multitude of increasingly complex research concerns in a context in which our resources cannot meet our needs.

More and more, society is recognizing that research is the key to framing and resolving social, political, administrative and cultural issues. The complexity of the problems faced by research requires cross-cutting approaches and methodologies. Elements of solutions, analyses and reflections will stem from various sources in the social sciences, humanities, arts and literature: ancient and world history, foresight from the social sciences, philosophical questioning, design and artistic creation, expertise in education, economic theory, literary fiction, etc. Innovative ideas will also emerge from collaborations that reach beyond sectoral boundaries.

With this in mind, I will explore the different avenues to develop the intersectoral culture set out in the FRQSC's 2014–2017 strategic plan. While several intersectoral initiatives have already been set in motion, none of the three Fonds have been specifically focused on cross-cutting approaches. In collaboration with the chief scientist and the scientific directors of the FRQS and FRQNT and along with government departments and organizations, we will consider opportunities to further the sector without weakening current programs.

In fact, new initiatives are about to get underway, including the Trans-Atlantic Platform, which the FRQSC recently joined. This major consortium brings together 12 countries in Europe, North America and South America to discuss and carry out social sciences and humanities research projects driven by large databases. The FRQNT will also contribute to the initiative. We expect a call for projects in June.

The Fonds will launch another intersectoral initiative—an agricultural exhibition and a conference on agriculture and food challenges—at the 84th Acfas conference in May 2016 and at the Montréal Botanical Garden as part of the events to celebrate the city's 375th anniversary in 2017.

Furthermore, in November, the FRQSC entered into a partnership with the Agence nationale de la recherche (France) to fund projects focused on three broad social issues: public policy and social innovation in the context of demographic change, social and cultural transformation in the context of globalization and SSH research in the digital age.  

With respect to the ongoing challenges, we will work to increase the budgets of the FRQSC to fund as many research projects and scholarships as possible, specifically by seeking more support from government departments and organizations. Providing funding for a greater number of concerted actions would constitute a major asset since the program has the merit of raising awareness of the importance and relevance of SSH research among managers and decision makers.

I also intend to give effect to the forum held in December on researchers in the public sphere at which questions were raised regarding the importance and relevance of promoting knowledge and the interest of mobilizing researchers in the media.

Finally, at the start of the year, I will embark on a university and college tour with other members of the FRQSC. These visits should help me better understand the particularities of each institute.