The Strategic Value of Research
A message from Dr. Robert Luke, VPRI, for the 8th volume of PULSE.
In the last issue of Pulse we announced the launch of our new communications campaign, This is Research at OCADU. Since then you may have noticed several posters around campus – featuring Suzanne Morrisette, Judth Doyle, David McIntosh, Kate Hartman, Haru Hyunkyung Ji, and Michelle Gay and Barbara Rauch – that showcase the breadth and depth of research and research-creation that our faculty conduct. You can see these posters online here: https://www2.ocadu.ca/news/this-is-research.
I like that these posters all communicate the complex ideas and knowledges that each faculty member is researching. From the visual to the virtual, and the prototypical to the physical, each poster shows how our faculty are engaging with new forms of knowledge, materials and ideas at the forefront of research and creative practice. And, importantly, they demonstrate to our publics, our students and our partners, the value of ideation, exploration, knowledge and artistic creation.
These concepts are embedded within our new Strategic Research Plan (SRP), which received Senate approval last November. The research priorities articulated in our new SRP include
Creative action for social change
Relational approaches to place, space, and time
Critical mediations and cultural inquiries
Making knowledge through material, form and practice
Design thinking, Indigenous knowledges, inclusive design, strategic foresight and innovation
Art, Design, Science and Technology
These themes and priorities build on the history of research excellence at OCADU while opening avenues to expand for the future.
During the development of our new SRP I benefitted from conversations with many faculty on issues pertaining to Indigenous research and OCAD University’s commitment to decolonization. This was a key topic the that Research Committee discussed.
In discussions with Professors Ryan Rice and Jason Baerg they advanced the idea that the new SRP affords a unique opportunity for the University to demonstrate our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), in keeping with our commitment to decolonization, diversity, equity and inclusion as articulated in the Academic Plan.
Specifically, there are several ways we can demonstrate our commitment to the TRC Calls to Action that will help to ensure that research at the University adhere to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. The SRP has articulated our commitment to “Nothing about us without us,” as outlined in our Academic Plan. This principle stipulates that research involving Indigenous peoples must be led by Indigenous peoples. It is supported by the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2 2014) which outlines our responsibilities in Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada.
Within this context the University can ensure that Indigenous faculty are supported to advance their own research agendas as we continue to build capacity for Indigenous research to grow. Suggestions for how we can enact our commitment include:
Validating and valuing different paths to academic preparation and accumulated knowledges, not always vested in specific degrees;
Developing capacity for Indigenous researchers to meet the dedicated funding opportunities offered by funders, an example of which is the recent SSHRC funding awarded to Dr Gerald McMaster, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice;
Ensuring that Indigenous faculty and communities lead research involving Indigenous peoples and communities;
Providing the space and support for Indigenous research at the University;
Asking applicants to internal research funding and to our Research Ethics Board to indicate if their research will help OCAD U address the TRC Calls to Action, as one way to build capacity and awareness.
There will be other suggestions for how we can achieve the goals outlined in the SRP that the we can take into account. Taking steps such as these our SRP Implementation will help to ensure that the TRC Calls to Action do not fade from practice. Enacting suggestions like these as part of the SRP Implementation will send a clear signal about our commitment to decolonization, help us educate the broader research community with whom we interact—faculty, students, communities and partners alike—on the importance of the TRC Calls to Action, and help us track progress over time against these goals.
The SRP implementation is now proceeding, building on the Academic Plan and over two years of development that went into the new SRP. The Research Office is looking forward to supporting the University community as we embark on this exciting next step in our research journey.