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Concordia’s Strategic Directions Game Plan: ‘We’re only getting started’

A series of spring events will showcase this year’s many new initiatives
April 10, 2017
By Karen McCarthy

The Concordia Public Scholars Program is a joint initiative with the Montreal Gazette — just one of many new projects under way. The Concordia Public Scholars Program is a joint initiative with the Montreal Gazette — just one of many new projects under way.

Concordia is making its first moves under the university’s Strategic Directions Game Plan.

“We’ve created considerable momentum over the course of this year,” says Graham Carr, provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs.

“We acted quickly on several great ideas that surfaced during our planning process. And we’re only getting started.”

Notable achievements include the Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowship program, the Concordia University Press launch, the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group, on-boarding of new curriculum developers and the first cohort of Public Scholars.

Also, the university recently revealed plans for 4th Space, a new street-level project designed to showcase Concordia’s research and creative activities, and an announcement is expected soon about the launch of an exciting slate of summer offerings.

The game plan is the result of a year of planning at the faculty and unit levels in response to the university’s Strategic Directions.

A series of events is taking place in April and May to provide updates on initiatives, gather input on priorities, and demonstrate some new technologies.

This includes a walk-through of the Webster Library Technology Sandbox on April 26 and 27 and an interactive meeting to facilitate networking around a health institute on May 5.

In the meantime, here are some highlights from the year under Strategic Directions.

Carbon budgets are one of the topics covered by the new Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowships. Carbon budgets are one of the topics covered by the new Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowships.

‘Boost our research and creative productivity’

The Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowships program launched this year as a key component of the Double Our Research strategic direction.

“Our goal is to bring in a fresh cohort of exceptional young researchers who will challenge our faculty, mentor the next generation of researchers and boost our research and creative productivity,” explains Paula Wood-Adams, dean of Graduate Studies.

Postdoctoral fellows receive two years of funding to conduct research in disciplines linked to the university’s strategic research priorities.

Research topics among the first cohort of Horizon Postdocs include games studies and design, carbon budgets, second language learning, solar-powered buildings, histories of photography in Canada, disability and social innovation, transitions in family business ownership and probability models.

Concordia’s Office of Research (OOR) also began offering an enhanced series of workshops and clinics last summer to help guide researchers through the requirements for various federal and provincial granting programs.

“We’ve made it a priority to continuously evolve the kind of support we provide to our researchers, based on their feedback, and to encourage collaboration across the institution,” says Justin Powlowski, interim vice-president of Research and Graduate Studies.

“Individual researchers have been stepping up to lead major grant applications to the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grants in numbers we have not previously seen.” 

Graham Carr has appointed Elizabeth Fast (left) and Charmaine Lyn as special advisors on Indigenous Directions. Graham Carr with Elizabeth Fast (left) and Charmaine Lyn, special advisors on Indigenous Directions.

Open access to ‘a global readership’

The launch of Concordia University Press, the first open-access academic press in Quebec and one of just 14 university presses in Canada, supports the university’s commitment to innovation by embracing next-generation scholarly publishing.

“Publishers as well as libraries are providing more access to digital books, and technology is allowing scholars to share their research in new ways,” says Geoffrey Little, editor-in-chief.

“Concordia University Press aims to make high-calibre research available to a global readership.”

An Indigenous strategy at Concordia

Elizabeth Fast and Charmaine Lyn were appointed last November as special advisors to the provost on Indigenous Directions. Together they will lead the university’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) principles and calls to action.

“Our response to the TRC is a priority,” says Carr. “One way to demonstrate this is to put people in place who understand the challenges and opportunities of this important mandate, and are committed to fostering meaningful change through collaboration, and then to give them the support to make a positive difference.”

Fast and Lyn are now working with members of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group who have a three-year term to make recommendations. The group includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis people from both inside and outside the university.

You can learn more about the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group by attending an information session on Tuesday, April 25 from 2 to 3 p.m. in Room RF-120 in the Loyola Jesuit Hall and Conference Centre on the Loyola Campus.

Please RSVP to:

‘An international leader’ in new programs and curricula

One of Concordia’s biggest moves in its commitment to new programs and curricula is the creation of the new Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. Three faculty members have already been hired. Certificate and diploma programs are in development, with master’s and PhD programs to follow.

“This new department will enable Concordia to develop its own niche as an international leader in chemical and materials engineering, research and practice,” says Amir Asif, dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.

“The uniqueness of our new programs lies in their synergy between chemical engineering and materials science, and contributes to developing Concordia’s niche in modern fields, such as advanced materials, additive manufacturing, nanotechnology and molecular self-assembly.”

To support renewal in ENCS and other faculties, Concordia hired two curriculum developers to work with faculty members on their projects. A third hire is coming soon.

Enriching learning opportunities

This summer, Concordia will be offering a compelling slate of new summer offerings through schools, institutes and camps. Topics include Indigenous entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, sustainable futures, an acting studio for non-actors, and an aerospace summer camp for kids.

10 new Public Scholars

The School of Graduate Studies has teamed up with the Montreal Gazette to launch the Concordia University Public Scholars Program to bridge the gap between academic research and the community.

The program provides guidance and training to students from all disciplines who actively engage communities off campus to share the significance of their research.

Ten doctoral students, each of whom will receive a $10,000 award, have begun professional training in topics such as op-ed writing as well as government and media relations.

A research-creation mashup

As part of its strategic direction to Embrace the City, Embrace the World, the university is launching a new, street-level space to feature compelling research and research-creation. It is located in the former bookstore in the J.W. McConnell Building on the Sir George Williams Campus.

To be called 4th Space, the site will be a mashup of a living lab, science centre, design showroom, museum exhibition and theatre set. The multi-use facility will open a window on the significant research and creative activity taking place at Concordia, along with the people who make it happen.

Find out more about Concordia's Strategic Directions.


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