On September 23, 2019, I was delighted to deliver the opening presentation of the Canada Seminar, a series of talks in which prominent and influential Canadians discuss issues of significance for the nation, hosted by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.
As we learned from the Future Forums, great research must not only serve a purpose, but it must also respond to new realities— whether intellectual, social, cultural, technological, environmental and economic—in communities across Canada and around the world. To target these needs, researchers need to take the time to connect and build relationships with community members, listen and observe as an anthropologist would, and above all, involve the community in the research process. Great researchers are also expected to exhibit certain human qualities such as active listening, humility, self-awareness, courage and inclusiveness. It is their emotional intelligence and lived experiences that give meaning and depth to their research.
Great research recognizes and values different knowledge sources such as oral traditions, hands-on knowledge and experiential learning approaches because it understands that in order to solve real-world problems, it is important to resort to other ways of thinking and doing.
Cross-sector cooperation is also another important aspect of research in the Social Sciences and Humanities because it allows the enhancement of its scale, scope and impact. Finally, great research also seeks to incorporate creative elements such as artwork in the sharing of its findings because it supports the belief that finding innovative and original ways of producing research is beneficial to the production of knowledge and its democratization.
These are all lessons that we can take away from this Future Forums listening and learning experience which will inspire the future direction of the Foundation and the development of its next Strategic Plan which aims to better serve its community of Scholars, Fellows, and Mentors, and the broader community.