Western helps lead two 'knowledge clusters'

Monday, June 16, 2008

The University of Western Ontario is taking leadership roles in two international research networks that recently received $4.2 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

One project is dedicated to reducing violence in youth, the other increases business sustainability.

The two are among 11 strategic knowledge clusters to receive council funding. Western will hold a celebration for its SSHRC cluster recipients on June 19 at 4 p.m. in the Ivey Atrium at the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Business Sustainability

Corporations once accused of focusing on nothing beyond profitability are now beginning to add sustainability to their list of priorities.

The Research Network for Business Sustainability helps companies integrate economic, environmental and social responsibility – while encouraging their rise to the forefront of competitive leadership.

Led by Pratima Bansal at Western’s Richard Ivey School of Business, the network is receiving $2.1 million from SSHRC to link corporations, university researchers, government and non-governmental organizations in an effort to address these complex challenges. Bansal says the goal is to help Canada become the international leader in business sustainability practice and research.

“There is an abundance of resources dedicated to furthering academic knowledge in this field, says Bansal. “However, the community of practice often struggles to answer the questions that the community of research has already aimed to answer.”

Companies are beginning to recognize the importance of working together to find sustainable solutions, thereby helping to meet current needs without compromising the future.

“Increased coverage of environmental issues has caused many companies to wonder how ‘green’ they should be, how to figure out what they should do and, importantly, how they can measure sustainability so they know it’s working,” says Bansal.

Youth and Violence

The Canadian Prevention Science Cluster (CPSC) brings together leading researchers and practitioners from across Canada dedicated to reducing violence and abuse, and promoting healthy relationships among youth.

Awarded $2.1 million from SSHRC, the Cluster is led by former Western professor and current RBC Chair in Mental Health at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health/University of Toronto, David Wolfe, and co-investigator Peter Jaffe from Western’s Faculty of Education.

Helene Berman, a Western Nursing professor and ScotiaBank Research Chair at the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children with the Faculty of Education is also a collaborator.

Other local partners include Claire Crooks (co-investigator), Research Scientist at CAMH and a research associate with the Faculty of Education; Ray Hughes (collaborator), National Education Coordinator, Fourth R Program and lecturer at the Faculty of Education; and Debbie Chiodo (collaborator), Manager at CAMH and lecturer at Western Health Sciences and King’s University College.

“This network provides a forum where experts in the areas of effective programming, implementation, impact evaluation, creating sustainable change and youth engagement can come together to develop cohesive models by which schools and communities can effectively mobilize violence prevention initiatives,” says Jaffe.

The CPSC endorses a shift from reactive to proactive strategies concerning youth violence and abuse and supports the implementation of strategies for creating healthy and non-violent school cultures.

With regional clusters across the country, the CPSS will promote Canadian school-based programs that can teach students about healthy relationships and ways to reduce various forms of violence.