March 3, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 79  

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Western poli. sci.
prof awarded $2.5 million for study

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

The largest available grant from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council was awarded to a professor of political science at Western.

Robert Young is the principal investigator for a study that will examin public policy over the next five years, and will be spearheading a group of 66 Canadian and 10 foreign investigators to do so.

“We want to explain the quality of public policy in Canadian municipalities,” Young said, adding the study will consider two factors: which levels of government are involved in making policy and the social forces involved in policy-making decisions, such as interests, business associations, unions and the volunteer sector.

Young noted one aspect of the study as representative of several different case studies in the process, which will investigate urban Aboriginal policy, and question whether there is better public policy in municipalities where Aboriginal Peoples are involved in the shaping of policy.

Western’s VP-research Nils Petersen confirmed that Western was the lead in this large institutional international program on governance and intergovernmental relations, adding this study will focus specifically on municipal governments.

“It’s a great opportunity for Western to be the leading agent,” Petersen added.

Dore Dunne, media officer at SSHRC, explained the granting procedures.

“The individual merits of the project are reviewed through an internationally recognized peer review system,” she explained, adding the largest grants are given to ‘Major Collaborative Research Initiatives’ such as the study Young will be leading.

According to Dunne, in SSHRC’s $195 million budget, $180 million is allotted to grants in the 2003/04 year, adding $2.5 million is the largest project SSHRC will fund.

“It’s very hard to get this much money,” Young added.

Young speculated on the possible outcomes of the study. “We have two expectations: we don’t know what we’re going to find, it’s a very large-scale study — that’s the scientific part. There’s also a sort of dialogic element,” he said, explaining how the study will not seek input through surveys but rather through thousands of individual interviews.



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