Western poli. sci.
prof awarded $2.5 million for study
By Dan Perry
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
“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
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