Chad Gaffield - President (2017-2019)
Dear RSC colleagues,
On behalf of Council, I am delighted to share with you Mobilize, Catalyse, Sustain, the RSC Strategic Plan for 2018-2022. Although we will be officially launching the Plan at upcoming events both domestically and internationally, I invite you now to build on last year’s consultation by exploring possibilities for your own participation in pursuing our three strategic ambitions.
At the moment, we are actively moving forward in the spirit of our recent discussions. Some of the current activities include our implementation of the recommendations of our Working Group on updating the processes for nominating and selecting Fellows each year. Toward this end, I am pleased to report that our Academy presidents confirmed at our recent Council meeting that all selection committees are now in place, and that their composition reflects RSC principles of inclusion, equity and diversity to enable decisions based on the highest standards of excellence. Similarly, work has now begun on an updated Guide that will be published early this summer for nominations due on December 1, 2018. Please begin as soon as possible to identify leading scientists, scholars and artists whose membership would enhance our historic commitment to engaged excellence.
Our planning to use the occasion of Canada’s hosting of the G7 to connect domestic and international contributions is accelerating rapidly toward our first events during the coming months. In keeping with our partnership strategy, we are collaborating with the federal research granting agencies (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) as well as the National Research Council, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec. Along with these and other partners, we have been working with the G7 Academies to develop meaningful contributions that will enrich discussion of the themes identified by the Government of Canada as well as the ministerial meetings.
Under the leadership of Marie D’Iorio, International Secretary, our co-authoring of “statements” on the cross-cutting topics of “Our Digital Future” and “Artic Sustainability” is underway, thanks to RSC experts, Catherine Middleton, Jackie Dawson and drafting colleagues. The final versions will be presented shortly before the G7 political leaders convene on June 8-9 in Charlevoix. Before that time, we are working with our domestic and international partners on a series of events to share related research findings and insights, and many thanks to all those who are contributing to these events that will be announced in the coming weeks.
We are anticipating additional G7-related contributions during the autumn months including those that advance insight into the troubling societal context for science and scholarship as well as debate about policies and practices within the research community. While the expression “fake news” dates back at least to the nineteenth century, current public discussion around the world makes clear that society is calling for leadership in addressing how knowledge and understanding of the past and present necessarily define the desired context for reasoned deliberations about the future. As always, we welcome your initiatives to advance this aspect of our strategic plan as part of the G7-related activities.
Among many other promising recent developments, we have been delighted to learn that RSC colleagues at UBC have begun meeting to explore how best to leverage local engagement with pan-Canadian collaboration in order to deepen and enrich the impact of our strategic plan and complementary activities. This example emphasizes the overall importance for the RSC of increasing and facilitating communications in order to more fully realize the potential represented by our disciplinary, generational and locational diversity. For example, we need urgently a digital strategy to underpin a robust communications plan in keeping with the commitments in our Strategic Plan, and we invite you to express your interest in contributing to this work. One immediate opportunity, for example, is the Council position of Secretary, Communications Committee, that is currently vacant. More generally, we would like to offer RSC members clear participation pathways to pursuing our ambitions especially given the increasing and expanding possibilities at this time.
The culmination of our steps forward during 2018 will, of course, be our annual meeting to be held in Halifax, thanks to the leadership of Dalhousie University and partners including other institutional members. Planning for Nov 15-18 is on schedule, and we are all looking forward to the final phase of our G7-related contributions as well as to assessing progress on our Strategic Plan.
This year’s annual meeting will allow us the unique benefit of RSC Atlantic which has been organizing since 2008 many innovative and compelling initiatives throughout the region, thanks to the generous support of Arthur and Sandra Irving. Let me take this occasion to express our congratulations and deepest gratitude to Christl Verduyn and Gwendolyn Davies, RSC Atlantic Co-Chairs, who are now completing their highly productive terms. Under their leadership, RSC Atlantic has become a model of how a pan-Canadian and internationally-engaged academy can benefit from regionally-led activities that have impact at multiple levels. Our hope is that this precedent will inspire leaders in all communities to collaborate with us as well as with local partners in establishing additional RSC sites across Canada.
Thanks to the collaboration of RSC colleagues, staff, and the larger community, 2018 promises to be a significant and meaningful illustration of the RSC’s capacity to mobilize the membership along with diverse partners; to catalyze new contributions in addressing complex issues; and to sustain momentum so that specific initiatives have enduring impact. We look forward to staying in close touch, and all the best for the coming months.
Yours in RSC,
Chad Gaffield OC FRSC