Social science and humanities critical to informing Canada’s policy decisions


Toronto, ON – This week, leading Canadian academics convened at Congress 2017 to discuss why social sciences and humanities (SSH) perspectives are essential to Canadian policy-making.

As part of the conference, a panel discussion featuring Mitacs’ Canadian Science Policy fellows and a representative from Natural Resources Canada discussed the need for diverse perspectives, including those from the SSH disciplines, in policy-making processes. The panellists explored the ways that expertise from individuals with varying backgrounds can help to inform critical policy decisions in Canada.

The panel, Critical outlook: Social sciences and humanities’ role in public policy-making, was moderated by Mitacs, a national, not-for-profit research and training organization dedicated to advancing social and industrial innovation in Canada. Panellists discussed how rigorous social science and humanities analysis can make essential contributions to policy formation.

The panel featured the following speakers:

  • Donna Kirkwood, Chief Scientist, Natural Resources Canada
  • Marie Claire Brisbois, Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellow and Office of the Chief Scientist, Natural Resources Canada
  • Aaron Franks, Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellow, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Mitacs’ panel was part of the 86th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, hosted this year by Ryerson University. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the annual conference brings together academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships.

Quick facts:

  • Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 17 years.
  • Working with 60 universities, thousands of companies, and both federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada.
  • Now in its third year, Mitacs’ partnership with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has supported over 100 social science and humanities researchers working with partner organizations. 


  • To learn about Congress 2017, visit
  • For information about the panel discussion, Critical outlook: Social sciences and humanities’ role in public policy making, see the event profile.
  • For more information about Mitacs Career Corner workshop What’s next for your social sciences and humanities degree?, see the event profile.
  • For information about Mitacs and our programs, see



Photo from left to right: Stephen Higham, Mitacs, Marie Claire Brisbois, Aaron Franks, Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellows, and Donna Kirkwood, Natural Resources Canada.




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Jacqueline Mason
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Monique Rodrigues
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