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Call for Concepts

(May 8, 2005)

Vancouver Island University qualifies for the opportunity to fill a Canada Research Chair and as such, the Research Chair Strategy Committee would like to invite input from the VIU community. The Committee is interested in hearing your ideas for concepts or themes from which to recruit a research chair with the intent being the opportunity would then be advertised.

Where we are now

Dr. Penny Barnes was successful in the CRC Small Universities Special Competition, receiving a Chair in Ecologically Sustainable Shellfish Aquaculture.
Dr. Craig Stephen was successful in his Tier II CRC nomination and is now Chair in the area of Integrating Human and Animal Health.
Nominations for the two BC Regional Innovation Chairs will be submitted in June 2005.

This leaves one remaining Tier II Canada Research Chair to deploy and this is where we are asking for your ideas on how best to fill this Chair and contribute positively to student learning, our institution, our regional community and our connection to our institutional research strategy.

Your input is welcome

The Research Chairs Strategy Committee would like to hear your ideas on a concept or theme area within which we could recruit a Canada Research Chair. Tell us, in less than two pages, your concept, how it would benefit the institution, the type of research activities that might be undertaken and how it relates to teaching and learning. Email your suggestion(s) to Shelley Lumsden by Monday, June 6.

Principles and Guidelines

The Research Chairs Strategy Committee has developed the following guidelines to use in selecting a chair and research concept/theme:

  • The CRC should fit within our Institutional Strategic Research Plan
  • The CRC would provide leadership/team building within the institution.
  • The concept would encourage, if not require, opportunities for collaboration within and outside the institution (other post-secondary institutions, business and industry, government research centres and agencies).
  • The chair should work to strengthen the relationship with teaching and learning.
  • The concept area chosen should build on institutional strengths.
  • The concept area should help build research capacity.
  • The Chair position should benefit the institution as a whole rather than individuals.
  • The research area should have regional relevance.
  • Research chairs will be expected to create opportunities to build inter-disciplinary strengths, which are inclusive rather than exclusive.

In addition, the Institutional Strategic Research Plan outlines the following key objectives:

  • to support student success through research activity, especially research involving the participation of students;
  • to support research promoting the strength and credibility of the institution;
  • to encourage interdisciplinary research in keeping with the size and character of the institution;
  • to build on VIU’s geographical location and regional connections, focusing on research applicable to the needs and concerns of coastal communities;
  • to develop regional, national, and international partnerships and collaborations with other universities, government, and industry contributing to research and learning environments at VIU.

VIU will broaden research capacity across the institution, focusing on the themes described in the plan. We will take advantage of the academic strengths of our faculty, our regional connections, and our geographical position.

The Committee will review all suggestions and may, in fact, choose two or three ideas, develop all three, advertise and then select the candidate best suited for the particular concept they represent. Once selected, the candidate will be required to write a research proposal, which, along with the candidate’s name as nominee, will be submitted for approval to the Canada Research Chairs program. Standards of this program are extremely high, so we may have to repeat this process if unsuccessful with our first submission.


The following are a couple concept/theme areas to give you an example of what we are looking for at this stage. You may also want to look at existing Canada Research Chairs to get a feel for the type of concepts and researchers who have been successful.

1) The Institute for Coastal Research

The concept for the Institute for Coastal Research is to create an inter-disciplinary research centre that will focus on coastal community topics. Central to this thesis was the idea that most issues affecting coastal communities have economic, cultural, social, environmental and scientific components. Given this emphasis, a Chair in Coastal Research would need to be able to draw on input from a wide range of disciplines, either directly through their own discipline or indirectly through involvement of research partners. Thus, the Research Chair would be expected to be a facilitator and team leader Examples of research areas could include the changing nature and globalization of traditional resource-based industries and their impact on the survival of rural communities; a survey of coastal literature; or the relationship between aboriginal and western stewardship concepts.

Some activities could involve creating useful knowledge for the coastal community by the facilitation of solutions to problems in the community, resolution of complex controversies, contributions towards economic and social development, and organization of opportunities for multi-disciplinary research. Mechanisms might include organizing special workshops, focus groups, visiting scholar programs, team building, bringing broad-based, multi-disciplinary task groups together to bear on a problem or issue and facilitating community-based participatory research.

2) Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Engaging Learning

The scholarship of teaching and learning is fundamental to a teaching and learning institution as an integrative foundation to continue to build strengths in teaching and transformative approaches to foster a high standard of student learning. Exploring and examining approaches to effective teaching and learning, and reflecting on scholarly ideas about mind and learning lays the groundwork for the scholarship of teaching and learning. A Canada Research Chair, focusing on the concept of engaging learning, would undertake a variety of scholarly activities. This would range from mentoring faculty who are examining their own teaching practice in relation to effectiveness of student learning; creating cross-community networks to explore common ideas and questions of effective learning; identifying key problems and issues in higher education; and establishing a corresponding research plan to move learning forward as the foundational activity of Vancouver Island University.

This Canada Research Chair would involve four categories of responsibilities. First, the Chair would continue to engage in his/her scholarship of teaching and learning within the discipline and in higher education more generally. The Chair also would continue with some disciplinary teaching. Second, the Chair would encourage and facilitate the work of VIU Faculty, administration and perhaps students in understanding and developing their scholarship of teaching and learning. For example, the Chair might facilitate the design and critique of collaborative inquiries into teaching and learning or into methodological options. The third role of the VIU Research Chair would be as an educational catalyst, working to promote, share and make public emerging scholarly work in enhancing teaching and learning. Fourth, the Chair would serve as the VIU representative to provincial, national and international organizations that foster the scholarship of teaching and learning. This would include the Canadian Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

More Information

VIU’s Strategic Research Plan (PDF)

Canada Research Chairs