Dawson has been selected along with nine other institutions across Canada to implement a major federal grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
With over 80% of Canadians living in cities, the grant is intended to provide real-world data about what kind of environmental factors such as green space and air quality, or social supports such as housing and services, create better health outcomes, well-being and equity for different populations. The grant is a $4.95 million investment over six years in a research training platform that will guide the development of a new generation of health, social sciences and humanities, engineering and natural sciences researchers, to find ways to make Canadian cities healthier, more livable, and more resilient.
As part of the grant, Dawson has the opportunity to provide training to graduate students and act as a link between the lead researchers and community organizations in Montreal. The trainees will engage in implementation science; that is, examining how a particular practice works by testing it in the real world and understanding how it can be best used in different regions, under different conditions, and with different populations.
According to Anna-Liisa Aunio, coordinator of Dawson’s environmental studies profile and the lead for the project on behalf of Dawson, this type of applied research is becoming more and more common.
“It’s typically not an easy road for people who want to do that kind of work. The government has said that colleges play a pivotal role in applied research and meeting the needs of communities. This grant will use research methods that are meaningful to the broader community as a whole and this is something that will be a great experience for graduate students,” she said, adding “Colleges across Canada have been drivers in innovation for research with an applied focus. This grant brings that front and center. “
The Implementing Smart Cities Interventions to Build Healthy Cities (SMART) Training Platforms is led by Dr. David Ma at the University of Guelph, Dr. Laurette Dubé at McGill University, and Dr. Miyoung Suh at the University of Manitoba. Dawson is the only College in all of Canada selected as an implementation partner.