Professor Laurel Besco in UTM’s Department of Geography was delighted when she received news while overseas at a conference this summer that she was a recipient of the latest round of funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant competitions. Even more delightful: she was not the only one in her family to achieve SSHRC success this summer.
When it comes to her new Insight Development Grant (IDG), Laurel—who is also cross-appointed to the Institute for Management & Innovation and focuses on environmental law and policy in her research—will use the $55,000 for her project “Engendering the Production of Corporate Environmental Norms: Implications for Achieving Energy Efficiency Targets.”
The goal of Laurel’s work on this project is to study corporate environmental action, and to better understand how innovative law- and policy-instrument design can encourage corporations to improve their environmental action. For example, is it necessary to place legally binding requirements on companies to get them to take environmental actions, such as installing energy efficient lighting? Or, can a government providing information about competitors’ actions or societal expectations also change corporate behavior? This inquiry will provide a better understanding of these motivations and could potentially help to achieve larger-scale environmental goals.
For the Besco household, the SSHRC-grant triumph did not end with her: her partner, UTM postdoctoral fellow Randy Besco in the Department of Political Science was also awarded a $48,000 SSHRC IDG for his own project, “When Politicians Attack: Political Participation and Criticism of Minority Groups.” He is working on the project with UTM co-applicant Professor Erin Tolley. This is the first time in UTM’s history that a postdoc was awarded a grant of this calibre.
This project aims to understand the effect of attacks and criticisms of minority groups by politicians on the political participation of those who are targeted. For example, what are the impacts of comments such as those being made by US presidential candidate Donald Trump or those made during the 2015 Canadian federal election when the niquab issue was raised? On one hand, these attacks could motivate minorities to engage in politics in order to challenge or counteract the perceived attack. Or, they could discourage minorities from participating because of a loss of efficacy and a sense of alienation. Through better explaining the impacts of these attacks and criticisms by politicians, the goal of this research is to understand how best to sustain the democratic participation of these citizens.
Along with both Bescos, UTM had an impressive list of successes in this round. The recipients for the 2016 IDG competition are:
The Insight Grants (IG) were also awarded and philosophy professor Andrew Sepielli was one of four UTM faculty members who have been awarded funds in the 2016 IG competition for his project, “Moral Uncertainty and its Practical Implications.”
"Fundamental moral questions are extremely difficult to answer," says Sepielli. "We are often uncertain about them, and our uncertainty is, I think, exactly the right reaction. My research is about how we ought to live our lives in the face of moral uncertainty."
Sepielli will use the $80,600 grant to fund his research into the question of how we ought to act in the face of moral uncertainty, and the implications of moral uncertainty for issues like the ethics of climate change.
The other three UTM recipients of the SSHRC IGs are:
The overall SSHRC Insight program aims to build understanding and knowledge about people, societies and the world, with funds being awarded annually to support research excellence in all SSHRC eligible subject areas.
For all SSHRC competition results and award recipients, please see the SSHRC’s website.