SRP Theme 5

McGill flies the Hiawatha Wampum Belt Flag from the Arts Building. Strengthen public policy and organizations, and create a deeper understanding of social transformation

While economic globalization, regional integration, transnational environmental and security issues, international law, conflict and human migration erode the power of sovereign states from without, multiculturalism and multinationalism, federalism, and decentralization, as well as the recognition of the distinctiveness of Indigenous peoples are transforming states and societies from within. McGill is already at the vanguard of global and comparative scholarship examining these issues, in many ways thanks to its setting in a linguistically and culturally diverse Montreal, Quebec, and Canada.

The challenges of this century require new forms of global accountability as well as creative, multidisciplinary approaches to implementing change that builds on the strengths of the public, private, and social sectors. We can now see inside societies and follow human behaviour and decision-making like never before. The capacity to harness and make sense of information about people and places is both a challenge in terms of privacy protection and an enormous opportunity.

McGill researchers ask questions, such as “How are today’s societies organized and how are they changing?”, “How can we create more productive, equitable, and inclusive societies?” and “How can we use data to improve lives and livelihoods while protecting individual rights to privacy?” In doing so, they are defining, critically analyzing, and implementing social improvements for individuals and communities, as well as the economic, legal, educational, family, and religious institutions that organize and serve them.

International relations and human rights

Research at the interface of international relations, political theory, anthropology, and law has shed light on how human rights movements emerge and gain traction; how troubled conceptions of state sovereignty have shielded abusive institutions and individuals; and probed the meaning and value of claims made by different groups for recognition and respect of their rights. Yet institutions dedicated to advancing human rights are under profound strain. Ongoing work by researchers concerned with international relations and human rights applies a wide range of methods, from ethnography to normative analysis, in order to diagnose and understand the nature of these evolving challenges and chart responses to them.

First Nations Children

First Nations children are overrepresented in out-of-home care compared to non-First Nations. Work by McGill researchers into the prevalence and conditions of out-of-home care formed a key component of a ruling by a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which found that Canada had discriminated against First Nations children, families, and communities by failing to fund the type of placement prevention support services that are available to all other Canadians. The research addresses the first two of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Public Policy

Public policy challenges can only be realistically and effectively addressed by combining the perspectives of researchers from different disciplines. The policies required to drive a substantial transition in global and local energy systems must combine insights from science, engineering, economics, management, political science, and law. Policies to redesign our social safety net in response to the technology-driven changes in the labour market must combine technological insights with those from law, ethics, economics, and public health. McGill is prioritizing research settings that foster the coming together of perspectives from researchers in normally distinct disciplines to shorten the trajectory of knowledge creation into policy options.

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