STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

The 2018–2023 Institutional Strategic Research Plan (ISRP), which will define the direction of U of T’s research for the next five years, will include more provisions for intersectional research.

External funding agencies, including the Canada Research Chairs program and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, require the university to revisit the plan every five years. Modifications to the ISRP are made to keep up with changes in the diverse fields of research at the university.

It was presented to Governing Council’s Planning and Budget Committee for review on January 10. After being reviewed by the committee, Vivek Goel, Vice-President Research and Innovation, will present it to the Academic Board. Its final release will be on January 25, 2018.

Goel’s office organized town halls to solicit feedback from the U of T community throughout 2017. In March and April, Goel held around 30 sessions where faculty, students, and staff across all three campuses provided feedback about research at the university; an online survey was also circulated. Principals, deans, the Council of Aboriginal Initiatives, and the Connaught Committee were among those who responded.

Based on the community response, the university released a first draft of the ISRP in the fall of 2017 for a final round of feedback.

According to Goel, the plan has two parts: research themes and strategic objectives.

The updated objectives include broader themes to allow for intersectional areas of research that do not fall into typical domains like history, chemistry, and philosophy.

Research themes are now more aligned with current and potential future research areas. As per the recommendations from the community feedback, the ISRP has increased its focus on equity and diversity, Indigenous research, knowledge mobilization, and the link between research and teaching.

Goel added that, as the most research-intensive university in Canada, research is at the core of the admissions process and student life at U of T. “The character of the student experience is really meant to be influenced by the research enterprise.”

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