Many challenges confront the scholarly and research communities in Canada. Competition for scholars in a global market is one. The increasing cost of research and the proliferation of tied funding is another. The pressure to increase the number of young scholars, artists and researchers without commensurate support for doing so is a third. And the importance of mentoring promising young researchers from First Nations and historically underrepresented groups remains an important goal. Responding to these challenges is not only an ambition of universities, but it is central to the vision and mission of the RSC.
Over the past decade the Society has sought to design programmes to address these challenges in partnership with Canadian universities. The components of the Institutional Membership Programme have been crafted so as to offer a substantive set of benefits that will complement the parallel initiatives of member institutions.
These benefits may be grouped under three broad headings:
National and International Recognition of Senior and Emerging scholars
The competition for scholarly talent, in relation to students, graduate students, post-docs and professors, is intense. Today universities confront global competition to recruit, attract and retain the very best and brightest scholars and artists. With the heightened mobility of talent, universities require a panoply of tools to ensure that they support their community of researchers and artists. While research money and laboratory support are a major part of this endeavour, the recognition of achievements and the continual acknowledgement of scholarly contributions also plays a central role. The RSC’s Institutional Membership Programme provides universities a range of occasions to champion the work of their most outstanding scholars, artists and scientists.
On-campus and Community Programming
In the era of social media, universities face a common challenge of developing major on-campus programming with local and national visibility. Universities are also charged with developing major programing that advances themes related to their strategic research and growth plans in an interdisciplinary context. The second series of benefits to Institutional Membership consists of the opportunity for Institutional Members to participate in one or several of the major lecture and symposia programmes of the RSC. Currently, the Society organizes seven major types of events with Institutional Members that have national visibility: Governor General Lecture Series, Lectures and Panels on Campus, Conferences with Regional Policy Implications, International Programmes and Symposia, Regional Meetings, Expert Panel Launches, and Ad Hoc Events.
Representation and Leadership
Over the past 130 years, the RSC has worked in close collaboration with organizations, institutions and associations that share its commitment to promoting and recognizing research and scholarly achievement. For most of that period the relationships were ad hoc and were worked out largely through personal relationships between the leadership of these institutions. With the changing dynamic of research and the consequent changing collaborations between the RSC and universities, a more structured mechanism for membership representation needed to be developed. Since the establishment of the Institutional Member Programme in 2005, the aim has been to offer universities substantive opportunities to participate actively in the oversight and governance of the Society. For example, the RSC By-Laws provide for Institutional Member representation on the Council and Executive Committee of the Society. In addition, a Task Force on Institutional Members was recently struck to examine all aspects of the Institutional Member programme. The third series of benefits to Institutional Membership consists of their direct influence in the strategic decision-making and policymaking bodies of the Royal Society of Canada.