Law, technology and social sciences researchers receive multimillion dollar Partnership Grants

Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

OTTAWA, September 14, 2015  —  Two teams of researchers from the Centre for Law, Technology and Society have been awarded prestigious multimillion dollar Partnership Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for their research projects, which explore youth experiences online and inherent tensions between intellectual property systems and access to knowledge in Africa, respectively.

The SSHRC Partnership Grants are each worth approximately $2.5 million over seven years.  The grants will support formal partnerships between academic researchers, businesses, community and grassroots organizations and others to advance knowledge and understanding on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance. 

Professors Valerie Steeves (Faculty of Social Sciences) and Jane Bailey (Faculty of Law, Common Law Section) have received a grant for “The eQuality Project,” which brings together a broad range of civil society, education and government partners interested in exploring young peoples’ experiences online.  Their highly innovative approach examines privacy, online behavioural targeting and cyberbullying through an equality lens. The economic model behind e-commerce — disclosure of information in exchange for services — leads youth to share terabytes of data (often unknowingly) as they go about their daily lives. This data is used in a wide variety of ways, including behavioural marketing that shapes attitudes and behaviours, and profiling, which can reinforce mainstream stereotypes and lead to discrimination and cyberbullying.

Professors Jeremy de Beer and Chidi Oguamanam, both from the Common Law Section, have been awarded a grant to expand their Open African Innovation Research network, known as Open AIR. With leading experts at postsecondary institutions in Africa, they are working to ease the inherent tensions between intellectual property rights and access to knowledge, build connections between Canada and the world’s fastest growing economies and train new scholars through unique international experiences and perspectives. Together with collaborators across government, civil society and the private sector in 14 African countries, they are working to answer two core research questions:  How can open collaborative innovation help businesses scale up and seize the new opportunities of a global knowledge economy?  And which knowledge governance systems will best ensure that the social and economic benefits of innovation are shared across society as a whole?  Answering these questions will facilitate innovation benefitting people in developed and developing countries alike.

Through the highly competitive Partnership Grant process, 24 projects were shortlisted in 2014, of which close to half were selected as recipients.  That two of those projects hail from the same research centre at uOttawa is both an incredible feat and proof that the Centre for Law, Technology and Society is truly at the forefront of research in its field.

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