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National leader

On the Move Partnership, Dr. Barbara Neis finalist for coveted SSHRC award


By Jeff Green

A unique pan-Canadian research initiative based at Memorial is being recognized as one of the most impactful research collaborations in the country.

Dr. Barbara Neis
Photo: Dave Howells

The On The Move Partnership, which has been based at Memorial for the past eight years, is one of three finalists for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Impact Awards (Partnership category) – one of the nation’s top research awards.

The Impact Award for Partnership honours a formal partnership that, through mutual co-operation and shared intellectual leadership and resources, has demonstrated impact and influence within and/or beyond the social sciences and humanities research community.

Prolific researcher

On the Move’s project director is Dr. Barbara Neis, John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professor, a member of the Order of Canada and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, who is based in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

One of Memorial’s most prolific researchers, Dr. Neis is also co-director of Memorial’s SafetyNet Centre for Health and Safety Research and a co-recipient of the 2018 Vanier Institute of the Family’s Mirabelli-Glossop Award.

“The research is groundbreaking in its focus, scope and findings.” — Dr. Barbara Neis

In 2012 On the Move – a SafetyNet project – received nearly $5 million in support from SSHRC, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, InnovateNL and Memorial University. That funding allowed its team to conduct the first comprehensive study of the spectrum of employment-related geographical mobility from extended daily to long distance mobility for and within work in the Canadian context including its impacts on workers and their families, employers and source and host communities.

This kind of extended/complex mobility for work is a significant feature of many Newfoundland and Labrador communities and it was questions about its scale and effects that initially drove the development of the proposal for On the Move.

On the Move consists of 55 co-applicants drawn from 27 universities across Canada and internationally. It also includes 35 partner organizations, 12 academic partners and 23 community organizations in different parts of Canada and in Scandinavia. The team has engaged in more than 900 knowledge mobilization activities and supported almost 150 trainees.

 On the Move leadership

“The research is groundbreaking in its focus, scope and findings,” said Dr. Neis. “Before On the Move, our knowledge of extended/complex mobility patterns and their consequences for working people in Canada was extremely limited and piecemeal. We had research on family lives, on working lives and on mobility, but there was very little that brought all of these together and investigated them across multiple sectors, regions and groups.

“We now know that extended/complex work-related mobility is an integral part of the lives of up to 16 per cent of the employed labour force, including rural and urban, men and women, Canadians, recent immigrants and international migrant workers and that it can have profound impacts on their lives at home, on the road and at work,” Dr. Neis continued.

The team’s findings are available in many forms, including a series of CBC Ideas programs, digital stories, web pages, blogs, newsletters, reports, special issues of journals, articles and books.

“Being named a finalist for one of the SSHRC Impact Awards speaks volumes to the exceptional strength, productivity and commitment of the On the Move team including researchers, partners and staff,” said Dr. Neis.

Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), congratulated Dr. Neis on her achievement.

“Innovative research initiatives such as the On the Move Partnership further enhance Memorial’s global profile as a leader for critical social sciences and humanities research,” he said.

“Being named a finalist for the SSHRC Impact Awards is a tremendous honour. On behalf of the entire Memorial community, I offer sincere congratulations to Dr. Neis and the On the Move collaborators on receiving this national recognition for their important research.”

SSHRC will recognize recipients of its Impact Awards during a ceremony on Dec. 4 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ont.

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