CSSRP a crash course in social science, policy research
All are welcome to join new research centre’s fall programming

All are welcome to join new research centre’s fall programming

The Centre for Social Science Research and Policy launched quietly during the pandemic and has been offering online workshops for the past several months. The centre is run by Royce Koop, academic director of the centre and professor of political studies, and Jennifer Dengate, executive director of the centre.

The goals of the centre include providing high-quality training and professionalization, sharing knowledge with the broader community, facilitating research and creating partnerships. The centre offers workshops, certificate programs and a professional development series to students, faculty and community members.

“The centre was started as a result of an investment from the dean of arts, an original investment that was made to create a centre that would be similar to the [University of Manitoba] Institute for the Humanities,” Koop said.

Plans had been in the works for the past several months to develop and welcome guests to the centre.

“COVID came along and kind of derailed everything, and everything was delayed,” Koop said.

Koop is the second academic director for the centre, following Tracey Peter’s brief tenure as acting academic director. Peter is now the vice-provost of academic affairs at the University of Manitoba.

Koop served as the department head of political studies for five years and is now the coordinator of the interdisciplinary Canadian studies program.

“I’ve used a lot of different kinds of social science methodologies,” Koop said.

“In my research, I do interviews, participant observation [and] work with large datasets.”

Dengate acts as the full-time executive director of the centre, overseeing day-to-day operations. She is a proud University of Manitoba alum, having completed her undergrad and master’s degree in the department of sociology before returning as a postdoctoral fellow after her PhD at the University of British Columbia.

“I was working kind of embedded between sociology and soil science, just so happens, a soil scientist wanting to do some research on equity, diversity and inclusion,” Dengate said.

The centre’s mandate encourages interdisciplinary thinking and lifelong learning. Acting as a bridge between departments and disciplines, the centre allows faculty and students to learn about research that may complement or expand upon their own field of expertise. The centre also provides practical opportunities to students.

“If you sign up for a research methods course, you’re there for four months or eight months and you have to learn the theory and read a textbook that’s this thick,” Koop said.

“Sometimes I think what students want, what they need, is just […] the crash course in how to do this. You know, how to do interviews, how to do this focus group, how to do this and how to do that.”

Community members are also invited to participate in the centre’s activities.

“We currently […] welcome anyone to come,” Dengate said.

“If you are a member of the public [and] you want to upskill or you want to take a workshop, you work for an industry, but you want to collect data through focus groups, you’re more than welcome to attend the workshops when they’re offered.”

The fees associated with workshops and certificate courses are on a sliding scale. Students — who may face the largest financial barriers to accessing programming — pay a reduced rate compared faculty and members of the public.

The centre is offering a workshop on semi-structured interviews called “Inside Interviews: How to Conduct an In-Depth Semi-Structured Qualitative Interview” on Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The workshop is free for all to attend.

The centre has practical workshops for students today and ambitious plans for the future. Over the next five years, the centre would like to expand to host several certificate programs with diverse student, faculty and community member participation. The centre would also like to continue to develop its speaker series and research engagements.

“In three to five years, the centre should be known clearly as the hub for social science research at the University of Manitoba,” Koop said.

For more information about the centre, email cssrp@lists.umanitoba.ca to be added to their mailing list.