Lethbridge College has received the largest social sciences research grant in its history, as $1 million in federal research funding will kickstart the college’s public safety applied research program. The funding will allow the college’s researchers to engage with industry partners across policing, corrections, and courts and their associated community service providers to undertake research projects aimed at strengthening policing and public safety in Canada.
The five-year, $1 million Mobilize grant is part of the Government of Canada’s College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in collaboration with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Lethbridge College’s public safety research is led by Dr. Kirsten Fantazir, who was appointed as the President’s Applied Research Chair in Public Safety earlier this year. The funding provides support for Fantazir and other researchers to identify and activate short-term applied research projects designed to solve real-world problems for clients and partner organizations.
“This grant mobilizes us into the public safety research space and provides us with the funding needed to explore research opportunities that are important to our industry partners,” says Fantazir. “With more than 50 years of justice studies education history, Lethbridge College has a strong reputation among policing and public safety organizations, which positions us well to embark on this research. Through this work, we can provide qualitative data that will help our partners improve their services and the public safety sector as a whole.”
Public safety and the Canadian criminal justice system were identified as strategic research priorities by Lethbridge College’s Executive Leadership Team and its Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE). Fantazir’s work will be rooted in the spirit of reconciliation with an emphasis on collaborating with Blackfoot and other Indigenous peoples to support sharing of knowledge related to the public safety field.
“It is important to us as an institution that our applied research aligns with the expertise we have in our college,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Vice President – Research and Partnerships. “The time is right to engage in meaningful, data-driven research in the public safety field, and this grant, along with the appointment of Dr. Fantazir, means we will be able to immediately begin preparing research projects that will have a positive effect on society.”
Lethbridge College is an established leader in the field of justice and public safety, delivering both degree and diploma programs in justice, policing and corrections curriculum, as well as recruit and cadet training programs for partners. With 17 full-time faculty members in the School of Justice Studies and more than 70 employees in the teaching, training and research pool with various backgrounds and years of industry experience, the college is uniquely positioned to conduct research through the lens of those who have actively worked in the field.
“We have a wealth of talented people, not only in those who are on-campus, but in our industry partners and alumni, who give us a unique view of the day-to-day life and challenges faced by those in the field,” says Trudi Mason, Dean, Centre for Justice and Human Services. “This research will benefit our industry partners, strengthen our ties with those who work in these sectors, and provide opportunities for our faculty and students to engage in research.”
Lethbridge College is among the first-ever recipients of the new Mobilize grants. The federal funding allows Lethbridge College to collaborate with industry partners on mutually beneficial projects, including research proposal development and support, training and education, technical services and consultation, and data collection, analysis and interpretation. Lethbridge College’s grant proposal was developed collaboratively by members of CARIE, including Manager of Applied Research Operations Dave McMurray; the School for Justice Studies, including Associate Dean in the Centre for Justice and Human Services Brad Taylor; and Fantazir.
“For over a decade, the CCI program has been a primary source of funding for colleges, CEGEPs and polytechnics to foster research collaborations with their local partners to support their communities, strengthen their local economies, and train their students to enter the workforce,” says Dr. Alejandro Adem, President, NSERC. “On behalf of the tri-agencies, congratulations to the first ever Mobilize recipients and this year’s recipients of the College and Community Social Innovation Fund.”
Public safety industry partners and professionals interested in learning more or getting involved in Fantazir’s work can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE RESEARCHER
Dr. Kirsten Fantazir graduated from the General Studies program at Lethbridge College in 1999 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Master of Education in Distance Education, and a PhD in Psychology, focused on studying game-based learning technologies through gamification. She joined Lethbridge College in 2003, has been a faculty member in the School of Justice Studies since 2010 and spent this past academic year as the SJS Distance Learning Program Chair. She is also an experienced researcher, completing multiple projects focused on exploring student motivation, engagement and retention in non-traditional adult learning settings using digital game-based technologies.
Fundamental to Lethbridge College’s vision of leading and transforming education in Alberta, the Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region. Its integrated approach brings together industry, community organizations, researchers, employees and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications.