New research chair to study academic changemaking effectiveness

January 17, 2019

A new research chair established at Royal Roads University will support changemaking in higher education research.

The Ashoka Research Chair in Research Effectiveness, jointly supported by Royal Roads University and Ashoka Canada, aims to evaluate change through socially engaged and effective research.

Dr. Brian Belcher, professor in Royal Roads University’s College of Interdisciplinary Studies, has been appointed the inaugural Ashoka Research Chair for a four-year term, effective April 1, 2019.

Belcher’s research focuses on developing new approaches to support and to engage faculty as changemakers and to transform research and research systems for greater impact.

“Student and faculty research at Royal Roads is driven by a desire to make a difference in the community. Change can happen when research is community-based, action-oriented and accessible,” says Royal Roads University President Philip Steenkamp.

Recognizing that researchers often struggle to meet impact requirements from funders and to translate their research’s effectiveness to broader society, the chair will reconceptualise how research can be more socially engaged, deliberate and effective in contributing to social change.

“Academic research significantly accelerates the uptake of proven social innovations to achieve impact at a systematic level,” says Barbara Steele, executive director of Ashoka Canada. “There is no doubt this chair will carve new pathways for researchers to contribute to a world where solutions outrun problems and where everyone can be a changemaker."

In 2017, Royal Roads was designated an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus to recognize the university’s innovations in higher education and commitment to providing changemaker education via collaborative, interdisciplinary, experiential and applied learning.

 “The Ashoka Research Chair in Research Effectiveness will further support our commitment to solving crucial social and environmental problems,” Steenkamp says.