Defunding the Humanities

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund’s announcement of grant recipients earlier this month was met with celebrations by many Canadian researchers and scholars. Nearly $1 billion was allocated to 13 large-scale projects at Canadian universities, including a seven-year neuroscience project at McGill University, the establishment of a Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University, a quantum research project at the University of Waterloo and a Laurentian University initiative to study the relationship between metal deposits and Earth’s evolution.

While the projects are compelling and worthy, it’s notable that not a single one is rooted in the humanities, or includes the humanities as a dimension of its research. Instead, the list is populated with work in science, medicine and engineering. Considering the burgeoning new fields of digital humanities and medical humanities, initiatives such as the Université de Montréal’s Data Serving Canadians project seems ideal for a combined humanities and computer science approach. (At the very least, couldn’t Laurentian’s Metal Earth project have included the university’s music department to contribute comments on Metallica, Slayer or Canada’s own Razor?)

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