Strategic Plan

Introduction

This document presents a strategic summary of the many discussions that have happened over the past two years at the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS). The Faculty’s Strategic Plan Destination 2020 addresses its achievements, what sets it apart, its weaknesses and future actions. The ideas in the document were partly guided by the Discussion Paper and the Position Statement from the Vision 2020 management team and represent a summary of the many discussions that have taken place between Executive Committee members and in the academic units over the past twelve months.

Our goal is twofold: to develop a common, coherent and inclusive vision of our ambitions within the Faculty, in addition to providing a place for the Social Sciences in the overall vision of the University of Ottawa’s Destination 2020 over the next decade.

Mission, vision and values

Mission

  • Position ourselves as a centre for excellence in teaching and research, both internationally and nationally
  • Train the leaders of tomorrow
  • Contribute to knowledge development and transfer
  • Provide a university education in both official languages

Vision

  • Hire the best professors
  • Attract the best students by offering a rigorous and stimulating education
  • Provide programs of study at all levels
  • Strengthen ties with our graduates
  • Develop partnerships with local, national and international communities
  • Participate in public debates

Values

  • A faculty that puts the university experience at the centre of its educational mission
  • A faculty whose programs of study are at the forefront of the latest disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and research advances
  • A bilingual faculty that enhances cultural diversity
  • A faculty committed to promoting Francophonie
  • A faculty that maintains contact with its graduates
  • A faculty that builds partnerships with its local, national and international communities
  • A faculty guided by the principles of respect and fairness towards all its students, faculty and administrative staff
  • A faculty whose concern for sustainability is reflected in the policies, procedures, behaviours and culture of its community

 

Moderate growth in enrolment

Similar to the University, the FSS will see moderate growth in enrolment over the next five years. The UO will accommodate 500 additional students per year until 2016, and wishes that at least:

  • 40% are enrolled in graduate studies, especially at the doctoral level;
  • 40% are French;
  • 30% are international.

By focussing on these types of students, the University is well-positioned to achieve the objectives set in Destination 2020 as well as its mission and vision. In addition, the University aims to double the number of immersion students and increase its ability to attract the best students nationally and internationally. It is important for the FSS to find a balance between its financial objectives, its ability to absorb new enrolments at various levels of study and guarantee a quality university experience.

With the creation of new doctoral programs (Social Work, International Development), the major reform of some programs (Women's Studies) and the possible development of new undergraduate and graduate programs, over the next three years (2012–2013, 2013–2014, 2014–2015) the FSS will adopt the following targets:

Enrolment Targets for the Next 3 Years
Types of additional studentsNumber
Additional undergraduate students50
Additional graduate students75
Total125

The FSS aims to increase its enrolment proportional to its current size in relation to the entire University, i.e. 125 additional students per year for three years (2012–2015). Following this period, the targets will be adjusted (increased or decreased) according to the size of the Faculty.

Ideally, the FSS would like to recruit 50 undergraduate students and 75 graduate students, of which:

  • 50 would be French and
  • 37 would be international.

To do this, we need to recruit and retain these students by offering an exceptional university experience and by helping them to graduate on time.

 

Objectives

The FSS has four main objectives that reflect its mission, vision and values, as well as the University’s Strategic Plan Destination 2020. They are based on an understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, in addition to the challenges and circumstances we face concerning teaching and academic research in the Social Sciences.

Objective 1 – To offer an unparalleled university experience

The university experience is at the heart of our mission and we are continuously innovating, but now it is time to consolidate our efforts to provide our students and employees with a memorable and rewarding university experience.

The Faculty of Social Sciences aims to provide its students with an enriching educational experience that it defines in the following terms: foster each student’s integration into university life by providing them with a rigorous education filled with stimulating intellectual and human challenges, and by forging connections between theory and practice that will enable them to rub shoulders with a world of ideas that will help them to contribute positively to the world of tomorrow.

To enrich the learning environment inside and outside the classroom, we will:

  • increase the number of orientation, welcome and networking activities for students;
  • analyze our students’ academic paths and the obstacles they may face in the Faculty’s programs;
  • establish appropriate measures to ensure retention;
  • foster appreciation of undergraduate teaching through the development of various initiatives;
  • increase and diversify mentoring activities;
  • provide our Mentoring Centre services to all students year round;
  • provide guidance to students during their first registration (in 1st or 2nd year) and course selection;
  • ensure that all 1st-year students have access to personalized advice and mentoring services;
  • continue to develop proactive approaches concerning integrity in academic writing, while supporting academic procedures in this regard;
  • clarify the learning outcomes of undergraduate programs to improve the overall coherence of the latter;
  • support the Canadian Future Achievers program (Aboriginal students);
  • create more student spaces;
  • create a satellite library in the Social Sciences Building;
  • maintain relationships with our graduates to create opportunities for them to return to campus, interact with current students and act as resource persons, mentors or role models;
  • forge relationships with our networks in the intra-university community (Centre for Global and Community Engagement) and outside the university (e.g. through internships or partnerships) to create opportunities to enrich our students’ university studies and encourage social responsibility;
  • provide all of our students with the opportunity to pursue their studies in a faculty that actively cares about sustainability and that facilitates adopting sustainable behaviour during their studies.

To boost recruitment, we will:

  • enforce our competitive advantages: Francophonie and bilingualism; close ties with the community (especially the federal government); and international;
  • develop recruitment strategies for Francophone students by targeting them for certain programs, attracting them from abroad, using Francophonie Chairs and developing regional mentoring;
  • review the size of some units and programs (including additional minors);
  • investigate the possibility of implementing a graduate immersion program;
  • maximize the efficiency of undergraduate-course preparation, while taking into particular consideration the University’s new tool that recruits students from inside and outside the Faculty who are waiting or wish to register;
  • target international students to ensure a smooth integration.

To consolidate our efforts in teaching and mentoring, we will:

  • continue to offer supervision and training for teaching assistants;
  • create an annual award for teaching assistantships;
  • explore opportunities to diversify the courses we offer (summer, online, hybrid, etc.);
  • develop a student success plan;
  • improve our educational and practicum supervision practices (COOP and internationally);
  • develop hybrid and integrated programs through exchanges between local colleges and the University.

To improve the graduate student experience and ensure a high graduation rate, we will:

  • develop new doctoral programs (GSPIA);
  • implement the new SIDGS doctoral program;
  • provide incentives, such as a scholarship for doctoral students who are writing their thesis;
  • develop procedures to promote compliance to deadlines;
  • encourage major research projects at the master's level;
  • review funding arrangements for graduate students with the FGPS (greater funding for a thesis than for a major project);
  • offer the possibility of an accelerated transition to a PhD in relevant disciplines;
  • ensure, when possible, that a supervisor is assigned to a student upon their admission;
  • develop pilot projects to support students who are writing their thesis (e.g. monthly meetings to maintain a sense of cohort);
  • develop mentoring projects at the graduate level;
  • ensure better communication between the Office of Graduate Studies and the academic units.

To support and empower faculty members, we will:

  • continue to develop tools;
  • establish a mechanism to value the teaching of first-year courses;
  • examine best practices in graduate student supervision;
  • examine a method to evaluate supervision;
  • recognize PhD co-direction (include in the professor’s workload);
  • provide new professors with supervisory training;
  • encourage waste diversification and launch initiatives to increase staff awareness of sustainability in the workplace;
  • continue efforts to add a Vice-Dean Governance to the FSS.

To encourage the development of administrative staff, we will:

  • adopt the new performance management system;
  • encourage training and career development;
  • create a floater position;
  • promote exchanges between universities;
  • add a staff-recognition award;
  • consider the administrative staff workload with increased enrolment (ratio of staff per student);
  • develop web profiles for administrative staff as well as professors;
  • encourage waste diversification and launch initiatives to increase staff awareness of sustainability in the workplace;
  • include staff in the Faculty’s decisions.

To ensure the commitment of our alumni and retired staff, we will:

  • include graduates more regularly and systematically in our activities;
  • work closely with the Office of Alumni Relations;
  • encourage the financial support of graduates through donations;
  • actively participate in solicitation campaigns;
  • create learning opportunities for seniors;
  • consider a continuing professional education program in the School of Social Work;
  • ensure a smooth transition of our retired staff;
  • support the knowledge transfer of our staff.

 

Objective 2 - Expand research support and ensure knowledge mobilization

Our faculty contributes significantly to the advancement of knowledge in the Social Sciences and Humanities. In 2011-2012, our researchers received more than $7.5 million in research grants and contracts. They also stand out for their presence in Canadian and international media as well as for their productivity.

We must take real steps to promote our research excellence. The strategic actions listed below will help build our national and international reputation, with the view of recruiting and retaining the best students and the best researchers.

To enhance our research competitiveness, we will:

  • continue to fund internal research (RDP, events, publications, etc.);
  • develop new support programs when the need arises (support for recommended researchers who are not funded by the SSHRC student scholarships);
  • offer on a competitive basis a greater number of course releases;
  • evaluate the pilot project to support recommended researchers who are not funded by the SSHRC;
  • encourage hiring of research assistants;
  • organize workshops for the three councils;
  • continue to develop tools and templates to facilitate the grant application process.

To provide a welcoming environment for guests and postdoctoral researchers, we will:

  • improve the welcome procedure;
  • increase communication between different sectors (academic units, human resources, research office, etc.);
  • provide administrative support;
  • reserve courses for postdocs;
  • inform researchers of the recruitment process for postdocs;
  • consider an intensive summer school program with international visiting professors and Faculty of Social Sciences’ professors.

To increase national and international awareness about our research, we will:

  • continue collaborating with the Office of Media Relations and the Vice-President, Research;
  • encourage participation in public debates (media, Experts on Call, etc.) by creating a forum for dialogue to take advantage of being located in a G8 Capital;
  • promote the FSS research themes and use them as a recruitment tool for students, researchers and potential donors;
  • publicize our researchers’ work through the new web portal and World of Ideas;
  • highlight the practical impact of research by outlining the research cycle: from theory to practice to impacts;
  • analyze the possibility of acquiring a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner;
  • actively participate in the development of the "School of Government" project.

 

Objective 3 – Increase our competitive advantage in Francophonie and bilingualism

The FSS has a large number of Francophone students enrolled in all levels of study. At the undergraduate level, 30% of 8,759 students are Francophone; in graduate studies, 35% of 1,327 students are Francophone. In addition, the FSS requires regular professors to have a working knowledge of both official languages in order to apply for tenure, i.e. they must be able to teach in both English and French. Over the years, the Faculty has developed measures to promote the presence of a French-language community among its members and to encourage the development of its professors’ bilingualism.
 

To increase recruitment and retention, we will:

  • continue recruitment efforts in Francophone regions;
  • implement measures to retain Francophone students in courses taught in French;
  • add qualification criteria to the Clinical Psychology program for practicing psychology in Quebec.

To support and encourage research in French, we will:

  • create an institute dedicated to the research and study of the Francophone community;
  • recognize research in French;
  • establish a list of the best Francophone universities.

To promote French immersion at the FSS, we will:

  • develop new bilingual courses;
  • explore the possibility of graduate immersion courses;
  • recognize bilingualism on diplomas.

 

Objective 4 – Encourage mobility, expand our partnerships and increase our exposure and reputation abroad

New information technologies have closed the distance between borders. Local and national issues have taken on an increasingly international dimension, and international issues have a growing impact on more local issues. This is what we call globalization. Globalization will require the leaders of tomorrow to have a well-developed international perspective. Like many other activities, globalization requires international partnerships and forces universities to compete globally. This is why the training we provide our students, our research and our reputation must compete with international standards.

To do so, we must encourage student mobility, develop international exchanges and increase our international presence.

To encourage student mobility, we will:

  • double the number of students who participate in a mobility program in the next five years;
  • offer international field research courses to all units and diversify the field research courses offered;
  • improve the courses by integrating an international dimension into the curriculum;
  • organize specialized summer schools for graduate students;
  • Strengthen our educational approaches to mobilized learning;
  • establish mechanisms for exchanging and sharing testimonials and experience;
  • hold an annual conference for students who take part in mobilized learning.

To develop and strengthen our international partnerships, we will:

  • continue the training project with the Red Cross (humanitarian aid);
  • consolidate our Marco Polo agreements;
  • continue our discussions with Wuhan University, Ca' Foscari University and other universities;
  • support research to develop international partnerships;
  • develop a mechanism to validate the relevance of partners for our international internships;
  • explore opportunities to collaborate with Gender at Work;
  • initiate a productive exchange mechanism with the International Office.

To ensure international exposure of the FSS, we will:

  • organize a major annual international conference;
  • investigate the feasibility of a conference centre similar to Oberwolfach;
  • actively participate in international research partnerships.
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