Google graphing tool co-creator headlines Big Data SSHRC event at Western

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) developed its Imagining Canada’s Future initiative to identify future challenge areas for the country in an evolving global context that are likely to emerge in next five, 10 and 20 years.

One of these challenge areas is: “How can emerging technologies be leveraged to benefit Canadians?”

In an effort to answer this question, Western University is hosting a one-day regional event for academics, government officials and industry partners to collectively investigate the theme of Big Data and Scholarship in the SSHRC Disciplines on Saturday, March 15 at Great Hall, Somerville House. The event is supported by SSHRC and the Office of the Vice-President (Research).

“The ability to access, manage and manipulate Big Data allows researchers to tackle traditional problems in completely new ways. It also allows us to reframe our research agendas to address new problems that can’t be addressed in any other way,” says Andrew Nelson, Associate Dean (Research) for Western’s Faculty of Social Science and Big Data and Digital Scholarship event organizer. “Either way, the result is a transformation in how we do research, the problems we can address and the impact the study of social sciences and humanities can have on society.”

One of the strengths of the proposal submitted to SSHRC to host the event is the inclusion of all eight Western faculties that boast SSHRC researchers (Arts & Humanities, Education, Health Sciences, Information & Media Studies, Ivey Business School, Law, Don Wright Faculty of Music and Social Science).

“The fact that Western is hosting this SSHRC event demonstrates that our researchers are conducting cutting-edge, innovative research and are recognized as being major players in the field of Big Data,” says Nelson.

Featuring presentations from IBM Canada and GCI Group and a keynote address from TED Fellow and Google Ngram Viewer co-creator Jean-Baptiste Michel, Big Data and Digital Scholarship delivers a stellar lineup of guest speakers and presenters, as well as panel discussions and breakout sessions:

The event will be live streamed at and live tweeted @WesternBigData. The SSHRC twitter hash tag for Imagining Canada’s Future is #futurecanada.

Western’s Faculty of Science is also hosting Big Data Synergy @Western on Friday, March 14. For more information, please visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, @jeffrenaud99

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