Government research and innovation strategies usually focus on science and technology—and with good reason: Today’s innovations in areas such as energy and environment set the stage for tomorrow’s well-being and prosperity. At McGill, we focus on advancing the government priorities that align with our academic strengths. It’s crucial work and, as Headway has shown over the past five years, McGill researchers are extremely active and successful at meeting these challenges.
But that’s not the whole picture.
McGill is a comprehensive university. We are strong in the sciences, engineering and medicine, areas that usually correspond to government priorities, but we also excel in the social sciences, the arts, law and humanities. As a profoundly multi disciplinary university, we are also the hub where many of those disciplines intersect. We have a responsibility to ensure that a social conscience resonates throughout all our education and research programs—so that our work doesn’t just make us more economically prosperous, but also creates a more just, stable and creative world.
Consider the McGill Global Health Programs, the subject of this issue’s cover story. The MGHP’s holistic view of health, of working toward a worldwide common standard of wellness, speaks to this commitment to social responsibility. You see this at work in the vast array of projects collected under the MGHP umbrella. Does helping former child soldiers transition into healthy post-war lives benefit the economy? Of course healthy adults are more productive adults—as illustrated by the entrepreneurial drive of ex-child combatants in Sierra Leone—but at the heart of the matter, it’s the right thing to do, and it makes our world a better place.
McGill can, and should, have it both ways. Yes, our researchers will continue to lead programs in strategic priority areas for the Quebec and Canadian economy—that may be more important than ever in these economically difficult years. At the same time, McGill will continue to support and highlight our accomplishments in the social sciences, cultivating the social responsibility and the cultural and community values integral to being a good citizen of the world.
(Research and International Relations)