Strategic Research Themes

The Strategic Research Themes highlight two important aspects of research activities at Memorial:

  • existing areas of research strengths which hold considerable potential for expansion of expertise, resources and contributions from our researchers;
  • new, aspirational areas of significant research opportunities for which Memorial is strategically positioned to achieve research impact.

The themes identify Memorial’s research priorities to other funders and partners, in areas where we have strengths to build on, and where we see opportunity for growth. They also include research areas where there is a need for fundamental and applied research in our province.

The titles of the themes reflect issues and opportunities for research growth across Memorial, including areas where the institution will provide targeted support. The descriptions of each theme capture our current strengths, how these unify the university and where we see potential for growth.

Research practices and projects in each theme will uphold our Core Principles as we continue to be dynamic, transformative and innovative. We will strengthen Indigenization and EDI-AR by collaborating meaningfully and inclusively. We acknowledge researchers’ freedoms to ethically pursue research and purposefully design supports for all aspects of research at Memorial. It is important to value and celebrate research and its outcomes as we imagine the future and transform research possibilities.

Memorial is committed to helping build a better, more responsible and prosperous future for our province, our country and our world. In that context, Memorial is promoting the importance of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals among our university community. We are also being more deliberate with respect to the positive impact Memorial is making on our society and the environment.

Increased collaboration across disciplines offers significant potential for researchers to benefit from one another’s work. Memorial’s Research Strategy includes support for communication and co-ordination of research activities and the sharing of research across the Strategic Research Themes and academic disciplines. Additionally, greater interaction across Memorial’s campuses, as well as with other post-secondary institutions, are encouraged and supported.

External engagement (i.e. sharing research findings and partnering on research activity with communities, governments, organizations and industry) and interdisciplinary collaboration are vitally important to realizing the significant opportunities presented through the themes. Memorial researchers working in the themes are internationally recognized for their achievements in engagement and sharing with Newfoundland and Labrador communities, nationally and internationally. As this strategy evolves, stronger relationships are encouraged with groups in other regions to contribute to a stronger, more inclusive society.

Planning towards a new strategy identified three “umbrella” themes: Sustaining People, Sustaining Place and Sustaining Economy. The intention of these themes is to focus our research strengths in an inclusive way while also recognizing that there will be opportunities for researchers to address issues and opportunities outside of these thematic areas.

  • Sustaining People
    • Indigenous Peoples
    • Social Justice and Human Rights
    • Health and Wellness

  • Sustaining Place
    • Arctic and Northern Regions
    • Creative Arts, Culture and Heritage
    • Community and Regional Development

  • Sustaining Economy
    • Environment, Energy and Natural Resources
    • Technology for a Knowledge Economy
    • Enterprise Development

The planning process confirmed our university’s special connection and obligations to ocean-related research. Vital Oceans research is present in each of the umbrella themes. More than 40 per cent of Memorial’s research is oceans-related and informed by our relationship with the ocean. Memorial will continue to develop important partnerships in oceans research, honour our history and look to new innovations that will help solve global problems.


Indigenous Peoples

Research under this theme relates to all aspects of Indigenous issues and opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador, nationally and internationally. Contemporary issues include but are not limited to the impacts of climate change, globalization, colonization, reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous Peoples. In addition, research areas include the pre-history and history of Indigenous Peoples.

Research is engaged and Indigenous focussed. It integrates processes and approaches, such as Two-Eyed seeing, to meet the needs and priorities of Indigenous Peoples and is carried out with, and led in partnership with, Indigenous Peoples.

Social Justice and Human Rights

Research under this theme relates to systems and structures that contribute to humane, equitable and just societies. Its focus is on ethical conduct and partnering with historically vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, groups and individuals. Research can assist advocating for those whose voices are often excluded in addressing the barriers to their health and well-being and full participation in society, to build their capacity and enable their civic engagement locally, nationally and internationally.

Health and Wellness

Research under this theme relates to improving health and well-being through building research and knowledge provincially, nationally and internationally. Research also relates to the special needs and opportunities of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, such as food security and the province’s aging, rural, remote, Northern, Indigenous, immigrant and racialized populations and distinctive workforces. It encompasses foundational and biomedical sciences, community and public health, innovation, and clinical studies and trials.


Arctic and Northern Regions

Research under this theme relates to all aspects of land, ocean and coastal zones in Arctic, Subarctic and Circumpolar regions. Research in remote and harsh environments requires specialized research that engages with people and communities, environment and resources, health and well-being, governance, approaches and technologies.

Creative Arts, Culture and Heritage

Research under this theme relates to creative and artistic production and expression, curation and interpretation, and archaeological, historical, ethnographic and archival research provincially, nationally and internationally.

Community and Regional Development

Research under this theme relates to building capacity of people, organizations, communities and industries to foster social and economic prosperity and development in rural and urban communities, neighbourhoods and regions. Research is often in partnership with rightsholders or stakeholders, and can be of a variety of disciplines or interdisciplinary.


Environment, Energy and Natural Resources

Research under this theme relates to the environment (including climate and environmental change), development of natural resources (fisheries and aquaculture; oil and gas; mining and forestry) and the interaction of people, industry and communities with the natural world, locally, nationally and globally.

Information Technology for a Knowledge Economy

Research under this theme relates to the theoretical foundations of information and communication technology (ICT), the design and deployment of ICT in a variety of settings and the evaluation and impact of the use of ICT. It involves research into the study and design of systems that capture, store, transmit, process and use information in a manner that is efficient, accurate, reliable, secure, profitable and responsible.

Enterprise Development

Research under this theme relates to entrepreneurship, social enterprise and business practices and their social, psychological, environmental and economic impacts on local communities, marginalized communities and mainstream markets.