HSS endowment fund

Bob Harding and Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Endowment Fund


The University of Waterloo Humanities and Social Sciences Endowment Fund was created by a generous donation of $1 million from Waterloo Mathematics Accounting graduate Bob Harding, Chair of Brookfield Asset Management. An additional $1 million was allocated to the Endowment by Waterloo’s Office of the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, under the direction of Amit Chakma. The HSS Endowment Fund, which now exceeds $2 million, will help researchers in the social sciences, humanities, and fine and performing arts improve their success of securing external grants and support small-scale or start-up projects.


The purpose of the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Endowment (HSS Endowment) is to support research in the social sciences, humanities, and fine and performing arts at the University of Waterloo. Specifically, the HSS Endowment aims:

  • to improve the participation and success rate of Waterloo faculty in Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) competitions;
  • to support small projects or start-up projects that are not eligible for, nor large enough for, or are otherwise not yet suitable for, external grants; and,
  • to provide funding that can be leveraged into larger, external grant competitions.

To achieve these ends, the HSS Endowment will assist projects that might fall outside standard SSHRC parameters. In establishing the HSS Endowment, the University of Waterloo recognizes the growing expectation for direct and clear relevance in research emerging from the social sciences, humanities, and fine and performing arts. Hence, priority will be given to projects that are in keeping with the University’s unique commitment to practical engagement with the community, country, and the world.

One of the primary goals of the HSS Endowment is to attract additional resources over time that will provide increased support for social sciences, humanities, and fine and performing arts research at Waterloo. The management and the terms of reference for the HSS Endowment will keep this goal in mind.

Administration of funds

The HSS Endowment will be administered alongside the internal UW/SSHRC Explore Grant (formerly Seed Grant) program. However, while the UW/SSHRC Explore Grant competition will be used primarily for seed grants that lead to regular SSHRC applications, HSS Endowment funding will normally be used to support projects that do not fit within this seed grant category. In general, application procedures (including forms, competition schedule, adjudication criteria, etc.) used in the UW/SSHRC Explore Grant competitions will also be used to administer the HSS Endowment. All requests for HSS Endowment support will be adjudicated by the same Waterloo committee that reviews the UW/SSHRC Explore Grant applications. Applicants cannot apply to the UW/SSHRC Explore Grant and HSS Endowment Fund for the same research project.

Eligibility guidelines

Eligible applicants: Faculty members at the University of Waterloo (tenured, tenure-track, or with a minimum three-year, limited-term appointment and the support of their Chair and Dean) who are in disciplines eligible for funding through SSHRC may apply. Applicants will normally be allowed to receive HSS Endowment funding only once every three years.

Award amount: The cap for grants from the HSS Endowment will normally be the same as that for grants awarded through the internal UW/SSHRC Explore Grant program (up to $7,000). If an amount exceeding this cap is requested, a specific case must be made (e.g. referring to the difficulty of securing other funds for the project, or to the potential to leverage other grants as a result of a larger-than-normal Waterloo contribution).

Award follow-up: Because improving Waterloo's application and success rate in external SSHRC grant competitions is a high institutional priority, recipients of HSS Endowment funding will be encouraged to apply for SSHRC or other external funding within two years of receiving their grant.  However, because HSS Endowment funds can be used for projects that may not be suitable for external funding competitions, this is not a requirement. If the particular project is not likely to lead directly to an external grant application, this should be clearly stated in the application.

Eligible requests: HSS Endowment funds will normally be used to support the following types of projects/requests:

  • projects that are not eligible for UW/SSHRC seed funding.
  • interdisciplinary research projects. Given the growing emphasis on interdisciplinary and multi-faculty research, projects that connect the social sciences, humanities, and fine and performing arts with other disciplines and research areas will be given full consideration.
  • collaborative research projects (including those involving researchers at other institutions).  Please note that HSS Endowment funds cannot be transferred to other institutions.
  • projects that promise a different approach to knowledge dissemination (e.g. through public outreach, digital distribution, collaboration with government, partnership with non-governmental and community organizations, or private sector firms). In such cases, the intended outcomes of the research and dissemination must be outlined in the application.
  • participatory/action research involving community groups, knowledge mobilization, and/or integrative knowledge projects (e.g. those adopting the wiki model of knowledge production and dissemination).
  • leverage funding, to be used to generate further research support from other grants or sources of income.
  • book publication expenses (e.g. copyright fees, reproduction costs, subventions, etc.).
  • research time stipends (to the equivalent of a one-course release). These will be considered, but must be tied to a very specific project outcome, for example the completion of a book or major writing project.
    • If requesting a course release to complete a manuscript, you must include an outline of that manuscript in the application as well as proof of a publishing contract. 
    • In addition, you must provide information on your Faculty’s rates for course release and approval for said course release from the appropriate authority (Dean, Chair).

Applications must include the following two documents:

  1. Office of Research Electronic Cover Sheet for Sponsored Research Activities
  2. One electronic copy (PDF) of the application form and all supporting documents. The single PDF file containing all documents (except the cover sheet) should be submitted via e-mail to the Secretary, UW/SSHRC Grants Committee. All files must be combined into one PDF; applications not presented in this format will be rejected
    1. HSS Endowment Grant Application Form (PDF) (Adobe Reader is most compatible)
    2. Detailed description of proposal (4 pages maximum)
    3. List of references (1 page maximum)
    4. Budget justification (1 page maximum)
    5. SSHRC CV (with research contributions) or Canadian Common CV

All questions should be directed to the Secretary, UW/SSHRC Grants Committee at uwsshrc@uwaterloo.ca.

Deadline: June 1 and December 1 at 11:59pm

Notification: decisions will be e-mailed to applicants by the end of August and the end of February, respectively.


Ethics: Successful applicants whose research involves human participants/data and/or live, non-human vertebrate animals must submit a research ethics application via the Office of Research Ethics for review and clearance before a research account can be activated.  More information on the ethics applications process can be found on the Office of Research Ethics webpage.


Please acknowledge the support provided by the Bob Harding and Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Endowment Fund in any publication resulting from the grant.

Revised: February 2023

Terms of Reference