Dr. Gaffield has been at the forefront of computer-based analyses of long-term social change for nearly four decades. He has been working in the field that we now call digital humanities since the 1970s when he studied with Michael B. Katz and looked at census data as a way of understanding the common experience of people. Founding Director of the Institute of Canadian Studies at the University of Ottawa, he was one of a new generation of cutting-edge social historians in Canada that advanced computing in their research practices.
Dr. Gaffield served as Principal Investigator for the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure project (CCRI; ccri.uottawa.ca). CCRI has created a foundation for the study of social, economic, cultural, and political change at a national level, beginning with digital reconstruction of censuses that sit at the core of a pan-national research database consisting of pertinent contextual data drawn from newspapers, parliamentary proceedings, legislative records and beyond.
From 2006 to 2014, he was President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. While President of SSHRC he helped develop international grant partnerships such as the Digging into Data programme and more recently the Transatlantic Platform.
As a digital scholar deeply committed to long-term collaborations and partnerships, he has played a leading role in records-driven projects such as the Canadian Social History Project, the Vancouver Island Project, the Lower Manhattan Project, and the Canadian Families Project. As President of the Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences, he championed the Data Liberation Initiative and enacted a merger of humanities and social science groups in Ottawa and annually at Congress. He was instrumental in the creation of the Research Data Centres and more recently advocated for data as research infrastructure through the Leadership Council for Digital Infrastructure.
For his exemplary work, he holds many academic distinctions and prizes, including Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada, the J.B. Tyrrell Historical Medal of the Royal Society, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the Canadian Association of University Teachers' Distinguished Academic Award, and the ADHO Antonio Zampolli Prize.
It is the great honour of the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities/Société canadienne des humanitiés numériques to name Dr. Chad Gaffield as the recipient of CSDH/SCHN’s 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award for Computing in the Arts and Humanities.