The extraordinary gift-in-kind, valued at $8.2 million, represents a vast trove of data covering international public attitudes that does not exist anywhere else in the world.

Posted on September 28, 2017

At a recent event at the Munk School of Global Affairs, U of T President Meric Gertler and Didier Truchot, Chairman and CEO of Ipsos announced an unprecedented gift of global opinion data that will help U of T researchers understand the world.

The gift comprises unique survey data files from 80 waves of the Ipsos Global Advisor Survey. The benefaction represents a vast trove of datasets covering international public attitudes from 2008 to 2015. It deals with current events, country reputations, political engagement, and many other topics of not just national, but of global interest. This data does not exist anywhere else in the world and will now be a resource to the U of T research community at large, with particular significance to those at the Munk School. This extraordinary gift-in-kind has been independently valued at $8.2 million.

The University of Toronto is extremely grateful to receive this data

“The University of Toronto is extremely grateful to receive this data,” says President Gertler. “The Munk School is one of the world’s truly great schools of global affairs, and its many renowned scholars are ideally positioned to make the most of this generous gift. Speaking as a social scientist myself, I can attest to the value of such data in enabling us to make sense of the world today, and to situate Canada’s place in it. In our increasingly interconnected world, international survey data of this kind play an essential role in enabling us to undertake leading-edge global research.”

The gift represents almost seven years’ worth of data from the Ipsos Global Advisor survey, which interviews 18,000 people around the world every month on the most important issues of the day. The topics range from immigration to religion to political leadership, and the survey data will help researchers and analysts understand the interplay of public opinion and political action, both at the domestic and international level.

Enabling U of T researchers to undertake leading-edge global research

Ipsos Corp. is the world’s third-largest market research company, with offices in 88 countries. The relationship between Ipsos and the University of Toronto goes back almost twenty years, since Ipsos made its first gift in support of U of T students in 1999. At the announcement event, Mr. Truchot, Chairman and CEO remarked, “Ipsos is committed to providing our clients with a total understanding of society, markets and people in an increasingly volatile world so they can evaluate and act. By sharing our data, we’re continuing a tradition of supporting scholar understanding and student education for the next wave of global research experts.”

Ipsos is perfectly situated to help University of Toronto faculty and students to analyze and understand trends in public opinion

“Ipsos is perfectly situated to help University of Toronto faculty and students to analyze and understand trends in public opinion,” says Randall Hansen, Interim Director of the Munk School. “They are one of the world’s most renowned research agencies, and given their longstanding relationship with our University, and the strength of our researchers, the Munk School is the ideal recipient of this visionary gift. This immensely rich data will provide our faculty and students with crucial insights needed to analyze some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Researchers like those at the School of Public Policy and Governance (SPPG) have already started engaging with the data, applying statistical analyses and using it to help enrich and inform their own studies. “This data complements the work we have been doing, and allows us to extend our research in new directions,” says Professor Peter Loewen, Director of the SPPG. “It will be especially valuable for our students, who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to work with such a truly world-class dataset. We are already using it in our courses, and also in a research program we are hosting at the SPPG. So we couldn’t be more pleased to have it.”

Leading up to this gift announcement Ipsos, in partnership with IBM, hosted the CanadaNext Symposium at the Munk School on September 18. This innovative forum gathered thought leaders to discuss how technology, the sharing economy, the Internet of Things, and Canada’s changing demographics are creating a wave of change that is reshaping Canadian communities, businesses, jobs and lives.

“There are few organizations like Ipsos on the planet capable of gathering this scope of qualitative information,” says David Palmer, Vice-President Advancement. “Our University is privileged to be the recipient of this generosity, and best positioned to make the most of it. Data is one of the most valuable commodities in today’s knowledge economy and is among the most important gifts that can be made to an institute of higher learning like ours.”