If there was ever a year for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to support world-leading initiatives that show commitment to ensuring a better future for Canada and the world, it was 2020.
In response to the global pandemic, SSHRC’s Partnership Engage Grants (PEG) launched a special COVID-19 fund (alongside their regular funding program) to research the longer-term impacts of the global health crisis. Projects regularly funded by PEG always aim to build knowledge and understanding about people, societies and the world, and to realize the potential of social sciences and humanities research for intellectual, cultural, social and economic influence. Five projects led by researchers at Carleton University were awarded a total of $120,779 through both programs.
Partnership Engage Grants (PEG) COVID-19 Special Initiative
Ellen Waterman: Expanding the Music Circle through Networked Improvisation Across Abilities
In this time of physical distance and social isolation, Prof. Ellen Waterman, the Helmut Kallman Chair for Music in Canada, aims to reconnect musicians with their audiences in new ways. Her action-based research project will allow musicians from the National Arts Centre Orchestra and people with exceptionalities to jam over Zoom. This project will expand the Music Circle program at Lotus Centre for Special Music Education by developing a pedagogy of networked musical improvisation over online teleconferencing technology. It will offer improvisation training to orchestra musicians and special music educators, develop music workshops for adults with physical and cognitive exceptionalities, and bring together all participants to play improvisational music in all its creative and inclusive glory.
Christina Gabriel: Working Through the Pandemic – The Experiences of Immigrant Women
Despite the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, not all individuals have been able to access the benefits of such a “one-size-fits-all” policy. Political science Prof. Christina Gabriel wants to investigate the pandemic experiences of immigrant women in Canada, a group that statistically faces more precarious employment and higher unemployment rates than those Canadian-born. Since the start of the pandemic, Gabriel’s partners at the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP), a group of 60 immigration agencies, have documented health-related vulnerabilities for this group. Gabriel wants to further and add to this research by learning of their labour market experiences and assessing how the Plan promoted or hindered social resilience. Documenting who is excluded from federal economic programs can hopefully identify gaps between stated program aims and the real experiences of recent immigrant women.
Anil Varughese: The Experience of International Students in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Despite the fact that international students make a significant contribution to the intellectual and cultural diversity of Canadian campuses, there is no national database nor adequate scholarly attention given to their issues. To craft an effective policy response that could inform future pandemic responses that include international students, Prof. Anil Varughese, from the School of Public Policy & Administration, wants to study their distinct challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. He will study the effects these challenges have had on the academic, mental, physical and social well-being of the students through national surveys, qualitative interviews and focus groups. These findings will help the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) develop its advocacy efforts to push for necessary policy changes that include nearly a quarter of Canada’s post-secondary student population.
Partnership Engage Grants (Regular Program)
Beth Martin: Experiences of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot
To advance research and tools in support of poverty reduction advocacy and education work, social work Prof. Beth Martin will analyze qualitative data based on the experiences of marginalized populations who were Ontario Basic Income Pilot (OBIP) recipients. One of the largest basic income pilots in the world, OBIP was cancelled by the new provincial government just a year after the pilot launched. In 2020, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and McMaster University researchers published a report using collected quantitative data to show how the program worked as it was intended to: OBIP offered considerable health, social, and financial benefits to recipients, while improving their overall employment prospects. Martin wants to create new knowledge using the qualitative data collected by those researchers, to offer a richer understanding of participants’ experiences and to mesh her findings with those of the quantitative report. This research aims to come to meaningful, valid conclusions regarding poverty policy.
Stephan Schott: Understanding, Evaluating and Implementing Arctic Food Security and Sovereignty Strategies Based on an Inuit Community Perspective
To solve the persistent food security crisis among northern Inuit communities, research needs to understand the complexity of each community’s specific food systems. Public policy and administration Prof. Stephan Schott will partner with the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Health to engage with five communities in Western Nunavut. Through consultations with community leaders, the research will aim to establish community-specific definitions of food security and measurements of food security indicators. These will evaluate existing policies and programs and will guide efforts over the next 10 years for a regional food security and sovereignty action plan. This work will ultimately create a conceptual framework for future research and action plans regarding food sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic.