Five new UBC Political Science faculty projects receive funding from SSHRC

UBC Political Science congratulates Michael Byers, Cesi Cruz, Katharina Coleman, Antje Ellermann, and Sheryl Lightfoot whose projects received SSHRC funding through Insight and Partnership Development Grants.

A total of 58 new projects led by UBC researchers have been awarded funding of $13 million through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Partnership Grants, Partnership Development Grants, and Insight Grants programs.

Four of our professors received SSHRC Insight Grants, which support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities with funding available to both emerging and established scholars for research initiatives of two to five years. Sheryl Lightfoot also received a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, which provides support from one to three years to teams working in a formal partnership between post-secondary institutions and public, private, or not-for-profit organizations.

We look forward to seeing the contributions our faculty will make thanks to this funding. You can read more about the projects they will be working on below.

SSHRC Insight Grant

Hundreds of Earth-imaging satellites are in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), supporting weather-forecasting, agriculture, forestry, fishing, disaster relief, and environmental science. The number of satellites will soon increase 10-fold as companies launch broadband "mega-constellations". This change raises severe governance challenges, from space debris to light pollution to the inequitable allocation of radio spectrum and orbits. There are very few rules in LEO. Companies are free to launch as many satellites as they wish, provided they are registered with a national government (1975 Registration Convention). That government will, in turn, be subject to a fault-based liability standard (1972 Liability Convention) that has never been tested and may be unenforceable. As a result, LEO risks becoming a "tragedy of the commons"—a common area destroyed through overuse. Together with colleagues from around the world, networked through the transdisciplinary Outer Space Institute, Byers will analyze the governance challenges of LEO and propose new solutions.

SSHRC Insight Grant

This proposed project uses a field experiment to address the community-level and social network-based barriers for women’s political engagement, by exploring interventions to increase women’s political influence within their communities. Most interventions to address gender gaps in political engagement focus on traditional modes of political participation at the individual level: encouraging women to vote, join parties, and run for office. At the same time, how women’s involvement in politics translates into political influence is a fundamentally social process that requires recognition from the broader community, necessitating new approaches to understanding motivations for women’s political engagement that take into account the social context of communities. This project develops a new framework for understanding gender gaps in social recognition and tests new interventions to address these gaps. For political reforms for women’s engagement to succeed, it is important not only to educate and encourage women to participate in politics but also to address the social factors that prevent them from being recognized by their communities when they do so.

SSHRC Insight Grant

International relations are implemented and embodied locally. Diplomacy, peacekeeping, development aid, global sales, and international journalism are global processes, but they also occur in concrete geographical locations, including embassies, offices, and newsrooms around the world. Most of these locations include locally recruited staff to act as an interface between the international actors and their local environment. Local internationals (a term this project coins to capture the tension of individuals working in their home state for international employers) play a crucial but underexplored role in contemporary international relations. Their position at the intersection of global institutions and local social and political orders allows them to shape the local implementation of global processes. However, it also poses challenges, not only for employers (who sometimes do not fully trust their local staff) but also for local internationals, who face potentially competing international and local pressures and status trade-offs. This raises key questions: How do local internationals navigate the overlapping domestic and international orders in which they operate? How do their experiences compare across institutional settings and geographical contexts? When are they most - and least - effective in translating global processes into locally appropriate forms?

SSHRC Insight Grant

This project explores the impact of anti-immigration populism on immigration bureaucracies. Anti-immigration populism challenges the legitimacy of these bureaucracies: it disturbs traditional immigration policymaking, the agreed upon goals of national immigration programs, and official state discourse on immigration. Yet, while much has been written on the impact of populism on parties and elected officials, its impact on bureaucratic organizations, and immigration bureaucracies more specifically, remains poorly understood. This project documents and compares how immigration bureaucracies in Canada, Australia, and the UK define and respond to the legitimacy challenges stemming from anti-immigration populism.

SSHRC Partnership Development Grant

When the UN embarked on its decolonization project in the second half of the twentieth century, spearheaded by the liberal democracies of the Global North, Indigenous peoples were deliberately excluded by the “salt water thesis” which defined only non-contiguous, overseas colonies as eligible for decolonization. However, as a direct result of Indigenous activism that emerged on the global level in the 1960s and 1970s, decolonization is now a moral and political imperative for settler states of the Global North as well. Yet, paradoxically, the same states who advocated decolonization of overseas empires now subtly resist their own decolonization in a multitude of ways. This partnership aims to demystify the systemic blockages that prevent settler colonial states in the Global North from decolonizing, defined as implementing the full body of Indigenous human rights as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other human rights law. Our multidisciplinary and cross-sector partnership will incorporate trans-national and cross-sector knowledge sharing on how Indigenous peoples and settler societies are resolving these blockages. This work will include conducting pilot research and result disseminations in three thematic areas: 1) Law and Constitutions, 2) Politics, Policy and Practice, and 3) Methodology and Dissemination. This project’s broader goals will be accomplished through four objectives. These include (1) building and deepening an international network of scholars, academic institutions, Indigenous organizations and human rights NGOs focusing on Indigenous human rights implementation; (2) deploying Indigenous community-based research methods to learn directly from Indigenous communities what specific research, educative tools, and international best practices case studies they need in their own decolonization work; (3) intra- and trans-national collaborations to develop and disseminate a set of pilot research projects which produce accessible tools and databases for Indigenous peoples and the general public; and (4) enhancing training and research capacity. The project’s emphasis to include Indigenous scholar, practitioner and community-level voices at the forefront of this research is how we ensure Indigenous viewpoints are central to our understandings of decolonization processes in settler colonial states. For both governments and civil society, the implementation of Indigenous human rights is a deeply transformative process. It presents tremendously complex, interdisciplinary, and challenging legal, legislative and policy tasks, and yet, to date, there has been insufficient knowledge and experiences sharing across sectors, or trans-nationally. While efforts to research implementation strategies exist in pockets globally, wide-spread data collection, monitoring, and reporting on implementation progress remains scant and localized. This project aims to begin filling these gaps through meaningful community consultation and knowledge dissemination. Our partnership fosters cooperation by bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers from various disciplines. All of these partners have previously engaged in relevant research through existing individual and collaborative projects, and nearly all have experience in policy practice as well as with Indigenous organizations. This PDG proposal aims to broaden and deepen research relationships and knowledge exchange opportunities between these scholars and Indigenous organizations, and also with human rights NGOs, international legal experts and practitioners in Indigenous communities across Canada, Oceania and Scandinavia as well as with those who gather at UN events in New York and Geneva.