Lisa Ruth Brunner (she/her)

Nominated by member scholarly associations of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the 2022 Congress Graduate Merit Awards recognize exceptional graduate students who will be presenting their work at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Photo of Lisa Ruth Brunner, CGMA recipient


Tell us about yourself. 

I’m a PhD candidate in Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. I’m also a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and International Student Advisor. I currently study 'edugration,' or education-migration pathways. Previously, I researched refugee settlement experiences. I have an MA in Geography and BA in Literature and Political Science. 

Which scholarly association(s) are you currently a member?

Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) and Canadian Sociology Association (CSA) 

At which conference(s) will you be presenting and/or attending?  

Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) and Canadian Sociology Association (CSA) 

What is the title of your Congress 2022 presentation?  

I am the first author on three co-authored papers this year: 

  • University orientation or newcomer ‘integration’? International student settlement in Canada (CSA) 

  • International graduate students as labour: Responding to the global imaginary (CSSHE) 

  • ‘Ideal’ immigrants: Mapping the capital accumulation of international post-secondary students in Canada (CSSHE) 

How would you describe the research you will be presenting at Congress 2022?

I am presenting three co-authored papers. Each explores a different aspect of what I call 'edugration,' or the recruitment and retention of international post secondary students as ‘skilled’ foreign workers and 'ideal' immigrants. This trend in immigrant-dependent countries carries significant consequences for higher education systems, labour markets, population demographics, and the individuals directly impacted by such policy decisions. The latter includes not only international students themselves but also those consequently positioned as ‘unskilled’ and 'not ideal.' The three presentations raise questions about how international students experience extended temporariness, are governed as labour, and differentially accumulate capital. 

How does the research you will be presenting connect with the Congress 2022 theme, Transitions?  

The COVID-19 pandemic’s ‘anthropause’ was a shock to modern international migration systems and international student mobility. It pulled back the curtain, so to speak, on some uncomfortable truths around Canada’s reliance on international students’ expenditures and labour. Despite rhetoric around re-imagining a post-COVID-19 world, I think the possibility of anything other than ‘back to normal’ still evokes fear in those who of us who were comfortable with, and benefited from, pre-pandemic approaches. I hope these collaborative presentations will help redirect moves to innocence towards a recognition of our (uneven) complicity and the depth of the challenges ahead. 

What is your favourite part of the Congress experience?

Because I have an interdisciplinary background, I like attending Congress’ open events and learning from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It’s also invaluable to connect with those interested in the same research areas as myself. I have the opportunity to co-present with brilliant colleagues working across Canada in geography, social work, sociology, and education. The nation-state looms large over topics like immigration and international education, and while there are very real problems with methodological nationalism, it’s also helpful to dive right into conversation with those already familiar with Canada’s specific policy context. 

Share your hopes for Congress 2022.

Although I’ve attended Congress before, this is my first year presenting. I look forward to getting feedback on, and improving, my work. I also hope it’s my last time attending as a student, as I plan to defend my dissertation in the coming months!