A Voice for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Layerings of risk: researchers document the experiences of racialized communities during COVID-19

While cases of COVID-19 continue to mount around the world, many communities face an additional, more insidious threat: "the virus of racism." Researchers across Canada have been examining the nature of race-based discrimination and its impacts, particularly on East Asian communities in Canada, throughout the pandemic.

Based in academic fields as diverse as administrative studies, sociology, social work, and English and cultural studies, scholars are working alongside Chinese diaspora communities to discover how to best support their physical and mental health, and sense of belonging, during this pandemic and in public health crises to come.

Tracking the experiences of East Asian seniors

Dr. Christine Ann Walsh, Professor of Social Work at the University of Calgary, alongside graduate researchers Qianyun Wang and Jacky Ka Kei Liu sought to learn about the specific experiences of older immigrants within Alberta's Chinese diaspora community....

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Democracy in the classroom: Struggles for mental equilibrium, trust and knowledge

Guest blog by Constance Morley, PhD, Conflict Studies, Saint Paul University

Recent events in the United States are a stark reminder of how currents of racist hatred and thinking can lurk, concealed in the privacy of people’s thoughts until called-upon or provoked. There are folks who maybe had the misfortune of being raised by parents who missed the history lessons of the 1960s that awakened North Americans to grave inequalities, segregation in America and the need to learn the truths about colonialism. Governments slowly started to address racial injustices in America and elsewhere, offering political support for greater cultural diversity. Still, undercurrents of racism in society persisted or reappeared in new forms. In America, a whole range of “white power” groups slowly formed since the Vietnam War,...

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When pandemics and discrimination collide: researchers track the impacts of COVID-19 on Chinese Canadians and learn from their community capacity   

The scale of the coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for Canada's public health system. Yet, in diverse areas from education to seniors' care, from housing affordability to gender inequality, it has become clear that many problems facing Canadians today are not altogether new. If you look closely at our most acute social issues, you can see fault lines that have existed within our communities for generations and that have only deepened in the context of a pandemic.    

According to Dr. Cary Wu, Assistant Professor within the Department of Sociology at York University, this sentiment appears to ring particularly true for Canada's East...

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Canadian researchers examine the effects of COVID-19 within the disability community

Everyone has stories about how their life has been altered due to COVID-19 and related containment measures, but it is also clear that the direst effects of dealing with the pandemic have not been distributed equally. Some argue that the disability community has been largely overlooked in the design of COVID-19 precautions and has been left with few resources to mitigate negative impacts. Researchers across the country are working with community partners to better understand the impacts of the pandemic on people with disabilities.

At the University of Alberta, Professor Michelle Maroto, in collaboration with Professor David Pettinicchio at the University of Toronto, is studying the social and economic effects of COVID-19 among people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and other underlying health conditions.

Preliminary findings from a nationwide survey demonstrate that people with disabilities and chronic health conditions are not only very worried about getting...

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How do people assess the credibility of COVID-19 related information? Personal beliefs a strong influence

Guest post by Jaigris Hodson, Associate Professor, College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Royal Roads University, Christiani Thompson-Wagner, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics, University of Saskatchewan and Darren Reid, Ph.D. student, Department of History, University College London  

Understanding an Infodemic
Misinformation related to COVID-19 has been declared an infodemic since it has the capacity to cause almost as much damage to people’s health as the disease itself. Since misinformation is often spread on social media platforms, it is important that public health communicators understand how and why people share COVID-19 related information online, and what decisions they make that could inadvertently lead to misinformation spread. In an effort to understand some of the...

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Canadian researchers analyse the spread of Covid-19 misinformation online

As local and global information about COVID-19 continues to shift rapidly, social science and humanities researchers are investigating the nature of misinformation and conspiracy theories, methods of transmission for false information, and the impact of fake news on our behaviours and psychological well-being. 

A multidisciplinary team from the Université de Sherbrooke (UdeS), along with international partners, are compiling a macro-analysis of responses to COVID-19 related information from a broad range of sources and platforms. 

Canadian survey results compiled as part of the project show the pervasiveness of misinformation online.  

  • 38.4% believe that their government is hiding important information about COVID-19 
  • 15.0% believe that the pharmaceutical industry is involved in spreading COVID-19 
  • 52.7% of respondents were aware that they had been exposed to news about COVID-19 that proved to be false 

"From these...

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Trekking Toward Awe: Nonreligion in a Complex Future project examines nonreligion and hiking

Lily Polowin, Digital Communications Officer, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

One of our goals at the Federation is to demonstrate the value and contributions of humanities and social science research. Sometimes, that value can be explained in terms of the skills that graduates gain from their education. At other times, that value is clear in the way in which the insights of our researchers can be applied by policy- and decision-makers to create a more equitable society. And lastly, often that value is shown in the humanities and social sciences’ ability to ask questions that simply can’t be approached by the hard sciences fields: questions about what it means to be human and to live in society.


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Forging community connections to improve food systems


During COVID-19, researchers across Canada have been developing projects at an unprecedented pace in order to support policy makers, public health officials, and the public at large, while health risks remain and the economic and social recovery looms ahead. Many innovative projects are relying on deep community connections and networks to learn from challenges and responses at the grassroots level.   

Highlighting grassroots food initiatives 

Within the Culinaria Research Centre, a hub for food studies at the University of Toronto, Professor Jayeeta Sharma and her research team have built a wide and ever-growing network of community partners to understand...

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Emma Donoghue: “We’re relying on the arts more than ever.”

Lily Polowin, Digital Communications Officer at the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

On Tuesday, June 2, the Association for College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) will present the plenary Generation Gaps with renowned Irish novelist and scholar Emma Donoghue. This will be Donoghue’s very first digital lecture (apart from a Facebook Live with author Philip Pullman!) and I had the honour to interview her for the occasion.

Generation Gaps will be a talk (with short readings) about the challenges – technical, psychological, political and even ethical – raised by writing about both youth and age. It is a subject even more timely than usual...

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Gabriel Miller addresses March for Science 2018

Speech made at the March for Science in Toronto on April 14, 2018

[Check against delivery]

Thank you. It’s wonderful to be here with you marching for knowledge, for evidence, and for science!

And I want to thank the organizers. Thank you for all the hard work that you put into today. And thank you for inviting me, someone who represents the humanities and social sciences to be part of today’s festivities.

You understand that there’s lots of space for everyone in this parade – everyone, that is, who cares about learning. Who cares about facts. Who cares about truth.

The tools and methods we use will differ depending on the subject, but beneath those differences is something much bigger and more important that unites us – a drive to better understand ourselves and the world we...

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