Lisa Brunner

Killam Predoctoral Scholarship and Donald N. Byers Memorial Killam Prize Recipient

University of British Columbia

Economic immigration and higher education systems are changing in two interrelated ways. As governments experiment with ways to select more ‘successful’ and ‘easily integrated’ immigrants, some are shifting away from human-capital selection approaches, instead favoring demand-driven, ‘just-in-time’ systems. As governments struggle to simultaneously increase higher education participation and fund system expansion, the economic benefits of international student enrollment are progressively entrenched in long-term institutional and governmental planning. As a result, strategies at multiple scales seek to significantly increase the recruitment and retention of international students – particularly in Canada.  Lisa’s research seeks to better understand the implications of these intersecting changes.

Lisa comes from an interdisciplinary background, spanning literature, political science, geography, law, and education. She is intrigued by the way borders and citizenship can determine opportunity in relation to other constructions of difference, such as class and race. After completing her MA research on refugee resettlement Lisa took a five-year break from her studies to work in higher education, an experience that enabled her to hone her focus on her current research topic.

As a former student of UBC and later as an employee, Lisa knew from experience that UBC would be the right fit for her.  She is proud of the work being done by UBC’s Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in response to the realities of doctoral studies today, as evidenced by the Public Scholars Initiative.

For me, the biggest challenge is continuously re-finding ways to come to terms with the ethical paradoxes of modern life. I don’t expect my research to provide any simple answers, but I do hope it will help people ask new and better questions when considering the internationalization of education and immigration policies more generally.

Lisa is most proud of her ability to assist and mentor other students to achieve success in their goals.  When not studying she does pro bono immigration advising as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant. She appreciates the wonderful natural beauty on UBC’s campus on Musqueam territory and takes every opportunity to be near the water and with her family. Being named a Killam laureate has given Lisa the confidence that her research is worth pursuing and that she is more than qualified to do it. With Killam funding, Lisa is able to spend more time studying and less time working, for which she is also extremely grateful.


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