Gavin Babcock receives SSHRC's Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master's Scholarship. Congrats!

Feb 9th, 2022

Chad Pelley

The Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master's Scholarship is awarded to students in the social sciences and humanities who demonstrate a high standard of achievement in undergraduate and early graduate studies.

Anthropology student Gavin Babcock recently received a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master's Scholarship to assist with his thesis research on “exploring how K-12 teachers in Alberta navigated the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and documenting their related labour concerns.”

To achieve this, Babcock will be combining interviews of teachers and union leaders with an analysis of legislation and public policies, as well as media coverage of K-12 schools in the context of COVID-19.

“Central to my research is the question of how anti-union legislation, coupled with other sociopolitical factors contributing to the syndemic in Alberta, affected teachers’ working conditions and their ability to refuse unsafe work,” he said.

Babcock’s analysis will be informed by syndemic theory and social reproduction theory.

Syndemic theory, as he explained it, “addresses how social, political, and economic factors compound to create synergistic epidemics, resulting in uneven effects of diseases and disease clusters.”

Social reproduction theory “will provide a framework for understanding how institutions like governments and schoolboards interact so that the general working population is maintained and reproduced.”

Together, these theories will guide his research questions towards the interconnected nature of schoolboard decisions and the Province’s pandemic response as a complex of political, economic, and social factors that contributed to teachers’ working conditions and created the context for their decisions.

“This research will add Canadian case-material to the wider anthropological literature that explores how labour legislation and particular approaches to public services can contribute to how a syndemic develops.”