Initiatives, Plans & Reports

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers a breadth of graduate student and postdoctoral fellow education and support. Below are some of the initiatives originating from our office, as well as previous strategic plans for the unit and reports on the progress of these projects.

COmmitments and updates

As anti-Black racism protests and resistance movements have taken hold across the world in recent months, we in Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) have been reflecting deeply on the historical and pervasive nature of this racism - globally, in Canada and here at UBC.  From violent acts, to systemic injustice, stereotyping, and subtler insults and microaggressions, the manifestations of anti-Black racism continue to affect the lives of our citizenry and our university community. In this message, we reflect on what this means and could mean for members of the UBC graduate and postdoctoral community, and for higher education more broadly, as well as make commitments to listen, learn, unlearn through a number of efforts.

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Strategic Plan 2019-2024

You may view our strategic plan and key priorities in the section Strategic Plan & Priorities.

Initiatives and projects

Public Scholars Initiative

Inaugurated in 2015, the UBC Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) is designed to support UBC doctoral students as they strive for purposeful social contribution, produce new and creative forms of scholarship and dissertations, and explore diverse career pathways. With the PSI, UBC seeks to assist PhD students as they rise to address complex challenges in new, collaborative, and engaged ways.

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Three minute thesis

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that assists current graduate students with fostering effective presentation and communication skills. Participants have just three minutes to explain the breadth and significance of their research project to a non-specialist audience. Founded by the University of Queensland in 2008, the popularity of the competition has steadily increased and 3MT competitions are now held in over 350 universities across 59 countries worldwide. UBC, one of the first universities in North America to host a 3MT competition, has been presenting 3MT since 2011.

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Effective Mentorship of Racialized Graduate Students

Inspired by a blog by graduate student Dwayne Tucker, this initiative focuses on the complexities and gaps in the mentorship of racialized students at UBC by calling on a constellation of graduate students, mentors and experts. This initiative allows racialized graduate students at UBC to have their voices heard, and their experiences acknowledged and shared with UBC administration, faculty and beyond in an attempt to enhance racialized graduate experiences at UBC. 

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Great Supervisor Week

Each year in May G+PS organizes Great Supervisor Week during which graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website. The annual UBC Great Supervisor Week was first held in 2017 to celebrate outstanding mentors. #GreatSupervisor week started at the University of Calgary in 2014, and we are grateful to them for their inspiration and support in this initiative.

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Forum on mentoring indigenous graduate students

On August 17, 2017, approximately 75 UBC faculty, staff and students came together for a forum on Mentoring Indigenous Graduate Students at the First Nations House of Learning. UBC has a stated commitment to Aboriginal education and to respect Indigenous knowledge and cultures, as well as a resolution to build upon the strengths of the university to more fully address the needs of Indigenous communities in British Columbia, Canada, and the world. In this forum, UBC acknowledged its responsibility to Indigenous graduate students, particularly in relation to UBC’s priorities for this next century. The participants addressed ways we might enact this responsibility across the institution by examining exemplars of success as well as key challenges.

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Intercultural fluency project

On May 10, 2018, approximately 65 UBC faculty, staff and graduate students came together for a half-day symposium to explore the role of intercultural difference on an increasingly global and diverse campus. This symposium was the culminating event of a cross-campus initiative funded by the Equity Office to explore the role of intercultural understanding in the graduate student-supervisor relationship.

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PHD Connections

PhD Connections is a lunch series hosted by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at St. John’s College. Senior PhD students from various programs and the Graduate Student Society as well as staff from the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, Health Promotion and Education, the Research Commons, the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication, and International Student Development are invited. Special guests such as Graduate Advisors, Associate Deans, and the VP Students are often included. This informal gathering happens four times per year and provides an opportunity for 1st year PhD students to connect with senior graduate students and key staff with the goal of helping them to thrive in their PhD at UBC. Each lunch is themed and begins with a brief presentation followed by conversation. Topics include welcome and sharing of ideas for getting off to a good start in your program at UBC, how you can find or build community, and get involved with opportunities, on campus, how to strategize for success in graduate school, and how to build an effective relationship with your supervisor.

G+PS wellbeing initiatives

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has committed to taking a holistic, integrated, and student-centered approach to wellbeing—creating a cultural shift that makes the University a better place to live, work and learn by embedding it across the institution. Graduate programs have a particularly important role to play in championing wellbeing and exploring its impact on academic excellence. With this in mind, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies partnered with the Office of the Vice-President Students and graduate student representatives to identify graduate-specific mental health and wellbeing needs, resulting in the Graduate Student Wellbeing Status Report (2017). Since then, G+PS has continued to collaborate with Health Promotion and Education and Counselling Services on a number of wellbeing focused pilots and initiatives to engage specifically with graduate students, faculty and staff and find better ways promote and support graduate student mental health and wellbeing across campus.

Graduate Student Wellbeing Ambassadors 

Graduate school can be an exciting and challenging time. Some students may experience wellbeing challenges, including managing stress, navigating support, finding time for self-care (sleep, exercise, nutrition) and balancing personal and academic responsibilities.  Research shows that peer support can be an important tool in helping students thrive academically, socially and emotionally—that’s where the Graduate Student Wellbeing Ambassador program comes in! 

The Graduate Student Wellbeing Ambassador (GSWA) program aims to build individuals’ capacity and knowledge for UBC Vancouver graduate students in peer roles to enable them to share information on wellness services and resources with their peers.  The GSWA program plays a key strategic role at UBC in supporting the Health Promotion & Education Unit (Student Health & Wellbeing) in their effort to build capacity of the campus community to support and promote student wellbeing.

Wellbeing Liaisons Program 

The Wellbeing Liaison program plays a key strategic role at UBC in supporting the Health Promotion & Education Unit (Student Health & Wellbeing) in their effort to build capacity of the campus community to support and promote student wellbeing.

The Wellbeing Liaisons Program aims to establish a resource person within Faculties and units, who will share information on student wellness services and resources with colleagues. 

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Support Group Series for Graduate Student Mental Health and Wellbeing

In 2019, G+PS partnered with Health Promotion and Education and Counselling Services to pilot a new initiative designed to offer additional mental health and wellbeing support geared specifically towards graduate students and centered on known stressors many graduate students are faced with. This pilot was created out of the identified need for more strategic mental health support for graduate students as highlighted in the Graduate Student Wellbeing Status Report (2017).

Bringing together additional key campus partners to help support these facilitated support group sessions, the goals of each was to identify and address key mental health concerns, foster resiliency, develop proactive coping strategies, identify resources, and create social connections through discussions. 

For the first year, each support session focused on a different theme known to be an area of heightened stress for graduate students, including:

  • Work Life Balance
  • Careers and Graduate Student Wellbeing
  • Graduate Supervisory Relationships
  • Procrastination and Perfectionism
  • Financial Pressures
  • Imposter Syndrome

Going forward, the sessions are being run through Graduate Pathways to Success as the “Graduate Wellness Discussion Series.”


Plans and Reports