Julian Dierkes grew up in Germany and was educated as a sociologist in the U.S., Japan, and the UK before arriving at UBC in 2002. He teaches in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs. His research focuses on the contemporary Japanese education system and mining policy in Mongolia. He is still trying to find a link between those two areas. He joined G+PS in 2018 to focus on the administration, adjudication and design of graduate awards. He blogs, listens to many podcasts and sometimes comments on them @jdierkes.

Why did you become an Associate Dean in G+PS?

I like graduate students and interacting with them! Having served as a graduate advisor in the past, I know that administrative procedures and program structures can really boost students’ and post-docs’ success, but can also turn into hurdles or hoops to jump through. I like thinking about how to do more boosting and less hurdling. Funding for graduate study is one of the areas that can provide boosts, but also create hurdles, so the work I do at G+PS will hopefully contribute to making research training at UBC productive and successful.

What makes UBC an exciting place for graduate study and for postdoctoral fellows?

One of the great joys of a large university is that it would be difficult to identify an area of research that no one at UBC pursues. For graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that means that there are always other researchers to interact with on their chosen topic, whether they are active in the same program or discipline, or somewhere else on campus. The strong international links that UBC maintains also mean that emerging researchers can broaden their interaction beyond campus easily and participate in international scholarly debates.

What should students know about G+PS?

G+PS is involved in making and enforcing rules and policies, but we do so in the service of the goals of graduate education at UBC. That means that we have the concerns, needs, and aspirations of graduate students in mind! This holds for my portfolio, funding, just as much as other areas where G+PS is active.

What should UBC faculty members know about G+PS?

We have a university-wide mandate. That means that we try to include all the different approaches to graduate education and postdoctoral fellowships that can be found across such a varied campus and landscape of disciplines, research methodologies and personalities. If you think we have not taken your perspective on a funding matter sufficiently into account, please do let me know! I am a faculty member as well and see it as our task to make it easier or more productive for you to pursue your specific contribution to graduate education.

What is one crucial next step in advancing graduate education at UBC?

Consideration of the “knowledge economy” calls for research skills to be more and more important and to be applied in more and more fields. While funding is required for any increase and intensification of graduate education, we also have to think about how funding structures meet the needs of ongoing support for basic research across many disciplines while being responsive to changes in the economies, polities and societies where we are active.