Report: UBC's Public Scholars Initiative as a way to "rethink the PhD"


In a recently published report featured by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies, UBC Dean and Vice-Provost of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies Susan Porter and Assistant Dean Jennifer Phelps introduce the Public Scholars Initiative as a pilot program offering an integrated approach to doctoral scholarship and career development.

Responding to the diversifying career pathways of PhD students in the past few decades, many universities, including UBC, have been offering transferable skill development courses and workshops, and experiential internships and co-op programs. Supporting such undertakings yet underlining the need to go beyond mere skills training, Susan Porter and Jenny Phelps advocate for a reimagined PhD experience that embeds diverse forms of innovative and collaborative scholarship and artifacts as an integral part of the doctoral experience.

UBC's recently launched Public Scholars Initiative, which is one of the first of its kind in Canada as a pan-university undertaking, exemplifies an attempt to envisage what an integrated PhD may look like. In the report, the authors touch upon the various ways in which this pilot program offers rethinking some key components of the PhD -including supervisory and examining committees, dissertation structures and content, and assessment of scholarly rigour.

The report highlights that "at UBC, Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, in collaboration with PhD students and faculty members, are beginning to experiment with re-envisioning possible frameworks for doctoral research and education, and are supporting those who are already practicing these non-traditional modes" (Porter & Phelps, 2015).

Monday, 30 November 2015