Public Scholars Initiative Launches its 2nd Year

With its new cohort of doctoral students, UBC's award-winning program continues to encourage a "reimagining" of the PhD by supporting collaborations with those outside academia and innovative scholarship oriented to the public good.

PhD career paths are increasingly diverse. How can the 21st century university best prepare students for a world where rigorous, creative, collaborative and interdisciplinary scholarship is needed more than ever, inside and outside the academy?

That's a question many around the world are asking. After a 2014 symposium here at UBC on 'Reimagining the PhD', faculty members and students came together to imagine an experimental program. The idea was to encourage and support doctoral students wishing to integrate innovative scholarship into their dissertation and engage with partners from outside the academy or holding diverse roles inside the academy. They envisioned three student goals:

  1. To contribute purposefully to the public good through rigorous scholarship
  2. To engage with and demonstrate the value of doctoral education to a broad audience
  3. To help prepare for diverse careers in and outside the academy by gaining experience with broad forms of scholarship, scholarly outputs, and a diversity of contexts

Thus was born the Public Scholars Initiative (PSI). It’s now in its second year with 40 enthusiastic doctoral students joining the inaugural 39. The PSI has sparked much interest and conversation at UBC and beyond. It was included in the Conference Board of Canada’s 2015 report on the PhD as a transformative initiative, and in combination with other career initiatives earned the Promotion of Excellence Award from the Association for Graduate Enrollment Management (NAGAP).

Visit the PSI pages to learn more about the initiative, the students, and their projects, and find resources on public scholarship and broader career goals for doctoral students. In the new year, the PSI will return with its signature PhDs Go Public research talk series, and a variety of professional development events and networking opportunities for UBC's PhD students.

We look forward to further engagement with our faculty during the second year of this exciting journey. We hope to continue exploring the implications, opportunities, and hurdles related to implementing an expanded view of what doctoral education can be.

Contact PSI Coordinator Dr. Efe Peker ( with questions about PSI, and how you can be involved.