Lindsay is working with the City of Vancouver to create and evaluate new methods of finding breakthrough and transformative solutions to some of the City's most complex and important problems, while building and deepening relationships along the way.

 
Roberts Creek
Canada
UBC Public Scholars Award
 

Research Description

My PhD will bring doctoral level rigour to my professional work on building a public sector innovation lab ("PSIL") in the City of Vancouver. Over the last ten years PSILs - internal government units focused expressly on catalyzing innovation on government problems - have emerged. PSILs differ widely from one another in their purpose, theory of change, operating model, methods, and impact. This experimentation is rich, and the action-reflection processes are strong, however there isn’t yet a deep dialogue comparing and understanding the effectiveness of these different theories of change and core practices among PSILs in the broader context of a public sector increasingly willing to recognize and tackle complex sustainability challenges in systemic ways. This is where I will focus my PhD work.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

Being a public scholar means that I am a part of an esteemed network of graduate students who are committed to doing research in service of important community work. It means that together, the public scholars are supporting a rich diversity of people and communities by being curious, making connections, listening, and creating new work that makes a real impact in the communities that we're serving through our research.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

I think that universities have a responsibility to wrestle with, and provide insights into how humans might respond to our rapidly changing ecological, social and economic contexts.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

I have worked in the private, cooperative, and public sector on a range of different sustainability issues for many years, and I am interested to see what new insights and opportunities PhD studies may bring to my future career path. This opportunity to study and think deeply is a gift that I am deeply grateful for, and I plan to do my best to use this gift wisely in my community and professional work.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

My research connects City staff and community members to work on real, complex, and important sustainability challenges in the City of Vancouver. We use social innovation and systems thinking methods and practices to work on these challenges in different ways than are typical for the City of Vancouver. The aim of this work is to find breakthrough and transformative solutions to these challenges for the people that are most affected by them in order to make their lives better.

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

My research will directly inform the development and iteration of Vancouver's public sector innovation lab, and it will also support the ongoing learning and iteration of public sector labs more broadly. There are public sector labs that have been in place for more than a decade and others that are just beginning, and I hope that my research will contribute to better understanding and increasing the impact that these labs can have in their communities.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I wanted to bring a doctoral level rigour and depth of study to my professional work in the hopes that this rigour will lend itself to creating higher impact results, and provide useful learning for other cities working on similar challenges and possibilities.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

My research is anchored in the City of Vancouver, and UBC and the City collaborate in many important ways to more deeply understand, shape, and change the city in response to a changing world. The Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program is a place that deeply understands and supports interdisciplinary work, and the ways in which I want to study.

 

My research connects City staff and community members to work on real, complex, and important sustainability challenges in the City of Vancouver. We use social innovation and systems thinking methods and practices to work on these challenges in different ways than are typical for the City of Vancouver.