UBC’s Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) was launched in 2015 to support UBC doctoral students whose research extended beyond the academy, and beyond traditional disciplinary approaches, to have a tangible impact for the public good through collaborative, action-oriented, and/or creative forms of scholarship in their dissertation work. Almost 350 Public Scholars were accepted into the program over the last nine years. Public Scholars from all disciplines have sought to address complex questions and challenges of our world through collaborations with more more than 200 different partners in all societal sectors in dozens of countries worldwide. The Public Scholars Initiative has expanded to UBC-Okanagan in 2022, and in its second year PSIO boasts of 12 engaged Public Scholars.

A groundbreaking undertaking, the PSI moves beyond ‘skills training’ and extracurricular experience, and reimagines PhD pathways that legitimize and integrate broader conceptions of scholarship and scholarly products within the core of doctoral education and dissertation research. By recognizing these forms and products as worthy determinants of the granting of the PhD, UBC is promoting a renewed commitment to 21st century relevance for the academy’s highest degree. The program has awarded almost $3M in student funding for scholars, supporting everything from technology development to protection of old-growth forests.

Coming from almost all faculties and disciplines, Public Scholars are united under the PSI umbrella with a passion to contribute to the public good.