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. The 303 Public Scholars accepted into the program over the last eight years have sought to address complex questions and challenges of our world through collaborations with more than 150 different partners in all societal sectors in more than 40 countries. Public Scholars Initiative has expanded to UBC-Okanagan in 2022, and the first cohort of 7 students from Okanagan have joined the network.

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.