THE CAMPUS RESIDENT JUNE 19, 2017
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Letter from UBC President
In a Time of Global Uncertainty, Innovation Is More Important Than Ever
Professor Santa Ono. Photo credit Paul Joseph, UBC. Earlier this month, I had the honour of hosting His Excellency, The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Open Text founder and chair Tom Jenkins, coauthors of a book on Canadian innovation called Ingenious: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, and Happier. (The book, published by Penguin Random House, is available at the UBC Bookstore, and other fine bookstores). Ingenious (which includes a profile of UBC’s Dr. Janet Werker, Director of the Infant Studies Centre) cites many innovations developed by Indigenous peoples that predate the arrival of Europeans. Indigenous peoples invented the canoe, snowshoe, igloo, dogsled, lifejacket, and the bunk bed, among other innovations. That spirit of innovation is still very much alive in Canada today. As the book tells us, from Bovril to BlackBerrys, lightbulbs to liquid helium, peanut butter to Pablum to insulin, Canadian ingenuity has had
tremendous impact. I am proud to say that UBC has played an important role in Canadian innovation. Currently we enjoy the designation by Reuters as Canada’s most innovative university and rank among the top 50 most innovative universities globally. UBC researchers are innovating in all fields – from accounting and architecture to visual arts and zoology, and everything in between. • In health care, think about AIDS or prostate cancer research, brain health or any number of biotechnology advances. • In mining, our engineers and our methods are in demand around the world. • In computer science, the “(dot)CA” domain was created by UBC’s Computing Facilities manager John Demco in 1987 – two years before the emergence of the World Wide Web. • And if you’re concerned about your ecological footprint, you can thank Bill Rees and Mathis Wackernagel of UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning professors, who developed the concept back in the early 1990s. As you can see from the above examples, innovation doesn’t take place in a vacuum. It has tangible societal benefits, and is where our research at UBC touches the provincial, national and global economies. (Read more about UBC innovations at http://stories.innovation. ubc.ca/#sm.0001ebfj4haw7dy4u5r13tk43 m5cv). British Columbia is already an innovative province. The B.C. technology sector currently supports more than 100,000 jobs, houses more than 9,900 technology companies, and our homegrown talent is in high demand in Canada and around the world. Innovation is occurring in every economic sector and every region of
the province – whether it’s agriculture, health care, mining, education, tourism, technology, transportation, forestry or film. Whether on Vancouver Island, in the interior, the Fraser Valley or Northern B.C., there are companies and individuals who are innovating. And we need to give them the support and encouragement they need. Our province has one of Canada’s most vibrant innovation ecosystems, with pioneering companies across economic sectors, research agencies, industry and business associations, and post-secondary institutions and associations. But we need to do more. Despite its great natural wealth and its industrial expertise, Canada is falling behind in terms of the productivity, competitiveness and trained workforce needed to stay abreast of the competition. In global terms, we’re in a period of economic stagnation. If we are to regain our position as a leader in world trade, we must find new products, new methods of production, new markets for our goods; in a word, we must innovate. This is especially important at a time of geo-political uncertainty. Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and other recent events outside our borders have only increased the dangers and the opportunities we face. Talent is what drives innovation, and the post-secondary education sector plays an important role as an economic growth engine. I am honored to have been appointed as Chief Advisor for B.C. Innovation Network and to work with leaders in industry and post-secondary education to transform our innovation ecosystem into an innovation network – a network that collaborates, communicates and advocates in ways that support all British Columbians.
The future holds great promise – that is, if we make the kinds of investment that will pay large dividends: investments in interdisciplinary learning and research; in cross-border collaboration; in incubators and start-ups; in the preparation of a trained and flexible workforce; in research clusters that combine complementary strengths in a variety of fields; and in partnerships between universities, governments and industry. Perhaps, the most important investment we can make to ensure the success of an innovation-based economy is in the development of human capital: the education of a creative, highly-skilled and diverse population. Then British Columbians will be truly prepared to participate as global citizens in an increasingly competitive and changing world. UBC – and its sister institutions of higher learning in British Columbia – are prepared to do our part, and to help Canada foster the next generation of innovators.
Blanding, who teaches Canadian studies and history at Langara College. The workshop began with a short documentary movie Enemy Alien which tells the story of the frustration and injustice experienced by Japanese Canadians, who fought long and hard to be accepted as Canadians. After the movie, Dr. Blanding talked about the origins of the multicultural policy in Canada and the role of ethnic groups in pressing for it. He explained how policy and ideology of
multiculturalism works in practice, while making comparisons to other countries and discussing the future of multiculturalism in Canada. During the question-and-answer session followed the presentation, residents engaged in lively discussion. The final workshop First Nations in Canada will be held at the Old Barn Community Centre, Room 1, 7–9 pm on June 21.
CANADA 150 CEC Workshop on Multiculturalism On May 24, campus residents attended the second in a series of three documentary film workshops designed to introduce Canadian history and culture to the growing number of residents on the UBC campus, many of whom are newcomers to Canada. The series is organized by the UNA Civic Engagement Committee (CEC), and
the project—called Documentary Film Workshops for Canada 150—is funded by a $1,000 grant from UTown@UBC Community Grant program, a partnership of the UNA and UBC. The subject of the second workshop at the Old Barn Community Centre was The past, present and future of Canadian multiculturalism. Guest speaker was Lee