Message from the Dean

On behalf of the Faculty of Science, I am excited to present our new five-year strategic plan: Improving our World Through Science. Developing this plan gave members of UBC Science and our stakeholders the opportunity to assess the state of the Faculty and to explore our shared aspirations.

This has proven to be a timely undertaking. UBC Science is at an inflection point, with real opportunity to be seized. The discussions in formulating this plan were exceptionally rich, inclusive, and candid.

We have affirmed the centrality of our research and education missions in advancing science and emphasized our firm intention to build on these strengths. Our research accomplishments rest on the disciplinary expertise of our faculty, while reinforcing the importance of pursuing research with impact across fields. Enhancing and forming new relationships within UBC Science, across UBC, and beyond are top priorities.

Our research serves not only the advancement of knowledge, but also the needs of society. We will strive to bring science to public debate and policy making, as well as to foster broader understanding of scientific issues. The title of this plan reflects our intent to work for the public good, through our discoveries and inventions, and by educating the next generations of informed citizens.

We are committed to building on the transformation that evidence-based pedagogy has brought to science education at UBC and to supporting the growing cadre of educational leaders who will help us to develop improved ways to teach – and for our students to learn. Ensuring that learning is an equitable experience for our increasingly diverse student body will be a focus going forward. We seek to identify and overcome barriers that may differentially impact student success, while taking a holistic view of how best to equip and empower our learners.

This plan was developed at a truly anomalous time. Together with the rest of the world, UBC Science faced multiple crises in the past year: the COVID-19 pandemic, the intensifying impacts of climate change, and the imperative to provide social justice to those who have been denied it. We have a new sense of urgency, paired with a knowledge that fundamental science, particularly in the areas of data science and advanced modelling, environmental, biodiversity, and climate science, can help provide solutions, even in the short term.

Our faculty and staff express the need for a greater sense of belonging and common purpose within the Faculty. The challenges in carrying out our work in isolation over the past year have made us intensely aware of the importance of community, and of the strength that we take from being a part of UBC Science. Our people are the basis of all we achieve, and our satisfaction and performance depend critically on their wellbeing. Our plan accordingly introduces a social contract that defines our shared aims and interests, while stating our responsibilities to each other and to society.

The best way to prepare for an uncertain future is to be certain about what we hold most important and to have a clear vision of our goals. This plan provides that certainty and vision, while the strength and commitment of our people will ensure that we prevail in our mission.

I would like to thank our students, faculty, staff, alumni, stakeholders, and friends for their remarkable engagement and enthusiasm in shaping this plan, particularly under the constraints placed on us by COVID-19. I have been humbled by the confidence and resilience you have brought to defining our future, and by your steadfast determination that it be extraordinary.

Meigan Aronson
Dean, Faculty of Science