Opportunity and Aspiration

Well-positioned as we are for future endeavours, some clear imperatives emerged from our planning. In addition to sustained attention to excellence in research and education, we must balance our academic endeavours with meaningful attention to people and engagement.

We were reminded through multiple discussions and inputs that our people are at the core of everything we do. Students, faculty, and staff make UBC Science what it is. But that human element is often compromised by the pressures and logistics of our daily lives, especially through the last year. We must invest in our community, our culture, and our relationships. We must actively create connections that span disciplines and departments. We must strive to rediscover our sense of wellbeing, balance, and choice in what we do and continue to operationalize our commitments to equity and inclusion and diversity. We must particularly seek to understand and support the voice of racialized and gender minorities and other equity-seeking groups. Each of us has a responsibility to uphold the values of UBC in all our interactions, and to work together to cultivate a UBC Science community that nurtures and sustains us professionally and personally.

Conversations through this process also reinforced the importance of externalization provincially, nationally, and globally. We are accountable to society as well as to the advancement of knowledge, and we must engage in science that is mindful of the public good. Our core strengths of invention and fundamental discovery often involve indefinite time scales, but they can also benefit society in the short term. Nurturing the value of science to society is an imperative, and we neglect it at our peril. To the extent that we become advocates for positive change, other opportunities for impact will follow based on this trust and visibility. This also has implications for how and what we teach and, importantly, how we engage with partners across British Columbia and around the world. We must actively support our learners and researchers in their external interactions – influencing the world around us, and reciprocally allowing the world to shape our work in turn. And we must specifically work together to build relationships with Indigenous people and communities so that we can better understand how we can support their voices through our work and how their ways of knowing and being enrich our teaching and research.

In addition to working more closely with our peer Faculties across UBC, there are important institutional plans and commitments with which our efforts must connect. Beyond the university’s strategic plan (Shaping UBC’s Next Century), these include UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan, Inclusion Action Plan, and Wellbeing Strategic Framework, as well as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action.

UBC Science is a decentralized Faculty, with academic units and faculty members accountable for research and teaching. Most students, scholars, and staff affiliate first with a department or other unit. The Dean’s Office plays a key role in supporting these endeavours. The UBC Science working environment is collegial and dynamic, with mutual respect for the distributed model. As we enhance our focus on people and engagement, the Faculty has a heightened – and complementary – role to play in facilitating internal connections, coordinating external interfaces, and enhancing communication.