Spencer McKay is a Research Associate with the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI) and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. He currently holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Wilf Family Department of Politics at New York University (NYU).
His research focuses on investigating how institutions that involve citizens in public policy-making can be designed to embody democratic principles. He is currently working on a book project, Democratizing Referendums, which develops a normative theory to guide the design and evaluation of popular vote processes (i.e. referendums and initiatives).
His other research projects examine the potential of deliberation to respond to problems of misinformation and populism, the institutional design of election debates and its relationship to deliberative quality, and the conditions that allow democratic innovation to occur.
Spencer completed his PhD in the Department of Political Science at UBC, where he defended his dissertation in September 2019. He also holds a M.A. in political science from UBC and a B.Soc.Sc from the University of Ottawa. Prior to beginning his PhD, he held several policy analysis positions, both in the public service and the private sector, where he focused primarily on anti-money laundering policy and regulation.