Programs & Initiatives

Addressing today’s urgent, global challenges requires rigorous, interdisciplinary inquiry and a commitment to collaborative approaches to research, teaching and community engagement on policy and global issues.

Among our three institutes, one centre, and five affiliated centres that serve as catalysts for research and engagement with the policy community around the world, SPPGA supports numerous other programs and initiatives.

Our programs and initiatives seek to generate new knowledge, raise awareness of pressing issues, create space for dialogue among academics, government, industry, and community members, and facilitate experiential, problem-focussed learning for our students.

We will continue to play a convening role in interdisciplinary learning and engagement as we know the importance that community-university engagement is to excellent teaching, learning and research, and to enhancing economic, social and cultural well-being.

Major SPPGA Speaker Series

Hosted by the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and made possible by a generous gift from Philip Lind (BA ’66; LLD ’02), the Lind Initiative is an annual dialogue series created to address the most urgent issues of our time.

With each year focusing on a new theme, the initiative invites prominent American scholars, writers and intellectuals to UBC to conduct research and share ideas with students, faculty and the wider community

Major SPPGA Initiatives

The UBC Women in House Program is an innovative and practical program hosted by the UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs that is aimed at promoting a greater level of female representation in the Canadian government. The program pairs female and female-identified students for a full day with a Member of Parliament or a Senator so that students can directly observe political procedures, learn about gender equity, and engage in mentorship and networking with Canadian political leaders.

Participants are also involved in a second day of learning where they attend an academic portion of the program with journalists, professors, and/or other practitioners on a related topic, as well as enjoy a tour of the Parliament Buildings.

The program includes fully subsidized return flights from Vancouver to Ottawa and accommodations. Students need to be fully available for all four days if accepted into the program and will also be expected to submit a blog post reflecting on their experience within two weeks of their return to Vancouver for posting on the UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs’ website.

*The 2020 Women in House Program was held on March 11-12, 2020 in Ottawa. Read the student reflections here.


The 2020 program was open to ten female and female-identified students enrolled in the following programs at the University of British Columbia during the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Doctor of Political Science
  • Master of Political Science
  • Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs
  • Bachelor of Political Science (4th year)
  • Bachelor of International Relations (4th year)

To Apply

Applications are now closed. For inquiries, please contact Aaron Posehn, SPPGA Executive Assistant:

Undergraduate Programs

The School of Public Policy and Global Affairs does not currently deliver any undergraduate programs. Upper-level undergraduate students interested in pursuing policy and global affairs at the graduate level may be considered for Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs courses.

For students interested in undergraduate courses focused on global interactions among states, non-state actors, economic and social structures and processes, as well as languages, cultures, societies, political systems, geographies and histories around the world, please find a comprehensive list of programs offered at UBC on The Faculty of Arts Admissions website and learn more about the IR Program below:

Institute of Asian Research

The IAR is the administrative home for five regional research centres, with which the Institute frequently collaborates on Asia Pacific policy events and initiatives:

Asia-Related Initiatives

The Institute of Asian Research (IAR) provides funding and administrative support to initiatives that focus on specific Asian regions and policy issues.

Jointly funded by the IAR and UBC’s Faculty of Arts, The Himalaya Program is an interdisciplinary hub for faculty, students and community partners to share knowledge about the Himalayan region, including Tibetan cultural zones and countries like Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

Launched in 2015, the program offers language courses in Nepali and Tibetan, and hosts speakers and events on topics that are relevant to the region.

Leads: Sara Shneiderman, Tsering Shakya, Mark Turin

The 21st century has renewed interest in inner and central Asia as the policy community and researchers begin to explore issues of religious and ethnic identity and natural resource management.

Launched by the IAR in 2005, the Program on Inner Asia seeks to improve global awareness of poorly understood countries like Mongolia through research, study, and relationship building.

Program Coordinator: Dr. Julian Dierkes

The Institute of Asian Research has recognized that expertise on Inner Asia and Central Asia is lacking not only at the IAR, but at UBC and in Canada more broadly. While we are not in a position to address this gap comprehensively, we are attempting to raise the profile of research on this area of great interest to Canadians and hope to establish more sustained activities in the future.

Research on Central and Inner Asia has gained renewed prominence in the 21st century as more attention in the social sciences and in the policy community is focusing on the interplay between religious and ethnic identities and some of the Asian states as well as on issues surrounding the management of natural resource endowments. A policy-context to some extent dominated by the legacies of the Soviet Union only makes these issues more pressing and thus command international attention.

A number of past research projects have heightened our awareness of the research being done on Inner Asia around the world. IAR researchers and other colleagues have thus examined or are conducting projects on:

  • policy-making in the periphery of the People’s Republic of China
  • contemporary Tibetan studies
  • human security and educational policy in Mongolia
  • mining regulation and resource-based development in Mongolia.

We hope to continue to build expertise in these fields and related areas of inquiry and welcome suggestions from colleagues and the interested public as to future topics and activities.

The Program on Inner Asia benefited from a very generous anonymous donation to support its activities in the academic year 2007-08.

This donation has encouraged the work of Mongolian and non-Mongolian graduate students at UBC and has supported research on Mongolia as well as contributions to Canada-Mongolia relations.

If you are interested in opportunities to support the program, please contact Dr. Julian Dierkes.

Previous Activities

  • In November 2019, we hosted a "Politics of Scope: Regionalization, Structural Adjustment and Elections in Mongolia" event.
  • In September 2018, we hosted a "Language, globalization, and youth in the Asian Periphery" event.
  • In late Spring 2012, we were keeping a particularly close eye on the upcoming parliamentary election in Mongolia via our blog, Mongolia Focus. Posts related to the election can be found in the Ikh Khural 2012 category. Julian Dierkes and MAAPPS student Brandon Miliate served as election monitors.
  • In 2008, 2009, and 2012, Dr. Julian Dierkes served as an election observer in national elections in Mongolia.
  • In Spring 2010, Dr. Julian Dierkes co-supervised a graduate course, the Asia Pacific Policy Project on Mine Closure in Mongolia, with Dirk van Zyl, Mining Engineering, UBC
  • The Program on Inner Asia hosted a major international conference on “Contemporary Mongolia – Transitions, Development and Social Transformations” November 14-17, 2008.
  • During the academic year 2007-08, the Program on Inner Asia, together with the Buddhism and Contemporary Society Program and the Contemporary Tibetan Studies Program benefited from a generous grant by the Silkroad Foundation in organizing a lecture series on “Tibet-Mongolia Links in Religion and Medicine.”
  • On Monday, March 26, 2007, the Mongolian film “The Cave of the Yellow Dog” was screened as a part of the IAR Asian Film Festival
  • In the fall term of the 2006/07 academic year, we offered an experimental course, entitled “Mining Mongolia” within the Master of Arts Asia Pacific Policy Studies.
  • In 2005, we inaugurated our Mongolia Lecture Series as a first concrete attempt to engage with Inner Asia more regularly.

Past Academic Visitors

  • B. Otgonbaatar, PhD Candidate, Waseda University, Japan. September 2013 – January 2014.
  • D. Doljin, PhD Candidate, International Law, Soongsil University, Korea. Arbitration in international investment agreements. December 2011 – November 2012
  • D Byambajav, PhD Candidate, Sociology, Hokkaido University, Japan. Environmental movements in Mongolia. May – December 2011


Contact Professor Julian Dierkes to learn more.

The Xinjiang Documentation Project, prepared by the Institute of Asian Research at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, offers a chronological documentation of reports on the ongoing troubling events in China’s Xinjiang since as early as 2015. The project aims to provide a reading guide about the recent developments, experts’ explanations, as well as an understanding of what ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs are going through on a daily basis.

Project Director: Professor Timothy Cheek


Liu Institute for Global Issues

Using a policy-led approach, the Liu Institute for Global Issues encourages examination of economic, social and environmental interactions and solutions that advance sustainability, security and social justice.

Liu Scholars

Created in 2009, the Liu Scholars program brings together exceptional PhD students from across UBC to facilitate collaborative, interdisciplinary research on global issues, to strengthen global networks, and to develop a community for research dissemination.

Lobby Gallery

The Lobby Gallery’s mandate is to foster alternative and artistic forms of dissemination of research through critical artistic expression, enabling a space for creative dialogue about global issues. It also seeks to build communication among students, faculty, researchers and the Vancouver public through the exhibition of innovative, engaging and responsible art work.

Liu Debates: Confronting Emerging Policy Issues

The most enriching conversations often happen in informal, small-group, settings. For example, in Vancouver, the topic of conversation invariably turns to the “housing crisis”. However, while plenty of passionate opinions are shared, such conversations are often marred by the liberal use of uninformed opinions about exactly what the problem is, its causes, and the solutions. A more enlightening conversation would include key informed participants who can separate facts from opinions while engaging with alternate viewpoints. Seminars typically do not provide the opportunity to have the “back and forth” that is a critical piece of engaging conversations. The Liu Debates aim to fill this niche at UBC by hosting frequent events on a topic of current policy interest.

The Liu Debates format brings together a group of 20-25 people, by invitation only, with expertise in various aspects of the issue being discussed. One or two invitees moderates the conversation, with brief opening remarks then opening the floor for conversation. A moderator will ensure the smooth flow of conversation.

Rules of the game

  1. Chatham House Rules prevail, i.e., “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”
  2. Be critical. We want an engaging conversation with alternate viewpoints. Don’t be shy to express contrasting viewpoints.
  3. But be polite: Challenge the viewpoints, not the individuals.

  • Feb 4, 2016: Reforming Canadian Elections
  • Apr 6, 2016: Divestment from Fossil Fuels
  • Apr 21, 2016: CIRDI at UBC

Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI)

CSDI supports publicly engaged research, teaching and knowledge-sharing on democratic practices and institutions, with a focus on citizen engagement and participation, constitutional governance and transitional regimes.

Institute for Future Legislators

Gain intensive hands-on mentoring and training to make a difference—whether at the local, provincial or federal level—through the Institute for Future Legislators (IFL) held each summer in Vancouver and in Victoria.

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