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Public Scholars Initiative

Faculty of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies

Join us at the forefront of a new conversation that reimagines doctoral education and revitalizes the role of the scholar in our society

The Public Scholars Initiative places UBC as a leader in best practices around doctoral preparation for diverse careers.

PSI integrates research and public engagement by enabling PhD students to collaborate with industries, government agencies, communities and non-governmental organizations to advance groundbreaking and socially impactful work that has the potential to profoundly change how we live. We invite you to join us at the forefront of a new conversation that reimagines doctoral education and revitalizes the role of the scholar in our society.

Traditionally, PhD programs were designed with the expectation that graduates would move directly to positions in the academy. Today, as research and inquiry are increasingly translated to more immediate social and economic benefits, the opportunity for PhD graduates to contribute directly to the public good compels them to look beyond academia.

Public Scholars address crucial issues such as access to justice, environmental sustainability, the use of child soldiers, and earthquake resilience—and in the process enable actual change. They produce dynamic research and scholarly projects like policy papers, patents, business plans, educational programs, and documentary films as part of the PhD dissertations.

Your support of the Public Scholars Initiative will allow us to:

  • support students to partner with the public sector to carry out research of mutual interest
  • support students to collaborate with the private sector in activities that facilitate both industry and research goals
  • make research accessible and useful to external audiences by hosting the PhDs Go Public research talk series and developing websites and other non-academic communication materials
  • develop broader career readiness for scholars though formal professional development, networking, and mentorship programs
  • provide financial support with funding of up to $10,000 per student


UBC is the only university in Canada with the pan-university goal of encouraging public scholarship as part of the doctoral experience and PSI Scholars are outstanding ambassadors of the Canadian value of making positive social contributions both here at home and around the world. The initiative has received the 2016 Promotion of Excellence Award from the Association for Graduate Enrollment Management and the Conference Board of Canada considered the PSI to be a “transformative initiative.”

Your support of the Public Scholars Initiative provides funding for high potential students to explore and address some of our society’s most perplexing and pressing challenges through innovative and collaborative scholarship that they would not otherwise be able to pursue.


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