"Canada, like any other country, is best understood in comparison with others," says UBC Economics Prof. John Helliwell. Helliwell has been appointed to UBC's Brenda and David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies for 1999-2001, one of few such endowed chairs in the country.
"I see my international and Canada-related research to be tightly and beneficially linked," he says.
English Assoc. Prof. Richard Cavell, chair of Canadian Studies, says the appointment is an important step in the evolution of such programs, which sprang up on Canadian campuses in the 1960s when many in the country worried that Canada was getting short shrift on university curricula.
"Canadian Studies are now an international phenomenon, with some 235 programs around the world," he says. "The result has been an increasingly global perspective on Canadian issues."
Helliwell has earned an international reputation for research on national and international macro-economics, especially for his comparative empirical studies of economic growth. His recent research topics have included the effects of democracy on economic growth and social capital and the brain drain, including a study of where all UBC's graduates are living.
His most recent publication, How Much Do National Borders Matter? earned the Doug Purvis Memorial Prize for the best work on Canadian economic policy published during the year.
The McLean family, which endowed the chair in 1992, feels more time should be devoted to Canadian Studies at universities.
"We fundamentally believe that an Arts education provides an important grounding in life," says David McLean.
Canadian Studies at UBC co-ordinates approximately 100 Canadian content courses across the Faculty of Arts, as well as two dedicated courses, one in Canadian Cultural Studies and a fourth-year seminar taught by the McLean chair.
The Mclean family's endowment supports the research and teaching of the incumbent for two years as well as a UBC Press publication series consisting of lectures given at the end of the chair's two-year tenure. It also supports the major and minor program in Canadian Studies and a popular speakers' program.