Stay Safe on UBC’s Vancouver campus

staysafe narrow

IMPORTANT

The University has a strong track record of having safe campuses. However, in light of recent events:

  • Don’t walk alone at night, watch out for each other.

  • Use AMS Safewalk, TransLink shuttles, or Campus Security services.

  • Trust your instincts. If you feel in danger, or witness suspicious activity, call 911 immediately.

Statscan’s cuts have forced us to see Canada through a U.S. lens

Statscan’s cuts have forced us to see Canada through a U.S. lens

Statistics Canada needs to restart its reporting of national marriage and divorce rates, argues UBC economist Marina Adshade.

Read more…

THE DANGER OF PARALYMPIC BOOSTING

Update: Krassioukov and five UBC students will study the dangerous practice of Paralympic “boosting” at the 2012 London Games while running a health clinic for athletes

by Hilary Thomson, March 4, 2010

After years of hard work, Dr. Andrei Krassioukov has finally earned admission to the Athletes Village at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games.

But Krassioukov isn’t a competitor — he’s an internationally recognized expert in spinal cord injury and leader of the only research team to be granted access to the Vancouver Athletes Village during the Games.

Krassioukov and research team members will investigate the controversial practice of “boosting.” Practiced by some individuals with spinal cord injury, boosting involves intentionally raising blood pressure to stimulate the body’s energy and endurance. Non-athletes with SCI may use boosting to feel more energetic and alert.

Paralympic athletes use boosting to win — it can improve performance by up to 15 per cent. Stressing techniques to stimulate parts of the body below the level of the spinal cord injury, and to produce a spike in blood pressure, can range from wearing pressure stockings, to compressing the testicles by sitting on a handful of ball bearings, or blocking a urinary catheter to distend the bladder.

Injury to the spinal cord disrupts control of heart and blood vessels that are normally regulated by the autonomic nervous system, part of the nervous system that provides non-voluntary control to various organs. This disruption — which varies in severity between individuals — means the body cannot properly replenish energy consumed through exercise leading to a drop in peripheral blood flow, sweating, shortness of breath and faintness . This creates significant disadvantages during competition, leading some athletes to use boosting as a drastic measure to correct functions lost through injury.

Besides creating an unfair competitive advantage, boosting is a dangerous practice. The sudden surge in blood pressure typically seen during boosting is known as autonomic dysreflexia and can lead to stroke, heart attack or death. But the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) 1994 ban on boosting has been difficult to enforce.

A physician-scientist at Vancouver Coastal Health’s GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Krassioukov has studied autonomic functioning in SCI patients for more than 30 years and has collected data from paralympic athletes headed for competition since 2006. During the last five years he has urged the IPC to go beyond the ban to address how differences in autonomic function affect elite athlete performance.

Krassioukov believes that adding autonomic functioning to the athlete classification system that currently measures only motor and sensory functioning will more evenly match competitors and reduce motivation to boost.

“Being allowed to conduct research in the Athletes’ Village is an exciting milestone for me,” says Krassioukov, an associate professor in UBC’s Dept. of Medicine and co-director of the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), part of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI). “It suggests the IPC will consider how differences in autonomic function create inequities in performance and fuel the risky practice of boosting.”

Autonomic functioning varies between individuals according to the level and severity of their SCI. Currently, athletes with higher-level injury and significant autonomic function impairment compete directly with individuals with lesser impairment. Athletes have used boosting to close the gap.

During the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, expected to draw 650 athletes from more than 40 countries, he plans to test 50 curling and sledge hockey athletes with spinal cord injury in a Cardiovascular Health Education Clinic in the Village and at ICORD. Volunteers will participate in a 90-minute assessment of autonomic functioning, complete a questionnaire and receive educational brochures about autonomic dysreflexia and risks of boosting.

Krassioukov expects it will be at least four years before his team will provide the IPC with possible guidelines on testing of autonomic functioning in paralympic athletes. Additional data from other paralympic sports must be collected and analyzed and recommendations developed and tested. He hopes research advances will ultimately eliminate the need for boosting but accepts that individuals with SCI are always looking for ways to improve their functioning.

“I am amazed by my patients’ incredible tenacity to achieve what they want to do in life — how they not only survive but fully engage in their adventure with a new body.”

Krassioukov’s work is supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada; the Disability Health Research Network; the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation; and the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Tap and rope guide blind swimmer to victory

UPDATE:

Aug. 14, 2012 – Donovan Tildesley will compete in his fourth Paralympic Games in London (Aug. 29-Sept. 9).

Sep. 11, 2008 – Donovan Tildesley won bronze in 400-metre S11 swimming in Beijing.

Sep. 4, 2008 – Donovan Tildesley has been named Canada’s flag bearer for the Beijing Paralympics. Tildesley will lead Team Canada’s 143 athletes into the Opening Ceremony.

By Brian Lin, July 3, 2008 

At age 24, new UBC grad Donovan Tildesley has broken two world records, won a dozen gold medals in international swim meets and is part of Team Canada for the third time in the Paralympic Games in Beijing this summer.

The Vancouver native is also a motivational speaker and part owner of a small radio station in Whistler, B.C.

Tildesley, who was born blind, won a bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Paralympics and two silver and one more bronze medal in Athens in 2004. He’s currently the No. 2-ranked swimmer with a disability in the world in the 400-metre freestyle.

“Competing in the Paralympics was one of the most amazing experiences in my life,” says Tildesley, who began racing at age nine with the help of his father and coach Hugh, a former competitive swimmer.

Hugh is also Donovan’s “tapper,” charged with the vital task of tapping his son on the head with a pole when he’s one stroke away from the wall.

“The questions I get asked most is how do I avoid swimming into the wall, and how I swim in a straight line,” explains Tildesley.

Using the lane rope as a guide, Tildesley must keep his arms straight and centred as to keep on course. “As I get tired, keeping my arms symmetrical becomes more difficult, but that’s part of the sport.”

Since graduating from UBC this spring with an English degree, Tildesley has been busy speaking at schools and community events on behalf of the RBC Olympians Program. “I love it as much as competing in the pool,” says Tildesley. “It’s a chance to step outside myself and tell my story. “If I can enrich, inspire or help change someone’s life, that makes me happy.”

Another thing that makes Tildesley happy involves skis and may not be everybody’s cup of tea. “There’s nothing more thrilling than being on top of Spanky’s Ladder on Blackcomb and making the 500 vertical feet drop.”

Now imagine doing that with your eyes closed.

Recap: Looking back at UBC and the 2012 Olympics

By CJ Pentland and Henry Lebard, The Ubyssey

Bronze medals, swim-offs, meeting royalty: the 2012 Summer Olympics featured much excitement for past and current UBC students.

Unsurprisingly, the swimmers had the most success in London. Led by Brent Hayden’s bronze medal in the 100m freestyle, several other T-Birds put forth strong efforts.

Alumnus Scott Dickens started the competition strong as he became the first Canadian to swim the 100m breaststroke in less than a minute, coming in at 59.85s. He made the semi-final in that event, along with the semi-final of the 200m breaststroke and the final of the 4x100m medley relay team, which also featured Hayden.

The reigning CIS male swimmer of the year, Tommy Gossland, swam in the 4x100m freestyle relay heats along with Hayden, but their time didn’t qualify them for the final.

As for the women, Martha McCabe led the way by finishing fifth overall in the 200m breaststroke after positing a time of 2:23.16 in the final. Tera van Beilen recorded a time of 1:07.48 in the 100m breaststroke semi-finals, which put her in a tie for eighth and forced a swim-off. However, she lost the two-person race and failed to make the finals.

CIS female swimmer of the year Savannah King raced in both the 400m and 800m freestyles, recording a personal best in the 800m. Heather MacLean swam in both the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays, with her 4x200m team finishing fourth overall.

Back on land, a few former Thunderbirds put up good results in track and field events. Inaki Gomez finished 13th in the 20km race walk with a time of 1:20:58, setting a personal best and breaking the Canadian record time in that event.

Liz Gleadle finished 12th overall in women’s javelin, the highest-ever finish by a Canadian in that event. Curtis Moss competed in men’s javelin, but finished 22nd in qualifying and failed to make the finals.

To round out the field events, high jumper Mike Mason came eighth in men’s high jump with a best jump of 2.29m.

There were also a few alumni competing on the outdoor water. In her third Olympics, Nikola Girke finished tenth in women’s RS:X Sailing. Mike Leigh and Luke Ramsay competed in the men’s sailing 470 class, ending up in the 25th spot. And Ricardo Montemayor, who was competing for Mexico, raced in the men’s sailing Laser Class and finished 38th.

In cycling, UBC had one representative. Denise Ramsden raced in both the women’s road race and time trials, finishing 27th and 19th, respectively.

As for the indoor events, badminton player Toby Ng met the Prince of Wales before the Games started, but he and his mixed doubles partner dropped all three of their matches in the group play stage.

The Olympics are now over, but there is still one more UBC athlete left to compete. Paralympic swimmer Donavan Tildesley will be swimming in four events in London once the Paralympic Games kick off on August 29.

This article was originally published by UBC’s student newspaper, the Ubysseyon Aug. 12.

Meet UBC’s 19 Olympians and Paralympians here

Hot topics in the news

UBC experts on pipeline debates

  • Environmental issues
  • Business and trade
  • Aboriginal communities
  • Law and policy

UBC welcomes Paralympics torch

On March 11, 2010 UBC will become one of only 13 community stops on the Paralympic Torch Relay.  Just one day before the 2010 Paralympic Games begin in Vancouver, the Paralympic Torch will zig zag through UBC Point Grey campus, kick-starting the Paralympic experience.

Read more: http://www.webcommunications.ubc.ca/ubc2010/whats-on/paralympic-torch-relay/

The danger of Paralympic boosting

After years of hard work, Dr. Andrei Krassioukov has finally earned admission to the Athletes Village at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games.

But Krassioukov isn’t a competitor — he’s an internationally recognized expert in spinal cord injury (SCI) and leader of the only research team to be granted access to the Vancouver Athletes Village during the Games.

Krassioukov and research team members will investigate the controversial practice of “boosting.” Practiced by some individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), boosting involves intentionally raising blood pressure to stimulate the body’s energy and endurance. Non-athletes with SCI may use boosting to feel more energetic and alert. Paralympic athletes use boosting to win — it can improve performance by up to 15 per cent. Stressing techniques to stimulate parts of the body below the level of the spinal cord injury, and to produce a spike in blood pressure, can range from wearing pressure stockings, to compressing the testicles by sitting on a handful of ball bearings, or blocking a urinary catheter to distend the bladder.

Injury to the spinal cord disrupts control of heart and blood vessels that are normally regulated by the autonomic nervous system, part of the nervous system that provides non-voluntary control to various organs. This disruption — which varies in severity between individuals — means the body cannot properly replenish energy consumed through exercise leading to a drop in peripheral blood flow, sweating, shortness of breath and faintness . This creates significant disadvantages during competition, leading some athletes to use boosting as a drastic measure to correct functions lost through injury.

Besides creating an unfair competitive advantage, boosting is a dangerous practice. The sudden surge in blood pressure typically seen during boosting is known as autonomic dysreflexia and can lead to stroke, heart attack or death. But the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) 1994 ban on boosting has been difficult to enforce.

A physician-scientist at Vancouver Coastal Health’s GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Krassioukov has studied autonomic functioning in SCI patients for more than 30 years and has collected data from paralympic athletes headed for competition since 2006. During the last five years he has urged the IPC to go beyond the ban to address how differences in autonomic function affect elite athlete performance.

Krassioukov believes that adding autonomic functioning to the athlete classification system that currently measures only motor and sensory functioning will more evenly match competitors and reduce motivation to boost.

“Being allowed to conduct research in the Athletes’ Village is an exciting milestone for me,” says Krassioukov, an associate professor in UBC’s Dept. of Medicine and co-director of the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), part of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI). “It suggests the IPC will consider how differences in autonomic function create inequities in performance and fuel the risky practice of boosting.”

Autonomic functioning varies between individuals according to the level and severity of their SCI. Currently, athletes with higher-level injury and significant autonomic function impairment compete directly with individuals with lesser impairment. Athletes have used boosting to close the gap.

During the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, expected to draw 650 athletes from more than 40 countries, he plans to test 50 curling and sledge hockey athletes with spinal cord injury in a Cardiovascular Health Education Clinic in the Village and at ICORD. Volunteers will participate in a 90-minute assessment of autonomic functioning, complete a questionnaire and receive educational brochures about autonomic dysreflexia and risks of boosting.

Krassioukov expects it will be at least four years before his team will provide the IPC with possible guidelines on testing of autonomic functioning in paralympic athletes. Additional data from other paralympic sports must be collected and analyzed and recommendations developed and tested. He hopes research advances will ultimately eliminate the need for boosting but accepts that individuals with SCI are always looking for ways to improve their functioning.

“I am amazed by my patients’ incredible tenacity to achieve what they want to do in life — how they not only survive but fully engage in their adventure with a new body.”

Krassioukov’s work is supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada; the Disability Health Research Network; the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation; and the Rick Hansen Foundation.

VCHRI is the research body of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, which includes BC’s largest academic and teaching health sciences centres: VGH, UBC Hospital, and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. In academic partnership with the University of British Columbia, VCHRI brings innovation and discovery to patient care, advancing healthier lives in healthy communities across British Columbia, Canada, and beyond. www.vchri.ca.

UBC’s sustainable sports centre

As a Paralympic competition venue, the UBC Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre will host 20 Paralympic sledge hockey games. The complex was built in the 1960s and is a fitting venue, considering its rich history. Canada’s National Hockey Program was born at the arena in 1963, in preparation for the Innsbruck 1964 Olympic Winter games in Austria.

The arena was redeveloped from 2006 to 2008 to rejuvenate and expand the facility in time for the Olympics, and to reflect the shared environmental, social and economic sustainability goals. Instead of demolishing the whole building, UBC and VANOC kept one ice rink that was still in good shape and upgraded its outdated mechanical and electrical systems.

The new centre has a highly-efficient floor plan inside, and the building site takes advantage of existing road and pedestrian networks and is situated close to public transportation. The centre’s designers used the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) green building rating system as a framework to address sustainability across all environmental performance categories. The facility achieved a LEED Silver performance standard, meeting VANOC’s progressive requirements for sustainability.

In addition to hockey and ice skating programs, the centre accommodates more than 40,000 users monthly through public programs, leagues, special events, concerts and fitness-related programs, to make the most of the facility.

Sports facilities require a significant amount of energy to operate, especially ice rinks and pools. UBC and VANOC found ways to convert the centre into a world-class winter sports facility and meet the building’s ice maintenance, ventilation, de-humidification and lighting needs in sustainable ways.

“Typically those are challenges, but we took them as positives, because we felt there was a lot of opportunity to improve the standards and also be leaders in the development of some of these facilities,” says Kavie Toor, Associate Director of Facilities and Business Development for UBC Athletics and Recreation.

One of the highlights of the redeveloped arena is the ECO CHILL® energy system. This new technology recycles all the energy used to maintain the ice surface back into the arena’s heating system, making use of waste energy that would normally be flushed out of the building.

The arena also uses electric ice resurfacers, which keep energy use to a minimum and don’t impact air quality. Often referred to as a Zamboni®, an ice resurfacer is typically fuelled by propane. “Not only is there energy wasted when they’re running sometimes three times an hour if you’re running multiple rinks, but there’s also a considerable amount of emissions that go into the playing area and into the stands,” Toor says.

To remove moist air from the building and dressing rooms, the arena uses an efficient de-humidifying system that runs about eight to 10 hours a day, compared to the centre’s old system that ran 24 hours a day. The building also uses energy-efficient lighting with sensors and control systems that turn lights off when a space is unoccupied.

Games inspire new research centre for sport

The interplay of sport and sustainability is being put under the microscope at the University of British Columbia, where a new, one-of-a-kind research centre is analyzing the opportunities and effects created by sport and mega sporting events.

The UBC Centre for Sports and Sustainability tackles questions about the environmental impacts of Olympic Games, society’s perception of Paralympic athletes and how to give youth opportunities to learn through sport, among other topics.

“There’s a growing need to better understand how sport transforms people, communities and cultures to deliver lasting economic, social and health benefits,” says UBC President Stephen Toope.

“As a UBC legacy project from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the centre will fill an important niche as an international hub for knowledge on this very specialized area of research.”

The centre already exists — virtually. Through a joint project between UBC and the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), the university is formalizing an existing network of researchers who are engaged in sport and sustainability research and instruction.

Researchers are considering how a large-scale sport event or infrastructure project can spur innovation in urban design, and what factors influence national pride, social cohesion and the inclusion in sport of groups such as new immigrants, indigenous populations and the economically disadvantaged.

“This is about more than sport itself,” says Robert Sparks, director of the UBC School of Human Kinetics. “This is sport as it links to economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social development in communities.”

“How do you ‘green’ sports facilities and how do you use sport programs to foster community development and healthy lifestyles?”

Part of the centre’s mandate will be to ensure this new knowledge is made available to local, national and international event organizers and host cities so they might optimize their planning and provide an enduring legacy. Already underway is the Paralympic Games Impact Survey, which looks at how the Paralympic Games impact the social perceptions of persons with a disability. A post-Paralympic Games survey will study changes in these perceptions.

”The overall idea is to look at how society might change its views of people with disabilities upon watching the quality performances of Paralympic athletes,” says Rob VanWynsberghe, lecturer in Human Kinetics and Educational Studies and UBC lead for the project.

Researchers are also looking around the country to find programs that teach others how to coach athletes with a disability, Vanwynsberghe says. “We suspect that many Paralympic coaches are experts in a sport for athletes without disabilities. They’ll draw on these skills to teach Paralympic athletes, but the cross-over isn’t easy; sledge hockey and hockey, for example, are two very different things,” he says.

“We want to make sure there are enough programs in place to train coaches and athletes for the Paralympics, and from a research perspective, consider the social perceptions that follow.” This is baseline work for the Olympic Games Impact study, which is also being conducted at UBC and led by VanWynsberghe. The massive study was developed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to introduce a standardized cross-Games method of monitoring, measuring and reporting on the economic, social and environmental impact of hosting the Olympic Games.

UBC and VANOC will also present a three-part think-tank series to analyze lessons learned from the 2010 Games, new precedents for large scale sport event sustainability, and the use of sustainability indicators in planning future Olympic bids.

“We want to capitalize on our research with the Olympics and Paralympics to become a knowledge hub capable of helping groups down the road who want to take on similar projects,” Sparks says.

Another project under the centre’s umbrella — the nascent Coaching Sustainability Initiative —has a local connection in Vancouver. By creating community service learning placements in the Downtown Eastside, this UBC legacy project supports leadership development and physical activity among secondary school students in Vancouver.

For more information, visit
ubc.ca/2010

UBC In The News

Big data project to investigate online abuse of candidates during federal election

With a federal election approaching, Canadians are bracing for an uptick in political chatter on social media. So are university researchers from around the world.

Heidi Tworek, an assistant professor in UBC’s history department, and Christopher Tenove, a postdoctoral fellow in political science, are among them. Their new project is one of 18 that will analyze huge amounts of data harvested in real time from social media during the upcoming election as part of the Digital Ecosystem Research Challenge.

We spoke with Tworek and Tenove about what they hope to learn.

Christopher Tenove

Christopher Tenove

What motivated you to get involved with the Digital Ecosystem Research Challenge?

CT: We are interested in how social media platforms are shaping political participation in democracies these days. One of the ways that might be happening is by exposing people to incivility, abuse, hate speech and other kinds of problematic communication that make it difficult for some people to participate—particularly if they belong to groups that are often stigmatized or abused. So we’re part of this collaborative project to understand what social media platforms are doing to democratic politics.

What specific questions will you try to answer?

Heidi Tworek

Heidi Tworek

HT: How has social media changed the game in terms of trolling and harassment of political candidates? What does that really look like in an election in 2019? And we’re trying to answer those questions both quantitatively and qualitatively. We’ll be using data from Twitter, including all tweets from candidates or directed at them, and combining that data with interviews with political candidates. We’ll ask them how they are experiencing this, what kind of social media they see as harassment, and how their offices are actually dealing with it.

How much will you focus on the psychological impact?

CT: In preliminary discussions I’ve had with previously elected candidates, I’ve been struck by the fact that a really big part of it is just their ability to communicate publicly to their constituents and to the general public. Their social media accounts are less of a private thing. Some campaigns might have a full-time communications person assisting them, and the candidate might not even be the first person to read messages on their account. So it’s less about the way in which people are targeted individually and have to respond individually, and more about an organizational issue that has to be dealt with.

Shouldn’t the social media platforms deal with it?

HT: That’s the second part of this, the ongoing question of responsibility that platforms have for the content they host. How far and how quickly are they attending to speech that contravenes their own terms of service? Particularly during an election campaign, how quickly things are being done becomes very key. The other important thing for a country like Canada is the question of context, and understanding how a combination of words that may not seem abusive to somebody outside Canada may in fact be very abusive and harmful to, say, an Indigenous person in Canada. That’s one thing we’re going to look out for, to see whether some types of abusive speech are not picked up by platform moderators because they’re not sensitive to that Canadian context.

How prepared do you think candidates are for this kind of abuse?

CT: That’s a question we are going to be asking. I would say from my discussions with a number of people that the larger parties for the 2015 election were trained on social media strategies, but the preparation around both cybersecurity and dealing with harassment and abuse was not as well thought out or tested. It’s something all parties have been trying to develop, especially since the U.S. experience in 2016. One contribution we hope to make is to learn from candidates and those who assist them, find out what works, and give them more evidence about what works and what might not.

UBC experts share views on global action on climate change

Youth climate activists around the world are planning a Global Climate Strike during the week of Sept. 20-27 to demand action on the climate crisis. Millions of people could join the protest. Ahead of the strike date, we asked several UBC experts who work in climate-related fields for their views on climate change action.

If you were to recommend one policy action to address the climate crisis, what would it be?

Juan Jose Alava studies and conducts modelling to understand the interactions of climate change and pollutants in marine ecosystems and food webs.

“I would push for a policy action fostering and implementing the production and use of green, cleaner and more sustainable energy based on a long-term, oil-free economy to reduce our CO2 emissions and carbon footprint. These changes can proactively start by changing our food consumption preferences and transportation behaviour, from the individual level through to sustainable communities, industrial transitions and bold decisions by the government.”

 

Patrick Baylis is an environmental economist who studies how people are impacted by climate change and how they respond.

“I would recommend a carbon tax set at a level that reflects the best available evidence on the full cost of climate change. The proceeds from the tax should be redistributed to ensure that lower income members of society are shielded from the negative impacts of the tax, and to provide temporary assistance and job training for workers in carbon-intensive industries who may face employment challenges as a result.”

 

Kai Chan is a sustainability scientist, trained in ecology, policy and ethics who strives to understand how social-ecological systems can be transformed.

“Addressing the climate crisis appropriately will require a wholesale transformation of our economy, which will take a bevy of policies carefully designed to interact synergistically. Key pieces include substantial carbon pricing (more than $100/tonne), eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, and zoning and infrastructure investments that create easy compact communities.

However, effective and efficient climate policy doesn’t necessarily sell politically, so what we need is politically enticing climate policies. I’d suggest establishing a credible national system of greenhouse gas accounting and offsets, and giving individuals and corporations tax credits for being climate-neutral. This way, substantial money is leveraged for climate action at little cost to the government, without the flavour of a ‘tax’, all while deftly encouraging changes in business and lifestyles.”

 

Simon Donner is an interdisciplinary climate scientist who studies how climate change effects society and the environment.

“Climate change is a collective action problem that won’t be solved by any one policy. But if I can only choose one for Canada or the U.S., it would be to create proportional voting systems, such that every person in each country has an equal say in the federal leadership. Most people in North America want climate action—our governments should reflect that.”

 

Hadi Dowlatabadi and his team are researching ways to design sensible paths towards a sustainable future. He has studied climate change and its solutions since 1986.

“I would push for harmonized public investment in public transit and urban development. More and more people live in cities, but we are short of affordable housing. In response, people have developed low-density homes further away, making it expensive to provide frequent public transit. If housing policy, development policy and transit are harmonized, we can bring about more compact cities, with affordable living costs and efficient and inexpensive public transit. This triple win can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent and will help address key underlying challenges our society needs to solve.”

 

Kathryn Harrison studies Canadian politics, environmental politics and climate change policy.

“Canada must acknowledge and begin to plan for the decline of our oil industry. The oil sands are the leading source of Canada’s emissions growth. How will we meet our Paris target, let alone the much deeper reductions needed, if those emissions continue to grow? In addition, Canada is uniquely vulnerable to other countries efforts to reduce their consumption, because our oil is relatively costly and carbon-intensive.”

Climate strike protest sign

Credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

 

George Hoberg has been working on environmental policy and governance for more than three decades.

“It’s not about one or several big policy ideas; it’s about a comprehensive economy-wide transformation comparable to mobilization for war. We did it effectively during World War II, and we need that scale and urgency of mobilization again. We don’t need to fear this rate and breadth of change, although there will be many challenges. It’s a great opportunity for collective growth—a grand societal project.”

 

Milind Kandlikar focuses on the relationship between climate mitigation and air quality improvement.

“I would choose a globally harmonized carbon tax, preferably applied upstream, at the point of fossil fuel production—coal mines, natural gas plants and refineries. The tax would be substantial ($100/tonne of carbon or more) so as to have an impact on fossil fuel use. Tax revenues would be recycled into the economy through a tax swap/consumer dividend, investments in low carbon technologies or by making financial transfers to help those most affected, primarily in the developing world.”

 

Stephen Sheppard, a professor in the department of forest resources management, works with research scientist Deepti Mathew Iype in developing community mobilization tools around climate change. Here’s what they had to say:

“We need to develop a social mobilization plan to engage citizens and youth and motivate positive action in every neighbourhood. This plan could share proven tools like the Citizen’s Coolkit and encourage local champions to spark a vision for climate-proofing their own blocks, with guidance and support from local government and funded NGOs. Vancouver alone has 4,600 city-blocks – all of them will need to be mobilized if we are to achieve 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in B.C. and a 100 per cent switch to renewable energy sources in Vancouver by 2050.”

 

Hannah Wittman works with farmers to transition to agroecological farming practices that “feed the world and cool the planet.”

“We should place a luxury tax on fossil fuel inputs to the agricultural industry. Fossil fuel driven agriculture is highly subsidized, particularly for empty calorie crops such as soy and corn, leading to both a public health crisis and a climate crisis.  Policy should support agroecological systems instead, which reduce fossil fuel use and promote diversified food systems that are better for people and planet.”

Protect our beautiful earth

Credit: John Cameron/Unsplash

For more information, contact:

Juan Jose Alava
Principal investigator, Ocean Pollution Research Unit
E-mail: j.alava@oceans.ubc.ca
Tel: 604-291-0019

* Unavailable Sept. 25-26

Patrick Baylis
Assistant Professor, Vancouver School of Economics
Email: pbaylis@mail.ubc.ca
Tel: 604-704-4129

* Unavailable Sept. 20-22

Kai Chan
Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Email: kaichan@ires.ubc.ca
Tel. 604-288-9820

Simon Donner
Professor, Department of Geography
Email: simon.donner@ubc.ca
Tel: 604-561-7284

Hadi Dowlatabadi
Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Email: hadi.d@ubc.ca
Tel: 778-863-0103

* Unavailable Sept. 18, 19, 23, 27

Kathryn Harrison
Professor, Department of Political Science
Email: kathryn.harrison@ubc.ca
Tel: 604-822-4922

George Hoberg
Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs
Email: george.hoberg@ubc.ca
Tel: 604-822-3728

Milind Kandlikar
Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, and Liu Institute for Global Issues
Email: mkandlikar@ires.ubc.ca

Deepti Mathew Iype
Research Scientist, Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning
Email: deepti.mathewiype@ubc.ca
Tel: 604-822-8912

Hannah Wittman
Professor, Land and Food Systems and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Email: hannah.wittman@ubc.ca
Tel: 778-999-1840

* Available starting Sept. 24

Emphasizing social play in kindergarten improves academics, reduces teacher burnout

Emphasizing more play, hands-on learning, and students helping one another in kindergarten improves academic outcomes, self-control and attention regulation, finds new UBC research.

The study, published today in the journal PLoS One, found this approach to kindergarten curriculum also enhanced children’s joy in learning and teachers’ enjoyment of teaching, and reduced bullying, peer ostracism, and teacher burnout.

“Before children have the ability to sit for long periods absorbing information the way it is traditionally presented in school through lectures, they need to be allowed to be active and encouraged to learn by doing,” said Dr. Adele Diamond, the study’s lead author, a professor in the UBC Department of Psychiatry and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. “Indeed, people of all ages learn better by doing than by being told.”

Through a randomized controlled trial, Diamond and her colleagues analyzed the effectiveness of a curriculum called Tools of the Mind (Tools). The curriculum was introduced to willing kindergarten teachers and 351 children with diverse socio-economic backgrounds in 18 public schools across the school districts of Vancouver and Surrey.

Tools was developed in 1993 by American researchers Drs. Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong. Its foundational principle is that social-emotional development and improving self-control is as important as teaching academic skills and content. The program emphasizes the role of social dramatic play in building executive functions—which includes skills such as self-control and selective attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, reasoning, and planning.

“Executive functioning skills are necessary for learning, and are often more strongly associated with school readiness than intelligence quotient (IQ),” said Diamond. “This trial is the first to show benefits of a curriculum emphasizing social play to executive functioning in a real-world setting.”

Previous studies had demonstrated that Tools produces better results for reading and math and on laboratory tests of executive functions. Diamond’s new study demonstrates for the first time that Tools also dramatically improves writing (exceeding the top level on the provincial assessment scale), improves executive functions in the real world, and has a host of social and emotional benefits not previously documented.

Teachers reported more helping behavior and greater sense of community in Tools classes. Cliques developed in most control classes, but in few Tools classes. Late in the school year, Tools teachers reported still feeling energized and excited about teaching, while control teachers were exhausted.

“I have enjoyed seeing the enormous progress my students have made in writing and reading. I have never had so many students writing two or three sentences by the end of kindergarten,” said Susan Kochan, a Tools teacher in Vancouver. “I have also enjoyed seeing the students get so excited about coming to school and learning. They loved all the activities we did so much that many students didn’t want to miss school, even if they were sick.”

 

UBC In The News

Diamond Foundation donates $1M to support Jewish studies at UBC

A $1 million donation from the Diamond Foundation to the University of British Columbia will expand Jewish studies programming in the classroom and beyond the UBC campus.

The funds will help bring in speakers from all over the world, enable students to engage directly with world-renowned visiting scholars, and support academic study and research abroad.

The donation augments the Diamond Chair in Jewish Law and Ethics, created in 2001 from an endowment through the Family Foundation, a leader in Vancouver’s philanthropic community.

“The Diamond Foundation’s endowment of the Diamond Chair has enabled UBC scholars to gain insight and understanding of how Jewish law and ethics are manifest in the modern world,” said Gage Averill, dean of UBC’s faculty of arts. “This renewed commitment by the foundation helps our students and the community enrich their knowledge through courses, public talks, events and visiting scholars.”

Gregg Gardner

Gregg Gardner

Associate professor Gregg E. Gardner has been the Diamond Chair since 2011, focusing his research on the history of Jewish thought. In the classroom, he and students have explored the rich history of religions and their modern contexts, diving deep into Jewish history, texts and traditions.

In 2018, Gardner partnered with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to lead a group of UBC students in an archeological field school at the site of Horvat Midras, Israel. They helped excavate a monumental pyramid that marked a tomb from the first century, and an elaborate underground system of tunnels and caves that served as hideouts for Jewish rebels against Rome in the second century.

The Diamond Foundation’s most recent gift will further Gardner’s outreach locally and internationally, which has included public talks at Hillel BC and academic lectures at Cambridge and Yale universities. The public will benefit from an enriched program of lectures, roundtables and other events.

“The Diamond Foundation has once again taken a leading role in furthering Jewish studies, inspiring Vancouver’s Jewish communities and enriching the Jewish experience for all. This amazing gift will help build UBC’s leadership in the field for years to come,” said Gardner.

UBC In The News

New technology allows fleets to double fishing capacity — and deplete fish stocks faster

Technological advances are allowing commercial fishing fleets to double their fishing power every 35 years and put even more pressure on dwindling fish stocks, new research has found.

Researchers from the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia analyzed more than 50 studies related to the increase in vessels’ catching power and found that the introduction of mechanisms such as GPS, fishfinders, echo-sounders or acoustic cameras, has led to an average two per cent yearly increase in boats’ capacity to capture fish.

“This means that if a fleet has 10 boats today, one generation later, the same 10 boats have the fishing power of 20 vessels. The next generation, they have the power of 40 boats, and so on,” said Deng Palomares, the Sea Around Us project manager and lead author of the study, which was published today in Ecology and Society.

An increase in fishing power is known as ‘technological creep’ and it’s usually ignored by fisheries managers who are in charge of regulating how many days and hours and technique each vessel under their oversight is supposed to fish in a given period.

“This ‘technological creep’ is also ignored by most fisheries scientists in charge of proposing policies,” said Daniel Pauly, the Sea Around Us principal investigator. “They tend to conduct short-term studies that only take into account nominal effort, which is, for example, the number of boats that fish using longlines in one year, employing ‘x’ number of people. However, they are disregarding the effective effort those vessels are deploying thanks to the technology that allows them to either maintain their catches or catch more fish.”

In their paper, Palomares and Pauly propose a new equation that allows fisheries managers and scientists to easily estimate technological creep precisely and determine a fleet’s effective effort.

“This is important because if you don’t understand that the increase in power is happening, then you don’t understand that you can deplete a stock,” Pauly said. “We already know that marine fisheries catches have been declining by 1.2 million tonnes per year since 1996 so, by prompting boats to fish deeper and farther into the high seas, these new technologies are only helping the industry compensate for the diminishing abundance of fish populations.”

Celebrating UBC Pride at Fairview Commons

Celebrating positive space and the diversity of our community at UBC’s third annual Pride event, featuring the best of UBC drag, voguing, slam poetry, queer library resources and more.

The road to reconciliation starts with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair on global Indigenous rights and politics at UBC, wrote an article about the UN declaration recognizing Indigenous rights.

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