The Phil Lind Initiative

The Phil Lind Initiative is an annual dialogue series and course hosted by the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and is made possible by a generous gift from Philip Lind (BA’66, LLD’02). The initiative’s mandate is to invite prominent US scholars, writers, and intellectuals to UBC to share ideas with students, faculty, and the wider community on some of the most urgent issues of our time.

The Phil Lind Initiative values open, inclusive dialogue and a range of perspectives on these issues, and we strive to represent a diversity of gender, culture, ethnicity, professional background and more in our programming.

Each year, the Phil Lind Initiative pursues a different theme, with high profile speakers giving public talks at UBC – or virtually – and teaching a graduate course, the Lind Initiative Seminar. Previous series focused on some of the world’s most pressing global issues.

The 2023 series on “(Un(Civil) Discourse” not only explores some of the major factors fueling the rancor and divisiveness in American politics, but crucially it asks how can citizens and leaders find common ground across a range of political issues that divide them? Since Canadians are not immune to these forces, we too must ask how to sustain the respectful, honest, and deep conversations we need to address the substantive challenges facing democratic societies.  featuring talks by: Masha Gessen (January 26)John McWhorter (February 16), Safiya Noble (March 2), Linda Greenhouse (March 23), and Jonathan Haidt (April 20). All events take place at the Frederic Wood Theatre at the UBC Vancouver campus (6354 Crescent Road), with live streaming.

Our 2022 series on “The Future of Media” explored major changes to media and reporting and explore questions such as how to restore trust, reconcile evidence-based reporting with the digital age, and reshape the media landscape in the face of these challenges to better society. The series featured both in person and livestream events with authors and journalists including Douglas Rushkoff, Soledad O’Brien, Kara Swisher, and Ed Yong.

The 2021 series onThe Anti-Democratic Turn examined emerging fault lines in U.S. democracy and their wide-ranging implications for democracy everywhere. Virtual events featured prominent authors and journalists including Michael Sandel, Charles Blow, Anne Applebaum, Timothy Snyder, and Danielle Allen.

Our 2020 series explored the theme, “Thinking While Black,” with visits from some of the world’s leading intellectuals on the topic: Claudia Rankine, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Jesmyn Ward, and Ibram X. Kendi.

Our 2019 series, “America and the Climate Crisis,” included visits from some of the foremost U.S. intellectuals on the climate crisis.

The 2018 series examined “The Unravelling of the Liberal Order,”.

The 2017 series focused on “The Trump Impact: Change, Challenges, Responses,” and the 2016 series, “The U.S. Election Campaign,” examined the influx of populism into American politics, the role of ‘dark money’ in shaping the election, and the internal realignment of the Republican party.

The Phil Lind Initiative’s inaugural series in 2015, “The Politics of Inequality,” was led by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who spoke and taught at UBC on global inequality.

Advisory Board

Philip Lind, Founder
Allison Macfarlane (Chair), Director, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA)
Andrea Benzel,  Development & Alumni Engagement
Max Cameron, Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and the Department of Political Science
Kathryn Gretsinger, Senior Instructor, School of Journalism, Writing, & Media
Richard Price, Professor, Head of Department, Department of Political Science
Paul Quirk, Professor, Department of Political Science

Lind Initiative Team

Allison Macfarlane, Director, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs
Gregor Sharp, Academic Director, The Phil Lind Initiative, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs
Rebecca Monnerat, Project Manager, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs