2019-20 International Research Roundtables Awarded

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The Institute is pleased to announce the recipients of the International Research Roundtable Awards.

These research awards foster excellence in research and serve as a catalyst for collaborative research between international and UBC scholars. The roundtables provide scholars, community leaders, artists, policy makers and others with unique opportunities to explore broad themes within an interdisciplinary environment for two to five days.

International Research Roundtables often serve as a catalyst for future collaborative research and prompt important advances in science and society, and/or have a significant impact on the discovery of solutions to important problems.

The International Research Roundtables for 2019-20 are awarded to:

Sustainable Development of Space
Aaron Boley, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science, UBC; Michael Byers, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, UBC

This roundtable will address new and acute challenges concerning the governance of outer space, including orbital debris, the weaponization of space, and space mining. The use and access to space is changing rapidly, due to technological change and the entry of new state and non-state actors, including large and highly capable companies. Interdisciplinary research is urgently needed to inform international policy decisions that will likely be made within the next 3-5 years. The complexity of the issues requires collaboration between astrodynamicists, planetary scientists, aerospace engineers, international lawyers, political scientists, industry leaders, and government decision makers – from around the world.


The Social Exposome in Child Health and Development: Advancing Research and Partnerships to Reduce Inequalities in Canada
Michael Kobor, Department of Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, UBC; Danielle van Jaarsveld, Division of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources, Sauder School of Business, UBC

Despite being the 5th most prosperous country in the world, when compared to other developed countries, Canada’s rankings are alarmingly low on key measures of children’s health and safety, as well as child poverty. These conditions have resulted in large and growing inequalities in the development and health of Canadian children. We are proposing to host a roundtable workshop that will bring together researchers, experts in policy, and relevant NGOs and community groups with the goals to: 1) review and synthesize current research on the social determinants of child health and development and current policies and interventions to address them; 2) catalyse research collaborations to facilitate new, interdisciplinary research directions that will advance the field and lead to new funding opportunities, 3) identify interventions and policies that should be the priority for advancement and make concrete next steps towards implementation; 4) with the help of knowledge dissemination experts, outline a plan for knowledge translation aimed at raising awareness and support for policy change.


International Critical Suicide Studies Research Roundtable
John Oliffe & Emily Jenkins, School of Nursing, Faculty of Applied Science, UBC

The purpose of this International Research Roundtable is to bring together a diverse group of scholars, practitioners, artists, activists, and those who have personal experience with suicide, to co-generate a wide range of inclusive understandings of suicide as a means to mobilizing strategies for suicide prevention and bereavement. By drawing on multiple, embodied knowledges and intellectual traditions, we seek to build upon and challenge some of the taken-for-granted positivist and biomedical logics that have come to dominate the study of suicide and the practice of suicide prevention in the modern era. Through a creative dialogical process, we aim to identify new research opportunities and practice approaches to suicide prevention that are creative, socially just, and culturally responsive.


The addicted self in the age of information technology: exploring the mind’s propensity for habitual and compulsive interactions
Christian SchützDepartment of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

Neuroscience has characterized brain mechanisms related to addiction, including information technology addiction (e.g., internet, videogaming and betting). It has remained unclear how these findings on brain mechanisms relate to our understanding of mental processes, such as the “self”, and deliberate, habitual and addictive interactions. Our commonsense intuitions of a “self” as an irreducible conscious intentional agent has been challenged by findings in diverse fields such as cognitive sciences, philosophy, and artificial intelligence. But the relationships between commonsense intuitions, brain mechanisms and science-based conceptualizations of mental processes have received little attention.  The multidisciplinary Roundtable is designed as a dialog to synthesize current knowledge, identify unanswered questions and propose further research. The focus will be on exploring the current concept of the “self” as it pertains to deliberate, habitual, and addicted interactions of the individual with information technology, testing the utility of embodied and enactive concepts as comprehensive integrating approaches.


Everyday activism: Civil society in Central and Eastern Europe 30 Years after Communism's Collapse
Lisa SundstromDepartment of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, UBC

Our Roundtable will explore the varieties of 21st century civil society activism in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In an era of recent backsliding of democracy in many countries of the region, civil society activism looks different than that during the immediate transition from Communist-party rule.  Instead, today civil society actors are more often engaged in informal modes of activism that address concrete problems: what we call "everyday activism". We will bring together international scholars and policy specialists who are experts on the CEE region, to engage in a wide-ranging discussion of the emerging qualities characterizing civil society groups and their relationship with democratic politics in the region; to give feedback to the organizers on their ongoing comparative project on civil society trends in the region; and to engage with the wider UBC community about civil society and democracy in the region, which is today frequently perceived as "in crisis".