Lindsay Samantha Howe



Manfred Elfstrom, assistant professor of political science in the Department of Economics, Philosophy and Political Science, has written a new book, titled Workers and Change in China: Resistance, Repression, Responsiveness.

In the book, which is published by Cambridge University Press, Elfstrom asks why the Chinese party-state is addressing a number of worker grievances while at the same time coming down increasingly hard on labour rights activists. Elfstrom investigates both the causes and consequences of protest through extensive fieldwork and statistical analysis, while exploring the daily evolution of autocratic rule, highlighting how pressure from grassroots organizing can lead to political change, even in the grimmest of circumstances.

UBC Okanagan Students Supported by Generous Donations

After graduating with a BA in International Relations and an MA in Political Science, Roger Gale received his PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1977.

He then taught Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, at the University of Guam, and at the University of Tsukuba in Japan before taking positions as a speechwriter to the Secretary of the US Department of Energy, as Director of External Affairs for the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and as Director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management at the US Department of Energy.

More recently, Dr Gale has served as President and CEO of GF Energy LLC. He continues to serve on the boards of directors for both Adams Diversified Equity Fund (ADX) and Adams Natural Resources Fund (PEO).

Dr Gale has funded a wide range of student scholarships at UBC Okanagan (UBCO).

Today, he lives with his family in Kelowna.

Interview with Dr Gale

Q: Dr Gale, you have made donations to UBCO to create student scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate level. What made you decide to support the University in this way?

Roger Gale: Scholarships are a wonderful way to help produce our future leaders. Rewarding and incentivizing students to excel is key to success in education. And for some students with tight finances, scholarships give them a way to focus more on their education. A small undergraduate scholarship I received made a very big difference to me at the time.

Q: Why did you choose to support students in Philosophy, Politics and Economics?

Roger Gale: PPE programs serve a very important function, especially in today’s divisive world. They help teach students how to think and how to learn to deal with complex issues. With so much excessive specialization in academia and elsewhere, it is important that we produce leaders who are educated to understand the world’s dynamics and who are able to lead others.

Q: Did you enjoy being a student when you were at university? What did you study?

Roger Gale: I very much enjoyed my university education. My focus was international relations and political philosophy. My PhD thesis was more practically oriented, focusing on US colonialism and military strategy in the Pacific.

Q: What parts of your time at university most helped you succeed after you graduated?

Roger Gale: Being a graduate student during the Vietnam War brought all the political philosophy I studied into a very real focus. It turned most students into on-the-street political science students. It made most of us critical of government and, unfortunately, distrustful.

Q: What motivates you to stay involved with UBCO today?

Roger Gale: UBCO does so much to help the Okanagan produce thoughtful leaders. Strong, growing communities need universities to bring focus and insight to issues that communities face today.

Q: Do you have a long-term vision or hope for the University?

Roger Gale: The university seems to be on a steady course. My hope is that the more the university is integrating with the community, the better.

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics today?

Roger Gale: Always work toward becoming a leader.

Submitted by Professor Andrew Irvine, September 2020.

Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor Encourages Students to Study Political Science, Economics and History

Doug Owram is a noted Canadian historian who has served in multiple senior university and professional positions. He attended Queen’s University, graduating with an Honours BA in History and Economics, and with an MA in History. He completed his PhD at the University of Toronto.

In 1976, he joined the Department of History at the University of Alberta, where he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1980 and Professor in 1985. He later served as Associate Dean of Arts, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Vice-President (Academic). From 1995 to 2003, he served as Vice-President (Academic).

Professor Owram has authored or edited eleven books in addition to numerous articles. His books include Promise of Eden (1980), The Government Generation (1986), Born at the Right Time (1996) and A History of the Canadian Economy (1991).

In recognition of his academic work, he was made a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1990 and won the University of Alberta’s research prize in 1995.

In 2006, he was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBCO). In this role, he was responsible for putting UBC’s new campus on a sound academic footing, expanding student enrollment from 3,200 to 8,000 full-time equivalents, and overseeing a $400 million construction program. He completed his term in 2012 and retired in 2014. He currently serves as Chair of the Degree Quality Assessment Board of British Columbia.

Professor Owram resides in Kelowna with his wife Deborah and has one daughter, Kristine, currently living and working in New York.

Interview with Professor Owram

Q: Professor Owram, the Doug Owram Scholarship supports students in Politics, Economics and History. What made you want to support the University in this way?

Doug Owram: History is my own discipline, and Political Science and Economics are related fields that are important to my work. I also wanted to support senior students who have a record of accomplishment but who might appreciate some financial support as they push through to degree completion.

Q: Have you been pleased with how the University has grown, both during your time here and afterwards?

Doug Owram: UBCO has made tremendous progress. When I arrived, there were just over 3,000 students. There was also a great deal of uncertainty about what UBCO was, both to the local community and to the other UBC campus. Now, UBCO has clearly been established as a major presence in the Okanagan and as a strong academic partner to the UBC campus in Vancouver.

Q: What motivates you to stay involved with UBCO today?

Doug Owram: The university world has been central to my career and my interests since I headed off as an undergraduate to Queen’s many decades ago. It is thus natural that I direct donations to universities where both scholarship and teaching make important contributions to society. Having served as Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal at UBCO, I am proud of the institution and the role it plays. Also, making contributions to a new and relatively small institution can have a more significant impact than contributions made to an older and larger university with a major endowment already in place.

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are studying at UBCO today?

Doug Owram: Enjoy yourself while you’re a student!

Doug Owram, Promise of Eden (University of Toronto Press, 1980)
Doug Owram, The Government Generation (University of Toronto Press, 1986)
Doug Owram, A History of the Canadian Economy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991)
Doug Owram, Born at the Right Time (University of Toronto Press, 1996)

Submitted by Professor Andrew Irvine, September 2020.

Former Ambassador teaching at UBC Okanagan

After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a BComm (Hons), David Chatterson worked for a bank and framed houses before accepting an offer to work for the Federal Government in Ottawa. He spent the next three decades working on anti-dumping and countervail investigations, trade-policy research and trade-dispute resolution, and international trade negotiations. He worked in both Ottawa and abroad, with two postings to Tokyo and one to the OECD in Paris.

In 2009, Chatterson was appointed as Canada’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen. He was appointed as Canada’s Ambassador to South Korea and North Korea in 2011.

During his career Chatterson worked mostly on public-policy analysis, development and implementation. He also worked closely with Ministers and their political staff, and was motivated by the desire to obtain positive outcomes for Canada and Canadians.

Subsequently, he moved to Kelowna where he has been busy building a house, touring the region by motorcycle and kayak, writing occasional op-eds and teaching a few courses at UBC Okanagan (UBCO).

Interview with Ambassador Chatterson.

Q: Did you enjoy your time at University?

David Chatterson: I enjoyed most of my classes, and especially the discussions I had with the students I met from other faculties, as this greatly widened my exposure to ideas and ways of thinking that were new to me.

And while I enjoyed university, I enjoyed working even more. I have been very fortunate to have had no shortage of opportunities to work on very interesting and complex issues, to work at the interface between policy and politics, to work with a great number of people from around the world who were and are very much at the top of their fields, and to have been able to contribute, in a small way, to making Canada and the world just a little bit better.

Q: What was your motivation to become involved with UBCO?

David Chatterson: My first involvement occurred when I was asked to help develop a one-day seminar on the implications of a nuclear North Korea, a seminar made possible by the financial support of Roger Gale.

I was then asked if I could develop and deliver a course on trade policy. In deciding whether I wanted to teach the course, I remembered that the academics with whom I worked during my career appreciated having had access to the real-world practical experience that people like me could provide, and I thought students might benefit from the same kind of access. I was also aware that many of my former colleagues were teaching in universities in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and I felt students at UBCO should also have access to this kind of experience. Having now taught a course on international trade and a course on international relations, I can say that students have reacted with enthusiasm.

I am very grateful for the opportunities I had during my career. Teaching at UBCO is a way for me to give something back. A degree in philosophy, political science and economics provides a solid foundation for anyone contemplating a career in public service. At the same time, an experienced policy practitioner can help students learn such things as how to develop beneficial policies while navigating political shoals; how decisions get made at senior levels; how negotiations are conducted; and how to present convincing arguments.

Apart from the satisfaction that comes from making a contribution, I have very much enjoyed spending time with the students and their questioning minds, fresh perspectives and desire for positive change. All in all, I have found it to be mutually beneficial and an intellectually stimulating environment.

Q: What do you see as the future of UBCO?

David Chatterson: I believe universities need to stay relevant by linking the education of our future leaders with society’s rapidly evolving employment and development needs. I would like to see UBCO become even more involved with the community and to play a larger role in its economic, social and cultural development. It certainly has the potential to do so.

David Chatterson, “Has Canada mishandled its relationship with Saudi Arabia? Yes,” Toronto Star, August 14, 2018

David Chatterson, “We should focus on changing Saudi behaviour – not on punishment,” The Globe and Mail, October 25, 2018

Submitted by Professor Andrew Irvine, September 2020

Inaugural Winner of the Josef Zagrodney Prize

Josef Zagrodney, a UBC Okanagan (UBCO) Philosophy graduate, died unexpectedly and tragically in 2018. Josef was an outstanding student and a very fine young man. His academic awards include the British Columbia Government Scholarship, the Chancellor’s Scholar Award and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Scholarship for Continuing Students. At graduation, Josef received the University of British Columbia Medal in Arts.

To commemorate Josef’s time at UBCO and his many contributions to the academic community, the Department of Economics, Philosophy and Political Science created an undergraduate prize, the Josef Zagrodney Prize in Philosophy. The $1,000 prize is given to the student, majoring in philosophy, who has the highest cumulative average in the philosophy courses required for graduation. The prize honours Josef by recognizing excellence in others. The first student to win the prize is Brian Murphy.

Brian is an immigrant from Ireland and now a proud permanent resident in Canada. He worked for many years in the IT industry prior to beginning his academic journey at UBCO. Graduating in 2020 with a double major in English and Philosophy, Brian is now eager to begin his MA in Global Studies right here at UBCO. His research will focus on how language can be coded to mediate, sublimate or hide political or social intent, from propagandistic or authoritarian to progressive or reformative, and how historical examples of this type of multi-meaning language are rampant in the fraught landscape of contemporary political ideology and social discourse.

Brian is active on campus and works as a Senior Writing Consultant in the UBCO Student Learning Hub (formerly the Writing Centre). Off campus, Brian spends much time reading, playing Trivia and trying to improve his guitar playing.

Interview with Brian Murphy

Q: Congratulations on winning the 2020 Josef Zagrodney Prize. Why did you choose to study at UBCO?

Brian Murphy: My studying at UBCO was utter serendipity. When I arrived in Kelowna from Ireland in 2007, and decided to leave the private sector to pursue my academic goals, I was just lucky to have a world-class university on my doorstep.

Q: You did a double major in English and Philosophy. Why did you choose Philosophy?

Brian Murphy: Rightly or wrongly, philosophy has always seemed to me the best foundation from which to understand anything and everything. It seemed to me that unlike studying disciplines such as geography, political science or art, philosophy was a way to learn how to examine, understand and critique the ideas that one finds in these disciplines. I’ve always been attracted to the broad applicability and flexibility of the philosophical method, and to the depth and precision with which philosophers examine supposedly simple ideas like justice, as well as the complexities of language or consciousness.

Q: Has your degree helped you think in detail about any particular issue or issues? Or has it made you a generalist?

Brian Murphy: The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. One of the major benefits of having studied philosophy is that I am a better generalist. I’ve sharpened my critical comprehension faculties and learned to arrange and clarify my own thoughts on a multitude of topics. Additionally, I’ve had to develop a healthy, yet critical skepticism which helps when navigating the myriad convolutions of modern life, from digital rights and social media morality, to the mire of ever-intensifying political ideologies and social-justice movements.

My philosophy studies have also helped me to appreciate how significant language is. Whether it’s merely clarifying definitions to facilitate good-faith conversations or searching for the basis of theories of meaning, language permeates almost every facet of human life. Something I am particularly fascinated by is the way in which we encode multiple or hidden meanings in our language to facilitate literary art or to send certain political or culturally sensitive messages.

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are considering taking just one or two Philosophy courses?

Brian Murphy: Absolutely go for it. The philosophy professors at UBCO are fantastic and fully committed to helping students get the most out of their studies. UBCO’s philosophy courses will certainly help students clarify and hone their ability to think clearly, not just in relation to whatever their major is, but in general.

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are considering majoring in Philosophy?

Brian Murphy: Whether you have a clear vision for what you want to do after university or not, a philosophy major is a great option because it lends itself to innumerable other disciplines. Obviously, philosophy is a discrete and vast field in itself, and can be pursued to graduate level and beyond, but if you decide you want to go on to further studies in law or business or journalism or science or tech, the skills learned in a philosophy degree are equally applicable and perhaps even a more advantageous basis from which to proceed. Alternately, if you decide to go directly into the workplace after majoring in philosophy, the communication, organization, reasoning and problem-solving skills learned by majoring in philosophy will be invaluable there too.

Q: Now that you’ve graduated, what are your plans?

Brian Murphy: I am all set to begin an MA in Global Studies here at UBCO in September 2020.

Anyone interested in supporting the Josef Zagrodney Prize can find further information at

Submitted by Professor Andrew Irvine, September 2020.

UBC Economics professor says discipline needs more women

When UBC’s Mohsen Javdani embarked on a recent research project, his main goal was to study the influence of ideological bias among economists. In what he describes as an important by-product of the research, conducted in collaboration with Ha-Joon Chang at Cambridge University, they not only discovered a stark difference between male and female economists in their ideological biases, but also in their perception and concerns regarding the gender gap in economics.


We sat down with Javdani to get his take on how gender issues are affecting the discipline.

Javdani is an assistant professor of economics in the department of economics, philosophy and political science at UBC Okanagan.

Why should we be concerned about the number of women in economics?

As I wrote in a recent op-ed in the Financial Times, there is clear evidence that economics is lagging behind other social sciences and hard sciences in recruiting female students, faculty hiring, and promotion. This widely agreed upon under-representation of women in economics should be of concern since there is growing evidence that suggests discrimination is one of its main driving forces. For example, female economists face hostile teaching evaluations, more exacting review processes by journals, and get less credit for co-authorship. Another recent study also documents a particularly toxic culture of misogyny on an economics jobs website. Of serious concern is also evidence that suggests the gender problems in economics have not improved over the last two decades. These serious problems faced by women in the profession have direct and indirect effects on their careers and well-being.

How does your recent study and its findings contribute to this body of knowledge?

I should talk briefly about our experiment before explaining our results. We designed an experiment to study the influence of ideological bias among economists. We emailed economists from 19 countries to invite them to participate in an online survey, and received just over 2,400 responses. Participants were provided with a series of statements from prominent economists on a wide range of topics, including the profession’s gender problem, and were then asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed with each statement. In the experiment, the source for each statement was randomly changed without participants’ knowledge.

We found evidence of a strong ideological bias. Economists agreed more with sources that were more aligned with their own views. More specifically, on average the agreement level was seven per cent lower when statements were attributed to sources with views that were relatively different from the mainstream economics. Interestingly, these results contradict the image economists have of themselves, with 82 per cent of participants agreeing that the content of a statement, as opposed to its author, should be the sole criteria to evaluate the statement.

What stands out in this pattern of biases among economists is the gender dimension.

Although both men and women exhibit ideological bias in their views, female economists are less biased than their male colleagues – 40 per cent less in our experiment. This suggests that the profession is likely to become less biased and more diverse, not only in terms of gender but also in terms of different views, if it becomes more gender balanced.

We also uncovered another startling and troubling gender difference. When faced with the following statement:
“Economics has made little progress in closing its gender gap over the last several decades. Given the field’s prominence in determining public policy, this is a serious issue. Whether explicit or more subtle, intentional or not, the hurdles that women face in economics are very real.”

Agreement was 20 per cent lower among male economists. This clearly suggests that there exists a significant divide between male and female economists in their recognition of the problem.

Why do you think male economists are less concerned about the gender problem in economics?

I’ll have to speculate here, of course, because it’s difficult to get into people’s mindset.

There could be numerous explanations, but I think some male economists might not internalize these problems because they don’t affect them directly. Like in many other social issues we face today, people tend to discount the importance of problems when they have no direct personal stakes in the matter.

Another reason could be the dominance of ‘positivist methodology’ in economics and the view that a good economist should always stay value-neutral (which is of course debatable). I think this has caused some economists to stay away from subjective and value-impregnated topics such as gender inequality.

I also think the historical orientation of economists towards conservative politics has generated an attitude of social conservatism towards issues such as gender inequality which has also affected the way economists have tried to deal with this problem internally.

What can we do as a society to increase the number of women in economics?

As a society, we need to empower women. Empowering women is a critical step towards achieving gender equality in our society, which will spill over to all different domains of social life, including academia and economics. We need to educate ourselves and others about the facts that highlight different manifestations of gender problems, and understand the contributing factors such as gender norms, roles, and stereotypes that put women in an unfair and disadvantaged position.

What would be your advice to young women considering the profession, but concerned about the discipline’s treatment of females?

My advice would be to pursue what you’re passionate about, and if that’s economics, don’t let these issues deter you. Yes, there are some serious gender problems in economics that exist in all different aspects of the discipline. But on the bright side, this provides an opportunity for young women who would like to contribute to society and make the discipline more inviting for women. In life it’s rarely the case that things are delivered to us on a silver platter. The opportunity to work towards a better world is what gives our life meaning.