Roger W. Gale Symposium

Should we limit individual freedoms to stabilize the climate? Can we stabilize the climate without such restrictions? Join us to explore these questions with our distinguished experts.

The Economics, Philosophy and Political Science Department in UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences presents the next Roger W. Gale Symposium in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

A Wicked Problem: Individual Freedoms and Climate Change

April 22, 2022 | Online and in Person
Time and further details to be announced

It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed – Valérie Masson-Delmotte, IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair, 2021-08-09.

There is no reasonable doubt that the collectivity of individual human decisions has substantially changed the global climate, and on its current trajectory, the rate of change is accelerating. The impacts of this change are being seen around the world as wildfires, heat waves, torrential rains and powerful storms. The more heat-trapping gasses are added to the atmosphere, the further the climate will change, and the greater the risk that the climate system tips into a new and substantially different state. A state that will seriously disrupt all ecological systems – within which human systems are embedded – on the planet.

Each of us has a range of choices available that have differing impacts on other people and the global environment. Should that range of choices be constrained for some so that the global climate system can be stabilized? Whose choices? How? What, if anything, we do together to change the choices we make as individuals is a “wicked” problem (Churchman, 1967), intersecting various important values with no objectively right solution.

Join us on April 22, 2022, to explore this intersection with our distinguished guests.

About the Series

The Roger W. Gale Symposium in Philosophy, Politics and Economics is a regular event that focuses on a current issue overlapping with the multiple disciplines within our department. It is meant to bring various parts of the academy and the public together into fruitful dialogue with a range of experts.

Recent symposia include:

The Misinformation Age

What: Is there a vaccine for the infodemic?
Who: Diverse expert panel on how we can combat misinformation while preserving free speech

Sometimes it seems as though the world is spiralling out of control as unreflective thinking, mistrust, fake news, and conspiracy theories wreak havoc. In the last year, the impact of misinformation reached epic proportions during the pandemic and the American election. Authoritarian regimes engaged in information warfare with ever more sophisticated tools and greater reach. Meanwhile, social media platforms came under fire by many for not doing enough to counter misinformation, and by others for undermining free expression with a heavy-handed overreaction.

To stave off the negative impacts of misinformation, we first need to understand it. The good news is that researchers from across the disciplines have begun to make real progress. The goal of this symposium was to bring together eight leading voices from this effort to help us understand and counter the threat.

Guest speakers included:

  • Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.
  • Renée DiResta, Research Manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, a Staff Associate at the Columbia University Data Science Institute, and is a Founding Advisor to the Center for Humane Technology.
  • Dan Gillmor, co-founder of the News Co/Lab at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
  • Heidi Tworek (PhD Harvard University), associate professor of international history and public policy at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

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Future of Work

What: Humans, machines and the future of work
Who: Experts in public policy, higher education and international business

Technological progress is significantly changing the world of work. A new wave of disruption is impacting traditional jobs, industries and business models. Canadians are increasingly employed in non-traditional industries, working flexible hours and using technology to change the way they work.

The goal of this symposium was to explore what influence the continuing march of technology, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will have on where we work and how we work, and where we fit in an automated world.

Guest speakers included:

  • Paulina Cameron, author of bestselling Canada 150 Women
  • Taylor Owen, professor of digital media and global affairs at UBC’s Vancouver campus
  • Sunil Johal, policy director at the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre
  • Alexandra Matesscu, ethnographer and researcher at the Data and Society Research Institute

What: Symposium on Nuclear North Korea: Implications for Canada and the Region
Who: Canada’s former ambassadors to Korea and China, and several experts on the region

On the margins of the international community for decades, North Korea has been pursuing and ramping up a nuclear program and has made direct threats toward the United States. The most recent threat came in November when the country claimed to have successfully tested a new type of international ballistic missile that could reach North America, a claim that US-based experts confirm is supported by their data.

Heightened rhetoric from Leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump have made frequent headlines around the world, leaving many people concerned about what appears to be an increasing threat, and unsure what is hype and what is reality.

The daylong symposium brought together six experts to discuss the nature of the threat, the historical context, the competing geopolitical interests in the region and what role Canada should play.

Speakers at this event included: Sven Jurschewsky, former Senior Counselor, Canadian Foreign Service in China; David Chatterson, Canada’s Ambassador to Korea (2011-2014); Gunn Kim, Consul General of the Republic of Korea; Scott Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C.; Jenny Town, US-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins University; and Donald Baker, Professor of Korean History, UBC Vancouver.

The discussion examined how people can better assess what they see in the media on international politics and diplomacy.

The day included three sessions:

  • Historical context: How did we get to where we are today? Analyzing previous negotiations and engagement with the regime and their outcomes.
  • Geopolitical interests and responses: What are the core interests of the main players in the region and the international community and how are they pursuing those interests?
  • What should we learn from this situation? What are the implications for Canada?


This symposium series is made possible through the generous support of Roger W. Gale.

Roger Gale

Now living in West Kelowna, Roger holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the School of International Service, American University. Roger has had a diverse career, ranging from teaching at the university level to strategic consulting with global electric power companies. Roger remains active on the boards of two equity funds in the US and he continues his interest in post-secondary education.