Gifts that keep on giving: navigating The Trump Impact through the Lind Initiative

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In 2015, alumnus Phil Lind, BA, made a major donation to UBC to establish the Lind Initiative in U.S. Studies. Hosted by UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues, the initiative was created to address the most urgent issues of our time by inviting prominent American scholars, writers and intellectuals to UBC to conduct research and share ideas with students, faculty and the wider community on a particular theme. Through high profile speakers, discussions with UBC students, faculty, alumni and community, The Lind Initiative in U.S. Studies aims to provoke a national conversation around issues that not only affect American society, but Canada and the world as well.

The investment in many ways seems prophetic: In 2016-2017, the Lind Initiative chose to focus on the The Trump Impact: Change, challenges, responses, with a series that ran from January to April 2017. With the funds from the initiative, the Liu Institute invited Professor Robert Reich to UBC. Professor Reich served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. He is currently Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Reich visited UBC in March to give several presentations on the post-truth era, the economy under President Trump, and the rise of the Anti-Establishment movement, helping many at UBC and in BC to understand the seismic shift that occurred in U.S. policy and global affairs with the 2016 US election, and to explore what the Trump presidency means for the U.S., Canada and the world. Professor Reich’s visit follows an earlier, also very successful, visit to campus by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz who spoke on the politics of inequality.

“Through his events across campus, his conversations with students across disciplines, and his sold out lecture to 600 students and alumni, Professor Reich brought the debate over the transformation of US politics to UBC,” said Professor Taylor Owen, Director of the Lind Initiative in U.S. Studies and Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Global Affairs at the Liu Institute for Global Issues and School of Journalism.

Mr. Lind is Vice Chairman of Rogers Communications Inc and has been active with UBC for more than a decade, serving as campaign co-chair for start an evolution, the recently completed most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in Canadian history.

“I’m really pleased that the initiative was able to bring in Professor Reich to discuss the Trump Impact this year,” said Mr. Lind. “The relationship between Canada and the US is enormously important, and impacts everything from trade to cultural change. Trump’s Presidency has raised concern in the minds of many Canadians. I hope that in some small way, Professor Reich’s discussions will help Canada as it navigates the Trump era.”

The Lind Initiative will feature three new topics over 2018-2019: U.S. Foreign Policy, Challenges to Democracy, and Race in America. “The world is shifting quickly in reaction to and as a consequence of the Trump Presidency, and many of those changes will impact Canada,” says Professor Owen. “Like many of our previous Lind Initiative speakers, including Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Teju Cole, Jane Mayer, EJ Dionne and Jill Abramson, Professor Reich sits prominently at the intersection of scholarship, media and public policy, and brought the debate at the heart of US civic life to the UBC campus.”