Prof. David Green’s time as director of the Vancouver School of Economics ends this summer. In this Q&A, he reflects on his time as leader.
If you could sum up your time as VSE director in one word, what comes to mind?
Collegiality. People here pitch in and leave their ego at the door. It’s been a wholly positive experience for me to lead the school because the faculty and staff are so good at their jobs. A great place to work makes for a productive place to work, and that’s the VSE.
During your time as director, what has been a particular high point for you?
The creation of the Bachelor of the International Economics program and the School itself. We were able to set up the BIE program and take it all the way through the Senate, the governing body that approves UBC programming. The BIE program gave us a new influx of exceptionally talented students and the resources to set up the whole School. That was the moment we transformed from a department to a School, and that shift has meant more than what any of us anticipated. It gave us a home. We are now able to walk in and see students and our colleagues on a more consistent basis. We were scattered across campus before then. Now that we share a physical place together, it feels like we are all a part of a real collective. It’s given us a true sense of unity that goes a long way to fulfill the research, teaching and learning mission at the VSE, and more broadly at UBC.
What’s been the biggest lesson?
Patience. Sometimes it pays off to wait to see what happens instead of jumping in right away. Some things resolve themselves, and some become easier to see clearer if you’re patient.
What makes the VSE special?
More than any place I’ve visited as a faculty member, or been a part of, the VSE boasts an unrivalled collaborative spirit. In other academic environments, people can spend a lot of time and effort in contest with one another. From a research perspective, you can see the teamwork in the volume of co-authoring amongst faculty, and the co-authoring among faculty and their graduate students. Elsewhere, cooperation is present among the staff, and in the work our students do both inside and outside of class. It’s what helps make the VSE such a powerhouse for economics research, and a stand out unit at UBC.
What’s next for you?
My focus will be on my work as chair of an advisory committee created by the provincial government to study the viability of a basic income pilot project for B.C. It’s the largest project I’ve helped steer as a researcher. We have 32 subprojects that will study various elements like financial literacy, labour supply, and volunteering. I will head some of the projects related to the changes in the labour market and whether they suggest we need a basic income, which is what some people have argued. We will take the input from the subprojects to write a big overview piece. We have a deadline to report back to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction with a first draft by August 2020. Potentially, our results could have a significant impact on policy.