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Professor Santa J. Ono
February 4, 2019
2 mins read

UBC Connects: Connecting UBC to the community

What do a bestselling novelist, a world-renowned physicist, a futurist, and an Indigenous activist-athlete have in common?

They are all “provocateurs” who are shaping the way people think about a broad range of issues. And they all participated in the first season of the UBC Connects speaker series last year. The talks by novelist Isabel Allende, physicist Michio Kaku, futurist Jeremy Rifkin and activist-athlete Waneek Horn-Miller all sold out, some within hours of being announced, and made the series a resounding success.

UBC Connects graphic

I’m delighted to announce that the second season promises to be just as good. It begins next week, February 11, at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver with acclaimed author and journalist Michael Pollan, who will speak about “food, plants and psychedelics: revolutionary approaches to human health and well-being”. The event is sold out, but can be viewed via livestream (as can all the talks) at

Other speakers lined up this year are Tarana Burke, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Helen Fisher, and Canadian Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland. In addition, UBC Connects will present a talk by Ohio Governor John Kasich in partnership with the Phil Lind Initiative Speaker Series on February 26.

Ms. Burke’s talk takes place in Kelowna on March 6, the first time (but not the last) that UBC Connects will take place outside of the Lower Mainland. Ms. Burke is a civil rights activist who has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to social justice. In 2006, she began using the phrase “Me Too” to help young women of colour who survived sexual abuse and assault. The phrase developed into a broader movement, following the 2017 use of #MeToo as a hashtag, becoming a global phenomenon that continues to raise awareness about sexual harassment, abuse, and assault in society. Tickets go on sale on February 7 at 12 noon PST.

The following week, UBC Connects comes back to Vancouver, with award-winning Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her 2009 TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, is now one of the most-viewed TED Talks of all time. Her 2012 talk, We Should All Be Feminists, has started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014. Tickets go on sale February 12 at 12 noon PST.

Anthropologist and neuroscientist Dr. Helen Fisher will discuss “Swipe, Right?: The Future of Romantic Relationships in the Digital Age”. Tickets go on sale August 8 at 12 noon PDT.

All of Canada was proud when University of Waterloo professor Donna Strickland was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics last year. UBC is very honoured that Dr. Strickland has agreed to speak as part of UBC Connects. The date for her talk has not been set yet, but it will be posted on the UBC Connects web page as soon as it is firmed up.

I hope you can make it to one or more of the talks, or watch via livestream. UBC Connects series helps connect the university to the community. It’s a natural outgrowth of the university’s strategic plan, Shaping UBC’s Next Century, which focuses on inclusion, collaboration, and innovation.

The vision of the new strategic plan is to inspire people—people within the university, people outside the university—through our scholarship, through our teaching, and through our community engagement. UBC Connects is a big part of that. We have an exciting line-up this year. Learn more at

Best wishes,

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor
The University of British Columbia