UBC-Sciences Po Resilient Cities Policy Challenge

UBC-Sciences Po Resilient Cities Policy Challenge

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The Policy Studio at UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues in cooperation with the Policy Lab at the Sciences Po School for Public Affairs recently hosted graduate students during a five day Resilient Cities Policy Challenge, benefitting from the support of the French Embassy in Canada’s Saint-Simon Initiative. The policy challenge involved fifteen students – eight students from the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program at UBC and seven students from the Master in Public Policy at Sciences Po – who were integrated into teams to address issues facing three groups in Vancouver: youth, resettled refugees, and seniors.

The policy studio provided students with a structured yet flexible learning opportunity as well as delivered applied policy design and initiative ideas to external stakeholders and clients. Before they delved in, the students were asked to interact with the Policy Challenge clients, which included the City of Vancouver’s Resilient Officer (CRO) Katie McPherson and Paul Mochrie, Deputy City Manager, as well as stakeholders, which included Mary Clare Zak, Managing Director, Social Policy and Project Division in the City of Vancouver’s Social Policy department and Vancouver Foundation President and CEO Kevin McCort.

Students were invited to consider the following overarching question: How might we improve social connectedness in specific populations in Vancouver and Paris with a focus on seniors, youth and refugees? 

The Policy Challenge teams developed and presented eleven ideas while at the Liu Institute for Global Issues and at CityStudio Vancouver. The students also participated in field work at venues that included Sunset Community Centre and Barclay Manor (seniors), Vancouver Community College (youth), and ISSofBC (refugees). These ideas will be proposed in Vancouver’s Resilient City plan for city departments to consider and test.

As Tobin Postma, Director of Strategic Initiatives, City of Vancouver, shared following the presentation of ideas: “It was exciting to see the outputs of the Resilient City Policy Challenge – even after such a short ideation time frame, there were several important insights related to our Healthy City Strategy that zeroed in on ways to address the growing problem of social isolation amongst seniors, youth, and refugees in our city.”

Sciences Po School of Public Affairs students shared their feedback:

“The conference overall was an amazing learning experience, with like-minded peers and an excellent set of guides/mentors. I particularly enjoyed the interactions with both the students as well as the Dean of the Liu Institute - I feel that this experience has enriched me in a lot of ways. The biggest takeaway from this conference was the use of design thinking canvas to channel our solutions to meet the realized and focused needs that were identified.”
Meghna De, MPP, Economics and Public Policy

“Cities are not just an economic unit that need to be organised around principles of efficiency and productivity but are also social constructs where we need to give equal importance parameters like social connectedness, quality of life which may not always be measurable. For me it also showed the importance of looking at challenges with a perspective outside the tools that economics equips us with. We must also look at what sociologists, anthropologists and others are saying to look for solutions that are holistic.” – Prateek Sibal, MPP, Economics and Public Policy

“Vancouver’s youth is vibrant, diverse and ambitious, yet some feel to some extent disconnected to the city and what is has to offer. Meeting with locals, policymakers and young Vancouverites we’ve tried to understand what barriers youth needed to overcome to foster greater social connectedness, and suggested a range of policy measures relating to culture, employment and transportation to enhance interactions throughout communities. It has been an intense but fun five days of crunching our very different minds to come up with very innovative and easy-to-implement ideas, that can be part of feasible public policies current policymakers should start considering.”
Josy Soussan, MPA


This post was adapted from the original article by the UBC Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs:

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