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UBC Reports 2012

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a place of mind
December 2012
The women of
Mumbai's slums
Growing opportunities for
international medical grads
Making economics sexy
the holidays 14
\ - The women workers of Mumbai's slums
Jody Jacob
Public Affairs Director
lucie mcneill lucie.mcneill@ubc.ca
Public Affairs Associate Director
randy schmidt randy.schmidt@ubc.ca
Communications and Marketing Design Manager
arlene cotter arlene.cotter@ubc.ca
ping ki chan  ping.chan@ubcca
mark pilon  mark.pilon@ubcca
matt warburton  matt.warburton@ubcca
Web Designer
linakang  lina.kang@ubcca
University Photographer
martin dee  martin.dee@ubcca
Public Affairs Communications Coordinators
heather amos heather.amos@ubcca
Lorraine chan  lorraine.chan@ubcca
jody jacob jody.jacob@ubcca
brian lin  brian.Iin@ubcca
fiona morrow fiona.morrow@ubc.ca
basil waugh basil.waugh@ubc.ca
pearlie davison  pearlie.davison@ubc.ca
lou bosshart lou.bosshart@ubcca
UBC Reports is published monthly by:
The University of British Columbia
Public Affairs Office
310-6251 Cecil Green Park Road
Vancouver BC Canada V6T1Z1
Next issue: 3 January 2012
UBC Reports welcomes submissions.
For upcoming UBC Reports submission guidelines:
Opinions and advertising published in UBC Reports
do not necessarily reflect official university policy.
Material may be reprinted in whole or in part with
appropriate credit to UBC Reports. Letters (300 words
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phone number for verification.
Submit letters to:
The Editor, UBC Reports
E-mail to public.affairs@ubcca
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In the news
Highlights of UBC media coverage
in November 2012
Heather Amos
Conditions for women working in the slums of Mumbai are the subject of new research.
Wireless vehicle charging
No one likes having to remember to plug
in his or her electric car every night.
Researchers at UBC have developed a
way to wirelessly charge electric cars
and trucks, reported The New York
Times, BBC, Toronto Star, National Post
and CBC.
Led by applied physicist and inventor
Lome Whitehead, the researchers have
produced a safe, efficient method that
employs remote magnetic gears.
A demonstration system has operated
successfully on the UBC campus for
about a year.
"Since we began testing the system,
the feedback from drivers has been
overwhelmingly positive—all they have to
do is park the car and the charging begins
automatically," said David Woodson,
managing director of UBC building
Veterans' transition to
civilian life
One ofthe most difficult parts of being
a soldier is coming home. Since 1999 a
program at UBC has helped Canadian
veterans move from military life back to
civilian life. That program is now
expanding into a national non-profit
organization, called the Veterans
Transition Network, reported Global
National, The Canadian Press, CBC On
the Coast and several others.
Tim Laidler, the executive director of
the Veterans Transition Network, went
through the program after he returned
from a tour in Afghanistan. "I really
wanted to make sure that other veterans
across Canada, like myself, got the
chance to go through the program."
About 275 vets have already completed
the 10-day program. In the program,
founded by professors Marvin Westwood
and David Kuhl, troops relive their
trauma through reenactments with peers.
U.S. election
UBC professors provided expert
commentary about the November 6 U.S.
election for The Globe and Mail, Global,
CBC Early Edition, Times Colonist,
Vancouver Sun and others.
Paul Quirk, Richard Johnston, Evan
Wood, Werner Antweiler, Marit Rehavi
and Kevin Milligan discussed results,
polls, the economic impact, the "fiscal cliff,"
the legalization of marijuana and more.
"It is worth thinking about why Obama
is doing well in the swing states. It
means that he has done better than
Romney where both have campaigned
heavily," noted Quirk, the Phil Lind
Chair in U.S. Politics and Representation
in the Department of Political Science,
during The Globe and Mail's live blog
on election night.
Summer babies less likely
to be CEOs
A UBC study found that babies born
during the summer months are less
likely to become corporate CEOs,
reported Time, The Wall Street Journal,
National Geographic, CBC The Current,
the Toronto Star and others.
The study, co-authored by Maurice Levi
from UBC's Sauder School of Business,
found that children born in the summer
months are most likely to be the youngest
in their classes. As a result of being
intellectually or physically less mature,
these students are less likely to excel
from the outset—a phenomenon known
as the "birth-date effect."
"Early success is often rewarded with
leadership roles and enriched learning
opportunities, leading to future
advantages that are magnified throughout
life," said Levi.
IUBCI      a place of mind
Pub lie Affairs
In the slums of Mumbai, millions of
women and girls are helping to support
their families by working from home
in difficult, unsanitary conditions with
minimal financial gain.
Their efforts play a surprisingly large
role in India's business sector. They
produce avast amount of low-cost
products—from electronics, garments
and footwear to trinkets, jewellery
and food—which are often marketed in
shopping malls or exported at high prices.
Yet they receive none ofthe profits.
Kanchan Sarker, sessional lecturer
of sociology at UBC's Okanagan
campus, is trying to understand, and
hopefully improve, civic amenities for
the home-based women workers of
Mumbai's slums.
The project will also attempt to
identify whether organizing women
workers would help with issues such
as domestic violence. "For home-based
working women, access and quality of
civic amenities are a matter of personal
as well as professional survival," says
Sarker. "Rights to living space, as well
as good quality water and sanitation
facilities, electricity and sewage disposal,
are important. It is of utmost significance
to find what exists, how good it is, and
how to improve it."
Sarker notes that slums provide
affordable living places for the urban
working poor and play a very effective
role in making the city liveable.
"Slums are generators of employment
and a source of cheap labour which
benefits the urban classes that oppose
their existence. Instead of demolishing
slums, the authorities should try and
upgrade them."
A significant challenge is combating
the community's perception of women's
home-based work, which is often devalued.
"Women's empowerment is at the heart
of this project," says Sarker. "However,
since the issues affect men as well,
women's collective bargaining on these
fundamental needs and services should
have a positive effect on the entire
The research will focus on three
Mumbai slums, including Dharavi,
commonly known as Asia's largest
slum settlement. A mapping study
will identify each slum's features and
settlement patterns. Social factors such
as class, nature of home-based work,
common contractors, and access to
facilities such as water, sanitation and
common space will be examined.
Some fifty women in each slum will
be surveyed on social and work-related
issues; in-depth interviews will be
conducted with group leaders, job
contractors and civic officials. Focus
groups with female home-based
workers are also planned.
"We hope our research acts as a tool
for informing civic and government
authorities, urban planning experts,
academics, students and activists on the
issues faced by home-based workers
and the slum-dwelling communities
in the city," says Sarker. "The project
attempts to encourage home workers
to use their collective strength to
address issues that affect their work,
health and family lives."
The project, which is Sarker's
second on improving life for India's
poor, is supported through an Action
Research Project Grant from the Shastri
Indo-Canadian Institute. Partners
include Prof. Sharit Bhowmik and Indira
Gartenberg of LEARN (Labour, Education,
and Research Network), Mumbai. •
"The project attempts
to encourage home
workers to use their
collective strength."
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   December 2012 Extraordinary doctors for B.C. communities
Creating new opportunities for international medical graduates
Brian Lin
Kirti Aneja originally qualified as a doctor in India, before immigrating to Canada.
Kirti Aneja was proud of her achievements
when she began practising as an
anesthesiologist in a rural community in
India's northern state of Punjab in 2007.
She'd wanted to be a doctor since she
was a little girl playing with toy medical
kits and was inspired by childhood visits
to leprosy hospitals. She was happily
married to her medical school sweetheart
and expecting their first-born son.
But her family made a gut-wrenching
decision: to leave their beloved homeland
to pursue a better life for their children.
And her passion to use her medical skills
turned to serving people in her new
country, Canada.
A long and winding journey
Dr. Aneja is an international medical
graduate (IMG), one of a group of
permanent residents or Canadian citizens
trained outside of North America who are
seeking to practise medicine in Canada.
The B.C. government has committed
to increasing funding and partnering
with the UBC Faculty of Medicine
to expand the IMG program from 26
spaces today to a proposed 58 in 2017
in order to help meet the need for more
doctors in underserved areas of B.C.
With an eye on ensuring high quality
care in communities around the province,
the process of integrating skilled and
passionate medical graduates from
overseas is rigorous.
While the U.S. and Canada share similar
curriculum and accreditation for medical
students, systems vary widely around the
world. Many do not, for example, demand
the same level of training in a clinical
setting that is required of Canadian
medical education.
In order to ensure the uniform skills
and knowledge of medical graduates
trained outside of North America,
all IMGs are obliged to complete a
series of exams.
Those who do best in the exams are
then selected for clinical assessment—
they work for three months in hospitals
alongside experienced physicians—and
on successful completion are then eligible
to apply to residency training programs
lasting two to seven years, depending on
specialization, before they qualify for a
license to practice.
Aneja had completed three years of
residency training in India. But here in
Canada, she had to start over.
"I'm a fighter. We came here for a better
life for our family and our son, and I
don't give up easily," says Aneja. While
preparing for exams and looking after her
young son, Aneja worked in Wal-Mart to
make ends meet.
Aneja passed all her exams and
the three-month BC-IMG clinical
assessment in two-and-a-half years.
She began her residency at St. Paul's
Hospital in July.
"I was determined to practise medicine
in Canada, but it was definitely
challenging," says Aneja, whose husband
is still in the process of qualifying for
residency training.
Case volume
Sites must provide a high volume of
general and specialized cases for students
to practise skills and learn procedures.
Clinical faculty
Teaching is done by clinical faculty who are
practising doctors. There must be enough
doctors willing to provide bedside teaching
and participate in faculty development.
Rapid growth in medical school spaces
has increased the number of clinical
teaching physicians from 2,500 in 2004
to 5,000 in 2012. Shortages in family
physicians create challenges for further
rapid expansion.
Who decides how many doctors are needed?
Suzanne Walter had a similar journey.
Born and raised in B.C., Dr. Walter
decided to be a doctor while traveling in
Europe after graduating with a Bachelor
of Science from UBC. Walter completed
medical school at the University of
Freiburg in Germany and returned to
Vancouver in 2008.
It took her two-and-a-half-years to
complete the required exams and
assessments before beginning residency
training in 2010.
"In retrospect, I might have been a
little naive about what it would take
to come back to practise in B.C.," says
Walter, who admitted that at times she
felt deserving of special consideration
as a natural Canadian.
"But the longer I was in the program,
the more I realized that all the IMGs
are Canadians—some have been here
as long as 10 years and separated from
their partners or children. Most have
family and children to support and
some are supporting extended families
abroad," she notes.
"Many ofthe IMGs I know aren't here
for their own careers—they had a good
life in their home countries as doctors.
They were well-respected and made good
money." "They're here because they want
a better life for their children, and as a
new mother myself, I get it."
The challenges: expanding the program
for areas that need it
There is no shortage of doctors like
Aneja and Walter—indeed there is a high
demand for limited IMG spaces. But
the key is to meet the province's needs:
identifying what kinds of doctors
are needed where, building teaching
capacity in the province's hospitals, and
increasing funding.
The B.C. government has designated the
majority of current IMG spaces for family
practice. IMGs are trained in Victoria
and in the Fraser region in addition to
Vancouver. Additional sites, such as
Strathcona and Kamloops are also being
considered. And since the last round of
program expansion began in 2006, seven
IMGs have remained to practise in the
underserved area where they completed
their return-of-service contract.
Adding more IMG residency training
spaces must take into account the teaching
capacity in hospitals, community clinics
and individual practises and the safety of
patients, says Dr. Willa Henry, director of
UBC's Family Practice Residency Program.
While undergoing training, residents
take on primary responsibility for
patients under the watchful eye and
guidance of preceptors—senior
physicians who serve double-duty
as teachers. Training IMGs requires
preceptors who are experienced with
a wide range of cultures and clinical
backgrounds, says Henry.
"All residents must have experience
providing care from cradle to grave,
and a variety of demographics and
socio-economic status. We're increasingly
exposing them to different geographic
regions and health care settings."
Of course, there are limits to the
number of senior physicians who
can provide this level of training in
underserved areas. And teaching
capacity has already been stretched to
accommodate the doubling of UBC's
medical graduates in the last decade.
Doubling homegrown doctors
"For many years, we did not produce as
many doctors as needed, and relied mainly
on recruiting internationally educated
The B.C. Ministry of Health works with
regional health authorities and UBC to
determine the health and human resource
needs ofthe province, and determine the
doctors who were eligible to practise in
Canada independently," says Dr. David
Snadden, executive associate dean of
education in the Faculty of Medicine.
Answering the challenge to not only
educate more doctors, but also increase
the number of family physicians in
underserved areas, the province and the
UBC's Faculty of Medicine doubled the
number of medical student spaces—from
128 prior to 2004 to 288 this year-and
distributed their training across the
province to Victoria, Prince George
and Kelowna. After spending the first
semester at the Vancouver campus, one
third ofthe class complete their studies
at a distributed site. The aim is that
many will establish practices around
the province.
The Northern Medical Program (NMP),
first ofthe distributed sites, is particularly
successful in this regard, with almost
number of trainees it can fund.
The government has put a priority on
access to care for people in mid-sized
urban centres and rural and remote
two-thirds of fully licensed graduates
now practising family medicine in the
Northern Health Authority.
For Aneja, the prospect of practising
family medicine in an underserved
community and working with a range
of health professionals in Canada's
universal health care system fulfills
her childhood ambitions in ways she'd
never envisioned.
"India has a two-tier, public-private
system, with the public system catering
mostly to the poor and the private system
operating much like a commercial
industry—if you have money, you shop
around for doctors who give you what
you want," she says. "The health care
system here is much more collaborative.
As a family physician, I'll get to work with
people from all walks of life and act as a
gatekeeper to ensure my patients get the
best care possible."
communities. The most urgent need
is for family physicians, pediatricians,
psychiatrists and internists.
Walter says her interactions with
IMGs have highlighted the rigor ofthe
system and importance of diversity in
the medical profession.
"IMGs go through a very intense
process in order to be qualified to
practise here," says Walter, who points
out that many IMGs were specialists
in their home country before entering
into family practice in B.C.
"They have a lot of specialized knowledge
and are able to provide culturally sensitive
care that's especially important in today's
multicultural society."
Despite a detour in the Wal-Mart
photo department, Aneja says the
journey has been well worth it.
"Looking back, if I had never come
to Canada, I wouldn't have learned
what I'm capable of," she says. "I wasn't
unhappy with my own world, but I
would have missed this world." •
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   December 2012 Berkowitz & Associates
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UBC graduate Kim Villagante helped neighbours and tenants create a  mural over three days.
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It's artwork in the most unlikely of places. In the alley behind
40 East Hastings near Main Street in Vancouver's Downtown
Eastside, a large vibrant mural covers three garage doors.
Playful themes of nature, rest and ocean offer passersby a
visual respite from the garbage bins and ubiquitous graffiti in
one ofthe most high-traffic alleys in the area.
The mural is the handiwork of UBC graduate Kim Villagante
and the residents at the Oasis, an affordable housing building.
It has drawn kudos and interest from neighbours and nearby
businesses who also want to beautify their section ofthe alley.
"Every single person who walked or drove by would stop to
interact," says Villagante who, with Oasis tenants and other
volunteers, completed the mural over three days in September.
"There was so much positive uplift. Residents and strangers
would come by and say, 'hey that's awesome' or 'it looks great!'
I thought that was really cool," says Villagante, who recently
graduated from UBC with a BA in visual arts and art history.
Sponsored by UBC's Learning Exchange, the mural project has
been successful in building community and connecting students
to the community, explains Dionne Pelan, who coordinates
the Learning Exchange drop-in and
computer programs.
Located on Main Street in Chinatown,
the Learning Exchange supports
residents' learning initiatives through
free programs. "We also provide
UBC students with leadership and
community-based learning opportunities,"
says Pelan.
"When I heard that the Learning
Exchange was looking for a community
artist, I jumped on it right away," says
Villagante. "I liked how it was about
reclaiming the alley space for the tenants
and creating bonds between people who
wouldn't have otherwise connected."
Villagante facilitated the creative
process, brainstorming ideas with Oasis
tenants. While waiting for city permits, she
held monthly workshops over the summer.
"Tenants would drop by and I'd sketch
the mural. People gave input. They
wanted themes of an oasis, nature, sun,
killer whales and cats, since the Oasis is
full of cats."
Adrienne Macallum has lived at the
Oasis for the past 10 years. An artist
and digital storyteller, Macallum
contributed a sketch for one ofthe mural
panels depicting a woman holding a
parasol and looking out to sea.
"Tenants here generally tend to keep
to themselves," says Macallum. "But the
mural gave people a chance to get involved."
Villagante and two artist friends
first traced the design onto the garage
doors with chalk and black felt markers.
Painters then laid down thick layers of
colour according to the master sketch.
"It went really quickly once we got
started," says Macallum. "Tenants who
wanted to paint did. Others got involved
by making the food or hanging out with us."
Villagante says, "I came into it thinking
I'd just be contributing my art skills.
But I'm walking away with the love and
stories shared with me by the tenants at
the Oasis. I have a renewed respect for
the real community that is so evident here
in the Downtown Eastside." •
To see a video of the mural project visit:
It was about
reclaiming the alley
space for the tenants
and creating bonds
between people.
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   December 2012 From human sacrifice to Santa Claus
UBC researchers
study the evolution of religion
Basil Waugh
Boom times for Young Adult fiction
Lorraine Chan
UBC's Edward Slingerland and colleagues are leading the world's largest study on how religions have evolved.
Even if December 25th is more about Santa Claus than Jesus
Christ in your family, UBC's Edward Slingerland says that
Christmas and other religious holidays remain crucial for society.
"Holidays help us express and affirm our cultural values,"
says Slingerland, who recently launched the world's largest
study on the evolution of religion with colleagues at UBC and
SFU. "So as culture changes, whether through immigration or
evolution of attitudes, our holidays will evolve as well."
"That time spent strengthening bonds with family, friends
and community, has real meaning for people and is important
for social cohesion," says Slingerland, who is a professor in
UBC's Dept. of Asian Studies and Canada Research Chair in
Chinese Thought and Embodied Cognition.
Slingerland is primary investigator for one ofthe largest
research grants ever awarded to a Canadian social science and
humanities scholar, a $3-million award to establish the Cultural
Evolution of Religion Research Consortium (CERC), centered
at UBC. Slingerland calls religion one ofthe least studied and
most misunderstood aspects of human life.
"While recent literature has positioned religion as something
dangerous or disposable, our hypothesis is that religion has
been key to the evolution and success of large-scale societies,"
says Slingerland. "As our world becomes more diverse and
interconnected, understanding people's deeply held religious
beliefs is increasingly important for reducing conflicts and
grasping the dynamics that make societies more cohesive."
The project brings together more than 50 top researchers
from around the world—including Oxford and Harvard—and
fields such as religious studies, anthropology, linguistics,
psychology, biology and economics. It is likely the first time
that scholars from such a wide variety of disciplines have been
brought together on a single research project, says Slingerland.
CERC has a number of flagship
projects. Researchers are working to
create world's largest database of human
cultural history—from the earliest
archeological records to today—organized
by historical time, geography, ecology and
a host of social variables that will allow
researchers to test sophisticated and
detailed hypotheses about the evolution
of religious culture.
Another project will trace the cultural
evolution of religious rituals, from
human sacrifices to pilgrimages to holy
sites, and explore the underlying social
conditions that caused these rites to
appear, persist and change. "These
studies will help to understand how
cultural beliefs and rituals have mutated
over time, just as genes have evolved."
One ofthe key questions Slingerland
and his collaborators are exploring is the
evolution of conceptions of supernatural
beings from largely amoral beings,
typified by the Greek gods, to the morally
concerned gods ofthe world's major
world religions, such as Christianity,
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.
The UBC-led team believes the cultural
evolution of these sorts of beliefs and
practices helped groups transform from
subsistence to urban societies with large
populations. According to Slingerland,
"These studies will help
to understand how
cultural beliefs and
rituals have mutated
over time, just as
genes have evolved."
these include costly displays, which
signify commitment to group values,
rituals that bring people together with
movement and song, and the grounding
of values in ideas such as God's will or
the law of karma.
"If God cares ifyou are being honest
in your economic dealings and being
faithful to your spouse, and a good
person to your neighbor, you are more
likely to be good," he explains.
"Our hypothesis is that groups that hit
upon this package of religious beliefs
and practices were able to bind people
in a powerful way that has helped them
to flourish and expand, at the expense of
less cohesive groups."
In addition to a historical team led by
Slingerland and SFU's Mark Collard, the
Ethnographic-Experimental team, led
by UBC psychologists Ara Norenzayan
and Joe Henrich, will conduct studies on
populations around the globe, including
more than 10 ethnographic field bases in
North American, Asia, Europe, and Africa,
including small-scale societies in Fiji, the
Congo, and Tanzania.
"Right now, more than 90 per cent of
social psychology research is being done
on North American college students,
which are poor representatives for the
global population," says Slingerland,
citing research by Henrich, Norenzayan
and UBC psychologist Steve Heine.
"By testing our hypotheses across a wide
variety of cultures we will gain a better
understanding of cross-cultural differences,
gain greater certainty concerning claims
about psychological universality, and
provide much greater understanding of how
religion functions in society today." •
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in a still from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1.
Teen fiction is no longer just for kids. A recent industry survey
shows that 55 per cent of those who purchase Young Adult (YA)
fiction are adult readers between their late 20s and mid 40s.
With more than 4,000 titles and $600-million in sales
during 2011, youth literature is the fastest-growing category
in publishing. Bestsellers like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter
and Twilight leap easily onto the big screen, spinning box
office gold.
UBC Prof. Judith Saltman researches and teaches
children's and youth literature at the School of Library,
Archival and Information Studies. Teen fiction is so much
more than glittery vampires and adolescent angst, says
Saltman who reflects on what's hot, why and what's next.
How do you explain the YA fiction boom?
The first reason is raw storytelling. The writing is
transparent and unselfconscious.
People who are writing for teens are more direct. They're
writing faster-paced material that explores a time of intense
self-discovery and the heroic quest, which leads to the second
reason: intense emotion.
A third reason is the diversity of genres. There's somethingfor
everybody. You can have fantasy, science fiction, contemporary
realism, historical realism, graphic novels and verse novels.
Marketing is a factor. Before, the YA category used to be
age-level writing, targeting 12- to 18-year-olds. Now publishers
are also marketing down to tweens as well as up toward adults.
But a big reason for the huge rise of YA fiction is that these
books, especially fantasy and science fiction series, invite you
into a mystical world which Tolkien termed the "secondary
world" with its internal consistency and truths.
Why do YA novels seem tailor-made for Hollywood?
The stories are incredibly filmic. They're so lean and
propulsive and have such momentum. They are novels
with characters, scenes and action that read like screenplays.
Two recent examples are in the dystopian science fiction
genre: The Knife of Never Letting Go, by the amazing U.K.
writer Philip Ness, and Red Blood Road by a wonderful
Canadian writer, Moira Young. Both conjure a Mad Max
setting that's stark and dramatic. Both have been optioned
to be filmed.
What lies at the beating heart of teen fiction?
There's often a Manichean battle in YA fantasy and science
fiction in which a never-ending struggle exists between good
"It goes back toTolkien, Lewis
and writers of the 19th century.
That will be with us forever."
and evil, between young people and exploiters who are usually
adults and often of supernatural species.
There's a child who's evolving through adolescence and is looking
at a false, immoral and corrupt adult world. Similar to Joseph
Campbell's writing on myth, the hero must leave the known world
and go out into the unknown to battle evil in any form.
The adolescents are upholding values of compassion, courage,
stability, faith, and trust. They carry a burden on their shoulders
to save the world.
Why do adults want to write about teens?
Although some of these books are tragic, most ofthe writers
feel they are writing for the future, for the next generation, for
growing people. They show harsh truths but they want to offer
hope and redemption.
I think that it's quite different in adult writing. There's more
cynicism, bitterness, a sense ofthe endgame that you don't
find in quite the same way in writing for teens.
Is dystopian angst here to stay?
The human race is so anxious about the future of our planet that
these stories serve as cautionary tales. In this literature, we see
imagery of apocalyptic collapse, a futuristic hellscape, a landscape
of poverty, collapse ofthe environment and the social order, an
ongoing struggle for survival and a frightening totalitarian state.
For teen readers, this genre offers something fresh and new,
and for adult readers, it has energy and a moral compass not
always found in adult writing of dystopia. These stories almost
always end up with groups of teenagers acting with courage
in political rebellion.
Where is youth literature going?
I think people are getting really tired of paranormal romance and
vampires, shimmery or not. I am, and I think the publishers are.
New genres include YA urban fantasy and the character-driven
novel. High epic fantasies such as those created by Rowling
and Pullman will never dry up because we have a huge need for
mythology and archetype. It goes back to Tolkien, Lewis and
writers ofthe 19th century. That will be with us forever. •
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1 the University of I
Students with developmental disabilities
attend and graduate from UBC
Heather Amos
Students with developmental disabilities can attend UBC supported by a program called
Steps Forward. Just like every other student, they take classes, write exams, and graduate.
Register for classes, get involved in
clubs, make friends, study, write exams,
find a part-time job, pursue a passion,
and graduate—it's the typical
university experience.
And it's now an experience accessible to
students with developmental disabilities
who attend UBC, thanks to a B.C.
organization called Steps Forward.
"It's the things you'd want for everyone
at this stage: the chance to develop
lifelong friendships and build a network,
exposure to different fields and career
paths, and awareness of what is available
to you," says Tamara Hurtado, executive
director of Steps Forward.
Steps Forward works with universities
and colleges to allow people with
developmental disabilities could
experience university or college life.
This fall, the provincial government
awarded Steps Forward $400,000 over
two years so that 25 students with
developmental disabilities could attend
a postsecondary institution.
The organization currently works with
both of UBC's campuses, the University
of Victoria, Emily Carr University of Art +
Design, Simon Fraser University, and the
Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.
"I'm so happy that more students will be
able to take advantage of this program,"
says UBC professor Diana French, who
has had UBC students supported by Steps
Forward attend her classes.
Students identify the courses that
interest them and staff at Steps Forward
work with UBC professors to customize
the curriculum requirements and
French is an associate professor of
anthropology and head of Community,
Culture, and Global Studies at UBC's
Okanagan campus. Steps Forward
students have taken her first-year
introduction to cultural anthropology
class and her fourth-year applied
anthropology class.
"When I find out there is a student
who wants to take my course, they're
in," she says. French is a big supporter of
the program because she has seen its
impact on the students.
"Students can be shy at first but
participating in classes and events
outside ofthe classroom really helps
build self-confidence," she says.
Steps Forward encourages students to
get involved in campus activities, like
sports or student-run clubs, and find a
summer job. One of French's students was
very involved in the anthropology student
society and attended an undergraduate
research conference in Alberta.
"Steps Forward helps students find a
passion for something and allows them to
continue to pursue it," says French.
According to Hurtado, one student who
took a lot of earth science classes got a job
in a mineral store preparing the kids' area
for activities. Another student loved
music and got a job at a radio station's
music department.
A group of parents formed Steps
Forward in 2001 after looking around
the UK, US and Canada for examples of
best practices supporting youth with
developmental disabilities to transition
to adulthood. The group modeled their
organization after inclusive
postsecondary initiatives in Alberta.
"In the 1950s, kids with developmental
disabilities were separated from other
children in elementary and high school. In
the 1970s and 1980s, things changed and
they began to be included in the classroom.
We wanted their postsecondary education
to reflect the inclusive learning
environment that our kids had
experienced from K-12," says Hurtado.
"This full experience does more for
building self-esteem, the ability to
self-manage, and develop the soft skills
needed for employment than any
segregated program," notes Janet Mee,
director of UBC Access and Diversity.
Mee says the program is also important
because it exposes students and
professors to the capabilities of young
adults with developmental disabilities.
Since Steps Forward was formed, four
students have graduated from UBC's
Vancouver campus and one student has
graduated from the Okanagan campus. •
Breaking barriers with math
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Melania Alvarez is helping improve math education for Aboriginal students.
When Melania Alvarez's son was placed in a lower-level
math class in junior high school, she was caught off
guard. The Mexican-born mathematician, then working in
Wisconsin, knew that Rodrigo had an aptitude for math.
It turned out he had been placed in the low-level course
because he had an Hispanic name. Later on in high school-
after being placed in appropriate classes—he scored a perfect
800 on his standardized math test for college admissions.
"Living in the United States made me empathetic to some
ofthe issues Aboriginal students face," says Alvarez, who now
works at UBC to develop programming for those students in
local high schools.
"There are certain stereotypes and patterns, even some that
are meant well, which can harm Aboriginal students."
Alvarez is of Spanish and Purepecha (an indigenous people from
the state of Michoacan) descent. Her interest in math led her to a
bachelor's degree in actuarial science, even though her conservative
family expected her to marry and follow a more traditional path.
Math, she says, expanded her horizons and allowed her to
travel the world.
Alvarez's love of numbers and her personal insight into the
barriers some communities face also made her a fierce proponent
of improved math education, a passion that eventually brought
her to UBC, where she works as coordinator for the outreach
programs at UBC Mathematics and the Pacific Institute for the
Mathematical Sciences (PIMS).
Aboriginal students make up more than 10 per cent ofthe
school-age population in B.C., with that percentage increasing
steadily. But only two per cent of those students complete
Principles of Mathematics 12, a prerequisite for many
post-secondary programs and a requirement for admission
to UBC Science.
For Aboriginal students interested in
the sciences, poor performance in math
can rob them of personal potential and
career options.
In 2007 Alverez helped start two
math summer camps hosted at UBC
and at Britannia Secondary School in
east Vancouver. (Britannia has twice the
proportion of Aboriginal students as the
provincial average.) She has developed
training materials for Aboriginal teachers,
promoted mentorship opportunities and
created specialized programming, often
in partnership with the First Nations
Education Steering Committee, the
Vancouver School Board and UBC.
While Alvarez is proud other work,
she's even prouder ofthe students.
"These are capable young people. Many
times they are classified as learning
disabled when they are not. After being
told they can't do something, they start to
believe it. We need to change our attitudes."
Alvarez believes that the problem may
also lie in insufficient math training for
teachers. She hopes events like the PIMS
annual Changing the Culture teacher
development conference will help.
Programs that support the expansion of
pre-service training, like UBC's Native
Indian Teacher Education Program,
could also improve math delivery.
"After being told they
can't do something,
they start to believe
it. We need to change
our attitudes."
Alvarez would also like to provide more
support for parents to expand the reach of
the programs geographically and involve
more disciplines.
But at this point the funds to achieve
an expansion aren't there, she says. The
program scrambles every year to find
funds for programs such as the Emerging
Aboriginal Scholars program, mentorship
programs, and the math workshops for
teachers and students that take place in
more than 45 schools across the province.
This winter, Alvarez will be presented
with the Canadian Mathematical Society's
2012 Adrien Pouliot Award in recognition
other contributions to mathematics
education in Canada. •
For more info: science.ubc.ca/support/
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   December 2012
11 Mexico's insidious drug war
Basil Waugh
A forthcoming book by UBC's Shaylih Muehlmann details how the U.S.-backed war on drugs has failed Mexicans.
A UBC researcher who was first drawn
to Mexico to study water shortages has
turned her efforts to putting a human
face on that country's bloody drug war.
While media focus on sensational
stories of drug violence, for the last
decade, UBC anthropology Prof. Shaylih
Muehlmann has been looking into
the lives of people working on the
lowest rungs ofthe drug trade in rural
northwest Mexico.
In her forthcoming book, When I Wear
My Alligator Boots: Life at the Edges of
the War on Drugs, she details how the
US.-backed war on drugs has failed
Mexican society: 70,000 deaths since
2006, skyrocketing addiction rates, and
widespread social problems, including a
generation of drug orphans—children who
have lost parents to drugs and violence.
Muehlmann, Canada Research
Chair in Culture, Language and the
Environment, is among a growing chorus
of policy experts to conclude that drugs
prohibition does not work. "Criminalizing
drugs is supposed to reduce their
availability and keep communities safe,"
says Muehlmann. "But drugs are more
available than ever and drug violence is an
everyday part of life in northern Mexico—
so something clearly isn't working.
"Part of my book is an attempt to
understand why people generally
support drug prohibition, in the face
ofthe overwhelming evidence that it
doesn't work."
Muehlmann initially went to Mexico in
2003 to study the impacts ofthe Colorado
River basin water shortage on rural
fishing villages. "I was aware ofthe drug
issue, and the danger, and fully intended
to completely ignore it," she says. "But I
quickly realized that would be impossible,
because the drug trade is everywhere."
Fishing boats, passenger vehicles and
trucks were used to transport drugs, she
says. Medals featuring the folk saint
of drug dealers, Jesus Malverde, were
hanging from people's necks. Many
villagers were addicted to crystal meth.
Unkempt drug orphans relied on the
charity of strangers.
The book follows the stories of a
few key individuals. One is Andreas, a
former drug runner whose mother paid
guards to protect him from beatings
in jail. Another is a taxi driver whose
passengers are primarily halcones
("lookouts") working for the cartels.
Others made sandwiches for mafiosos or
laundered mob money. Muehlmann says
that poverty, unemployment and a lack
of social mobility offer few alternatives
for villagers.
"People ask me how anyone could be
crazy enough to become involved in
Mexico's violent drug trade," she says.
"But for many people in Northern
Mexico, it is actually riskier not to get
involved—the drug trade is implicated
in every aspect of life."
The killings increased dramatically
when Mexico's military was brought in
to fight the cartels in 2006, Muehlmann
says. "This has caused the drug related
violence to escalate." She says the
government's strategy of targeting
cartel leaders is failing also. "Removing
leaders has only succeeded in bringing
more violence, as gangs and factions
"It is actually riskier not to get involved—the
drug trade is implicated in every aspect of life.'
attempt to fill the power void."
She disputes the official claims that
the staggering number of killings are
restricted to the drug community.
"There is this popular notion, which
the government is happy to foster, that
anyone killed was involved with the
cartels. But police investigate less than
10 per cent of murders, so it is impossible
to know if these claims are true."
According to Muehlmann, the only
way to address the problem is to focus on
the root issues that make the drug trade
attractive: prohibition policies that make
drugs lucrative, and poverty. She points
to recent Washington and Colorado state
decisions to legalize marijuana, adding
that many Latin American countries now
favour decriminalization.
"The sooner we decriminalize drugs, the
faster we can start addressing the problem
in a meaningful way," she says. "Instead
of guns and enforcement, we need to
invest that money on education, jobs and
treatment programs for addiction." •
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   December 2012
13 Tis the Season: A survival guide
UBC expert tips on making it through the merrymaking
Heather Amos
Making economics sexy
Marina Adshade
Stay grounded
in nature
Maxine Crawford is a PhD student
at UBC's Okanagan campus who
researches how nature impacts
our wellbeing.
"The holidays are a busy time of the year.
We already have hectic lives, so holiday
parties, gift-giving, travel, and family
expectations add a lot of stress.
"Exposure to nature recharges your
battery in a way that other things don't.
Ideally get outside. But even ifyou only
have 20 minutes, look out a window.
Exposure to nature reduces blood
pressure, heart rate, Cortisol levels—all
of which are linked to stress. Even little
pieces of nature—like putting a poinsettia
on your desk—can make a difference."
Shopping 101:
stick to the plan
Darren Dahl is a Senior Associate
Dean and the Fred H. Siller Professor in
Applied Marketing Research at UBC's
Sauder School of Business.
"It's important to have a plan when we go
into a store. Often at Christmas we just
want to buy things. It's better to know
who you're shopping for and what you
have in mind for them so that you're not
vulnerable to a store that is going to try
and get you to impulse buy.
"When you go shopping, you don't
want to be too tired or hungry, and you
don't want to be having a bad day. Those
feelings are going to make you more
prone to spending too much money.
You want to make good decisions so that
on your way home, you're going to be
happy with your purchases and you're
not going to have what we call cognitive
dissonance—that sinking feeling of
T've made the wrong choice.'"
Food, food and
more food
Gwen Chapman is the Associate Dean of
the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and
professor of Food, Nutrition and Health.
"Food has many roles in our social lives-
it is not just about nourishing our bodies,
but it helps us define who we are socially
and culturally. Food is important!
"To help balance the social and cultural
roles with health concerns, one ofthe main
things to watch for is how much we eat.
Keep portion sizes small, and fill up on the
healthier foods like fruit and vegetables.
"Fortunately, many ofthe 'feast'
foods that we make and eat over the
holidays are local, seasonal products-
look for B.C. turkey, potatoes, carrots,
cranberries, squash, turnip, and
pumpkin. And remember that choosing
more vegetables and fruits and cutting
back a bit on animal products helps to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Christmas Tree
Steve Mitchell is an associate professor
in UBC's Faculty of Forestry. He likes the
smell of a real tree and grows his own.
"There are four types of Christmas trees
to choose from: an artificial tree, a wild
tree, a farmed cut tree or a farmed living
tree. The most sustainable Christmas
trees are wild trees harvested (with a
permit) from under power lines or next
to roadways. About 75 per cent of the
trees produced commercially in B.C. are
cut from natural stands.
"Growing trees in Christmas tree
farms requires fertilizer, weed control,
shearing and shipping. Transport of
farmed trees accounts for 50 per cent of
the carbon emissions so buy from local
producers. After Christmas, cut trees
are typically chipped and composted or
used as biofuel; farmed living trees can be
replanted if they are a native tree species
that can grow in our local climate.
"Artificial trees need to be kept for
20 years for the carbon emissions to
be equivalent to using natural trees,
according to a life cycle analysis. The
average life expectancy of an artificial tree
is six years and most end up in landfills."
Make the most out
of your holiday party
Karl Aquino is the Richard Poon
Professor of Organizations and Society
at UBC's Sauder School of Business.
"The holidays are a good time to reflect
on how you might try to reconcile
relationships with co-workers with
whom you might have had conflicts in the
past, or where hostilities are impairing
your ability to work well together.
Research shows that being able to forgive
past wrongs can reduce the emotional
distress that people often feel when they
ruminate on the harms they might have
experienced from their co-workers.
"In the midst ofthe stresses ofthe
holiday season, it might be helpful
to take a step back and contemplate
forgiveness and its capacity to promote
healing and restoration."
When a cold catches
you off guard
James McCormack is a professor in
the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
"Caught a cold but planning to
entertain? Unfortunately there are no
quick fixes. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
or ibuprofen (Advil) can help with
pain and fever. But if you're really sick,
cancel your dinner party.
"When it is cold outside we tend to
spend more time indoors and therefore
we get exposed more to viruses that
other people have. Avoid contact with
people who are ill—wash your hands
regularly. Eat well and stay active." •
believes economics helps us understand topics related to sex and love.
I have a confession to make. I have a
Hollywood agent—or to be more precise,
my research has a Hollywood agent. It's
surprising, I know. As an economist, I
don't see myself sitting on a film set,
shouting "No, no, no! Demand shifts to
the left and supply shifts to the right!"
But at least one person in Los Angeles
thinks my work is "Hollywood gold."
How could this research, originally
intended for an academic audience, ever
attract the interest of an agent?
There is a perception that economics
is all about money and wealth creation.
However, saying that economics is about
money is like saying that engineering
is about centimetres, and to argue that
the role of economics is to create wealth
obscures the power of economic reasoning
to explain the human experience.
In 2008, as the economy was crashing
and taking the reputation of economics
with it, I was thinking of new ways to
teach students the tools of my trade in a
way that convinced them that economic
theory has real life applications beyond
forecasting GDP growth rates.
I needed to encourage students to
apply economic thinking to their personal
lives. And so, with the help of hundreds of
published academic papers, the economics
of sex and love was born.
When this led to my blog (originally
hosted on the university website and
later picked up by an influential platform,
Big Think) I was able to reach a much
wider and more academically diversified
audience. That exposure (and, I should
say, the learning that goes along with
researching and writing for a heavily
trafficked blog) led to a book deal and,
apparently, the need for a Hollywood
It has been a long time since I thought
about my work simply as a fun way to
engage students in learning. Topics
related to sex and love, such as the
effects of free access to contraceptives,
the increase in births to single women
and the change in the way we think
about marriage, have become an
important part ofthe public discourse
in recent years. Economists are among
the academics who bring an important
and at times quirky perspective to that
In 2008 UBC economist Marina
Adshade started a popular new course
called the Economics of Sex and Love.
She is a blogger, media commentator
and will soon launch her first book,
Dollars and Sex. You can find more about
her work at marinaadshade.com. •
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   December 2012
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