UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The third mission of UBC’s health faculties, departments and schools : a role in society beyond education and research Wood, Victoria


Universities are increasingly playing roles in society beyond education and research, often referred to as a third mission. As such, there are discussions within universities about their relationship with society, their desired impact in society, society's expectations of universities, and how universities can be more accountable to society. This dissertation explores the role that health Faculties, Departments, and Schools at the University of British Columbia (UBC) play in society, beyond the education of health professionals and conducting health-related research. UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Nursing, and Department of Physical Therapy provided a comparative case study to explore the relationship between a university’s health units and society. This dissertation outlines the role each unit articulated beyond education and research in their strategic plans. It explores the dominant and competing neo-liberal and socially-oriented discourses embodied in how each unit articulated its relationship with society through a critical discourse. It also discusses an advocacy role played by units identified through interviews and a focus group with leaders from each unit. This dissertation explores this advocacy concept and determines how this role was operationalized similarly and differently across the three units, and presents an emerging framework to help other health units think critically about their relationship with society. This research highlights commonalities around how three health units at UBC articulated and operationalized their relationship with society and differences that stem from how they are situated within the university and the broader province landscape.

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