Insight on today's issues

Big issues like climate change and social justice can feel overwhelming to tackle. The first step? Understanding. UBC experts help navigate the issues with ideas on how to shape a better world.

Latest stories in Insight on today's issues

Asian people protest on the street against racism - Group of multiracial demonstrators from different asian countries fight for equal rights.

Anti-racism starts with knowing history

By Shirley Chau It’s often said that history repeats itself, and racism between citizens and nations is no exception. Threaded throughout human history, including the relatively brief history of Canada, are strands of racism; thicker at some times and thinner at others, but ever present. However, according to Dr. Shirley Chau, an Associate Professor at UBC Okanagan’s School […]

Silhouettes of a girl group basking in the radiant pink light.

Global auditions are changing the ‘K’ in K-pop

K-pop’s definition is dynamic and increasingly inclusive, reflecting the changing tastes and demographics of its global audience. It is evolving beyond its Korean roots, integrating Canadian talent into its worldwide narrative.

Two African children in a village near Kalahari desert, the sister feeding her brother in the outdoor kitchen

Advancing the rights of girls and women promotes justice and is also effective climate action

How climate change amplifies inequities and existing vulnerabilities for women, girls and gender-diverse people

Close-up of a Xylopa (Carpenter Bee or lonely Bee) foraging sweet pea flowers

Where the wild bees are—and aren’t—impacts food supply

How the public can help protect wild bees and preserve biodiversity

A padlock with a fingerprint scanner on a blue digital background.

What is Indigenous data sovereignty and why does it matter?

Control over data related to Residential Schools and more is crucial to truth and reconciliation in Canada

How technology can help reduce food waste

Eco-friendly food packaging and innovative food processing can help make our food last longer

How the supply chain impacts the cost of food

The reasons behind rising food prices and grocery prices might surprise you—and what impacts the cost of food

Balancing sustainable agriculture with the need to feed the world

These sustainable farming practices can help us produce more food while fighting climate change

Testing new ways to reduce the environmental impacts of food

Everyday choices can help to reduce emissions in our food systems

Building sustainable food systems

As the climate changes, there’s plenty we can do to help ensure both global and local food security

How Indigenous food sovereignty can improve food security

Indigenous food sovereignty can help heal both the land and its people as we face the challenges of climate change

Farming our way to a future more resilient to climate change

Farmers do more than produce food—sustainable farming practices can help fight climate change

Black and white portrait of a black female musician singing.

How Black women have used their voices to resist oppression

Exploring the evolution of Black women’s voices, from blues to Beyoncé

Young black business woman looking away and contemplation at work

Smashing the ‘concrete ceiling’: Black women are still missing from corporate leadership

Here’s what corporate Canada needs to do to become more equitable and inclusive

A screenshot from Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others) movie - Paul Körner hugging his younger lover.

The enduring appeal of a century-old German film about queer love

Generations of viewers recognize the long struggle for queer liberation

An illustrated photo of new variants of the Omicron virus.

New variants, new vaccines: what to know about COVID-19 for fall 2023

Learn when you should get the new vaccine, whether you can combine it with a flu shot, and more

A photo of Professor Karen Bakker on the TED stage with an orca on the LCD screen behind her.

How AI could transform our relationship with the natural world

Technology could help us decode the sounds of nature and non-human communication

A collage of historical images

What was the Chinese Exclusion Act in Canada? 3 things you might not know

The 1923 Chinese Immigration Act banned Chinese immigration to Canada for 24 years

Photo of Azim Shariff on stage at TED

Why humans respect hard work regardless of results

UBC social psychologist Dr. Azim Shariff analyzes hard work

An image of a bearded man holding a phone that is focused on looking at a clone of himself in a dark room

AI clones made from user data pose uncanny risks

It’s imperative to recognize the implications of AI clone technologies

Purchasing at self-service checkout in supermarket

Meet the shoppers who don’t want friendly customer service

When buying products like condoms or menstrual pads, people want robotic interactions, a UBC Sauder School of Business study finds

Lady justice on digital background

Will AI revolutionize the legal profession? The jury is still out

AI could change how people access legal services and the approach to legal aid

An illustration of a hand holding scissors cutting a day off the work week

Could AI help bring about the four-day workweek?

Increasing productivity could lead to layoffs or a better quality of life for all

Three killer whales at Vancouver island, British Columbia, Canada

With only low-fat Chinook on the menu, southern resident killer whales are going hungry

Food quality, not just quantity, matters when it comes to the health and survival of southern resident killer whales

A photo of a man sitting in an airplane seat looking out the window with rocket debris flying past

Airplanes face a growing risk of being hit by uncontrolled re-entries of rockets used to launch satellites

While the probability of an airplane being struck by space debris is extremely small, it could justify regulatory action

Is AI coming for white-collar jobs? A psychology professor finds out the hard way

You might be surprised by what AI can do, possibly better than you

Photo of writer Naomi Klein looking into the camera

Naomi Klein on the future of climate justice

Climate activist Naomi Klein shares insights on tackling climate injustice in BC, Canada and beyond

A collage shown a driver, a cell phone, and a delivery worker

What is the difference between the gig economy and the platform economy?

Gig work is much broader than Uber drivers and food-delivery workers

A gig economy delivery worker coming out from a cell phone supported by a finger

Working in the gig economy? What you don’t know might hurt you

Gig workers must balance the risks and benefits as employment law starts to catch up

Young man in a dark room with his head back on a sofa

When relationships break down, men are at risk of mental illness

A UBC study confirms that when men transition out of relationships they are at increased risk of mental illness

Aerial shot of amazon deforestation

How the COP27 climate conference could confront colonialism by centring Indigenous rights

Many “green” solutions represent more violations of Indigenous rights and territories, without consultation or consent

Slices of photographed faces

What’s the big deal? Here’s why microaggressions matter

Microaggressions reinforce power structures and actually harm our health

An archival photo of the Cote Improved Federal Day School in Saskatchewan

What are Indian day schools? 3 things you might not know

Like residential schools in Canada, Indian days schools were created to assimilate Indigenous children and eradicate their culture

A Grizzly bear sitting on the banks of a river.

BC is facing a steep decline in sockeye salmon

As BC coastal waters warm, sockeye salmon are moving north to Alaska. Here’s what’s moving up to BC

A woman wearing a mask in the driver's seat looking at a cell phone.

Delay and deflect: How women gig workers respond to sexual harassment

The design of apps allows delivery drivers to be harassed with impunity

A collage showing a woman using a virtual reality headset as well as code.

What is the metaverse?

If you don’t know what the “metaverse” is, you’re not alone. A UBC computer science expert explains.

A family in the forest with social media ads popping up around them

How much privacy is there in the age of AI and the metaverse?

Artificial intelligence is increasingly influencing consumer behaviour, putting privacy at risk

A photo of fried calamari with the ocean and sun in the background

Climate change is now on the menu at seafood restaurants

As ocean temperatures rise, you’ll see more squid and sardines on menus and less sockeye salmon

Building community resilience to wildfires in BC

Why we need to address the inequities that communities face in dealing with wildfires

What is the impact of the Roe vs Wade draft decision? A ‘cruel and devastating blow’ for women, UBC Allard law experts say

Here’s what it could mean for reproductive rights in the US and the security of women’s access to abortion in Canada

A person's hand holding rice grains to show world hunger

‘Too many people, not enough food’ isn’t the cause of world hunger and food insecurity

Inequity and armed conflict play a large role in world hunger

Young man in striped shirt in bookstore holding book and reading

As publishing becomes more varied and diverse, challenges remain for writers of colour

Silvia Moreno-Garcia interviews author Nalo Hopkinson on finding allies and empowering diverse voices

Spray painted graphic of Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian colours superimposed over his face

Could Vladimir Putin be ousted over his Ukraine invasion?

The Russian president may be reluctant to give up power

Photo of smoke from a forest fire near Pearchland British Columbia Canada

Why protecting air quality in BC matters to your health — not just during wildfire season

Vancouver has some of the best air quality in the world. Here’s why we need to fight for it.

A collection of images depicting what effects affect air quality

What exactly is air quality, and what affects it in BC?

Learn about air pollution sources and how weather and location affect air quality in BC

Half the world is facing water scarcity, floods and dirty water — large investments are needed for effective solutions

Water needs to be at the centre of climate change strategies with a better understanding of the costs and benefits of solutions

What you might not know about cryptocurrencies

Investing in Bitcoin and NFTs comes with financial risks – and environmental costs

Understanding blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFTs

What is a blockchain? How do cryptocurrencies work? What is an NFT? Here’s a quick rundown

BC heat waves threaten survival of bee colonies

Insulated bee hives could protect bees from heat stress

Photo of a young woman reading the book Maus with a colourful background with a plant and a cat clock over her shoulder

Banning ‘Maus’ only exposes the significance of this searing graphic novel about the Holocaust

More readers will see Art Spiegelman’s graphic art as an essential text in Holocaust education

Young black woman holding a conversation with peers next to a window with ideas posted on notes

How racism holds Black women back from leadership positions

A new UBC study finds that stereotypes put Black women at a serious disadvantage in the workplace

Conversations about consent need to start early, and parents need to get comfortable with it

Teaching children about boundaries can help shift our culture around interpersonal trauma

How controlling land prices could help solve the housing crisis

A new way of valuing housing density could lead to truly affordable housing

Woman in red dress holding cocktail and man in blue suit holding a mask at masquerade party surrounded by lights

Holiday romantic comedies and their borderline illegal behaviours

A UBC doctoral law candidate looks at how holiday movies portray non-consensual behaviour as acceptable

An illustration showing items that can be a part of a circular economy.

What is the circular economy?

Tied to reducing, reusing and recycling, this concept could be the key to a more sustainable future

Photo of a football on a dark background with moisture surrounding it

The fault in our stars: Aaron Rodgers reminds us why celebrity shouldn’t trump science

Celebrities can amplify dangerous and disproven myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, says UBC’s Dr. Eric Cadesky

The doctor won’t see you now: Why access to care is in critical condition

More support for doctors will increase access to timely health care for Canadians

Smoke stack

COP26: Strong carbon-trading rules could help the world avoid dangerous levels of global warming

An international emissions-trading system being discussed at COP26 could bring an end to the production of coal-fired electricity

Getting to the HART of affordable housing

A new tool co-developed by UBC experts helps to estimate how much affordable housing a city needs

Speculative rendering of False Creek in 2050, illustrating the incorporation of nature-based solutions through the restoration of wetlands and coastal ecosystems. It shows a higher sea level that is mitigated by the planting and caretaking of coastal wetlands.

It’s time to accept, not resist, rising sea levels

UBC landscape architecture professor Kees Lokman explains how nature-based solutions could help coastal communities adapt

A young child with autism plays with colourful building blocks

Exploring the genetics of autism

UBC researcher explains how a new initiative could alter the future of autism diagnosis and treatment

Photo illustration of an aerial view of cars that are powered by green hydrogen on a highway.

Why green hydrogen — but not grey — could help solve climate change

Green hydrogen could allow us to drive for 1,000 kilometres on a single tank of fuel without any emissions

A detail of the Renaissance oil painting "The Bacchanal of the Andrians" by Titian that shows several people consuming alcohol

The taste for intoxicants

UBC’s Dr. Edward Slingerland explores the mystery of alcohol’s age-old allure

A 1948 photo of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League members performing calisthenics

Revealing the long but hidden history of queer women in sport

A UBC sociologist explains why we need more stories to open up the conversation around queer women in sport

A doctor and a senior patient look at the patient's personalized genomic sequencing results on a tablet in a doctors office

How genomics is changing health care

Genomic sequencing is creating a new age of health and medicine that is more personalized and targeted than ever before

A collage showing a scientific illustration of DNA, the results of genome sequencing and a person working in a genomics lab

What is genomics?

UBC Faculty of Medicine associate professors explain the study of genes

Photo illustration of fire coming out of a wine glass to illustrate smoky tasting wine

How wildfires are tainting grapes with smoke and threatening the wine industry

A chemistry professor at UBC Okanagan explains why wildfire smoke poses a massive threat to BC’s wine industry

Aerial photo of a fishing trawler in the ocean with its nets cast out into the water to catch fish with

Putting an end to billions in fishing subsidies could improve fish stocks and ocean health

UBC’s Dr. Daniel Skerritt explains how fishing subsidies limit our ability to sustainably manage our fisheries

An illustration showing birds and windows that they could potentially fly into

Why do birds fly into windows?

How can we prevent birds from flying into windows? Understanding the causes can lead to easy fixes

An illustration of a white elephant crushing a house with people under it, while a Canadian flag sits broken on the ground. This symbolizes how white supremacy and racism is damaging people.

The white elephant in the room: anti-Asian racism in Canada

UBC’s Dr. Henry Yu explains how blindness to white supremacy perpetuates anti-Asian racism in Canada

Red dresses are seen hanging on trees to commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls outside the City Hall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on May 5, 2021. May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, also known as Red Dress Day.

Two years after the MMIWG report, targeted work must move urgently ahead

Urgent and purposeful attention is needed to respond to the appalling reality of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)

A trail between large trees in Pacific Spirt Park, an urban forest in Vancouver

How cities can avoid “green gentrification” and make urban forests accessible

UBC’s Dr. Lorien Nesbitt explains how urban trees and parks are unfairly distributed, and the nature experience is not equal for everyone

A bottle of prescription pills to treat a chronic disease.

3 lessons the COVID-19 pandemic can teach us about preventing chronic diseases

Learnings from COVID-19 can improve the prevention of heart disease, diabetes and mood disorders in our communities

A river and mountain in Banff National Park, Canada, a place protected by conservation measures

How to meet the ambitious target of conserving 30 per cent of Earth by 2030

Canada’s new conservation goal, 30 by 30, requires innovative action to protect natural areas

A man holds a #StopAsianHate sign at a large rally

As Asian Canadian scholars, we must #StopAsianHate by fighting all forms of racism

Exploring the structural roots of anti-Asian racism in Canada and the road ahead

Two men embrace in a bed

Why some straight men have sex with other men

UBC’s Dr. Tony Silva explains why sexual identities don’t always match with sexual behaviours

Illustration showing how pollination works with insects, and how it leads to fruit and vegetables

How fruits and vegetables have sex

What exactly is pollination? UBC’s Dr. Claire Kremen breaks it down

An illustration showing how insect biodiversity affects the foods we eat

With biodiversity under siege, even blueberries and chocolate could be at risk

When pollinators like native bees are threatened, so is the abundance and diversity of foods we eat

A medical professional gives a COVID-19 vaccination to a senior

Protection provided by COVID-19 vaccination

UBC vaccine expert Anna Blakney addresses the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and choosing among them

An illustration showing life after the COVID-19 vaccine, including children visiting with grandparents and a plane leaving for a vacation destination

Life after COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccine researcher Anna Blakney answers questions about travel and transmission after vaccination

Illustration showing population groups that are not yet approved for the COVID-19 vaccine, including children and pregnant women

COVID-19 vaccinations, pregnancy and kids

A UBC vaccine expert explains why there’s no vaccine for these groups yet

A medical professional gives a COVID-19 vaccine to an adult

How vaccines work

UBC vaccine expert Anna Blakney explains how vaccines work and what to consider when deciding whether to get vaccinated

Two women laugh together at an office

Women feel better when they work with other women

Equitable and gender-friendly work environments reduce unpleasant feelings for women

A black family with a mother, father and three daughters sit beside one another on the porch.

To understand BC’s Black history, connect past and present in Canada

BC’s Black community is unique amid the Black population in Canada and Canadians have a collective knowledge gap about its history

A photo illustration of the mental health toll that the pandemic is taking on individuals

Weighing the pandemic’s psychological toll

Worldwide survey seeks input on everyone’s mental health

Two syringes with the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccinations: what you need to know about the second dose

UBC’s Dr. Manish Sadarangani explains why some people are harder to vaccinate

An illustration showing COVID-19 mutations and variants

Why new COVID-19 variants are on the rise and spreading around the world

Viruses often change, and some mutations are more alarming than others

Young adults unfairly blamed for COVID-19 spread

Young adults, unfairly blamed for COVID-19 spread, now face stress and uncertain futures

Stigma leads to social, health and economic distress

"The Daddies", an acrylic painting by Cree artist Kent Monkman, gives an Indigenous view of Canada's Confederation

How art can help with Indigenous reconciliation

Artist Kent Monkman, now showing at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, is changing the way people see Canadian history

A library bookmobile in an empty alley

Making the most of neglected urban spaces

You might be surprised at how people could transform pockets of city land