The Vancouver Institute

Since 1916, the Vancouver Institute has brought the University of British Columbia and Vancouver community together through free public lectures and discussions. Driven by volunteer membership and donations, the Institute hosts influential academics and political leaders from around the world. The Global Reporting centre is proud to partner with The Vancouver Institute. In collaboration, both organizations support interdisciplinary ideas and a strong, community-driven culture at UBC.

To contact us, please email or leave us a message at 604-822-8061 and we will call you back.

Upcoming Vancouver Institute Events

Pavane for a Red Infanta: How the Huawei Affair Exposed the Frailties in Sino-Canadian Relations

Jonathan Manthorpe has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for Southam News, the Toronto Star, andthe Vancouver Sun. He is a founding columnist with Facts and Opinions, and contributor to iPolitics. Mathorpe's talk will include a conversation with Dr. Paul Evans, HSBC Chair in Asian Research and Professor in the UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs.

Uncovering Global “Forever Chemical” Contamination: Legal, Regulatory, and Scientific Challenges

Robert Bilott gained international prominence by raising awareness and exposing the global environmental contamination produced by highly toxic fluorinated chemicals (“forever chemicals”) associated with the production of Teflon. His book Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle against DuPont (2019) is a personal account of the litigation process leading to DuPont ceasing production and use of “forever chemicals” in 2013, and was also the inspiration for the feature film, Dark Waters (2019) and the documentary, The Devil We Know (2018).

Indigenous Perspectives of History: Story as Repository

Dr. Deanna Reder’s research focuses on Indigenous literature and literary history. A Cree-Métis scholar, she is a founding member of the Indigenous Literary Studies Association (ILSA), co-chair of the Indigenous Voices Awards, and the Editor for the Indigenous Studies Series at Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Dr. Reder was the winner of the 2013 Canadian Literature Essay Prize for “Thinking Together: A Forum on Jo-Ann Episkenew’s Taking Back Our Spirits: Indigenous Literature, Public Policy and Healing.”

An Evening with the UBC Opera Ensemble, Directed by Nancy Hermiston

Professor Hermiston is a distinguished opera singer, stage director and educator. She debuted in New York at Carnegie Hall, and her European début led to a permanent engagement with the prestigious Nürnberg Opera. She has held numerous appointments as voice teacher and as stage director at the Meistersinger Konservatorium, Nürnberg, and the University of Toronto Opera and Performance Divisions.

Baby Bugs to Aging Bugs: Exploring the Microbes Pivotal to a Healthy Long Life

Brett Finlay’s research is at the forefront of the field of cellular microbiology, making several fundamental discoveries in this area that have made him recipient of numerous prestigious awards. Jessica M. Finlay specializes in environmental gerontology and clinical geography. She has authored publications in leading health, geography, and gerontology journals.

About the Vancouver Institute

A Short History

The Vancouver Institution was established in February 1916, just five months after the opening of UBC. At this time, the Institute was known for its “town and gown” concept—local citizens could join with academics at UBC to organize, promote, sponsor, host, and present various lectures.

Behind this bridging model were three influential individuals: Lemuel Robertson, Associate Professor of Classics at UBC and Chairman of the Archaeological Institute; Frank Wesbrook, the University’s first president; and S.D. Scott, editor of the Vancouver News-Advertiser.

The Institute holds its lectures at UBC during the fall and spring academic terms, increasing community engagement with each year. Recently, the Institute has been fortunate enough to cosponsor speakers with several lectureship committees, such as Cecil and Ida Green, Leon and Thea Koerner, Dal Grauer, J.V. Clyne, E.S. Woodward, The Vancouver Sun, and External Affairs Canada.

The most celebrated speaker at the Institute was the Dalai Lama, who attracted around 10,000 people. Other notable past presenters include French academician Claude Levi-Strauss, Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, and several Nobel Laureates.


Please note: Given the COVID-19 situation lectures are not taken place at UBC campus this fall 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do the VI lectures take place?

Given the COVID-19 situation, lectures will not take place on UBC campus this fall 2020. Lectures will be delivered via Zoom Webinar. The link to the lecture will be:

(1) delivered to you via email if you are a member,

(2) posted here and the Institute Facebook page

(3) published the Thursday prior to the lecture in the Vancouver Sun.

Do I need a VI membership if I want to attend the lectures?

You do not need to be a member of the Vancouver Institute; however, they are an all-volunteer organization and greatly appreciate your financial support. The cost of your membership and any donations are tax-deductible. Please direct all questions on how to apply for membership to

How will I receive my membership card?

Once we have received your payment, we will issue a tax receipt and a membership card and mail both to you.

Can I pay for my membership when I attend the VI lecture?

This fall we will not be taken payment in person. You can pay online here.

Become a member/donor

You can purchase a membership or make a donation by visiting our profile at CanadaHelps. You can also click here to download a PDF version of our membership application form or a Word Document version. These forms can be used for main in membership requests and donations.

Become a sponsor

The Vancouver Institute is a volunteer-led organization that has been running since 1916 on with the help of voluntary yearly subscriptions and welcome donations from public-minded citizens. You are invited to contribute to the sustainability of The Institute and support its lecture series by becoming a sponsor of the institute on an annual basis. All donations are tax-deductible. To learn more about how to become a sponsor please download our sponsorship guide here.

Download our 2021 Spring Program

Follow the link to download a PDF copy of our program.

Archive of Past Lectures

Click here to access the video archive of past lectures.

Contact Us

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Phone: (604) 822-8061