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.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: It is with great regret that we announce that the remaining lectures of the 2020 Spring series have been CANCELLED.

There will be no lectures on March 14, 21 and 28. We will reschedule the presentations for the 2021 lectures series.

Past important lectures:

Dealing with SARS
by Brett Finlay and David Patrick, March 13, 2004

Plagues… Then and Now
by Dr. Daniel Calla, February 22, 2020

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.


The lectures are in Lecture Hall No. 2 in the Woodward Instructional Resources Centre, University of British Columbia at 2194 Health Sciences Mall. For an interactive map please click here.

When necessary, neighbouring overflow halls in the Centre, with closed-circuit TV, are used and the speaker visits each hall during the question period. Seats in the front half of the main hall are reserved for members until fifteen minutes before the starting time, and a few seats are reserved for specific people. Seating is otherwise first-come, first-served.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do the VI lectures take place?

In Lecture Hall No. 2, Woodward Instructional Resources Centre, UBC, 2194 Health Sciences Mall (located close to UBC Hospital)

How do I get there with public transit?

Lecture Hall No. 2 at the Woodward Instructional Resources Centre is close to the UBC Exchange loop. The closest bus stops are located at University Boulevard. They are: #4, #9, #14 and #258. Click here for a map.

Where is the closest parking?

Please see the UBC parking website at The Health Sciences parkade is the closest; the street address is 2250 Health Sciences Mall V6T 1Z3

When do the doors to the Lecture Hall open?

Doors open at 7:30pm.

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 the Vancouver Institute Facebook page:

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?

Yes, you can become a member or donate at the front desk before or after a lecture. We only accept cash and cheques. Your tax receipt and membership card will be mailed to you later.

Are seats at the lectures reserved for members?

Please bring your membership card to lectures for pre-8pm seating. After that time, seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Is the lecture hall accessible?

A footprint map (entrances and accessibility information) can be found here.

(1) The main entrance to the Instructional Resources Centre (and Woodward Library) is on the north side of the building in the Health Sciences Courtyard, but this entrance is inaccessible due to a pyramid staircase. The main accessible entrance is further east, also on the north side of the building, towards the northeast corner. This entrance is level and accessible and has a power door.

(2) A second accessible entrance to the building is on the south side of the building on Hospital Lane which runs between the UBC Hospital and the Instructional Resources Centre. This entrance is level and accessible and has a power door.

(3) A third accessible entrance is on the east side of the building in a treed area opposite the Macdonald Building and south of the Friedman Building. This entrance is level and accessible and has heavy manual doors.

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 2020 Spring Program

Click here for a printer-friendly version of our Spring 2020 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