We are hiring and growing!

Join the UBC IdeasXChange Team. Deadline: October 3

How to apply:

Fill out the application form (required) and send us a short resume (optional)

See the HIRING PACKAGE HERE for more details on all of the executive volunteer positions below.

About the magazine and contributing writers

Those who qualify will write articles in one or several of the following categories: foreign affairs, sustainability, environment, social issues, science and business. Individuals may also write in other categories if they have a special expertise they want to bring to our attention.

If interested, send an email to contact@ideasxchange.org along with a resume and a couple of links to previously published articles. Post-secondary writing assignments are also welcome – more details to come.

ABOUT THE IDEASXCHANGE HUB: Innovation workshops and forums

The unprecedented issues of today inspire us to connect minds and spread knowledge through talks and workshops.

We believe that many of today’s social, economic, and environmental challenges are all interconnected. Solving them will require innovation and collaboration.

We host interactive workshops and panels on a wide range of social, economic, and environmental themes by bringing together some of the brightest minds in their respective fields. Attendees come from diverse backgrounds. By joining our events you will learn and connect with other like-minded people.


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Note: From January until June 2015, our events were promoted under “Values in Perspective”. We have since changed our name to IdeasXChange.

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Panelists | Knowledge Experts

Our panelists have ranged from community leaders, CEOs of social enterprises, ecological economists, food security and international development experts, and policy makers.

In 2015, IdeasXChange hosted six events that brought together 28 panelists from many industries and interest groups. This included social sustainability, food security, ecological economics, corporate social responsibility, international aid, and green technology/green economy. See more here.

Workshops | Connecting Minds

Our workshops connect students, academia, and practitioners at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada.

Often times we host them after panel discussions because we want to give everyone the chance to exchange ideas and foster a space for innovative thinking. Our events are unique as we give you the chance to connect with other like-minded people and the changemakers of tomorrow.


IdeasXChange has been awarded four grants by the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2015-16.

A new study says use of high-potency cannabis damages a key part of the brain – causing psychosis

A study published online in Psychological Medicine looked at the effects of skunk – a potent form of cannabis with stronger smell and containing higher levels of the main active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – on the brain.

Various sources such as Forbes however, have pointed out this is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. Which condition exists first, the psychotic symptoms or the marijuana smoking?

A team at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London in the UK, found the use of skunk to correlate with damage to the– an important part of the brain responsible for communication between the left and right hemisphere.

The study says the use of this potent form of pot is linked to psychotic symptoms. A previous study from King’s College linked the use of skunk to a fivefold increased risk of psychosis – a term which describes hallucinations and delusions from mental disorders, such as schizophrenia.

The team looked at about 100 individuals, about half with psychotic symptoms and the other half with no symptoms of psychosis. They gathered information regarding their past use of cannabis and other recreational drugs.

Image: cannabis leaf. Courtesy of: www.morguefile.com

Those with a history of frequent use of high-potency cannabis showed signs of white matter damage in their corpus callosum – an area of the brain with greater cannabinoid receptors, which targets THC.

The study states :  “Frequent use of high-potency cannabis is associated with disturbed callosal microstructural organization in individuals with and without psychosis. Since high-potency preparations are now replacing traditional herbal drugs in many European countries, raising awareness about the risks of high-potency cannabis is crucial.”

Asteroid mining now legal – for the US

Private US companies can now mine asteroids for minerals, despite it violating a major treaty of space laws. This came after the signing of a major bill by United States President Barack Obama.

Image courtesy of: NASA

The bill called the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, allows US citizens to obtain, own and mine asteroids. This law makes it easier for private American companies to explore and obtain space resources commercially. Until now, nobody could claim commercial ownership of any space material.

The bill states: “A United States citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource under this chapter shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States.”

Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resource – an American company aiming to make profits from asteroid mining – said in a statement, “this is the single greatest recognition of property rights in history … this legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and will encourage the sustained development of space.”

In 1967, the US wrote and signed the Outer Space Treaty along with 124 other countries – it states “celestial bodies,” including the moon may not be claimed by or owned by any nation.

Register for the 2016 Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair!

Image: Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair Logo

Are you a student or have a child in Grade 7 to 12?

Students are encouraged to apply and present their projects in their school-run science fair where teachers will select students to represent their school at the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair in April, 2016.

About 350 students will present their projects at the GVRSF. Projects will include areas of discovery, health, energy, innovation, environment and resources.

Top cash prices are valued at over $30,000, other awards will include travel awards, scholarships and trophies – 17 students will also earn spots to the 2016 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

Three types of projects will be accepted: experiment – an investigation to test a scientific hypothesis; innovation – the development and evaluation of innovative technology, models or techniques; study: a collection and analysis of data revealing evidence of a situation or fact, or a study of cause and effect relationships or theoretical investigation.

Application deadline is at 3:00pm March 8, 2016.

For more information on registration and application guidelines click here.

Ecological Economics Panel Discussion + Workshop

Note: From January until June 2015, our events were promoted under “Values in Perspective”. We have since changed our name to IdeasXChange.

March 17, 2015: Over 50 participants – ranging from UBC students and faculty, practitioners and community members joined some of Vancouver’s most known ecological economists for a discussion on how to move towards more sustainable models to drive the economy.

As the discussion around the environment increases, some economists and scholars are challenging the very foundations of economic models created to distribute resources. They are doing this through a new discipline called ecological economics.

After the panel discussion, a participant shares how to move towards a more sustainable economic model

What is Ecological Economics?

Ecological economics aims to improve and expand economic theory – the distribution of resources in an efficient way – to include the earth’s natural systems, human values and human well-being. These are factors that some say are often times excluded from traditional economic models. Most economists refer to these costs as “externalities.” Ecological economists want to change that model.

The concept of ecological economics encompasses topics including, but not limited to:

Interdisciplinary thinking – the environment (e.g. earth, biosphere), social issues (e.g. poverty, inequality), time (e.g. long term impact of human activities) and sustainable development all form part of ecological economics. It is a model that challenges the focus on human-made capital (money).

Planetary boundaries – economies should respect biophysical limits. Economic growth is not sustainable because the Earth and its resources has limits.

Sustainability – ecological economists generally reject that all natural capital (e.g. water, arable land, species) can be substituted or purchased by human-made capital. There is a focus to preserve and protect resources instead of depleting them.

Environmental economics is not the same as ecological economics.

Environmental economics is the mainstream model that essentially puts a price on natural capital (e.g. resources). Ecological economics instead has a strong emphasis on sustainability and sees the economy as a subsystem of the environment.

Panel discussion: Moving towards a more sustainable economic model

Three of Vancouver’s most known ecological economists joined a diverse audience to address how society, individuals and policy makers can move towards more sustainable and inclusive economic models.

The panelists included:

Tom Green: Vancouver-based ecological economist with a PhD (UBC). Associate Faculty with at Royal Roads University, visiting faculty at SFU, former post doc at Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Michelle Molnar: Economist at the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF), and VP for Programs at the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics (CANSEE). Professor at BCIT, MA (Public Policy), MA (Philosophy); BA (Economics & Philosophy).

Michael Barkusky: BA (Honours) in Economics; MBA, and the CGA designation (since 1985). He is the Secretary-Treasurer of CANSEE. Diverse experience in a wide range of sectors as an employee and entrepreneur.

After panel introductions and a question and answer period, participants worked together through breakout sessions on how to move towards more sustainable economic models – from a local, international, policy and corporate perspective.

Food Security Panel + Workshop

Note: From January until June 2015, our events were promoted under “Values in Perspective”. We have since changed our name to IdeasXChange.

March 3, 2015: Approximately 30 participants from UBC and the community joined four insightful panelists for a workshop on food security hosted by IdeasXChange.

Panelists at IdeasXChange’s Food Security Workshop

What is Food Security?

As the number of hungry and under-nourished grow around the world, concepts of food security have changed and evolved.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.”

Panel Discussion: Local and international perspectives on access to proper nutrition

Four panelists discussed ways in which food security can be guaranteed – from a nutritional, local, international and policy perspective.

They each brought their experience on actions society and individuals can make to improve access to nutritious, sustainable and cultural appropriate foodstuffs.

The panelists included:

Karly Pinch: Community organization and Coordinator for the Vancouver Urban Farming Society. Pinch touched on supporting local food systems

Karen Giesbrecht: Registered dietitian with Planted, a community food network. Giesbrecht spoke on the securing access to nutritious foodstuffs, and vulnerable populations.

Stephanie Lim: Coordinator at the Renfrew Collingwood Food Security Institute. Lim noted the importance of local and community food initiatives and the role that policy plays.

Jill Guerra: MA, interdisciplinary background. Guerra shared with the audience her research on the intersection of sustainable agriculture initiatives, food security & poverty reduction, with a focus in Latin America.

After a short question and answer period, participants split into different breakout sessions and got a chance to interact closely with other attendees and panelists.

Light therapy effective for depression: study

A new study from the University of British Columbia has found light therapy to be effective in treating non-seasonal depression.

“These results are very exciting because light therapy is inexpensive, easy to access and use and comes with few side effects,” says Dr. Raymond Lam in a statement, a UBC professor and psychiatrist at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.

It is the first placebo-controlled trial that shows light therapy to treat depression not brought on by seasonal affective disorder – a type of depression associated with late autumn and winter caused by a lack of light.

Lam and his colleagues followed 122 patients and evaluated whether light therapy improved their mood when it was used both with and without the commonly prescribed antidepressant fluoxetine.

The research involved light therapy exposure with a fluorescent light box for 30 minutes soon after waking up every day for two months.

A group of participants were given placebo pills and devices instead of real therapies. Researchers found those taking light therapy had improved mood and provided the most benefits taken alongside antidepressants.

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability with one in 20 people suffering from the ailment worldwide. Medications alone are effective but only in about 60 per cent of cases, according to researchers.

Lam says, “it’s important to find new treatments because our current therapies don’t work for everyone. Our findings should help to improve the lives of people with depression.”

IdeasXChange Hub: Social Sustainability Workshop (2015)

Note: From January until June 2015, our events were promoted under “Values in Perspective”. We have since changed our name to IdeasXChange.

On February 24, 2015, IdeasXChange launched its sustainability workshop series with over 30 participants and five well-respected community leaders as panelists. The theme of discussion: social sustainability.

About 30 participants including UBC students and community members gathered at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre to hear about what social sustainability means to some of Vancouver’s community leaders.

Patti Bacchus – Vancouver School Board Trustee. One of the five panelists that joined IdeasXChange’s workshop.

But what is social sustainability?

One of the most well-known definitions includes environmental, economic and social sustainability.

The concept of “social sustainability” encompasses topics such as:

Social equity – a state in which all members of a group or society have the same status in certain areas, including civil rights, freedom of speech and property rights among others.

Community development – a process where members of a community come together to take action and generate solutions to common problems.

Social capital – the expected economic or collective benefits from the preferential treatment and cooperation between people and groups.

Human rights – rights that are believed to belong justifiably to every person.

Labour rights – a group of legal rights relating to labour relations between workers and employers.

Panel Discussion: From addressing poverty to finding solutions

Five panelists addressed social sustainability from different perspectives – from working side-by-side with Vancouver’s poor population, to finding solutions through social enterprises and advocating for greater access to education and legal representation.

The panelists included:

Jeff Baergen – community and engagement director at the UGM – a charity organization in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Tara Taylor – Manager at Potluck Catering and Recipes for success – a social enterprise that provides opportunities for those who face employment barriers

Marcia Nozick – CEO of EMBERS – a social enterprise that offers economic and employment opportunities to individuals and advice for companies

Cherie Payne – a former Vancouver School Board member and advocacy lawyer

Patti Bacchus – an elected Vancouver School Board Trustee and active player in the field of local education

For information on our other workshops follow this link.

The debate over a “mini ice age” in 2030

Warnings of a “mini ice age” have circulated the media. The news came after researcher Valentina Zharkova, a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University in England, looked further into variations in solar radiations predicting a significant drop of 60% in solar activity between 2030 and 2040.

It was first noticed by scientists about 170 years ago that the Sun’s activity varies over a cycle lasting around 10 to 12 years. Cycles do vary, but researches have yet to create a model that fully explains these fluctuations.

“The waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that out predictions showed an accuracy of 97%,” said Zharkova in a statement.

During Cycle 26, which covers the decade from 2030 to 2040, the two waves will become out of sync – causing a significant reduction in solar activity.

Image: Yohkoh/ISAS/Lockheed-Martin/NAOJ/U. Tokyo/NASA.

“When they are out of phase, we have solar minimums. When there is a full phase separation, we have conditions last seen during the Maunder minimum, 370 years ago,” explains Zharkova.

The Maunder minimum was a period in the 1600’s and early 1700’s of the “Little Ice Age” – a period that coincided with Europe and North America experiencing cooler than average temperatures.

Professor at the University of British Columbia Dr. John Innes, doesn’t think we should be jumping to any conclusions, “the direct link between the minimum in sunspot activity and the temperature cooling is not quite so definite.”

Innes explains in an email statement that there may have been other factors at work during the Maunder minimum, such as increased volcanic activity, which would have generated ash that reduced the amount of energy reaching the Earth’s surface.

“They are virtually all based on models, and models are often wrong …  the idea is interesting, and worth looking at more carefully,” says Innes.

The UBC Innovation Expo: exploring social entrepreneurship

Watch IdeasXChange visit the Innovation Expo hosted by the UBC Social Enterprise club. The theme: social entrepreneurship – drawing business techniques to find solutions to social problems.

We also got the chance to chat with Marcia Nozick, CEO of EMBERS – a community economic development charity.