When Mai was in Thailand working on her PhD on the impact of tourism development on shorebirds, a hitman murdered her friend, a local environmental activist in the tiny fishing village they lived in. He had been fighting to prevent industrial shrimp farming and a coal power plant from encroaching on their coast. Mai’s supervisor told her it happened a lot to silence dissenting voices. The financial incentive could outweigh anything else.

Until this point, Mai’s research had involved documenting the precise decline of wildlife populations. But was this helpful? She recognized that the barrier to conserving species wasn’t biological data or knowledge—the real challenge was in designing social systems that prioritized conservation. She started asking questions like, How do you design systems so that people are autonomously motivated to engage in conservation? And, How do you make the incentive to conserve bigger than monetary incentives?

She was also asking herself, What am I going to do with my life now?

After going through such a life-changing event, what did you do?

I started taking mini-steps towards a career change—one that would shift my research to the psychology of how to motivate people to conserve natural habitats. I needed to find a place that would let me work in social sciences and hold on to my NSERC grant in natural sciences. That’s why I joined Project Seahorse at the UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. There I examined the social, ecological and economic impacts of community-based marine reserves in the Philippines. These  marine reserves are managed by small-scale fishing villages.

The people there were so on board to conserve, without an obvious incentive of economic gain. We often think that in conservation, people who don’t have a lot of money are only motivated by money…but that is super simplistic. Because of course they are motivated by a wide range of values. These values include friendships, environmental ethics, hope, empowerment and social capital.

I also recently studied inter-generational farmers in Tasmania, an island state of Australia. I explored what motivated landowners to engage in conservation even if it meant incurring significant personal financial costs.

How does all this relate to your teaching? 

In Communities and Conservation, we look at how to engage small communities, like fishers or farmers, in conservation. Or if they are already engaging in conservation, how to not get in their way or unintentionally thwart their autonomous motivation. 

Better understanding and solving conservation challenges is all about taking an interdisciplinary approach—wildlife management is really about managing people. This includes the role of the government in both encouraging conservation and not suppressing it.  

I also teach a Field Course in Brooks Peninsula called Exploring the Ecological Self, where we study some of the psychological impacts of spending time in nature. Students spend 12 days on the beach immersed in contemporary scientific papers about what’s happening to their minds. 

What’s your pedagogic approach?

I ask students to critically examine their own values and beliefs, and to try to see their own blind-spots. We roleplay and I cast them in characters with very different world views and experiences than they might be used to. We talk about various scenarios and weigh the ecological or social impacts of management decisions. For instance, a dentist kills a rhino for sport, but the hunting fees pay for conservation in the area. Or what about putting a casino in a park? What if it’s run by the Indigenous community? We likely have visceral reactions to some of these things, but we need to ask ourselves where that comes from rather than having a black and white perspective about what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Perhaps these exercises help students have a more nuanced perspective.

Emotionally engaging students is key. If they are having a full body experience—if they are frustrated, sad, stressed or laughing—they will learn more, change more.

I hope they learn to see complexity, to doubt their own perspective, and to really listen to other people.

After a string of losses in 2017, what will happen to ISIS? And how should the world combat the Jihadist group? We check in with counter-terrorism expert Doug Munroe to find out.

What do we get right and wrong about ISIS?

For many, ISIS has become synonymous with terror, with pilots burned alive, men beheaded on video, women abducted into slavery, and attacks on civilians from Brussels to Baghdad. When we see that kind of violence, we simply label it terrorism, which influences our approach. With ISIS, this was a mistake. To be sure, ISIS commits acts of terror, but it also behaves very much like a classic guerrilla force. It has territorial ambitions and wants to create a state. The signs were there from the start: in its early propaganda videos, ISIS could be seen bulldozing the border signs that divide Syria from Iraq.

2017 was not a good year for ISIS, whose aim is to establish a global caliphate based on extremist Islamist ideology. By November, it had been defeated in Syria and Iraq. Canada and the US played important roles, launching air strikes and arming the Iraqi forces that led the battle. But we may have had more success earlier if we had done a better job understanding ISIS. We’re always running one year behind, because we miscalculate what they’re about and what they’re going to do next. We suddenly found ourselves confronting a well-organized, hostile state-like entity that had already made serious inroads, which made for a tougher and more drawn-out fight.

Do the defeats of 2017 mean we’ve seen the end of ISIS? 

No. If we act like the problem has been taken care of because we denied them territory, that will be another mistake. Part of what makes ISIS so dangerous is that its commanders have a high degree of military skill, developed over a decade of warfare. They likely foresaw that they would lose territory and knew they could not withstand a ground assault backed by the firepower of the US-led air forces in Iraq and Syria, and the Russian air force in Syria. The leader, al-Baghdadi, is still alive. And ISIS is pushing into countries where the opposition is weaker than in Iraq and Syria and that are plagued by chaos, such as Yemen, Afghanistan and Libya.

It’s also important to distinguish between local military capability and global symbolic power. ISIS’s ability to field large numbers of organized fighters, acquire or manufacture weapons, hold territory, and engage in sustained combat is clearly diminishing. The global symbolic power of its black flag and rhetoric is not necessarily affected, however, and since some propaganda, recruitment, training and logistics require less infrastructure, its capacity to inspire—and provide material support to—affiliates around the world is likely to endure. It may even be slightly enhanced as foreign fighters return to their home countries, which could be anywhere from France and Germany to Algeria and Lebanon. Complex attacks like the ones we saw in Paris in 2015 may diminish as ISIS tries to keep a lower profile to avoid detection. Lone-wolf attacks, which by definition don’t need coordination, are likely to be less deadly but harder to predict.

What is the best strategy now?

The main challenge is the larger political and social turmoil from which such violence emerges. Recapturing the city of Mosul took a major effort on the part of the Iraqi army, but restoring functional, inclusive and legitimate governance will be a bigger problem. Sustained effort to deny ISIS safe havens from which to operate needs to be backed by a long-term effort to build stable states in those places.

In terms of terror attacks, the question now is how to deal with ISIS fighters who are returning from Iraq and Syria. Some of these individuals need help, some need to be closely watched, some could be very useful sources of intelligence—and some will be in all three categories. Governments must continue to invest in counterterrorism machinery, but it’s also essential to keep the risk of terrorism in perspective. In the US, far more people are killed and injured by non-terrorist gunfire. I like to say that if the first casualty of war is the truth, the first casualty of terrorism is perspective.

Teaching Matters Seminar Series

Quest Mathematics Tutor, Richard Hoshino, was part of the Teaching Matters Seminar Series at Simon Fraser University. Richard’s talk on March 6 was focused on the idea: “I Wish My Final Exam Could Be…”

Richard and his co-presenter, Veselin Jungic, Department of Mathematics at SFU, imagined what their final exam would look like if there were no constraints on time and resources.

Read the full story about the Seminar Series.

University: UBC (BSc), SFU (Master of Public Health & PhD in Health Sciences)

Twitter: @MsAllieCarter 

What’s your Question, Allie?

I’d say it’s How can we create enabling social conditions so women living with HIV can have the sexual life they want?

Right now, the discourse around HIV is all about fear, stigma, and how not to transmit or acquire the virus. While prevention is important, it’s not the only thing that matters.

In my PhD work, I’m trying to broaden the sexual health discourse to include more positive aspects, like sexual pleasure, love and intimate connection to help destigmatize and normalize sexuality for women with HIV.

The latest science shows that for people taking HIV medication today who are adherent and have a low viral load, the risk of transmitting it to someone through condomless sex is 0%. Zero. Or as they say: undetectable = untransmittable.

And yet pursuing and experiencing positive and rewarding aspects of sexuality remains a significant challenge for many women with HIV, owing to persistent stigma, discrimination and criminalization of the disease in society.

Enough already! We have an opportunity today, because of medicine and years of community advocacy, to view HIV as just another disease and make a positive difference in women’s sexual health and rights.

Tell me more about your Phd research.

My involvement in HIV research began in 2011, when I was a research coordinator for the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS, www.chiwos.ca).

During the five years I worked on the study, we hired and trained 40 women living with HIV across Canada as peer research associates to recruit and interview over 1,400 women living with HIV in British Columbia, Ontario and Québec.

It’s a longitudinal study, involving surveys at baseline and every 18 months to see how health outcomes change over time and identify both health-enhancing and health-inhibiting factors. Our goal is to inform innovative, women-centred social policy and service interventions.

Over these years of working together, it became increasingly clear that the sexual needs of women living with HIV were largely ignored in research, policy and practice. So, when I began my PhD in 2015, I set out to learn more about women’s diverse experiences with sex, love and relationships, looking at how historical, cultural and structural factors shape and constrain their intimate lives.

What classes are you teaching at Quest? 

Last fall, I taught Epidemiology, where students got to be disease detectives and design their own health study. Right now, I’m teaching Social Determinants of Health, and students are learning about the role social, cultural, economic and political factors have on health and health equity.

What advice would you give a student taking your class? 

If you’re comfortable, you’re not learning. In my classes, we tackle challenging subject matters in relation to health such as racism, gender marginalization and income inequality. While these issues can bring up strong emotions, I am a firm believer that we can’t get to a better place without talking about them. So I encourage my students to actively engage and ask hard questions of themselves and me. Their critical thinking is quite impressive, and I learn as much from them as they learn from me

Why did you choose to teach at Quest? What are the students like? 

If I can be honest, I almost didn’t apply for the position, as I didn’t think I had 100% of the qualifications. But it just so happened I was reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book at the time, called Lean In. In it, she talks about how women consistently underestimate themselves and encouraged a shift in thinking from “I’m not ready to do that” to “I want to that—and I’ll learn by doing it.” So here I am, teaching at Quest. And it has been a challenging but meaningful experience thus far. The class sizes are small, the courses are intensive and the pedagogy is strongly oriented toward interactive learning. The students in my classes come from both the basic sciences and the humanities. They bring in a rich diversity of perspectives and are engaged learners, which is great as I often have them working through problem-solving and practice-oriented assignments.

For example, in my recent class, students worked in teams of five to conduct their own empirical research on one health outcome of relevance to population/public health and three key social determinants of health (we had five teams in total, so five diverse health topics). As a class, we designed one collective online survey tool and distributed it to the entire campus community. A total of 221 student, faculty, and staff participated! In addition to critically assessing what social determinants matter for physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing of populations, the goal was to help students gain practical knowledge of the research process, from designing their own research question, through gathering and analyzing data, to disseminating their results. Next Monday, we are hosting “Quest’s Next Top Researcher,” a 5-minute research competition where they will present their findings. All Quest students, faculty and staff can attend to learn about health at Quest and to celebrate undergraduate student research.

If you had 3 words or fewer to describe your teaching style? 

Interdisciplinary, Intersectional, Inquiry-based

MATH: the bigger picture

At Quest, math isn’t just about memorizing equations and numbers —  it’s about seeing the bigger picture.

Richard Hoshino, award-winning Quest Math Tutor, speaks on his Quest experience, and how mathematics relates to everyday life through communication and problem-solving skills.

Also featured is Quest student and member of the Leaders in Elite Athletics & Performance Program, Jeneva Beairsto, for her creative and valuable Keystone project. Jeneva addressed the issue of travel fare inequality by creating an optimal pricing formula that will be implemented by the Vancouver transit system.

Video created by Quest student Ben Grayzel




Wildfires Aren’t Just a Land Thing

Marine ecologist Dr. Tse-Lynn Loh, a Quest visiting tutor in the Life Sciences, contributed to an article on the impact of wildfires on marine life. The article, published on the Oceana blog, discussed how smoke and ash that billow from a blaze can change water quality in streams, rivers, and oceans, and could have major effects on marine ecosystems.

In the Kitchen with Dr. Maï Yasué

This week the Bowen Island Undercurrent published an article on Dr. Maï Yasué’s kitchen, cooking, and recipes. Dr. Yasué is a Social Sciences Tutor in environmental studies at Quest University Canada.

Read More…


Last month three Quest math tutors presented at the Canadian Mathematical Society’s 2016 Winter Conference which took place in Niagara Falls, Ontario from December 2­–5. Glen Van Brummelen gave the Education plenary, History for the Future: Heavenly Storytelling in the Mathematics Classroom. Also presenting were Sarah Mayes-Tang, Betti tables of graded systems of ideals and Richard Hoshino, Inspiring Change Through Linear Algebra and Solving Quadratic Optimization Problems using the Cauchy-Schwarz Inequality.

Graduation 2016

Graduation Ceremonies
April 30, 2016



Master Of Ceremonies
Kaija Belfry Munroe, Faculty Tutor, Social Sciences

Squamish Nation Welcome
Chris Syeta’xtn Lewis, Councillor, Squamish Nation

Chancellor’s Welcome
Daniel Birch, Chancellor

Graduating Class Speaker
Natalie Douglas

Commencement Address
Richard Hoshino, Faculty Tutor, Mathematics

Presentation Of The Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts & Sciences
Ryan Derby-Talbot, Chief Academic Officer

Conferral Of Degrees
Daniel Birch, Chancellor

Welcome To The Alumni
Peter Englert, President & Vice-Chancellor 

Music Performed By
Black Tusk Caledonia
I Tromboni
Michaela Slinger

President’s Lecture Series

“The West Beyond the West: Interdisciplinary Research on the Quest for Ancient Egypt’s Relations with Central Africa”

Dr. Thomas Schneider

Professor of Egyptology and Near Eastern Studies

Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies

University of British Columbia

Thursday, April 14th at 4:30PM

Thomas Schneider earned his degrees (Lizentiat, doctorate, and habilitation in Egyptology) from the University of Basel. He has published widely in his main areas of research—Egyptian interconnections with the Near East and North Africa, and Egyptian history and chronology—and is currently completing a monograph on the history of Egyptology in Nazi Germany. He is the founding editor and was editor-in-chief (2008–2014) of the “Journal of Egyptian History”. He was also the editor-in-chief of the series “Culture and History of the Ancient Near East” (2006–2013), and area editor of the “UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology”. He is currently editor of “Near Eastern Archaeology”. Dr. Schneider also serves as Special Advisor to the Dean and Vice-Provost, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at UBC. In 2014 he was awarded a UBC Killam Faculty Research Fellowship from the “lzaak Walton Killam Memorial Fund for Advanced Studies,” Senior Category.


President’s Lecture Series

Confucian China in a Changing World Cultural Order
Dr. Roger T. Ames

University of Hawai’i
Editor, Philosophy East and West
Chinese Philosophy (Classical Confucianism and Daoism), Comparative Philosophy

Tuesday, March 22nd at 4:30PM

Quest University Library Building
Atrium Fireside
3200 University Boulevard
Squamish, BC
Canada V8B 0N8

Roger T. Ames received his doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has been the recipient of many grants and awards, including the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching (1990-91), Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research (2012-13), and many grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He currently serves as president of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (SACP), and as editor of both “Philosophy East and West” and “China Review International”. Comparative philosophy and Confucian philosophy are his primary areas of research and he has published widely in these areas. Professor Ames often works in collaboration with other scholars to produce explicitly philosophical translations of classical texts. These have included “Confucius’ Analects”, the “Daodejing”, and most recently, the “Classic of Family Reverence”. He is presently advocating Confucian role ethics as an attempt to take this philosophical tradition on its own terms.


Peter Englert is excited by the possibilities for the young, growing university in Squamish.
Discover Squamish Magazine W15-16 / by Christine Endicott
Download Full Article Here

President’s Lecture Series Presents:
Innovation in Education: From a Māori Perspective
Dr. Piri Sciascia
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori
at the Victoria University
of Wellington, New Zealand
Friday, February 26th at 8:00 AM

Dr Sciascia will be speaking from his extensive experience in the education, promotion, and conservation of Māori arts and culture through his role as Deputy Vice Chancellor Māori at the Victoria University of Wellington, where his office seeks to maintain Māori as a dynamic influential force within the University through learning and teaching that draw from indigenous research, knowledge and methodologies.

As assistant director of the QEII Arts Council and director of the Maori Pacific Arts Council, Professor Sciascia administered the successful Te Maori exhibition, which opened in New York in 1984 and toured the United States.

He has contributed to numerous national and iwi Boards including Toi Maori Aotearoa, Maori Arts New Zealand and Dance Aotearoa New Zealand.

He has been involved in Maori performing arts for more than 40 years as a performer, composer, tutor, advisor, and leader.

Professor Sciascia is regarded by his whanau, hapu and iwi as an authority of whakapapa and tikanga Maori, and has been a prominent orator for his hapu and iwi for more than 35 years.

Career Week

Quest University Canada
Student Affairs Presents
February 15-19, 2016

This event provides students with an opportunity to attend workshops on career related topics, liaise with potential employers during the job fair (Wednesday, February 17th), and learn more about graduate school.

Each year, community, faculty, and staff members share their wisdom and experience with students by participating in panel discussions and facilitating workshops on topics related to career planning.

Community members, organizations, and businesses are invited to participate by facilitating workshops, giving presentations, or acting as vendors at our job fair. For more information or to express your interest, contact Krista Lambie at krista.lambie@questu.ca.

This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything / Film Screening
Director: Avi Lewis / Running time: 1h 29m
JAN 21, 2016 / 7:30 PM
Faculty panel: Ahalya Satkunaratnam, John Reid-Hresko, Mai Yasue, and Ian Picketts
Quest University Canada, MPR 
$10 Suggested DonationWhat if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world?
Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. Directed by Avi Lewis, and inspired by Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller This Changes Everything, the film presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond. Throughout the film, Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.
After the film, there will be a discussion with Quest faculty members Mai Yasue, Ian Picketts, John Reid-Hresko and Ahalya Satkunaratnam about the film and what can be done to limit climate change in collaboration with efforts for social justice and frontline communities.