Ken Coates

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Ken Coates is a rare public commentator who brings deep understanding of past and present realities together with compelling ideas about Canada’s future. His passionate and highly engaging talks have captivated diverse audiences across the country, from college administrators and economic development officers to Aboriginal entrepreneurs and community activists. Ken is Canada’s Research Chair in Regional Innovation and brings his experience in East Asia and around the Circumpolar world to bear on his understanding of Canada’s strengths and weaknesses. Ken combines irreverence, insight and a sense of humor in his conversations about the issues that matter most to Canadians.

Career paranoia, Aboriginal rights, technological innovations and the natural resource economy are the forces that Ken Coates thinks are transforming Canada. These are troubled times, in some quarters, as young adults struggle to find opportunities and as digital innovations chip away at this country’s most secure jobs. At the same time, scientific discoveries are shaking the foundations of modern life, just as natural resource developments sustain Canada’s high standard of living. Ken is Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan campus.

Ken appears regularly on various media platforms and is a prolific writer. Two of his books, Campus Confidential and What to Consider When You Are Considering University, generated a great amount of discussion on the role of Canadian post-secondary education.

His 2015 book #IdleNoMore: And the Remaking of Canada, offers an optimistic view on the opportunity for real improvements in the lives of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people. His 2016 release Dream Factories: Why Universities Won’t Solve the Youth Jobs Crisis argues that the over-promotion of higher education and university degrees is actually undermining the lives of young people, saddling them with enormous debts, and costing governments huge amounts of money.

He has served in various academic capacities over his career including: Founding Vice-President (Academic) at the University of Northern British Columbia; Dean, College of Arts and Science, University of Saskatchewan; Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of New Brunswick and Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Waterloo. Ken is a high-energy speaker and does a great job of keeping audience members engaged and entertained. He encourages questions and thoroughly enjoys conversations during or after events.

Ricardo Ibarra