Dr. Mark Edwards, PhD’07



Of European descent, Mark is a 7th generation settler on Turtle Island. Born in the territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Stoney-Nakoda, and the Tsuut’ina First Nations, he grew up in the Musqueam and Syilx territories. He has been honoured to live, raise his family, and work on these territories all of his life. Mark entered the academy seeking how to respond to the dark history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, how to improve the educational experiences of Indigenous students in public schools, how to advance the future flourishing of First Nations, and how, recognizing his and his family’s benefit from the racist laws of Canada, to do something about it. His work in the Faculty of Education is, in part, a response. With gratitude and humility, Mark acknowledges his work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam People.

Mark’s formal position in the Faculty of Education is Assistant Dean of Professional Development and Community Engagement (PDCE), which he has held since 2012 and which he currently shares with Lynne Tomlinson. He is a lecturer in Educational Studies, and co-ordinator of the Educational Administration and Leadership program.

Mark’s work stands at the nexus of faculty member’s research mobilization and the core purposes of educational communities. His job has been to connect the visions and dreams faculty members have for making a difference with their research, to the professional development needs of teachers and educators. Seriously, if a researcher wants to move their ideas from page to practice and from practice into the fabric of society, the most powerful way is to gather a group of motivated teachers into a learning community (cohort) for two years of deep learning in a graduate program. Such cohorts will touch the lives of tens of thousands of students, not to mention teaching colleagues. Extraordinary!

At the heart of this work, where vision becomes reality, is the collaboration of a diverse many. It begins with Dean Frank’s commitment from his first day as Dean to community engagement and professional development, supported by the senior leadership of Dr. Mary Bryson– collaborations of Faculty members, educational leaders in districts, schools, and Associations, Department administration, Faculty leadership, brought together and supported by PDCE staff. All of the 70 plus Master’s cohorts, the 140 plus institutes, the 100 plus online courses, that Mark has been a part of, are the result of the courageous and remarkable collaborations of many. To each person who has shared in this creative work, Mark raises his hands in honour and gratitude: ‘Together we have made a difference; together we have bent the arc of human possibility toward the socially just, the sustainable, the good.’

Mark completed his PhD in Educational Studies in 2007. Professionally he has been a camp director, a tree-planter (225,000 or so), high school teacher, counsellor, teacher librarian, school administrator, farmer, marine safety and quality manager for a tug-boat company, and at UBC, Director of the School Leadership Centre, Director of External Programs and Learning Technologies, and co-coordinator of the BCPVPA- UBC Short Course for 17 years.

Meeting Mark


What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education?

  1. As a student in EDST, being pushed to the limits of my world and my capacities, and then supported by brilliant and wise peers and faculty and research participants to move beyond them;
  2. As a member of the Faculty of Education, the scores of cards, gifts, poetry, emails and visits which I received during the weeks of recovery and months of rehabilitation after the cycling accident that severed my spine and paralyzed my body. The kindness of so many was astonishing and profoundly uplifting. The care I experienced in those days speaks so eloquently to the extraordinary spirit of our educational community. I thank you all for confirming friendship and life! through the dark hours of discovery, recovery, rehabilitation, and return to work.
  3. As a member of the PDCE team that migrated all of the Faculty’s courses to online from the early days of COVID-19, wow! I still can’t believe how swiftly our team pivoted and found a path forward through the volatile and chaotic early days of the pandemic , a path that resulted in the migration of hundreds of courses and thousands of sections to online learning environments that worked. Remarkable! Unforgettable.

Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?

My education in the Faculty, which continues to this day, has permitted me a most privileged place in the creation of learning opportunities that benefit educators and the students, families, and communities they serve–making a difference with people I admire about things that really matter.

Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?

At every turn. Honestly. The research of our Faculty persistently pushes against inequity, injustice, and marginalization, seeking the ways and means for inclusion and the flourishing of those not privileged in our society. Mobilizing this research is my work. To give you a few examples of what I mean, think of Dr. Jan Hare’s Massive Open Online Course—Reconciliation through Indigenous Education—or the recent Indigenous Educational Leadership M. Ed. cohorts in partnership with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. Think of SOGI institutes and online learning with Steve Mulligan and Dr. Lori MacIntosh. Think of Anti-Racism with Dr. Bathseba Opini. Think of Mental Health Open Online Courses developed with Dr. Wendy Carr. In 2006, Dr. Boskic and her team won an award for making online learning more accessible, a passionate commitment that is evident in every online course offered by the Faculty. I could go on. Simply, the PDCE team is committed to advancing inclusion with every offering we support.

Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Newly graduated folks?

  1. Get clear about the purpose at the heart of your being and pursue it relentlessly. Obstacles happen—’Never. Never. Never give up.’
  2. Use your education to make a difference for others, for life! for generations to come.
  3. I almost died and I woke up in a body I didn’t know. Hug your partner, your children, your parents, your grandparents, your friends. A lot. We do life together. Love matters most.