Conscious Coupling: Elaine Carty creates excitement with Visiting Scholars

UBC Midwifery is just 12 years old – its future, yet to be written. It is a field of study caught between modern and ancient: an emerging field in Canada, yet a timeless tradition around the world. That mix can make for exciting academia and Elaine Carty is encouraging that to happen.

Emerita Professor Carty, Founding Director of UBC Midwifery, along with her husband Ken, has generously donated $50,000 for the visit of scholars to UBC – one scholar a year for five years. She’s consciously coupling outside speakers with UBC’s Midwifery thinkers to feed debate and boost the reach, impact and reputation of UBC’s Midwifery Program in the community and around the world.

“I want exciting, innovative thinkers and not necessarily all midwives – lots of specialties contribute to this field. I want them all talking, debating, listening, sharing. I want UBC Midwifery recognized as being on the vanguard of academia,” says Carty.

“We need to bring the world here. UBC has a tremendous program but because midwifery is so new in Canada, many midwifery specialists are located in Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand,” explains Carty. “Collaboration can be a challenge. We want these speakers to travel home with stories of the exciting thinking happening right here at UBC, just as we want to learn from their innovations.”

Each scholar will spend a week at UBC. They will visit fellow academics, exchange ideas with students, and give public lectures on emerging birthing issues – a benefit to Vancouver and its midwifery community.

Carty is a recognized force behind midwifery acceptance in Canada. She spent 50 years lobbying for its recognition, eventually seeing it regulated in most provinces, including B.C. in 1998. She then became Director of UBC’s Midwifery Program for its first five years, followed by an 18-month stint as Interim Director in 2012/13. McMaster University recently recognized her work in women’s health by awarding her an Honorary Doctorate in Science. Her donation in support of visiting scholars is her latest volley to spread understanding, stimulate discussion, and enhance UBC Midwifery’s international recognition and collaborations.

To support the Elaine Carty Visiting Scholars Initiative, please contact Leanne Denis at 604-822-2207 or visit