Reimagining Governance

Kyle Epstein smiling and standing on the shore of a body of water with a large rock in the background offshore.

Kyla Epstein, a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) student, is reimagining how she thinks about governance. 

” I live on the stolen lands of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (Vancouver). I’m a parent, and work in government relations at the British Columbia Institute of Technology,” Epstein says. “For a long time, I've wanted to do some sort of graduate studies, but wasn't sure what I wanted to focus on.

“I’ve served on many boards of directors for years, and felt like I was falling into the trap of a single idea of “good governance” – most of which is taken from corporate governance models.

“I wanted to explore other ways of thinking about governance — for myself and for my own governance practice.” 

Epstein notes that governance is typically studied in business schools or as part of leadership studies programs, but she was looking for a fresh perspective on the topic. 

"...the whole idea for me was that I wanted to think about governance outside of the...discipline it often lives in. So, that got me to the Interdisciplinary Studies department at Royal Roads."

“Something I really liked about the program...is the ability to take courses from a variety of master’s areas. Taking courses on a variety of subjects and considering governance through various theoretical lenses allows me to reflect on how the knowledge I gain can change the way I approach governance." 

Epstein looked at the content from each course she completed, reflected on what she learned, then considered: “from my experience in governance practices, mostly in non-profit organizations, what can we do differently or how can I apply [this]?”

This question guided her explorations in each course.

“For example, in the course Global Perspectives on Indigenous Ways of Knowing (INDS515), I looked at alternative ways of decision making for boards of directors that were based on different Indigenous ways of decision making. And in a self-directed study, I looked at what utopian speculative fiction can teach us about organizational strategic planning (another kind of worldbuilding).

“We often forget that, at its most basic, governance is just a group of people making decisions and how we govern ourselves and how we choose to govern together is up to us and we can make decisions about how we do it. We don't have to follow the scripted or prescribed way of how it has always been done. I think it's really important to be intentional, to factor in our organization's values, and look to at the world we are trying to build.”