Picture of Dr. Brett Fairbairn

Dr. Brett Fairbairn PhD Fellow in Co-operative History and Governance. President and Vice-Chancellor, Thompson Rivers University

Brett joined the Centre in 1986 after graduating with a DPhil from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He served as director from 2000-2004, and was then appointed head of the History Department at the University of Saskatchewan. Brett was university provost and vice-president academic from July 2008 until June 2014, at which point he took up a position as professor in the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. In July 2015, he took on the role of acting director of the Centre while Murray Fulton was on sabbatical. In December 2018, Dr. Fairbairn began his appointment as the President and Vice-Chancellor of Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia.
Brett's research and teaching are concerned with the history and interdisciplinary study of democracy, social movements, and co-operative enterprises in Canada and around the world. He has more than eighty publications, including his most recent, Risk & Relevance: The Transformation of Canada’s Co-operative Retailing System (2018). Brett models his scholarship on the idea of engagement between the academic world and the real-life issues of organizations and communities. He is a strong believer in the duty of citizens to participate in volunteer organizations and has held many leadership roles in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. In recognition of his public and scholarly contributions, Brett was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. From 2002-2007, Brett was principal investigator of the largest research project ever undertaken on co-operatives in Canada.