Wed | Apr 24, 2019

UWI, Brock University partner to create Canada-Caribbean institute

Published:Monday | April 15, 2019 | 11:05 AM
Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

The University of the West Indies (UWI) and Brock University in Canada have commenced discussions for the establishment of an Institute for Canada-Caribbean Studies. 

Emphasising the significance, UWI Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, stated: “This was an initiative which I placed before Brock’s President Fearon when he visited our regional headquarters last year. He was very keen to think outside the box and bring his expertise to bear on creating a new trajectory.” 

An economic historian, Beckles also noted that “Canada has been a most reliable supporter of Caribbean nation building” and elaborated further that “the economic history of the region shows the centring of Canada in Caribbean development”.

In a bid to further academic and research leadership, the UWI vice-chancellor proposed that an “institution be created in order to establish the academic integrity of the relationship, and sustain the intimacy of the bond between the two regions”. 

According to him, “creative, courageous, and confident people build bridges and not walls, and the Canada-Caribbean bridge has been one of the most productive and mutually beneficial relation constructed in the last hundred years". 

Beckles explained that the purpose of the institute will be to provide joint academic degrees and conduct policy relevant research in specific Canada/Caribbean issues. 

Further, he said it will serve as a consortium as other Canadian universities are invited to participate in these activities. 

"It will be one of the most relevant academic enterprises of the 21st century," he said.

The discussions for the institute coincide with the renewal of two existing MOUs, which serve to promote international and intercultural understanding, academic linkages and enrich the cultural understanding of both universities.

They will also will continue to provide mobility opportunities for faculty, staff and students as well as joint research activities between the two institutions.

The new Institute for Canada-Caribbean Studies will be the latest addition in a cluster of international centres launched by UWI in Africa, the US, China and South America. It demonstrates another tangible implementation of the regional university’s thrust to globalise; a key objective framed within its Triple A Strategy (Strategic Plan 2017-2022).

This focus has earned UWI recognition in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019, for its international outlook which placed it among the top 10 per cent of universities world-wide in this category.

The UWI’s pro vice-chancellor of Global Affairs, Ambassador Dr Richard Bernal, will serve as the principal officer to help facilitate the establishment of the institute by working alongside Brock’s vice-provost, Enrolment Management and International, Dr James Mandigo.

“Canada has been a very supportive partner for the Caribbean over a very long time and there are important investment, trade and tourism linkages. This valuable relationship needs to be reviewed and refreshed by policy based on multi-disciplinary research which is the purpose of the Institute for Canada-Caribbean Studies,” Bernal said.

This most recent collaboration builds upon a rich history between UWI and Brock. Canada has played a key role in the development of UWI, including funding support for the construction of residences on the Mona and St. Augustine campuses. The UWI in 2013 was also beneficiary of a $20-million grant to support strengthening distance education in the Caribbean through The UWI Open Campus.

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