UWI, Brock University discuss institute for Canada-Caribbean studies

Sunday, April 14, 2019

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AFTER years of partnering on various initiatives, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Ontario-based Brock University are now considering the creation of an institute for Canada-Caribbean Studies.

The proposed institute is expected to provide a focal point for multidisciplinary research and teaching, to deepen and improve the relationships between Canada and the Caribbean and examine issues affecting the Caribbean diaspora communities in Canada, the universities have said.

It should provide joint academic degrees and conduct policy-relevant research on specific Canada/Caribbean issues; promote international and intercultural understanding, academic linkages, and enrich the cultural understanding of both universities; and provide mobility opportunities for faculty, staff and students between institutions.

“It will be one of the most relevant academic enterprises of the 21st century,” said UWI vice chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles.

“Creative, courageous, and confident people build bridges, not walls; and the Canada-Caribbean bridge has been one of the most productive and mutually beneficial relations constructed in the last hundred years,” he added.

The schools came together on Brock's main campus on Friday, April 5 to renew two existing memoranda of understanding, and to sign a new agreement that will see them begin talks related to the proposed institute.

“The signing ceremony at Brock University is a testament to the relationship we've built together over many years, and commitment to the future of Canadian-Caribbean studies,” said Beckles.

At Brock, James Mandigo, vice-provost, enrolment management and international, will serve as the institutional lead to facilitate the development of the institute. His counterpart at The UWI, Richard Bernal, pro-vice-chancellor for global affairs, will lead a similar process at UWI.

“Establishing an institute for Canada-Caribbean studies would be a true reflection of Brock's global commitment to fostering a culture of intercultural understanding,” said Brock University President Gervan Fearon.

“We will also be welcoming scholars from across Canada to be active participants and members of the institute, to collaborate and lead projects related to Canada-Caribbean issues. Our vision is to harness the expertise of the academic community across Canada and the Caribbean to help address important topics that are relevant to those who live, study, and work in these regions of the world,” he continued.

Fearon, the first Caribbean descendant to lead a university in Canada, underscored Brock's commitment to building strong ties with the Caribbean during his first international trip as president and vice chancellor to the Caribbean in May 2018, visiting Antigua, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.

Canada has played a key role in the development of UWI, including funding support to build residences on the Jamaican and Trinidad and Tobago campuses, and a CDN$20-million grant to support the creation of UWI's open campus.

Brock itself bestowed an honorary doctorate on Beckles in 2014.

Established in 1948, UWI has campuses in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and an open campus which provides post-secondary opportunities to students in 16 other Caribbean nations. It is the largest higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI was recently ranked in the Top 5 per cent of universities in the world by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings in 2019.

The new Institute for Canada-Caribbean Studies will be the latest addition in a cluster of international centres the regional university has launched 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),” the university said.


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