SUNY, UWI establish Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development

SUNY, UWI establish Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development

Saturday, September 24, 2016

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New York City, USA — The State University of New York (SUNY) and The University of the West Indies (UWI) on Tuesday launched SUNY UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, which will, among other things, offer double degrees at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and pursue joint research.

The centre will be governed by an advisory board of academic experts, foundation and development professionals, and administrative leaders from both institutions. It will begin operations at 325 Hudson Street in Manhattan, one of SUNY Empire State College’s three New York City locations.

Among its specific goals are:

• to advance the creation of a master’s programme in leadership and sustainable development;

• drive solutions-oriented research, student advocacy, and mobilisation of the Caribbean diaspora;

• establish an expert network; and

• facilitate a think tank

Importantly, too, the centre will couch its programme in the context of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

"SUNY’s new partnership with The UWI represents an important milestone in our ongoing conversations about educating and empowering students and faculty in order to make substantial advances in the areas of leadership and sustainable human development," said SUNY Chairman H Carl McCall.

"Our partnership is all the more exciting when you consider the positive impact and practical benefits the application of our research, academic programmes, teaching, and learning will have for our students and faculty, as well as the millions of people in the Caribbean, the Caribbean diaspora in New York, and beyond. We are proud to advance our mutual goals with The UWI and I thank Sir Hilary for his continued passion and leadership," he continued, referencing UWI Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.

For his part, Sir Hilary said: "Both The UWI and SUNY have agreed that a centre of this nature is required to provide innovative solutions to the underlying problems that ultimately constrain the achievement of sustainable human development in the wider Caribbean and in the urban areas of New York State, in which there is a substantial Caribbean diaspora that is served by SUNY. This initiative is part of the programme of international engagement that enables The UWI to play an active developmental role among the wider Caribbean community."

UWI and SUNY have been working on joint projects in the areas of marine sciences, environmental sciences and climate change, health, and distance education since signing a memorandum of understanding in 2013. The latest cooperation will build on those areas with a focus on democratic participation, leadership, and governance, as well as solutions to specific problems constraining the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

A week ago, a report in the Barbados Nation quoted Beckles thus: "We are partnering to build a new institution based in New York to focus around these 2030 goals, to build the capacity of our regional university with the capacity of one of the largest universities in the world, in order to deliver these outcomes... We are doing these things because we recognise the constraints within our jurisdiction to achieve the targets that we want to achieve."

On the announcement of the centre, UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne called the effort "a path-breaking initiative", which is a part of UWI’s global agenda to embrace the Caribbean community and diaspora. "It will provide some of that essential leadership training and research needed by the wider Caribbean as it prepares to meet the new Sustainable Development Goals," he said.

The concept for the centre has garnered strong support from the Commonwealth and the Caribbean Community.

"I commend the vision and commitment to serving the practical needs of the people of the Caribbean — whether at home or in the diaspora – that has led to the SUNY UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development," said Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland.

"Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean and from other Small Island Developing States will derive lasting benefit from this partnership project and the focus it brings to the human development needs of our people, wherever they live, learn or work. In this year when we celebrate ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’. It is good to see The UWI continuing to play an active and innovative developmental role for the benefit of the wider Caribbean community."

SUNY is described as the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses. In 2014-15, it served nearly 1.3 million students — nearly 600,000 in credit-bearing courses and programmes, and nearly 700,000 through continuing education and community outreach programmes.

The UWI, meanwhile, is the largest, most long-standing higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with three physical campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as an Open Campus. It serves 17 English-speaking countries and territories.

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