The UWI and Brock University explore proposal for a Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute.

A signing event which took place on Friday, April 5, 2019 between The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Brock University in Canada signals the opening of discussions for the establishment of an Institute for Canada-Caribbean Studies.

The occasion, hosted at the Brock campus in the Niagara region, Ontario also marked 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 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 The 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, in fact, earned The UWI recognition in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019, for its international outlook which placed it among the top 10% of universities worldwide in this category.

Emphasising the significance, The 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, Vice-Chancellor 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 an effort to provide academic and research leadership to this relationship, Vice-Chancellor Beckles 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 Vice-Chancellor Beckles, “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 relations constructed in the last hundred years. Working with President Fearon and his team at Brock University, where I received an Honorary Doctorate a decade ago, will be rewarding and exhilarating. He is a brilliant economist with progressive pedagogical roots and a passion for development with justice; values I deeply admire in academic leaders. The purpose of the Institute will be to provide joint academic degrees and conduct policy relevant research in specific Canada/Caribbean issues. 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.”

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 working alongside Brock’s Vice-Provost, Enrolment Management and International, Dr James Mandigo.

Commenting on the initiative, Ambassador Bernal noted, “Canada has been a very supportive partner for the Caribbean over a very long time and there are an 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.”

This most recent collaboration builds upon a rich history between The UWI and Brock. More deeply, Canada has played a key role in the development of The 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.

Photo Captions:

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI (front right) and Gervan Fearon, President and Vice-Chancellor of Brock University, (front left) signed three agreements between the institutions alongside (back from left) James Mandigo, Brock’s Vice-Provost, Enrolment Management and International; Her Excellency Laurie Peters, Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Cayman Islands; and Richard Bernal, The UWI’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Affairs.