Articles

U of T researchers volunteer to help Brazilian university build its first qualitative health research program

3 women standing side by side and smiling

U of T Associate Professor Denise Gastaldo, Margarida de Aquino Cunha, the rector of Brazil’s Federal University of Acre and Rozilaine Redi Lago

“Rozilaine Redi Lago, a visiting PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research (CQ) four years ago, taught the only qualitative research course at the Federal University of Acre (UFAC) in Brazil following her graduation. But she saw a pressing need for an entire program – a goal that U of T’s Denise Gastaldo and Brenda Gladstone, both volunteers with Academics Without Borders (AWB), are now helping to realize.”

Read more of this December 4, 2019 article about AWB volunteers from the University of Toronto.

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Article about AWB’s work with African Institute for Mathematical Sciences

3 men standing in front of a bookshelfAIMS works with partners to develop environmental policy – October 13

“The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) initiated a project to develop a comprehensive environmental policy for the AIMS network. AIMS acknowledges the importance of protecting environmental values as part of the global community. This project was developed with the assistance of Academics Without Borders and the University of Calgary.” “…Professor Getachew Assefa from the University of Calgary, working as an AWB volunteer on the project, donated his time and talent to assist AIMS in developing its first environmental policy.”

Read the full AIMS article here.

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AWB’s Executive Director participates in panel at Carleton University

Greg Moran, Executive Director of AWB, participated in a panel of experts on the topic of internationalization at a Sept. 9, 2019 event to support strategic planning at Carleton University. Carleton posted an article about the event on its website – read “Strategic Planning Speaker Series Explores a Global Perspective” here!

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How international faculty projects can change lives at home and abroad

Scene of a hill with shacks and a man holding a container“In a remote area of Nepal, an eight-year-old boy is carried into a tiny hospital by his grandparents. The boy has fallen from a height and sustained a complex fracture in his elbow. Treating the injury will require resetting and stabilizing bones, but this involves a specialized surgery and medical hardware not available to the only doctor in the area, whose hospital is hours away from the nearest city or specialist. Worse yet, the boy’s circulation has been impeded by the fracture, and without treatment, he will lose the use of his hand and forearm.

The doctor does what he can to set the bones and stabilize them, which he does by sedating the boy himself (there are no anesthesiologists where he works), setting the bones, and stabilizing the fracture with metal wiring, all while taking direction from an open textbook.

Incredibly, the surgery is a success. The boy will make a full recovery.

A week after the operation, Professor Karl Stobbe at McMaster University looks over post-operation x-rays from the case. Glancing over his shoulder, his colleague, an orthopedic surgeon, remarks, “That’s honestly as good a job as I could’ve done.”

It’s an incredible feat of medical resilience and resourcefulness that Stobbe says he has witnessed many times. For the past three years, Stobbe has been working with Nepal’s Patan Academy of Health Sciences to build the country’s capacity to train doctors for practice in rural areas, an effort that will have an enormous impact on the wellbeing of those living in these areas.”

Read more of this article about the work of AWB in Academica’s Today’s Top Ten in Higher Ed on March 27, 2019.

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For a country to develop, so must its post-secondary institutions

“Higher education advocates across Canada and beyond will often claim that academics make an enormous impact on the world beyond the ivory tower, but skeptics are often quick to ask, “How, exactly?” Advocates might then point to social benefits such as advancements in medical technology or the fostering of an engaged democratic citizenry, but another benefit that they might wish to highlight is the impact that higher education is having in developing countries that are looking to build healthier, wealthier, and more just societies for all.

For Corrie Young, Associate Executive Director for Academics Without Borders, there are countless instances in which post-secondary institutions serve as a key vehicle for global development. ‘Take rapid urbanization happening in many countries’ says Young. ‘You need to think about how governments at multiple levels are going to try and address the challenges that come with a shift like that. First, you have to design and perform research that gives you accurate information on what is actually happening, then you need the expertise to turn that research into effective policy.'”

Read more of this article about the importance of AWB’s work in Academica’s Today’s Top Ten in Higher Ed on February 25, 2019.

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The global problems that only academics can solve

“The greatest challenges of the 21st century will be global in nature, and so too will be the solutions. Fortunately, a growing group of academic experts based at institutions across Canada is collaborating with international partners around the world to build the capacity to solve these challenges.

These efforts have already had an enormous impact across the globe over the past decade, from building family medicine capacity in Guyana to creating a unified national university system in Rwanda, from designing programming on environmental governance in Tanzania to creating new opportunities for students with disabilities in Indonesia.”

Read more of this article about the importance of AWB’s work in Academica’s Today’s Top Ten in Higher Ed on February 13, 2019.

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Update on Reaching Across Borders, Building a Better World

Man and woman sitting in armchairs on a stage

Greg Moran & Louise Fréchette

It has been a month since its closing session but those of us who participated are still energized by our experiences at Reaching Across Borders, Building a Better World.

The Academics Without Borders-hosted conference was an unmitigated success, bringing together a remarkable group from Canada and around the world for two-plus days of stimulating conversations in Montreal regarding the role that Canada’s universities and colleges play in international development. (See the photos.)

The conference would not have been possible without the generosity and sector reach of our partner, Academica Group, and the support of our Founding Partner, Navitas, National Supporters, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and International Development Research Council (IDRC), and an anonymous supporter.

We were treated to an outstanding array of invited speakers. It was fascinating to watch the candid and wide-ranging conversation with Louise Fréchette, former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and the UN’s first Deputy Secretary General, and the account of the innovative work of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences from AIMS’ Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Roméo Essou. Other invited speakers included leaders in higher education from Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, and Malaysia, and from many of Canada’s universities and colleges.

2 women and 3 men sitting at table on stage

Funding agencies roundtable

One session of the conference was an achievement in its own right in bringing together representatives from five of Canada’s key funding agencies to discuss their role in promoting international development: Global Affairs Canada, Grand Challenges Canada, IDRC, Mastercard Foundation, and SSHRC.

The rich mix of break-out presentations came from many of Canada’s universities and colleges and from Cambodia, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Pakistan.

The conference provided a venue for demonstrating the many effective ways that Canada’s universities and colleges and their faculty and staff are supporting the development of healthier, more prosperous and stable societies in the less-advantaged areas of the world – including but certainly not limited to the work of AWB. Participants were outspoken and honest in presenting past failures and challenges, as well as pointing to more progressive approaches to true partnerships with our colleagues in other parts of the world.

Woman and man seated at table, woman speaking into microphone

Nathalie Charpak & Alex Awiti

The experience of the Montreal conference reinforced the prominent place of Academics Without Borders in international development work, not only for its primary role in implementing effective projects building higher education capacity in the developing world, but also as an important convenor for those committed to reaching across borders to build a better world.

We will soon be announcing a date for the next conference in 2020. Suggestions regarding the theme, timing, location and any other aspects of our next gathering are most welcome.


Greg Moran is the Executive Director of Academics Without Borders.

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