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    Bader College welcomes new vice-provost and executive director

    [Janine Griffiths-Baker in front of Herstmonceux Castle wearing a blue blazer]

    Bader College at Herstmonceux Castle has welcomed Janine Griffiths-Baker as its new Vice-Provost and Executive Director to start off the new year.

    Dr. Griffiths-Baker took up her position last week. She has also been appointed as an adjunct professor to the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University.

    Dr. Griffiths-Baker joins Bader College from CILEx Regulation Limited, one of the largest legal regulators in England and Wales, where she was Chief Executive. She brings more than 25 years of experience in higher education, having held several leadership positions at various public and private institutions across the United Kingdom.

    She will lead Bader College’s senior management team to deliver ambitious plans for the future of the college campus and the wider Herstmonceux Castle Estate. In addition to offering an outstanding study abroad opportunity for approximately 200 undergraduate students each year, Bader College sits on 600 acres of land containing medieval parklands, ancient woodlands, meadows, ponds, marshlands, and formal gardens.

    “I was absolutely delighted to accept the role and I am incredibly excited at the prospect of leading Bader College into the future” Dr. Griffiths-Baker says. “I was drawn to the position by the extraordinary potential of the estate, as well as by Queen’s University’s exciting plans to expand its international footprint. I’m new to the area myself, but hope to form strong ties locally, as well as with our partners around the globe. I sincerely hope that under my leadership, Bader College becomes even more instrumental in bringing Alfred Bader’s vision for the Castle to fruition.”

    A musical message of support

    The ‘We Stand with Ukraine’ concert is being held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts to raise funds for humanitarian aid.

    Canta Arya School for Strings

    The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts is hosting an exciting event to raise funds for humanitarian aid for those affected by the war in Ukraine. 

    On Dec. 8, more than 100 Kingston professional musicians and youth ensembles, including the Kingston Symphony, DAN School of Music faculty, PALENAI piano duo, Bridge Wolak Duo, Jan LeClair, and guest Ukrainian soprano, Nataliia Temnyk will be featured. The Maky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble will welcome the audience in the colourful Pryvit dance. Young musicians representing Canta Arya School for Strings, Kingston Youth Orchestra, Cantabile Youth Singers and soloist Mathieu Roberge will also perform in the concert, which supports the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal Fund through the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and Canada-Ukraine Foundation.

    Photography of Ukraine, Ukrainian art, and powerful images from the war by frontline photojournalists will add a multi-dimensional element to the evening.

    All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal Fund of the Ukraine Humanitarian Relief committee – a joint partnership of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canada-Ukraine FoundationThose who are unable to attend the concert but still wish to donate can donate online, and are asked to quote “Kingston concert” under the ‘private message’ section.

     The benefit is being organized by Drs. Joy Innis and Adrienne Shannon, who have taught as adjunct professors at the Dan School of Drama and Music and were responsible for the creation of the Music & Digital Media program at St. Lawrence College. For the past several months they have been working on a concert to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. They say as soon as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, their colleagues, fellow musicians, and local youth ensembles jumped on board.

    “The number of Kingston musicians involved – more than half of them youth – show how the generations are coming together for one common cause. That really is the heart of the event,” says Dr. Shannon.

    Dr. Shannon says interest for the concert comes not only from the musical community, but from those who have experienced the conflict firsthand, adding “there will be many new Ukrainian nationals in the audience, and we get calls every day from others.”

     The two-hour concert takes place Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7:30pm. Tickets are $39 or $10 for students and can be purchased at the door or online through the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

    The concert will also be livestreamed.

    For more information, visit the Dan School of Music and Drama at Queen’s University website.

    Nigeria's Vice-President visits Queen's

    Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo delivers public lecture on climate justice in Africa and meets with university senior leaders.

    VP Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo
    Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo delivers public lecture on climate justice in Africa at Queen's.

    Nigeria’s Vice-President visited Queen’s this week, where he met with senior university leaders and delivered a public lecture on environmental sustainability and climate justice in Africa.

    His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, addressed a live audience of 80 campus community members and over 500 virtual attendees during his talk, highlighting the need for strategies that not only advance international decarbonization strategies but that also help alleviate poverty.

    “We need to recognize that climate change is an inherently social issue with important social justice implications,” says Vice-President Osinbajo, who fielded questions from attendees following his remarks. “In particular, the poor and the vulnerable largely in developing countries will be the first to suffer and of course are already suffering. So then we need to reframe our climate action paradigm from merely a technical effort to cut emissions to an approach that places people and addressing social inequality at the centre of our efforts.”

    Nigeria VP and delegation meet with Queen's leadership.
    The Vice-President and his traveling delegation met with Queen's senior leaders in a series of meetings held throughout the visit.

    The visit began with a meeting between the Nigerian delegation and senior figures from Queen’s, St. Lawrence College, KEDCO and UNESCO. Together they discussed shared goals of advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how collaborations and partnerships between the two could enhance these aims. Vice-Principal (Research) Nancy Ross and Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Jane Philpott each outlined areas of collaboration, including low carbon research, global health, and global oncology (SDG 3, 7, 10, 13).

    Associate Dean (Teacher Education) of the Faculty of Education Peter Chin, and Smith School of Business alumnus Hakeem Subair, each spoke to the Faculty of Education’s collaboration with 1 Million Teachers, which pertains to SDGs 4 and 5 and aims to improve education and gender equality.

    Meanwhile, Director of the Centre for Social Impact, Jean-Baptiste Litrico, spoke to the Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship. The program, which was launched earlier this year, counts Dr. Mariam Masha, Special Assistant to the President on Humanitarian Interventions and part of the visiting delegation, as part of its inaugural cohort.

    “We are honoured to have Vice-President Osinbajo and the Nigerian delegation with us here today,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost (International), whose office hosted the Vice-President’s visit. “We had some excellent discussions about ways we can pursue bidirectional collaborations that benefit our communities and generate truly global impact. We’re looking forward to continuing our partnerships to support girls’ education in the region, as well as advancing new areas of potential collaboration around global health, low carbon research initiatives, and other priorities.”

    VP Nigeria meet-and-greet
    Following his public lecture, Nigeria's Vice-President (centre) and his delegation greeted Queen's students, staff, faculty, and other attendees.

    Among the other delegates who accompanied the Vice-President during his visit, was Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada, His Excellency, Adeyinka Asekun, as well as Abby Asekun (Communications Director, Nigeria-Canada Investment Group), Hakeem Subair, and others—many of whom came to campus in June 2022 to attend an on-campus art exhibition called Muna Taro. That event, which underscored the need to improve and support quality learning for children and youth—especially girls—in Nigeria and across Africa, was a joint production by three Nigerian organizations, including 1 Million Teachers.

    In the new year, the Queen’s Faculty of Education will be collaborating with UNESCO for a project on innovative pedagogy within a global competencies framework. The Office of the Vice-Provost (International) is also planning a panel event exploring further research and community engagement in West Africa. Learn more about Queen’s global engagement work on the Vice-Provost (International) website and watch the Vice-President’s full public lecture.

    Universities engaging with society in turbulent times

    Principal Patrick Deane leads global university conference in Bologna, Italy.

    Academic regalia (the fancy gown and hat) is not something Principal Patrick Deane wears often save for convocation and a few other special events, but he recently took his gown across the Atlantic to wear at the anniversary signing ceremony of the Magna Charta Universitatum (MCU).

    Principal Patrick Deane presided over the MCU anniversary conference at the University of Bologna, Italy earlier this month. This three-day event saw more than 170 university and higher education leaders from 45 countries assemble to discuss how universities can support society during challenging times. Principal Deane is the current President of the Magna Charta Observatory (MCO) Governing Council which is the oversight body that protects and promotes the MCU.

    “Being a signatory is important because it’s a reference point for our values as a university and acts as a reminder to us of the premise upon which the university is founded,” says Principal Deane. “We must defend these values because academic freedom and university autonomy are subject to challenge around the world — sometimes in more obvious ways than others — and it is critically important that as an institution of higher learning in a free country we continue to talk about and promote these issues.”

    Academic freedom, university autonomy, the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and how universities serve society were all topics shared at the conference. At a panel discussion moderated by Principal Deane, the discussion focused on how universities support society in times of crisis. He was joined by Sibongile Muthwa, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Nelson Mandela University in South Africa, and Roman Gryniuk, Rector, Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University in Ukraine who travelled more than 38 hours by bus to attend the event (you can read more about Rector Gryniuk and the challenges facing Ukrainian universities in this article from University World News). Other keynote speakers included Ron Daniels, President of John Hopkins University and Chris Brink, former Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University who wrote the book The Soul of a University that famously posits that universities should not only be looking at what they are good at but, “what are they good for.”

    The MCU was revised in 2020 to more aptly reflect the responsibilities universities have to society and to the planet; Principal Deane was a member of the drafting committee that wrote the new document. The conference culminated in a signing ceremony of the MCU, with signatories wearing full academic regalia. New signatories and those who had signed previously are invited to sign the document, making a public recommitment to the values espoused in it. There are currently close to 1000 universities around the world that have signed the MCU.

    “This event was a great opportunity to meet and network with colleagues around the world,” says Principal Deane. “The challenges that face higher education globally are considerable but events like this strengthen our collective sense of unity and determination to uphold the values of the academy and the importance and nobility of our mission.”

    This conference was the first in-person event the MCO has hosted since the previous anniversary conference that was held in 2019 at McMaster University in Hamilton. It was there that Queen’s signed the MCU for the first time.

    The MCO holds regular webinars on these topics that are free to attend. The next on Oct. 6, 2022 features Rector Roman Gryniuk talking about how universities serve society in times of crisis. Registration is open now.  

    Queen's hosts on-campus conference of international university leaders

    Members of the Matariki Network of Universities meet to discuss group’s priorities, knowledge sharing, and more.

    Queen’s hosted leaders of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) this week for a two-day itinerary of discussions covering research collaborations, educational and professional development, and the network’s priorities for the next five years.

    Founded in 2010, the MNU is global group of leading universities recognized as leading, research-intensive institutions providing high-quality student experience and focused on international impact. The event marked the group’s first in-person visit in two years.

    “I am pleased to have been able to host this recent meeting of the Matariki network,” says Principal Deane, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor and MNU Vice-Chair. “This is an exceptional partnership and the work we are collaborating on now, as well as what we are planning for our future, will be invaluable to realizing our strategic vision for increased global impact.”

    Co-hosted by Principal Deane and Vice-Provost (International) Sandra den Otter, the meeting welcomed delegates from each partner institution, including Dartmouth College (US), Durham University (UK), University of Otago (NZ), University of Tübingen (GER), Uppsala University (SWE), and University of Western Australia. Delegates also welcomed the network’s new chairperson, Professor Karen O’Brien, who serves as Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University.  Principal Deane will assume the chair of the network in 2024; he is currently vice-chair.

    The event opened with a conversation between Principal Deane and Eva Egron-Polak, Senior Fellow and Former Secretary General, International Association of Universities, and delegates on the values and objectives of international networks. In the sessions that followed, the group identified priority areas in which to intensify engagement, including research partnerships, extending staff exchange, and building communities of practice that encourage learning, growth, and development among colleagues within the MNU. Significant initiatives, like the Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program received renewed commitments.

    New collaborations emerged as well, such as shared initiatives for our universities to engage with our local communities and to facilitate undergraduate research with global partners.

    “The MNU’s motto—partnering for a better world— highlights the benefits of intentional and strategic collaboration across our institutions to advance research and teaching and to address global challenges,” says VP den Otter. “We also look forward to the expansion of the network to include new members to extend and enrich this collaboration.”

    The network’s name comes from the Māori term for the Pleiades group of stars — also known as the Seven Sisters — which is a constellation that can be seen from virtually anywhere in the world. Since its creation, the MNU has connected universities which commit to core values of excellence in research-led education in humanities, social sciences, and STEM areas.

    In twelve years of collaboration, MNU partners have made significant strides across a wide range of efforts. Jointly, they’ve collaborated on seven intensive research themes; launched research funding and secured collaborative funding from international agencies;  and created the Matariki Lecture Series.

    The group also initiated its own Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition; offered student exchange programs and PhD research visits; pursued library and information services projects, including digital humanities; and delivered Matariki global citizenship forums for undergraduates, hosted at Bader College.

    Learn more on the Matariki Network of Universities and Queen’s engagement in its work. The network always welcomes new ideas for collaborative initiatives, which can be shared with the Office of the Vice-Provost (International) via email.

    Local partnerships support education abroad

    Hakeem Subair of 1 Million Teachers speaks during the Muna Taro launch.
    Hakeem Subair of 1 Million Teachers speaks during the Muna Taro launch event at the Tett Centre. 

    With 13 million children who are without access to schools in Nigeria alone, there is an urgent need for educational support – a trend which is expected to grow over time. Adding to the complexities of this issue are the intersections between gender and access to resources in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    To address these challenges, modern policy-driven solutions that are culturally attuned, and advance sustainable community-led changes are needed. Working towards this end, Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, and the City of Kingston recently co-hosted an event at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning to showcase and raise awareness on enhancing learning in Nigeria.

    Muna Taro (We are coming together) is a collaboration between three organizations based out of Nigeria: 1 Million Teachers, Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative, and Girl Rising.

    The exhibit, My Story of Water, uses the power of art to foster creativity and resiliency and was open to the public between June 2- 29. The display included hand-painted water cans and photographs emphasizing the importance of safe access to water, sanitation, pollution, environmental protection, and how basic needs are fundamental to empowering educational development.   

    The launch event included comments from Queen’s Provost Mark Green, Dean of the Faculty of Education Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of Smith School of Business Wanda Costen, St. Lawrence College President Glenn Vollebregt, Kingston Economic Development Council CEO Donna Gillespie, as well as the Nigerian High Commissioner, Nigerian Ambassador, and Special Advisers to the President of Nigeria.

    “The showcase displays collaboration of like-minded people looking to enhance and provide access to education for the most vulnerable members of our communities,” says Hakeem Subair, founder of 1 Million Teachers and a Queen’s alumnus. “We need to show the world what we’re doing, but more importantly how to make society better, and hopefully we can get support from other people who are not yet part of our movement.”

    With the exhibition focusing on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation, Queen’s and the Kingston community continues to build ties with Nigeria and support Muna Taro’s initiatives and pursuit of educational reform.

    Wanda Costen and Rebecca Luce-Kapler share a laugh.
    Dean of Smith School of Business Wanda Costen, left, and Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty Education discuss their support of the Muna Taro program.

    Relationship-building organizations

    1 Million Teachers is an organization that hopes to attract, train and retain teachers through the use of their online platform and learning modules. Queen’s connection to Muna Taro stems from the CEO of 1 Million Teachers, and Smith School of Business graduate, Hakeem Subair. In 2018, the Faculty of Education partnered with 1 Million Teachers to assist with program development and to create a practice that supports learning in Nigeria and beyond, while advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    “When we started 1 Million Teachers we wanted to support teachers and when we were doing that we started seeing gaps in our programming – areas such as inclusivity, and gender responsive education,” Subair says. “The gaps we were seeing led us to taking a systems approach because most times you could see yourself working on a solution, and that solution may become part of the problem. This process led to us collaborating with all the partners we are working with today.”

    The Five Cowries art initiative aims to improve educational outcomes by stimulating engagement and encouraging creativity through the amplification of narratives about social and environmental impact in Nigerian.

    Girl Rising empowers young girls through the power of story telling and raising awareness of the barriers preventing girls from attending school and gaining an education. From combating early marriage, sex trafficking, domestic slavery and gender-based violence, Girl Rising’s mission is to create transformational change in the way girls are valued.

    Together, these organizations advocate for grass roots changes environmental and social and environmental norms across Nigeria, and 14 other African countries.

    Learn more by visiting the Muna Taro and Faculty of Education website.

    Introducing Bader College

    Name change reflects the UK campus’s close connections to Queen’s, its high level of academic courses, and unique on-campus experience.

    • Bader College was selected as the new name for the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) following an extensive consultation process and review of the Canadian and international post-secondary landscape. (Queen's University)
      Bader College was selected as the new name for the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) following an extensive consultation process and review of the Canadian and international post-secondary landscape. (Queen's University)
    • First-year programs in Arts, Science, Health Sciences, and Concurrent Education are offered at Bader College, as well as a number of specialized programs for upper-year undergraduate and professional students.
      First-year programs in Arts, Science, Health Sciences, and Concurrent Education are offered at Bader College, as well as a number of specialized programs for upper-year undergraduate and professional students.
    • Recent efforts at Bader College have focused on rewilding and naturalizing the castle estate to help cultivate and preserve the natural environment and diverse species, while providing a living lab for students, staff, and members of the public.
      Recent efforts at Bader College have focused on rewilding and naturalizing the castle estate to help cultivate and preserve the natural environment and diverse species, while providing a living lab for students, staff, and members of the public.
    • Alfred and Isabel Bader gifted Bader College to Queen’s with a vision for the campus as a venue for educating students from around the world, as well as showcasing research strengths, and nurturing connections to the UK and local communities.
      Alfred and Isabel Bader gifted Bader College to Queen’s with a vision for the campus as a venue for educating students from around the world, as well as showcasing research strengths, and nurturing connections to the UK and local communities.

    Queen’s University’s UK campus has a new name – Bader College.

    Following an extensive consultation process and review of the Canadian and international post-secondary landscape, Bader College was selected as the new name for the Bader International Study Centre (BISC).

    The name showcases the campus’s connections to Queen’s and highlights the unique on-campus and academic experience it provides. The name Bader College also honours donors Alfred and Isabel Bader who gifted the campus to Queen’s and provides an opportunity to restate their vision for the campus as a venue for educating students from around the world, as well as showcasing research strengths, and nurturing connections to the UK and local communities.

    “For more than 25 years, our students attending Queen’s at Herstmonceux Castle have been provided with an immersive and unparalleled academic experience offering access to the UK and Europe right outside their door,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “This new name will signal to the international community the importance of the castle to our university and its pivotal role in Queen’s new global engagement strategy.”

    The consultation process gathered input from a wide range of stakeholders in the UK and on main campus in Kingston, as well as academic partners and comparable study abroad institutions in the UK. This process was in part sparked by the recognition that much has changed in the UK and the global academic landscape since the creation of the BISC in 1993.

    Bader College also embodies the broader Queen’s commitment to advancing social impact and sustainability. The university recently ranked seventh globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for its work in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

    Recent efforts at Bader College have focused on rewilding and naturalizing the castle estate to help cultivate and preserve the natural environment and diverse species, while providing a living lab for students, staff, and members of the public.

    Bader College provides a unique opportunity to Queen’s students, featuring small class sizes, strong student supports, a vibrant community, and close transportation links to London, the rest of the UK, and Europe.

    Students who study at Bader College are on campus for up to one year as part of their full degree programs, with the majority going on to continue their studies at Queen’s. First-year programs in Arts, Science, Health Sciences, and Concurrent Education are offered at Bader College, as well as a number of specialized programs for upper-year undergraduate and professional students.  

    A new brand identity for Bader College will be released in the coming weeks.


    The philanthropic impact of the Bader family and Bader Philanthropies, Inc. at Queen’s is unparalleled. The Baders, the late Dr. Alfred Bader (BSc'45, BA'46, MSc'47, LLD'86), his wife, Isabel Bader (LLD’07), and Bader Philanthropies, Inc., led by Daniel Bader (LLD’21), have been among Queen’s University’s most significant donors, gifting the 15th-century English castle, Herstmonceux, home to Bader College, providing $31 million in support of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, a lead gift of $40 million (USD) in support of Agnes Reimagined, more than 500 paintings and works on paper to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, and funding a variety of student awards, teaching and research chairs, curatorships, and more.

    Search committee formed for new Vice-Provost and Executive Director, Bader International Study Centre

    The Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor is initiating a search for the next Vice-Provost and Executive Director of the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). The term for Hugh Horton, who has served in the position since 2017, ends on July 1, 2022. Dr. Horton has indicated that he does not wish to be considered for another term.

    The Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor will chair a search committee comprised of both BISC and Queen’s main campus members, and Boyden International has been engaged to support the search.

    Jennifer Medves, who is currently acting as a Special Advisor to the BISC, will serve as interim Vice-Provost and Executive Director.

    More information will shortly be available on the search committee including membership on the Office of the Principal website.

    Moving toward a new strategy for global engagement

    International Association of Universities representatives visit campus as part of collaborative process to develop Queen’s next global engagement strategy.

    IAU representatives together with VP International Sandra den Otter
    Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost (International) (centre) together with visiting IAU representatives (left to right): Harvey Charles, Alessandra Scagliarini, Eva Egron-Polak, and Giorgio Marinoni.

    An expert delegation from the International Association of Universities (IAU) visited Queen’s recently as part of a collaborative process for developing a new Global Engagement Strategic Plan for the university. From May 9-11, IAU representatives met with more than 100 members of the campus community to discuss Queen’s ongoing global engagement efforts and how the university can evolve its approach to be more just, equitable, and impact-oriented. 

    “I want to express our deep gratitude to our IAU experts for their broad and intensive engagement with us, both in advance of this visit and in myriad consultation sessions over the past few days,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost (International). “This work has prompted essential conversations that will deepen, refine, and bolster how Queen’s engages with the world, and ultimately how we are able to work together more effectively to address the most significant and urgent challenges of our time. I am very grateful to Queen’s students, staff, and faculty who have so thoughtfully contributed to the sessions.”

    Queen’s engaged the IAU to assist in building and advancing an approach to global engagement that will best support Queen’s new Strategic Framework, particularly its aim of strengthening the university’s global presence in comprehensive, equity-focused, and collaborative ways. The non-governmental organization, an associate of UNESCO, connects post-secondary institutions worldwide, and offers knowledge-sharing and advisory services to its members, including guidance on advancing global engagement. 

    The IAU’s visits to main campus and the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), along with a previously submitted self-assessment report developed by working groups of faculty, students, and staff across campus, will provide them a basis upon which to develop a final report and recommendations, which are set to be delivered this summer.

    “We extend our appreciation to many people who were involved in the various working groups and consultations that led to both the careful and detailed self-assessment we reviewed, as well as our productive visit this week,” said IAU representative Eva Egron-Polak, who — alongside IAU colleagues Harvey Charles, Alessandra Scagliarini, and Giorgio Marinoni — shared preliminary thoughts and recommendations with the campus community during an open discussion on May 11. “Queen’s new institutional strategy aims to redefine how Queen’s engages the world, and we’re pleased that institutional leadership has placed a high importance on a values-based approach to global engagement.”

    Following delivery of the IAU’s report, the Office of the Vice-Provost (International) will create a draft of the new global engagement strategy and conduct further campus wide consultation this fall. 

    “I want to offer many thanks to members of the IAU delegation for their efforts this week and over the past two years, as well as for the clear and impactful preliminary thoughts they’ve shared here today,” said Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, as he concluded the open panel session. “This process has been particularly valuable because it’s been about self-learning, to such a degree that we learned alongside our IAU guests about our strengths and opportunities. This is one step in a process that is still ongoing — one that will be hugely aided by future discussions of the work of our panel.”

    Transforming the global academy

    Principal Patrick Deane on how the SDGs are helping break down silos, provoke dialogue, and unite us all in a common global purpose.

    [Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane]
    Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University

    This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement in 2021.

    As a member of the international group tasked with updating the Magna Charta Universitatum – the declaration of university freedoms and principles that was first signed in Bologna in 1988 – I am struck by the extent to which the intervening three decades have altered the global consensus about the nature and function of universities. Where the original document spoke eloquently to the fundamental values of the academy, the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 reaffirms those values but also expands upon their social function and utility. I would summarise the shift this way: we have moved from an understanding of universities as defined primarily by their ability to transcend historical contingency to a more complicated view, which asserts that timeless principles such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the platform from which the academy must engage with history.

    If the situation in Europe and around the world in 1988 made it important to speak up for the freedoms without which teaching and research would be impoverished, by 2020 it had become equally important to speak of the responsibilities incumbent on institutions by virtue of the privileges accorded to them. The reality of rapid climate change has brought urgency and authority to this new view of universities, as have parallel trends in the social, cultural, and political climate, and “education for sustainable development” has emerged as the increasingly dominant model for global higher education – one which fuses the concerns of environment, society, and economy.  

    Recent columns in Times Higher Education have admirably described the diverse ways in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been intrinsic to this reorientation of the global academy: as a rallying point for students and staff, as an accountability framework, and as a global language for political action, for example. Here at Queen’s University, the SDGs have been an important frame for our current planning process, and in all of those ways have influenced the manner in which we understand and wish to articulate our mission.

    At one point in the process, an influential and valued friend of the university expressed some irritation to me about the way in which the SDGs had come to dominate and disrupt the university’s normally untroubled and inwardly-focused dialogue with itself about mission and values. “And in any case,” came the throwaway dismissal, “there’s nothing original or new about aligning with the SDGs.” Of course, that is true in 2021, but is it relevant? If a university is able to maximise its global impact, does the inherent originality or novelty of its planning parameters matter? In such exchanges – still occurring, I’m certain, on campuses everywhere – we can see that the changing consensus about which I wrote at the start is not yet complete.

    It seems to me, in fact, that much of the value of the SDGs as an organising framework for universities resides in their not being proprietary or “original” to one institution, or to an exclusive group of institutions. It has often been pointed out that they now provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research. Adoption of the SDGs, however variously that is done from institution to institution, is turning the “global academy” from a rhetorical to a real construct, and I can’t imagine why it would be in the interests of any university to hold itself aloof from that transformation. Having watched our planning process unfold at Queen’s over the last two years, I can confirm that what the SDGs do at the global level, they do also at the level of the individual institution, providing a common language that provokes and sustains dialogue – not only between disciplines, but between the academic and non-academic parts of the operation.

    I want to end by commenting on the excitement generated when siloes are broken open and when people and units understand how they are united with others in a common purpose and in service to the greater good. To cultivate that understanding has been the primary objective of planning at Queen’s for the last two years, and preparing our first submission to the Impact Rankings has been an intrinsic part of that process of learning and self-discovery. Naturally, we are delighted and excited by where we find ourselves in the rankings, but we are energised in a more profound way by the knowledge of what synergies and collaborations exist or appear possible both within our university and in the global academy.

    The first 16 SDGs point to the areas in which we want to have impact. The 17th tells us what the whole project is really all about: acting in community for the communal good.



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