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The Conversation: Lessons from religious groups for a ‘Ghana beyond aid’

Queen's PhD candidate says Ghana's president seeks to ensure the country becomes self-sufficient rather than depending on foreign aid for development.

File 20180521 42210 hi4u5w.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana addresses the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters in September 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

In his first address on the state of Ghana in February 2017, President Nana Akufo-Addo declared a new vision: “A Ghana beyond aid.”

This vision seeks to ensure that Ghana becomes self-sufficient by “mobilizing domestic resources” rather than depending on foreign aid for development. The president extended his vision to other African countries during an event hosted by the Royal African Society in London a few months later. While speaking on the theme Africa Beyond Aid, he declared:

“It is time to build our economies that are not dependent on charity and handouts … we are not disclaiming aid, but we do want to discard a mindset of dependency… it is unhealthy for both the giver and the receiver.”

While the proposed renaissance primarily focuses on “mobilizing domestic resources,” no attention has been paid to the religious resources available.

What are religious resources?

The Dutch scholar of religion and development, Gerrie ter Haar, categorizes religious resources into religious ideas (what people actually believe), religious practices (rituals), religious organizations (how religious communities function) and religious experiences (such as the subjective experience of inner transformation).

The potential role of these dimensions of religion in regard to development in Africa has been discussed extensively by many scholars and by international development institutions — notably the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Scholars have even postulated that “Africa’s development in the 21st century will be shaped largely by religion.”

Ghana’s government envisions a strong bureaucratic system for taxation by implementing tax identification numbers for all citizens. Ghana has a tax population of about six million, but only 1.5 million Ghanaians are formally registered with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The GRA faces organizational and structural inefficiencies amid the apparent hostility of citizens towards paying taxes. Tax evasion in Ghana is also high among urban dwellers because of the prominence of the underground economy and the high population density in cities.

Makola Market in Accra
The Makola Market in Accra, Ghana. Many city dwellers in Ghana do not pay taxes. (Ariel Manka/Flickr)

Interestingly, the challenges faced by the Ghanaian government in raising revenue from its own population through taxes stands in sharp contrast to the tenacity of religious organizations to “tithe” their own members for projects.

Many urban religious organizations, often Pentecostal-Charismatic, survive largely from the payment of tithes, offerings and donations. A tithe is one-tenth of a church-goer’s monthly income given to the church. An offering includes voluntary monies given by congregants at worship services. Regular offerings may sometimes be followed by special offerings designated for specific purposes that go beyond the frequent church expenditure.

Donations, in cash or material gifts, are sometimes called seed-sowing, and are also given to religious leaders — men or women of God who mediate the religious experience of believers.

Ghanaians more receptive to giving to churches

It’s evident many Ghanaians respond positively to financial appeals from churches compared to how they respond to government taxation measures.

For example, in July 2017, at a Pentecostal-Charismatic event in Accra with a crowd of about 50,000 people, screen shots of “special offerings” went viral on social media, causing a huge public stir. The screen shots featured many types of offerings, namely, “millionaire status offering” ($5,000), the “seed of 1,000 times more” offering ($1,000), and the “24-hour miracle” offering ($240).

While event organizers did not reveal the amount of money generated, an estimated 2.25 million Cedis (US$505,000) was reportedly raised.

Ghana church crowd
Many Ghanaians respond positively to financial appeals in churches. (Ock So Park/Flickr)

Why are government agencies in Ghana unable to efficiently generate taxes in areas where religious organizations seemingly flourish via tithing?

Are religious organizations in Ghana better at mobilizing financial resources than government agencies? Many answers can be provided, but I suggest three.

Rewarded for giving?

First, the act of giving in African Pentecostalism is rationalized with religious/theological foundations so that tithing is understood as transactional or reciprocal. When seeds of money and gifts are sown, the faithful are taught to expect different forms of divine harvest such as money, employment, good health and good fortune in life.

Second, tithing assumes a sociological implication by which adherents identify themselves as belonging to religious communities, not just believing.

Third, the failure of government to deliver on its promises of development compels many people to turn to religious organizations that “claim to possess answers to Ghanaians’ most pressing need - socio-economic transformation.”

Perhaps moving Ghana beyond aid might not be so much about developing new policy instruments, but rather identifying a new strategy to implement those policies. Considering the inefficiencies with taxation, there is certainly the need to bring all potential stakeholders on board — chiefly, religious organizations.

This is not to say that conforming to religious ideas and the operations of religious organizations will lead to better development outcomes. Neither am I arguing for a greater or lesser role of religion as Ghana moves beyond aid. It is also not a recommendation for government to renounce the apparent separation of church and state.

The ConversationThe point here is to acknowledge that religion conspicuously appeals to many people in Ghana in ways that governments do not, and to encourage dialogue between development partners, religious organizations and government — for the good of all Ghanaians.

James Kwateng-Yeboah is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen's University.


This article was originally published on The Conversation, which provides news and views from the academic and research community. Queen’s University is a founding partner. Queen's researchers, faculty, and students are regular contributors.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

Queen’s University Library collaborates on innovative journal

Publication of new mathematical journal is part of the library's ongoing efforts to leverage digital opportunities to advance innovative, cost-effective scholarly communications models.

A new journal in mathematics has been launched with the support of Queen’s University Library.

The journal by Timothy Gowers (University of Cambridge) and Dan Kral (University of Warwick), called Advances in Combinatorics, is an overlay journal, built entirely on articles contained in the arXiv repository.  It is free to read and will not charge authors to publish. The relatively low costs of running the journal are being covered by Queen’s University Library, which is also providing administrative support.

Queen’s University Library was very keen to participate in the launch of the journal, as part of its efforts to leverage digital opportunities to advance innovative, cost-effective scholarly communications models. Technological changes have impacted radically how scholarly research is conducted and disseminated. Yet scholarly publishing continues to follow models that were conceived in the print era. Along with provincial, national, and international partners, the library is working to develop a truly global knowledge commons.

“As libraries, we need to nurture and invest in new models that will contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive system for research communications,” says Martha Whitehead, Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) and University Librarian at Queen’s. “We are delighted to be able to support this innovative approach to journal publishing.”

When Ms. Whitehead approached the Department of Mathematics and Statistics about the project, there was immediate strong interest.

“This initiative goes a long way to solving the difficult problem of allowing scholars, in a sustainable way, to access the work of others and publish their own work in peer reviewed journals without the high costs of commercial publishers,” says James A. Mingo, a professor and head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Queen’s is a member of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), which is actively promoting initiatives such as this one. It was COAR’s Executive Director, Kathleen Shearer, who put Timothy Gowers in touch with Martha Whitehead. COAR is particularly interested in the model offered by the journal, as it uses overlay services on top of repositories, a model that could eventually be generalized beyond arXiv.

“This aligns really well with our vision for next generation repositories,” says Ms. Shearer, “on top of which we can build services such as peer review.”

According to the journal’s founder, Dr. Gowers, research professor at the University of Cambridge, Advances in Combinatorics was created in order to “give people the option... to submit to a journal that is not complicit in a system that uses its monopoly power to ruthlessly squeeze library budgets.”

Raising awareness of the challenges with prevalent publishing models is something Queen’s University Library has been working on for several years. The extreme profit-seeking of some of the commercial publishers is stretching library budgets to the limit. In addition, it has created significant barriers in access to research and – with the advent of article processing charges (APCs) – it is exacerbating inequalities in researchers' ability to publish.

Advances in Combinatorics plans to set a high bar for acceptance. Currently there are no non-commercial publishing venues that cater for combinatorics articles at the level envisaged. The aim is to offer an ethical alternative by launching a journal that publishes high-quality papers, but does not charge article publishing fees to authors or exorbitant journal subscription fees to libraries.

At Queen’s, this project supports the principle of giving VOICE to research, as articulated this past year by the Digital Scholarly Record Working Group. VOICE stands for Value, Openness, Inclusivity, Collaborative Platforms, and Engaged Researchers.

For further information, see the Innovation page of Queen’s University Library’s Information Resources Strategy website.

A minute in history

Queen’s University professor Steven Maynard consults on first-ever LGBTQ Heritage Minute.

For the first time in the history of Historica Canada’s Heritage Minutes, the newest segment focuses on LGBTQ history in Canada, specifically Jim Egan, Canada’s first gay rights activist. Acting as a historical consultant for the Minute was Queen’s University history professor Steven Maynard.

“Historica Canada is trying to broaden the scope of its Heritage Minutes and make them more inclusive,” says Dr. Maynard, who worked on the project for over a year. “They have a new Minute that focuses on Indigenous people and residential schools, while another examines Viola Desmond and the experience of African Canadians. This is the first time they have explored the LGBTQ community in Canada.”

Mr. Egan was chosen as the subject of the Minute because of his work as an activist in 1949 when he regularly wrote to publications criticizing inaccurate portrayals of lesbian and gay people. He also wrote letters to politicians advocating for fairer treatment of lesbians and gays under the law. This activism took place years before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969, and it is captured in the opening sequence of the Minute.

Prior to that time, gay men were often branded as criminal sexual psychopaths and dangerous sexual offenders. These labels provided for indeterminate prison sentences.

The Minute focuses on what Mr. Egan was best known for – fighting for the legal rights of same-sex couples in Canada. In 1986, he began collecting Canada Pension Plan benefits and applied for spousal benefits for his partner Jack Nesbit the following year. The application was denied. The couple took the challenge all the way to the Supreme Court and despite losing that challenge, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously to include sexual orientation as a prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Queen's University professor Steven Maynard worked as a consultant on the newest Heritage Minute featuring Jim Egan and LGBTQ rights in Canada.

“Heritage Minutes are a familiar part of Canadian culture and I think this one will be well received,” says Dr. Maynard. “With the Prime Minister’s recent apology for historical discrimination against LGBTQ Canadians and with upcoming Pride celebrations across the country, this Minute comes at just the right time.”

In addition to suggesting sources and storylines, Dr. Maynard reviewed the scripts provided by Historica Canada to ensure the accuracy of the Minute.

Experiential learning is one of the key components of Dr. Maynard’s classes at Queen’s. He’s looking forward to using the Egan Minute in his courses but notes, “It’s important to take something like this and move it outside the classroom so it has the greatest impact. All Canadians should understand this moment in our history and that is why it was so important to me to work on it with Historica Canada.”

To view the Jim Egan Heritage Minute visit the Historica Canada website and also watch for the new Minute on CBC Television.

Travelling the world for real-world experience

Queen's doctoral candidates Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan are traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship.

Queen's doctoral candidates Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan are traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship.
With the support of the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship, Kaj Sullivan and Neil Fernandes are able to travel to gain real-world expoerience and skills training in their areas of study. (University Communications)

For any student, gaining real world, hands-on experiential learning is invaluable.

Thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship from the Kimberley Foundation, Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan, doctoral candidates in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, will be traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government within their respective fields of study.

This year marked the inauguration of the Hugh C. Morris Fellowship, which is valued up to $40,000, and is intended to fund a year-long experiential learning program. Three fellowships, two for Queen’s, were handed out due to the quality of the proposals and because the Kimberley Foundation wanted to demonstrate the breadth of projects that fall under its mandate.

For Mr. Fernandes that means traveling to the United States, Peru, Brazil, Ireland, Sweden, Namibia, Australia, and around Canada, to learn about some of the world’s most important geological and mineral sites related to ore deposits found in sedimentary rocks.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he explains.

“It’s a great chance to see how the mining industry and mineral resources affect different people around the world and how it is all sort of linked to geology. The rocks play a critical role in it obviously as the rocks are the sources of the minerals, but from the perspective of a career in the natural resources sector, it’s a chance to see a variety of different kinds of mineral deposits in a variety of geographic settings in a variety of cultural settings,” he says. “I never thought that I would find myself underground in a mine in the southern desert of Namibia. For me, it’s a dream come true really.” 

Through his studies, Mr. Fernandes investigates the genesis of a significant zinc mining district in Central Brazil. No matter where he ends up, he realizes the importance of understanding the full scope of the mineral resources process – exploration, extraction, processing and remediation. Another increasingly important element is developing positive relationships between the mining sector and the surrounding communities. 

Through the fellowship he will be able to connect with and experience first-hand a wide range of examples of these working relationships. As such he will be collaborating with 13 mining companies, eight universities and five government geological surveys around the world.

“Right now, the big thing for people coming out of school is that everyone is saying they don’t have enough experience. We have all this learning but we don’t have, quote, unquote, the experience,” he says. “So I think what this does for us specifically is gives us the experience of seeing what is going on in our relevant fields – what resources are being used, what techniques are being applied to find and extract them, how these tools are being developed. It is sure to be a life-changing experience.”

Mr. Sullivan’s plans involve less traveling as he is focusing on collaborating with labs in Japan, England and here in Canada. Specializing in isotope geochemistry, he is exploring if copper, zinc, and iron can be used as biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, as is done with some forms of cancer.

“One of the great things about the Experiential Learning Fellowship is the flexibility that we’re provided with. Due to the differing nature of each recipient’s research, we have designed drastically different learning programs that will best suit our needs. While Neil’s journey will take him to many different locations, mine will involve extended visits at three laboratories,“ he says. “I viewed the fellowship as an excellent opportunity to reach out to the researchers who have inspired my work and spend time at their facilities learning from them.” 

The fellowship also offers recipients the chance to learn new skills and information that will not only help them in their doctoral work but in their later careers as well.

As part of his fellowship, Mr. Sullivan will be spending six months with the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa, working with researchers to develop analytical abilities at their lab. 

“Overall, these visits are about becoming a better, more well-rounded researcher,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to getting exposed to different research environments and developing skills and relationships that will help shape my future career. The opportunity to work with researchers at home and abroad will be invaluable. It is truly a global research community and the more connections made, the more opportunities to participate in new and exciting research emerge. This was demonstrated to me by my original supervisor, the late Dr. Kurt Kyser, who collaborated on numerous multidisciplinary projects with researchers from different parts of the globe.” 

The knowledge sharing through the fellowships isn’t in just one direction. Both Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Sullivan will also be sharing their research and experiences gained at Queen’s as they make new connections.

The Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship was created to support graduate students at Canadian universities to undertake a program of self-guided travel and experiential learning for studies related to earth, geology, environment, water, alternative energy, climate change, sustainability, or the social impact, social sciences or design sciences concerned with earth, sustainability or environmental issues.

Building community at the castle

Staff, students, and faculty at the Bader International Study Centre are working together to foster equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

A group of students are welcomed to the BISC at Heathrow Airport. (Supplied Photo)
A group of students are welcomed to the BISC at Heathrow Airport. (Supplied Photo)

Multi-faith space; training for staff, students, and faculty; and more people resources dedicated to equity, diversity, and inclusivity are on their way to the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) this fall.

These new additions to the castle community came about as a result of efforts on the part of staff, students, and faculty working to build a more inclusive campus.

In 2016, a one-time BISC University Inclusion Committee was struck to study these issues and come up with some recommendations. Since that time, the BISC’s Vice-Provost and Executive Director, Hugh Horton, has followed up by establishing a standing Vice-Provost’s Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity.  

“This committee will be working over the next three years to support senior management in their development of a strategic plan for ensuring the promotion of access, inclusion, and diversity on the BISC campus; and to provide a coordinated approach to these issues,” says Roxy Denniston-Stewart, BISC Student and Enrolment Services Manager, who chairs this committee. “So far, the reception has been positive and the results encouraging.”

One of the committee’s first tasks was to issue a campus-wide survey to help form localized recommendations that could help make the BISC campus more inclusive.

The survey identified that the majority of respondents felt that they were treated equally, and that the BISC offered an inclusive environment. The issues and barriers that were identified were similar to those identified in the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) report, with two challenges in particular that posed more of a problem for the BISC - infrastructure, and ensuring the language of Queen's values were transparent to British faculty and staff. 

"Being based in a historic building can make accessibility at times an intractable problem, and when we first attempted to get the view of staff and faculty on the many issues we were debating we had to ensure we kept true to the meaning of the Queen's values while translating these values into British English,"  says Ben Martin, a Philosophy Professor who is a member of the Advisory Committee. "For example, instead of using the word 'equity' in the UK, we tend to use the terms 'equality of opportunity'. The important point, however, is that all members of the community recognize what these values represent: the commitment to ensure that all academically able students have an equal opportunity to attend the BISC, regardless of their background."

In response to the survey, the BISC is ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusivity issues are taken into consideration and reflected in campus policies; providing cross-cultural training and sexual violence awareness training to all staff, and similar training to BISC first-years; and increasing collaboration with the Queen’s Equity and Human Rights Office.

As some next steps, the BISC will aim to establish a dedicated multi-faith prayer and reflection space; introduce more staff and management training; and work to ensure there is an Equity and Human Rights Office representative for the BISC as well as student government representatives focused on equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

“The committee made great strides in identifying areas that would improve the inclusivity, equity, and diversity at the BISC,” says Chloe Smith (Artsci’21), one of the student members of the committee. “I found all the committee members to be open to suggestions and it was evident by their hard work that this topic was important to everyone.”

“My experience really showed me that it only takes a few committed individuals to be able to make a difference,” adds Sara-Maya Kaba (Con.Ed’22), another student member on the committee. “I want the BISC to feel like home to anyone who walks through its doors, and I believe equity, diversity, and inclusivity plays a big part in being able to make that happen.”

Decade-long Cuban partnership continues

Queen’s and the University of Havana celebrate the future of their partnership.

[The 2018 Cuba trip cohort pose together with a statue in Havana. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)]
The 2018 Cuba trip cohort pose together with a statue in Havana. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)

Queen’s and the University of Havana have partnered  for the past 10 years to teach the Cuban Society and Culture course and host visiting scholars and artists. The study abroad course has seen over 300 Queen’s students study in Havana thus far, and will continue thanks to a new agreement signed in Havana during a celebration of the course and partnership in May.

[Students, staff, and faculty from both universities enjoy local food and musical (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)]
Students, staff, and faculty from both universities enjoy local food and music. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)

For Susan Lord (Film and Media) and Karen Dubinsky (History/Global Development Studies), their ongoing professional relationship with their colleagues from the University of Havana has created opportunities that stretch farther than their annual course.

The course begins at Queen’s in the winter term. Students learn about the history of Cuba from 1959 to present day, studying social and cultural challenges, successes, and innovations. Students then travel to Havana for two weeks to experience what they learned over the semester. They visit historic monuments, take in the modern landscape of music, agriculture, and city living, participate in classes at the University of Havana, and enjoy the warm hospitality of their Cuban colleagues and fellow students.

“We have sessions throughout the trip for students to digest their experiences,” says Dr. Lord. “We talk about what they find on the street that contradicts or extends what they’ve learned in books. Some of the key takeaways for students from this past trip was the amount of music everywhere in Havana and the diversity of perspectives on Cuban reality presented by professors in the course. This is much more enriching than only learning in a textbook.”

[Students travel through an art exhibit featuring mosaic tile. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)]
Students travel through an art exhibit featuring mosaic tile. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)

A decade of collaboration has led to lasting relationships between the coordinators from both countries. University of Havana professor Sonia Enjamio was a core contact for Drs. Lord and Dubinsky before she died in 2010. To commemorate her dedication to the course and students, the coordinators of the course, including Drs. Lord and Dubinsky and University of Havana Vice-Dean (International) Lourdes Perez, decided to create the Sonia Enjamio Fund to help Queen’s students continue their studies and University of Havana students study at Queen’s.

“Relationships are a key ingredient to success for these kinds of programs, and the Cuban Society and Culture course is a great example of best practices,” says Jenny Corlett, Director of International Initiatives with the Faculty of Arts and Science. “The coursework is the trunk of the tree, but there are so many relationships that spread like roots to make it stable and keep it growing.”

This connection between Queen’s and the University of Havana has led to dozens of research projects by both universities’ researchers. Ten scholars and artists from Cuba have participated in exchanges to Queen’s. Freddy Monasterio Barso (Cultural Studies) is a Cuban PhD candidate and one of the course instructors for Cuban Society and Culture.

Recent research collaborations between Cuba and Queen’s include:

  • An upcoming book of essays and interviews of Sara Gómez, an Afro-Cuban filmmaker of the sixties by Dr. Lord;
  • A book on Canada-Cuban person-to-person relations by Dr. Dubinsky;
  • A master’s thesis on staying current in an offline country by Xenia Reloba de la Cruz, a Cuban journalist who completed her master’s at Queen’s in Cultural Studies; and
  • A 2014 anthology of renowned Cuban musician Carlos Varela’s work in English and Spanish curated by Dr. Dubinsky, Ms. Reloba de la Cruz, and former Cuban visiting scholar to Queen’s Maria Caridad Cumana. Mr. Varela received an honorary degree from Queen’s in the same year.

“The relationship between Queen’s and the University of Havana precedes the course by several decades,” says Dr. Dubinsky. “It began in the early seventies as part of a large project organized by Canadian University Service Overseas, a Canadian non-governmental organization. Fifty Canadian engineering professors taught over 300 Cuban students. That first project was judged a rousing success, and efforts such as our course continue that connection.”

[Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International), and Barbara Crow, Dean (Faculty of Arts and Science) participate in the awarding of certificates to students in the course. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)]
Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International), and Barbara Crow, Dean (Faculty of Arts and Science) participate in the awarding of certificates to students in the course. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)

Dr. Lord’s vision for the next 5 years of the course is a healthy mixture of growth and sustainability.

“We work hard to keep the costs low. This is one of the least expensive exchange courses to Cuba, so we have to be innovative about how we grow sustainably,” says Dr. Lord. “We would like to increase the Sonia Enjamio Fund to have more reciprocal exchange, and explore more initiatives to support the course. I’d also like to do more work with graduate students to help facilitate their participation.”

The end of the tenth trip was marked with a celebration involving students, staff, and faculty from both universities. Guests enjoyed local cuisine, music (including a concert by Cuban hip hop artist Telmary Diaz, visiting artist at Queen’s in 2017), and the signing of an agreement by Barbara Crow, Dean (Faculty of Arts and Science) and Kathy O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International) to continue the partnership for another 5 years.

[Students thank their guides and professors during the contract signing and 10 year celebration at the end of the visit. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)]
Students thank their guides and professors during the contract signing and 10 year celebration at the end of the visit. (Photo: Chris Tianyu Yao)

“Cuban Culture and Society is one of my favourite memories of my first year here at Queen’s,” says Chris Tianyu Yao (ArtSci’21), a Film and Media student. “From my perspective, the uniqueness of the course is the diverse and interdisciplinary content. It gave me an opportunity to engage in many new fields of study, such as politics, global development, and health studies. I could also easily find my own interests in this course. These experiences helped me to continue my study and research in film, art, and cultural studies.”

To find out more about the course, visit the Department of Global Development Studies website.

A super supervisor

Suning Wang is being celebrated with a national award for helping graduate students become successful scientists.

[Suning Wang with students]
Dr. Suning Wang (centre right) poses in her lab with three of her students. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

A national body has recognized a Queen’s professor for her outstanding mentorship of graduate students.

Suning Wang of the Department of Chemistry has received the inaugural Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentorship.

This award is intended to recognize graduate faculty members with a record of excellent mentorship of graduate students under their supervision. Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean (Graduate Studies) who is also Past President of CAGS, noted the importance of strong mentorship in the success of students during their studies and in their careers.

“The outstanding mentorship that Dr. Wang provides is reflected in the success of her graduate students, who go on to hold prestigious fellowships and faculty positions, and work in government and in industrial labs around the world,” says Brenda Brouwer. “Her students credit her with supporting life-changing personal growth, stemming from her genuine care for each student as a person. She sets high expectations and challenges her students to think critically about science, ask difficult and important questions, communicate scientific findings, and to grow as researchers, scientists, and individuals.”

CAGS has identified a few key behaviours that the best graduate mentors all demonstrate:

  • inspiring, guiding, and challenging supervisees to achieve excellence in scholarship;
  • providing a supportive environment that stimulates creativity, debate, engagement and dialogue and progression toward timely completion;
  • responding to the needs of their students and their career/future aspirations;
  • encouraging students to pursue opportunities to share and disseminate their research and scholarly activities within and beyond academia; and,
  • supporting supervisees in developing their academic and professional skills and transitioning beyond graduate studies.

“Dr. Wang’s record and the sincere gratitude and enthusiasm of your students for the mentorship she provides them was truly inspiring and stood out as exemplary,” says Susan Porter, CAGS President. “We are delighted to have Dr. Wang serve as the inaugural role model for this award.”

As the recipient of this award, Dr. Wang will receive a certificate of recognition from CAGS at their annual meeting.

“I consider this the most important recognition for my professional life because I spent most of the past 28 years – including 22 years at Queen’s – supervising the research of graduate students,” says Dr. Wang. “I feel very grateful and pleased that my efforts are appreciated by my former and current students. I am truly honored and humbled by this award.”

This award comes hot on the heels of an award for graduate student supervision which Queen’s announced for Dr. Wang back in the fall. She formally received that award during spring convocation 2018.

For more information on the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentorship, visit cags.ca.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 7

Hugh Segal receives an honorary degree as final week of Spring Convocation begins.

  • Hugh Segal laughs after a child responded during his speech
    Honorary degree recipent Hugh Segal lets out a laugh after a child in the crowd responded to his anecdote as he spoke at Monday morning's Spring Convocation ceremony.
  • A doctoral student from the Faculty of Arts and Science
    A PhD recipient from the Faculty of Arts and Science is hooded by Associate Dean (Studies) Jill Atkinson as Principal Daniel Woolf looks on.
  • Chancellor shakes hands with a graduate
    A graduate from the Faculty of Arts and Science points out her family as she is congratulated by Chancellor Jim Leech during the 16th ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Grant Hall during Spring Convocation ceremony 16
    Grant Hall is filled for the 16th ceremony of Spring Convocation on Monday, June 4.
  • Thanyehténhas (Nathan Brinklow), Opening dedication
    Thanyehténhas (Nathan Brinklow), of the Office of the Chaplain, provides the opening dedication in the Mohawk language and English during the morning ceremony on Monday, June 4.
  • Graduate students in the first row
    Masters and doctoral degree recipients fill the front row at Grant Hall during Monday morning's ceremony at Grant Hall, the 15th of Spring Convocation.
  • Principal Daniel Woolf offers greeting
    Principal Daniel Woolf welcomes the graduates, and their families and friends to Queen's University for the 15th ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Family members take a video of Hugh Segal
    Family members take a video of Hugh Segal as he receives his honorary degree during Monday morning's Spring Convocation ceremony at Grant Hall.

Spring Convocation entered its final week on Monday with a pair of ceremonies being held at Grant Hall.

In the morning celebration an honorary degree was conferred upon Hugh Segal, Principal of Massey College former Associate Cabinet Secretary (Federal-Provincial Affairs), Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister.

Convocation will continue with three ceremonies being held on Tuesday at 10 am 1 pm and 4 pm. The two final ceremonies will follow on Wednesday at 10 am and 2:30 pm, when award-winning architect Douglas Cardinal will receive an honorary degree.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Further photos can be viewed at the Queen’s University page on flickr.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 6

  • Former Member of Parliament John Baird (Artsci'92)
    Former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister John Baird (Artsci'92) speaks to the graduates after receiving his honorary degree.
  • Honorary degree recipient Valerie Tarasuk
    Honorary degree recipient Valerie Tarasuka, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, speaks with Queen's faculty members outside Grant Hall. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Two graduates are hooded
    Two graduates are hooded from the Faculty of Arts and Science are hooded during the 14th ceremony of Spring Convocation 2018 at Grant Hall.
  • Tyler Lively and Daniel Woolf
    Principal Daniel Woolf shakes hands with Tyler Lively, the former president of the Alma Mater Society, after he was hooded at Spring Convocation.
  • Video of John Baird
    A woman takes a video of John Baird as he speaks after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University on Friday, June 1.
  • Graduate receives blanket from kandice
    A graduate receives a blanket from Kandice Baptiste, Director of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, during Friday afternoon's convocation ceremony.
  • Chancellor Jim Leech photo with graduate
    Chancellor Jim Leech poses for a photo with a new graduate and her family outside of Grant Hall following Friday morning convocation ceremony. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • Principal Daniel Woolf congratulates Melanie Robinson
    Principal Daniel Woolf congratulates Melanie Robinson, a teacher at Granite Ridge Education Centre, as she receives a Baillie Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • A group of graduates are all smiles
    A group of graduates are all smiles as the wait to take the stage of Grant Hall and be hooded at Friday morning's convocation ceremony. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Queen’s University conferred a pair of honorary degrees on Friday as two ceremonies were held at Grant Hall.

During the afternoon ceremony, John Baird (Artsci’92), the former Member of Parliament, Minister of Foreign Affairs, President of the Treasury Board, Minister of the Environment, and Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, was recognized.

Earlier in the day, Valerie Tarasuk, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, received her degree.

Convocation will continue on Monday, June 4 with two ceremonies at 10 am and 2:30 pm. An honorary degree will be conferred upon Hugh Segal, the current principal of Massey College, and former Associate Cabinet Secretary (Federal-Provincial Affairs) and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Further photos can be viewed at the Queen’s University page on flickr.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 4

  • Former Rector Cam Yung and Chancellor Jim Leech
    Cam Yung, the 35th rector of Queen's, is congratulated by Chancellor Jim Leech as Vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris looks on.
  • Vice Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Brenda Brouwer
    Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Brenda Brouwer speaks to graduates during the eighth ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Graduate flexes his arms
    A graduate of the Faculty of Arts and Science flexes his arms as he celebrates during Wednesday morning's ceremony at Grant Hall.
  • Vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris
    Vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris addresses those gathered at Grant Hall during Wednesday morning's convocation ceremony.
  • A graduate gets pin from QUAA
    A graduate prepares to receive a pin from a representative of the Queen's University Alumni Association after being hooded.
  • PhD graduate and chancellor
    A doctoral degree recipient waves to his family as he is congratulated by Chancellor Jim Leech on Wednesday morning.
  • Graduates are hooded
    A pair of graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Science are hooded during Wednesday afternoon's ceremony at Grant Hall.
  • Graduate hooded by her parents
    A graduate of the Faculty of Arts and Science is hooded by her parents during the ninth ceremony of Spring Convocation at Queen's.

On a beautiful sunny day, graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Science and the School of Graduate Studies took to the stage of Grant Hall on the fourth day of Spring Convocation at Queen’s University.

One of the graduates was Cam Yung, the 35th rector of Queen’s, who received his Bachelor of Science degree.

Spring convocation continues on Thursday with three ceremonies being held at Grant Hall at 10 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm.

An honorary degree will be conferred upon Indira Samarasekera at the 4 pm ceremony.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Further photos can be viewed at the Queen’s University page on flickr.


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