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-Principal (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 chairship of the network in 2024; he is currently vie-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-Principal (International) via email.

Originally published in the Queen's Gazette.

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