Research universities are driving forces in international affairs, acting not just as magnets for the intellectual and financial capital so crucial to innovation, but playing key roles in shaping policy. With technology rapidly shrinking geographic distances, we’re becoming acutely aware that health, social, and economic issues are now international, not domestic, challenges. McGill is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, and certainly its most international university. As such, we have a leadership role to play in helping change this new world for the better.
McGill has a proud heritage of award-winning, cutting-edge scholarship and discovery—and it’s a tradition that, happily, continues to be as robust as ever. On February 19, 2008, we acknowledged our latest research breakthroughs and awardwinning researchers during an evening called “Applause: A Celebration of Research Excellence.” The event’s keynote speaker, former Prime Minister Joe Clark—now Professor of Practice for Public-Private Sector Partnerships at McGill’s Centre for Developing-Area Studies—noted that “it is as important to investigate ways to extend the practical benefits of discovery, particularly to a developing world whose own status is changing, as it is to encourage discovery itself.”
Fortunately, the era of developed nations imposing their infrastructures and solutions on the developing world is waning, signaling a new era of pan-cultural collaboration. In this issue of Headway, we focus on several such research projects, all based in various African countries. From helping bring new environmentally-friendly pesticide controls to the Kenyan market, to undergraduates applying (and, importantly, expanding) their knowledge in Uganda, to working with developing nations such as Nigeria to develop efficient public services—our researchers are joining forces with colleagues around the world to field test current knowledge and help build capacity on the ground, where it counts.
To again quote the former Prime Minister: “The road from ‘Eureka!’ to action often requires engaging governments and persuading populations—and that can be as challenging as the actual discovery.” In today’s global village, more than ever, universities are obligated to seize a leadership role. I am proud to present many of our outstanding researchers and our African colleagues in the following pages.
Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations)