International

Saint Mary's and Yale partner for experiential learning in Northern Ireland

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A group of Saint Mary’s students and professors departs Halifax on Tuesday, heading overseas to share peace education workshops with children in 16 schools in Northern Ireland.

It’s the 14th annual trip to Belfast through the Northern Ireland Conflict Resolution Program, which provides unique experiential learning for students in SMU’s Faculties of Arts, Science and Commerce.

This year for the first time, an undergraduate Yale class studying political science with Dr. Bonnie Weir is collaborating with the SMU students, thanks to technology.

“They’ll have a chance to Skype into what we’re doing in real time,” says Bridget Brownlow, SMU’s Conflict Resolution Advisor and President of Peaceful Schools International.

“Our colleagues at Yale recognize Saint Mary’s as a leader in this type of experiential programming linked to civil conflict in Northern Ireland. Yale is interested in the model we use to engage with schools and communities, and has an interest in replicating our efforts in the promotion of peace education and exploring the various connections we’ve developed with schools, ex-combatants, community leaders and academics over the past 14 years. We anticipate developing a long-term, meaningful partnership.”  

The Yale students will have the chance to share questions beyond the school programming as they join in the SMU team’s discussions with ex-combatants who are now working toward peace.

Brownlow and Weir have been exploring ways to collaborate for some time. Their efforts were enhanced in November, when Brownlow and SMU President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray took part in a symposium at Yale, co-hosted by Queen’s University Belfast. Titled “Twenty Years of Peace: Progress and Possibilities in Northern Ireland,” the conference brought together academics, community leaders, politicians and architects of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, which in 1998 marked a formal end to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Another twist for this year’s trip to Belfast is the new series of storybooks launched in October by Peaceful Schools International, with support from SMU and SMUSA. Already shared locally with more than 1,000 elementary schoolchildren, the books were written and illustrated by three Halifax junior high students.

The Saint Mary’s students have created interactive workshops based on these books. To date, their efforts have been very well received by local children. One of the books, Animal School, has just been translated into Irish (by Prof. Neil Ó Briain of the Department of Irish Studies at Saint Mary’s) and will be presented to a Bunscoil An Tsleibhe Dhuibh, a long-term Irish medium school. Plans are underway to translate the other two books.

The Saint Mary’s team, including 25 students and four faculty members, will return to Canada on February 25. It’s the most diverse group of students to date, says Brownlow, adding it includes international students from as far away as Bangladesh, Yemen, Nigeria, Brazil, India and Jamaica.

The faculty members involved are conducting research while in Northern Ireland:

  • Dr. David Bourgeois, a Psychology professor, is studying the impact of the Peaceful Schools International program on our own student participants at SMU, as well as initiating research on the motivational profiles of Loyalist Youth involved in the ongoing activities associated with bonfires in Belfast and surrounding areas;

  • Criminology professor Dr. Ashley Carver is conducting research on Republican and Loyalist internees; and

  • Dr. Catherine Loughlin, Associate Dean of Research and Knowledge Mobilization for the Sobey School of Business, is collaborating with Dr. Carver on the role of women internees in Northern Ireland.  

For updates on the initiative, please follow Peaceful Schools International on Twitter at @PeaceatSchool and Facebook at @peacefulschoolsinternational.     

Celebrating African Heritage Month 2019

Join Saint Mary’s University in celebrating African Heritage Month by exploring the multitude of events taking place across campus, including a one-of-a-kind exhibit and panel discussion in the Patrick Power Library.

African Heritage Month events at Saint Mary’s.  Click here to go to the Saint Mary’s events calendar.

African Heritage Month events at Saint Mary’s. Click here to go to the Saint Mary’s events calendar.

The theme of the panel discussion is “Racial Apartheid & Black Freedom Struggles in Nova Scotia & South Africa”. The exhibit features Nova Scotian and South African materials from the Lynn Jones African-Canadian Heritage and Diaspora Heritage Collection, housed in the Saint Mary’s University Archives. The exhibit will be on display on the first floor of the Patrick Power Library, Saint Mary’s University from February 4-28, 2019.

The panel discussion will feature South African writer and SMU scholar Gugu Hlongwane, Dr. Lynn Jones (Global African Congress, NS Chapter), researcher and filmmaker Francesca Ekwuyasi, and social justice strategist, songwriter and educator Delvina Bernard. The panel will speak to similarities and differences between Black history and freedom struggles in Nova Scotia and South Africa. This event takes place on Tuesday February 12th, 6:30-8pm, Patrick Power Library Classroom (LI135).

The Saint Mary’s University Archives is the proud home of the Lynn Jones African-Canadian Heritage & Diaspora Heritage Collection, which “documents the lives of Lynn, her family, and over 50 years of African, African Diasporic, and African-Nova Scotian heritage and history”.

Dr. Lynn Jones

Dr. Lynn Jones

Learn more about the Collection and how to access it at https://smu.ca/academics/archives/lynn-jones-african-canadian-collection.html

For more information about African Heritage Month and the events taking place throughout the province, visit https://ansa.novascotia.ca/, Facebook, @AfricanNSAffairs or Twitter, @OfficeofANSA.

Bridges to Thailand: Saint Mary’s signs MOU with Srinakharinwirot University

The start of a partnership: Dr, Malcolm Butler, VPAR with Associate Professor Prit Supasetsiri, Vice President for International Relations and Communications, SWU and the visiting delagates in the McNally Boardroom.

The start of a partnership: Dr, Malcolm Butler, VPAR with Associate Professor Prit Supasetsiri, Vice President for International Relations and Communications, SWU and the visiting delagates in the McNally Boardroom.

The signing of a MoU between Saint Mary’s University and Srinakharinwirot University (SWU) in Thailand marks the beginning of a new partnership and opens the door to increased international mobility for both institutions.

A ten-person delegation from SWU came to campus on November 28 to visit Saint Mary’s, sign the MoU and discuss further opportunities for potential collaboration including joint degree programs, student exchanges and ESL summer/short-term courses.

In addition to Dr. Butler, delegates spoke with Dr. Adam Sarty, AVP Research, and Dean, FGSR; Dr. Harjeet Bhabra Dean, SSB; and Nicola MacNevin from the The Language Centre.

The Thai delegation included faculty from their College of Social Communication Innovation and Faculty of Economics who want to build ties with relevant Saint Mary’s programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

The Language Centre is also considering building a customized short-term program that focuses on English training, intercultural communication, or other specific subjects. SWU students could potentially start taking part in language training programs as early as next summer (2019).

Saint Mary’s was first introduced to SWU in June 2018 with the support of Nitchawan (Pan) Sriviboone, Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, who identified the institutions as a good match for Saint Mary’s University in terms of partnerships.

Collaboration agreement signed between Saint Mary’s and LAU

Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray shakes hands with LAU President Dr Joseph G. Jabbra

Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray shakes hands with LAU President Dr Joseph G. Jabbra

Saint Mary’s University and the Lebanese American University (LAU), have signed an agreement that will open doors to more collaboration between the two institutions.  The agreement allows for a variety of new opportunities including academic and professional exchange, joint research and short-term academic programs.

LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra welcomed Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, to the Jamil Iskandar Conference Room at LAU’s Byblos campus on October 9, 2018, to sign the agreement.

President Jabbra is known to many on campus from his time spent as both an active member of the political science department and as the Vice President, Academic and Research from 1980 to 1990. In April 2017, President Jabbra received a Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, from Saint Mary’s.

Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray and LAU President Dr Joseph G. Jabbra sign the collaboration agreement between the two universities.

Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray and LAU President Dr Joseph G. Jabbra sign the collaboration agreement between the two universities.

Saint Mary’s University has a well-established commitment to cultural diversity and encourages and supports the development of a global perspective. This new collaboration supports Saint Mary’s commitment to international and intercultural education and the global connectivity of the university and the university’s research partnerships. Saint Mary’s is recognized as a Canadian leader in these areas with extensive international outreach and collaboration by way of institutional linkages with universities around the world. This agreement with LAU marks another opportunity for students, faculty and staff to benefit from global perspectives and partnerships.

At the signing, Dr. Summerby-Murray emphasized the importance of the collaboration and the strong foundation that is already in place between both institutions and countries. The end of the event was marked by the exchange of gifts between the two presidents. The partnership is expected to begin shortly, with a representative of LAU expected to arrive on campus later this month.

Saint Mary’s archaeological expedition to share the story of people enslaved at coffee plantation in Cuba

Students unearthing artificacts at the Angerona Plantation archaeology site. 

Students unearthing artificacts at the Angerona Plantation archaeology site. 

A group of Canadian university students are about to depart on an archeological expedition to Cuba, spearheaded by Saint Mary’s University. The students will be excavating historical artifacts and investigating the cemetery at Angerona, a Cuban national historic site and former slave plantation, 80 kilometres east of Havana.

Interested in applying to join the expedition or looking for more information?

Email Professor Taylor at c.aarontaylor@gmail.com. The fee to join the expedition is $1600 (this includes accommodations, meals and transportation within Cuba) plus airfare and tuition (2 credits). The deadline to apply is May 4th.

“This expedition offers an opportunity to work with our partners in Cuba to uncover more of the lost history of the Angerona Coffee Plantation,” said Aaron Taylor, a Professor of Archaeology at Saint Mary’s and the program’s instructor.  “This plantation has a big historical significance in Cuba, and we want to help tell the stories of the people who were enslaved there.”

During the 19th century, Angerona was one of the largest slave plantations in the Americas—yet little is known about the day-to-day lives of the people who lived there.

A collection of some of the artifacts found in the first year of the excavation.

A collection of some of the artifacts found in the first year of the excavation.

From June 10 to July 1, students from Canada and Cuba will be working together on excavating, identifying and interpreting the artifacts they find.

In addition to continued exploration of the site’s barracks, this expedition will include an investigation of the plantation's cemetery and the recovery of skeletal remains. This will provide a clearer story of life on the plantation. The team will be able to learn more about the people on the plantation, such as their general health, diet, age of death, and burial customs. This will include further research into the possibility that Nova Scotia supplied large quantities of codfish to Cuba during the period of the plantation system.

This trip marks the second year of what will be at least a five-year partnership between Saint Mary’s University, Havana’s Cabinet of Archeology and the College of San Geronimo.

 For more information about the expedition and to apply to join the team, visit http://www.smu.ca/academics/departments/cuba-archaeology.