to the developing world
Tony Collins and Dr. Anthony Dickinson at the Nkrume Teachers
College, Zanzibar, with the director, Mariam Yussuf. The pair
were in Zanzibar doing some science curriculum development work
as part of the MUN Tanzania project.
With assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA), Memorial has been working with developing country universities
to enhance their research, curriculum and community outreach
Funds for these activities are available through an annual competition
from the University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development
(UPCD) program of the Canadian Partnerships Branch of CIDA. The
general aim of the program is to link Canadian universities with
educational institutions in developing countries.
The rationale is that you all get together and do things
that are required to develop specific aspects of the institution,
which in turn makes a contribution to the development of the
country, said Dr. Anthony Dickinson, acting executive director
of Memorials International Centre. Memorial has been
very successful in accessing funds from this program.
So where in the world has Memorial been with these projects?
Last year, Memorial finished three long-term projects: in Brazil,
Kenya and Tanzania. All of these involved MUNs expertise
in fisheries and marine science. Work continues on projects in
Chile (nursing/womens studies), Brazil (aquaculture), Vietnam
and Indonesia (nursing/nursing social work).
It is a question of access to expertise, skills, and opportunities,
answered Dr. Dickinson. We can provide these institutions
with access to intellectual capacities and knowledge, particularly
research skills and state-of-the-art methods, that are not locally
MUN has significant capacities in marine and health sciences
which are very useful to developing countries, specifically for
protein production, poverty reduction, and basic health improvement,
he explained. For example, most developing countries have
rapidly growing populations which do not get enough protein.
One way we can help them to improve nutritional standards is
by helping them develop fisheries and aquaculture programs.
Some of the project funds are used to bring foreign researchers
to Memorial to pursue graduate studies. According to Dr. Dickinson,
One of the only chances people in the developing world
get to study abroad is through funds provided by such projects.
It is often their only chance to experience study and research
in the developed world.
It is, however, not simply a matter of helping institutions,
you have also got to transfer development-related knowledge
to the community at large, Dr. Dickinson noted. One
way in which our projects do this is to make significant use
of small-format video as a medium for reaching the general public.
Project benefits do not go all one way, however. According to
Dr. Dickinson, the exposure given to faculty members can
provide an international perspective for their course content.
In addition, project participation by MUN students and graduates
gives them insight into development issues, particularly the
poverty and lack of infrastructure which these countries face.
Drs. Michael Collins and Alan Whittick, professors of biology
at MUN who were involved in the project in Tanzania, concurred
on this point: The impact of visiting a developing country
was quite staggering especially with regard to the lack
of research and teaching resources. Despite such difficulties,
both were very positive about their experiences. When we
teach environmental studies and marine botany, we now bring in
examples of what we learned in Tanzania - when youve been
to a developing country, you think of issues related to your
fields that you had not considered before.
Communication between the International Centre and MUNs
faculty, students, and alumni is crucial to targeting specific
foreign institutions and developing successful relationships.
These projects often originate through word of mouth and
informal contacts made between faculty members, said Dr.
Dickinson. For example, a faculty member who has attended
an international meeting may have met someone from an institution
in a developing country. During conversation, they discuss possible
cooperation initiatives. If word gets back to the International
Centre, I might suggest that we develop a project proposal to
submit to the UPCD competition.
If successful, this makes a further contribution to the internationalisation
of MUN, and continues its commitment to improving living standards
in the developing world.