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REF NO.: 151

SUBJECT: Memorial University continues to build Irish-Newfoundland relationships
DATE: Jan. 20, 2005

Memorial University of Newfoundland continues to build and reinforce Newfoundland and Labrador’s connections with Ireland. The university has just embarked on a new initiative which will see academics, senior civil servants, and other experts from both jurisdictions exchange places in the interest of sharing perspectives and ideas.

The Coracle Irish-Newfoundland Fellowships and Roundtables (CINFR) is intended to create additional exchanges between Ireland and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in all areas relevant to the Irish-Newfoundland relationship. The CINFR will primarily take the form of short residencies but will also include roundtables, or brief high-level discussions on issues of interest to both the province and to Ireland.

The initiative draws its name from the coracle, the legendary sailing craft that was supposedly used by the sixth-century monk St. Brendan the Navigator, who is reputed to have sailed from Ireland to Iceland, Greenland and perhaps as far as the island of Newfoundland. While St. Brendan’s voyage cannot be confirmed, his legendary voyage was replicated in 1976 by the English adventurer Tim Severin, and his hardy craft and determination now provide a metaphor to an initiative celebrating the spirit of a province that has navigated the stormy waters of economic survival and cultural identity.

“I am very pleased with this initiative,” said Dr. Axel Meisen, Memorial University’s president. “Such innovative and international exchanges are key to intellectual inquiry and teaching at Memorial University. The fellowships and roundtables we are establishing build on Memorial’s past connections with Ireland. These intellectual exchanges will thrive on the similarities our province has with Ireland but also provide valuable perspectives because of our differences. I am anticipating that the sharing of ideas among the two places will lead to valuable research, artistic expression, discussion, and public policy for all. Given the place Irelandoccupies in the history, culture and consciousness of this province, I expect that there will be great interest in these exchanges.”

In order to be considered, fellows in this program will have to have demonstrated a clear interest and expertise in a specific area. These would include, but not limited to: regional economic or business development; the study of society, history or politics; literature and the arts; technology and innovation.

Eligible applicants may include: faculty members of Memorial University and universities in Ireland; senior civil servants, labour and business leaders; cultural, artistic and heritage leaders; eminent practitioners from the professions such as, but not restricted to, nursing, medicine, and engineering.

It is expected that there will be a minimum of two fellows per year and they will be named for a period of up to three years. Fellows are expected to serve a minimum of one month in a university or civil service of the other jurisdiction. The goal is to encourage them to engage in activities that will support the overall objectives of the fellowship. Fellows will teach, provide guest lectures, seminars or short courses; they may interact with business and labour leaders and with other interested groups or organize research by government departments or agencies.

The university expects the first fellowships to begin no later than January 2006.

Participation in these fellowship opportunities will be solicited through an open invitation process and the selection of fellows will be made by an expert panel. On completion of the fellowships, participants will submit a report to the sponsoring host and home institutions or government departments to summarize accomplishments achieved as a result of the fellowship.

The fellowship program will provide funding to cover appropriate transportation and subsistence expenses, plus a modest honorarium. Salaries of fellows who are currently employed are expected to continue to be paid by their employer during the period of the fellowship. Funding for the roundtables will support transportation and subsistence costs for the brief period of discussions.

For more detailed information, visit www.mun.ca/coracle.php.

Building on a tradition

The CINFR is not the first time the university has encouraged cultural and scholarly exchanges between Ireland and the province. The university has worked extensively with the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in Waterford, Ireland. In the past, the two institutions have produced scholarly books and faculty and students from both institutions have carried out exchanges. For example, during the New Music Festival, organized by the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and the Garter Lane Arts Centre, Dr. Clark Ross, a faculty member in Memorial University's School of Music, was the composer-in-residence.

The publication However Blow the Winds: An Anthology of Poetry and Song from Newfoundland and Labrador and Ireland (2003) is a companion piece to The Backyards of Heaven, a collection of Irish and Newfoundland poetry which was launched a few years ago with much success in Corner Brook, St. John’s, Waterford City, Cork, Galway, Dublin and Belfast. Both books were co-published by Scop Productions Inc. and the Centre for Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, School of Humanities, Waterford Institute of Technology.

Last year, Memorial University’s Marine Institute tested fishing gear and broadcast the results by videoconference to fisheries training centres in Ireland. Two scale models of Irish fishing trawls were tested in the Marine Institute's flume tank, the largest of its kind in the world. The results are being used to improve fisheries conservation technologies on both sides of the North Atlantic. This project is a follow-up to a highly successful trans-Atlantic partnership that led to the joint development of a unique distance learning navigation and stability training course specially designed with inshore fishermen of Newfoundland and Ireland in mind.

About Memorial University

The only university in Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial is Atlantic Canada's largest university, with a student enrolment of approximately 17,700 as well as 900 permanent faculty and 1,400 permanent staff. It has campuses in St. John's, Corner Brook and Harlow (England). The Labrador Institute in Happy Valley-Goose Bay provides university services in Labrador. Memorial has several specialized teaching and research facilities, including the Ocean Sciences Centre near St. John’s, the Bonne Bay Marine Station on the west coast of Newfoundland and a language institute on the French island, St-Pierre. A comprehensive university, Memorial University provides its students with a wide range of programs, including many professional programs. Its more than 55,000 graduates are highly valued nationally and internationally. Research and scholarly activities are broad-based, while focusing on Newfoundland and Labrador's human and natural resources, unique culture and geographical location in the North Atlantic.

Note to editors: A four page backgrounder follows this release.

Backgrounder

The Coracle Irish-Newfoundland Fellowships and Roundtables

Legend has it that the sixth century monk St. Brendan the Navigator sailed in a coracle from Ireland to Iceland, Greenland and perhaps as far as the island of Newfoundland, a voyage replicated in 1976 by the American adventurer Tim Severin. Belying its frail appearance, the coracle turns out to be surprisingly seaworthy; in the same way, the peoples of Ireland and Newfoundland have been remarkably successful in navigating the stormy waters of national identity and economic survival. The CORACLE FELLOWSHIPS AND ROUNDTABLES will create a flexible mechanism to promote exchanges between Ireland and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in all areas relevant to the Irish-Newfoundland relationship, to the mutual benefit of both parties.

The roundtables, to be held from time to time in Newfoundland and in Ireland, will bring together a small number (no more than half a dozen from each jurisdiction) of invited academic scholars, senior civil servants and eminent practitioners for brief, high-level, focused discussions on topical issues of mutual interest. The fellowships will enable somewhat longer periods of residence by individual recipients. Fellows will normally be academic scholars, senior civil servants or eminent practitioners, whether currently serving or recently retired. In all cases, fellows will have demonstrated clear interest and expertise in one or more areas relevant to the Irish-Newfoundland relationship; these would include, but not limited to, regional economic or business development; the study of society, history or politics; literature and the arts; technology and innovation.

Fellows will be named for a period of one to three years, during which time they will spend a minimum of one month within a university or the civil service of the other jurisdiction, so as to engage in activities appropriate to the purpose for which the fellowship is awarded. During the remainder of their appointment, they will remain in contact with the university or civil service and will continue to be termed Coracle Fellows. Without limiting the generality of the award, for example, the following might be envisaged:

  • Participation in teaching in the form of guest lectures, seminars or short courses by eminent civil servants or other experts in appropriate disciplines (political science, history, sociology, economics, business, literature, arts, etc.);

  • Dialogue with business and labour leaders and with other interested groups (e.g. members of the cultural communities), as well as public lectures dealing with subjects of common interest to Irelandand Newfoundlandand Labrador;

  • Mobilization of research by government departments or agencies through a period of collaboration involving the embedding of an academic scholar within government;

  • Exchanges designed to promote common interests in pure or applied research in areas of interest to Irelandand Newfoundland and Labrador;

  • Exchanges between government departments and agencies.

Participation in these fellowship opportunities will be solicited through an open invitation process and selection of fellows will usually be made by an expert panel. On completion of the fellowship, participants will submit a report to the sponsoring host institutions or government departments to summarize accomplishments achieved as a result of the fellowship.

The cost of the fellowships will be limited to reimbursement of appropriate transportation and subsistence expenses, plus a modest honorarium. Salaries of fellows who are currently employed are expected to continue to be paid by their employers during the period of the fellowship. Cost of the roundtables will be limited to transportation and subsistence for the brief period of discussions.

The Coracle Irish-Newfoundland Fellowship and Roundtables Eligibility, Terms, Selection Criteria and Procedures

Eligibility for Fellowships

The following persons are eligible to apply for or to be nominated for a Coracle Fellowship:

  1. Members of the faculty of Memorial University of Newfoundland and of universities in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, including retired faculty members continuing to hold appointments, e.g. as professor emeritus or Honorary Research Professor;
  2. Senior civil servants, currently serving or recently retired, from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Republic of Ireland and from Northern Ireland;
  3. Labour and business leaders from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Republic of Ireland and from Northern Ireland;
  4. Leaders in the cultural, artistic and heritage community from the provinceof Newfoundland and Labrador, the Republic of Ireland and from Northern Ireland;
  5. Eminent practitioners in the professions, including but not restricted to medicine, nursing, engineering, from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Republic of Ireland and from Northern Ireland.

Terms of the Fellowships

Coracle Fellows will be named for a period not to exceed three years and normally to last at least one year. During the tenure of the fellowship, fellows will be expected to spend a minimum of one month and a maximum of three months each year in residence in a university or in the civil service; fellows from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador will spend their resident in Ireland, while Irish fellows will serve their resident either in Newfoundland and Labrador or at the Harlow Campus of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The number of fellows named may vary from year to year, but a minimum of two fellowships will normally be made available. The number of fellows named may be less than the number of fellowships offered.

The financial subsidy provided to fellows will be limited to reimbursement of appropriate transportation and subsistence expenses. Salaries of fellows who are currently employed will continue to be paid by their employer during the period of the fellowship.

Without limiting the generality of the fellowships, activities of fellows may include some combination of the following:

  • Participation in teaching in the form of guest lectures, seminars, case studies or short courses;
  • Dialogue with experts, students and/or other interested groups (e.g., members of the cultural communities) as well as public lectures dealing with subjects of common interest to Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • Participation in research in areas of interest to Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • Exchanges designed to promote common interests in pure or applied research in areas of interest to Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador;

All fellows are responsible for arranging the details of their residency with an appropriate agency.

On completion of the fellowship, participants will submit a report to Memorial University and the appropriate host institutions to summarize accomplishments achieved as a result of the fellowship.

Criteria for selection

Coracle Fellows will in all cases have demonstrated clear interest and expertise in one or more areas relevant to the Irish-Newfoundland relationship; these areas include but are not limited to regional economic or business development; the study of society, history or politics; literature and the arts; science, technology and innovation.

Persons nominated for a Coracle Fellowship must provide written consent for the nomination. All applications or nominations for a Fellowship must comprise a curriculum vitae and a statement to the Selection Committee to include the following:

  1. an indication of previous interest and expertise in areas relevant to the Irish-Newfoundland partnership;
  2. a plan of activities to be undertaken during the term of the fellowship, including details of the expected dates of periods of residence;
  3. a letter of support from the institution in which the period of residence is to be spent, confirming its willingness to accommodate the residency;
  4. a summary of the expected results of the fellowship;
  5. a budget and schedule showing projected expenditures for travel and subsistence during the tenure of the fellowship.

Selection process

For 2005:

The announcement of the selection committee and call for nominations will commence as of Jan. 20, 2005. The deadline for submitting nominations and applications is March 21, 2005. The announcement of a decision by the president is scheduled for May 2, 2005. The fellowship or roundtable will commence no later than Jan. 1, 2006.

For 2006 and thereafter:

No later than Oct. 31 of each year, the president of Memorial University of Newfoundland will name a Selection Committee of no fewer than three and no more than five members, including a chair; the committee will normally include representation from the university and from the provincial civil service. No later than Dec. 1, the committee will issue a call for nominations and applications, which should reach the committee no later than Jan. 3. The committee will consider all applications and nominations received and will transmit its recommendations no later than March 1 to the president of Memorial University of Newfoundland, whose decision will be final. Fellowships may be awarded to begin as early as April 1 of the same year or as late as Jan. 1 of the following year.

All applications and nominations will be held in confidence by the Selection Committee. In considering applications and nominations for Coracle Fellowships, the committee may, in confidence, seek the advice of qualified persons whose assessment of the proposed fellowship it deems necessary to obtain.

Proposals for Roundtables

The president may from time to time encourage, receive or solicit proposals for Coracle Roundtables on topics of pressing mutual interest to the government of the provinceof Newfoundland and Labrador and to those of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The president will seek the advice of the Selection Committee prior to determining whether a roundtable proposal will be funded.

The number of participants in roundtables may vary, but will not normally exceed four from Newfoundland and Labrador and four from Ireland. Roundtable participants traveling to the other jurisdiction will normally spend one week there so as to permit a high degree of interaction.

Financials

Financial support up to $10,000 and $15,000 may be provided per fellowship and roundtable. Eligible expenses include return air fare, local travel, per diem allowance ($50/day), accommodation and activities essential for the success of the fellowship and roundtable. Honoraria and other forms of remuneration are ineligible.

It is expected that up to three fellowships and one roundtable can be supported during the next three-year period.

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