Centre opens doors on changing world

The dream of creating an academic home for global community issues becomes a reality in new Liu Centre

A new global vision will become a reality at UBC when the Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues opens on campus later this month.

The university community is invited to preview the centre, which is located next to the Institute of Asian Research, Sept. 12 from 12:30 -2:30 p.m.

The innovative facility is being launched to focus new ways of thinking about issues in an emerging global community, including the international exchange of resources, technologies and wealth, environmental degradation and rapidly increasing population.

"The centre is one of the few places in the world where scholars and practitioners will work together in a collaborative, interdisciplinary fashion to produce fresh, coherent, policy-relevant studies directed towards global issues and their relevance to global governance," says Olav Slaymaker, director of the centre and a professor of Geography.

"Many of the issues we will deal with are of concern to people in B.C." he says. An upcoming conference will focus on global forestry.

UBC President Martha Piper says the centre embodies many of the goals in Trek 2000, the university's vision statement, including increased interdisciplinarity, a new emphasis on internationalization and closer links with the external community.

"The Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues is poised to attain all these goals, especially through its global mandate and its interdisciplinary core," Piper says. "As the centre further develops its networking capabilities, it will be able to expand its partnerships with governments and the private sector as well as its international connections."

The Liu Centre is part of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Its policies are shaped by an academic steering committee composed of faculty and community representatives under the guidance of its international advisory council.

Maurice Strong, internationally renowned for his work on the environment, is chair of the council which includes Robert McNamara, former president of the World Bank.

"The willingness of busy persons from many parts of the world to serve on the council is evidence of their belief that the centre's concept of global issues is an innovative and important intellectual contribution," says Strong.

An academic home that values and nurtures global thinking is the realization of the dream of Ivan Head, the centre's first director. He and other internationally recognized UBC faculty will participate in the centre's research projects and activities.

An academic symposium "The Ecological Imperative and Global Governance" will begin a three-day program of events at the centre Sept. 20. A roundtable discussion, "Global Issues and the Liu Centre Vision" takes place the morning of Sept. 21, followed by the formal opening ceremonies at 4 p.m. The second annual meeting of the International Advisory Council of the Liu Centre will be held Sept. 22.

The centre is named for J. J. Liu, a distinguished international businessman and philanthropist. Funding for the project came from donors, including the J. J. Liu Foundation and Mrs. Gordon T. Southam.

The building, designed by Arthur Erickson to symbolize the spirit of globalization, is a model of energy efficiency and sustainable construction.

Built on the former site of Pan-Hellenic House, it makes use of that building's beams and other major components. It incorporates fly-ash concrete, normally a waste product from burning coal. For more information on the centre and its events, call 604-822-1558 or visit www.liucentre.ubc.ca.