UBC Reports | Vol.
50 | No. 10 | Nov.
An International Vision for UBC
“This university is among those that understand
what the future requires of it and Canada. You’ve heard
from various speakers today, and you can read …about
the nature of UBC’s international vision and how it’s
pursued its plan. It is the right and urgent vision for this
institution, for this port city, for this coastal province,
and for this country.” Jeffrey Simpson
At a time when we may be tempted to feel superior to our
neighbours to the south, what Canadians really need is a new
sense of urgency about being better connected to the world,
said one of Canada’s leading political journalists.
Addressing a near-capacity crowd at UBC’s annual general
meeting, Jeffrey Simpson, the Globe and Mail’s national
affairs columnist, said universities-as incubators of ideas,
innovation and social responsibility-must be at the forefront
in fostering those connections.
With the theme of finding “Our Place in the World,”
UBC’s vision of being a top global institution was the
topic for several speakers at the 2004 AGM, including fourth-year
integrated engineering student Monica Rucki, who shared how
her experience working with farmers in East Timor helped spark
a passion for making a difference.
Rucki, who was featured in UBC’s annual report, served
for four months with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) in East
Timor, helping develop a gravity-fed irrigation system for
rice farmers. She told at the meeting that it was an experience
that transformed her perspective on learning.
“My overseas placement with EWB created a spark and
renewed my desire for engineering by introducing the ‘why’
element of engineering,” Rucki said.
Speaking to a UBC Robson Square theatre and Internet audience,
President Martha Piper said UBC was changing the goalposts
-- setting its sights on the global stage, and the goal of
preparing global citizens who would promote the values of
a civil and sustainable society.
Responding to Piper’s comments, Simpson lamented the
lack of global vision on the national stage, saying he felt
such leadership would find a constituency of supporters, particularly
among young Canadians.
“I believe that our future, and our well-being as
a country of only 31 million people, depends vitally and urgently
on establishing the reality, not just the reputation, by all
means and in all of our institutions, of being the most internationally
connected country on the planet,” said Simpson.
Universities can influence the country, he said, by increasing
the proportion of international students, by developing global
curricula, and by linking to other international institutions,
in particular Third World universities.