The global impact of Brock University’s research was recently showcased on the world stage during the Canada-Caribbean Institute’s (CCI) second annual research symposium.
Held at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Barbados from Feb. 23 to 24, the Canada-Caribbean Research Symposium (CCRS) brought together scholars from multiple institutions to discuss a variety of topics, such as Indigenous research, physical activity, economic growth and trade, and gender diversity.
The theme of this year’s event — Decoloniality: Past, Present and Future Directions — was inspired by the secession of Barbados from the British Commonwealth in 2021 and focused on exploring opportunities and challenges for decolonizing knowledge and practices.
“The organizers wanted to not only celebrate Barbados and how the country is charting its own destiny, but also encourage discussion and amplify the research of Caribbean and Canadian scholars working to address decolonization,” says Michael Naraine, Brock’s CCI Director and Associate Professor in the University’s Department of Sport Management.
Founded by Brock and UWI, the CCI’s mission is to connect scholars from across Canada and the Caribbean to collaborate on vital economic, environmental and social issues that affect both regions.
What started as a bilateral relationship between the two universities has grown into a network of researchers and colleagues from multiple institutions who come together and explore mutual interests.
Lynn Wells, Brock’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic, provided opening remarks at the CCRS and extolled the significance of the long-standing relationship between Brock and the CCI in advancing the latter’s mission in the years following its inception.
“It has been exciting to watch the CCI partnership grow from the personal vision of its founders into a strong alliance of scholars with shared values and objectives,” says Wells, remarking how the personal ties Canadian collaborators have with the Caribbean make for more meaningful work and stronger long-term connections.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Naraine, whose Canada-Caribbean connection runs deep as the Toronto-born son of Caribbean immigrants. His position with the CCI allows him to support research on issues that pertain to both regions he considers home.
Naraine says that among the highlights at this year’s conference was a discussion about decolonization and experiential learning led by four Brock students and their faculty advisors: Bobby Henry, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, and Valerie Michaelson, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences.
Naraine believes the students’ presentation had a ripple effect on attendees from the Caribbean whose universities and colleges don’t typically hold space for student-led initiatives.
“Hearing insights from the students themselves offered a fresh perspective on the topic of decoloniality, as well as the unique opportunities and knowledge students gain through experiential learning.”
In addition to sessions held throughout the two-day event, colleagues from Brock, which has had a student exchange agreement in place with UWI since 2013, were also able to meet with their UWI counterparts and tour campus facilities between sessions.
This year’s CCRS emphasized the importance of knowledge mobilization in the 21st century.
For Naraine, this means sharing learnings in ways that can be applied practically. The way Brock researchers embrace what he refers to as a ‘glocal mindset’ — maintaining both local and global considerations in research — plays a pivotal role in the mobilization process.
“Our researchers present their findings at places like the St. Catharines Public Library and then present the same findings in the Caribbean with equally meaningful effect,” he says. “Defending their work with an international audience shows the true impact of their research and their ability to execute it in meaningful, practical ways.”
Events such as the CCRS “give our researchers scholarly momentum,” says Naraine. “People are looking at their work and understanding its profound impact.”
The next CCRS is expected to take place in early 2024. In the meantime, those who have personal and/or academic ties to the Caribbean and are interested in learning more about the CCI are encouraged to attend the Institute’s upcoming spring meeting, which will be announced on the CCI events web page in the coming weeks.