By Michael Hawes, CEO Fulbright Canada, 1999-2000 Fulbright Scholar from Queen’s University to UC Berkeley
By any measure, 2015 was an incredible year for Fulbright Canada. We celebrated our 25th anniversary, launched the new Fulbright Arctic Initiative with a highly successful series of meetings in Iqaluit, developed exciting new partnerships with universities in both countries, and welcomed our first cohort of Fulbright Canada – Palix Visiting Research Chairs in Brain Science and Family Wellness. At the same time, we co-sponsored a symposium on Arctic Governance at the University of California at Irvine, hosted a series of events for Earth Day, sponsored two art shows – one in Ottawa and one in Washington – featuring the work of Fulbright alumna and Arctic photographer Acacia Johnson, dramatically increased the activities of EducationUSA in Canada, co-hosted another successful round of the Youth Ambassadors Program, and renewed key partnerships with public and private sector partners. In the process, we managed to grow both the reputation and the size of our Killam Fellowships program and the Fulbright program in Canada.
On a slightly more personal note, it was a very exciting year for me … and, come to think of it, an exciting year for all Canadians. I was privileged to be asked to speak on pubic diplomacy, indigenous education, Canadian foreign policy, Canadian politics, and a number of other subjects at various conferences and invited lectures. These included speaking engagements at the University of Arizona, Queen’s University, University College London, and St. Anthony’s College Oxford, to name a few. And, in addition to my role as Chair of the Board at the Institute for Studies in International Development at McGill University, I joined the board of Canada World Youth.
The really good news is that 2016 promises to just as exciting – if not more so! We are looking forward to a banner year for our visiting research chairs program, another exceptional cohort of Fulbright students, and another excellent group of Killam Fellows. New Fulbright scholar chair opportunities include a chair in indigenous studies at Vancouver Island University, one at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, one in Native American Studies at the University of Arizona, one in public policy at Yale University, and another in Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College.
On the outreach front, we plan to grow our already active alumni-based community action programs and academic partnerships. Here are a couple of key examples for 2016. We will be co-hosting an international conference at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, which addresses the issue of combatting violent extremism and features a large number of Fulbright Canada alumni. Our Arctic Initiative scholars will be holding their mid-term meeting in Oulu Finland in February. We will be co-hosting, with the Center for Public Diplomacy in the Annenberg School at University of Southern California, a conference that will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our partnership with the Center and the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright program. At the same time, it is our intention to redouble our efforts on issues that our board has identified as critical to our mission and increasingly important to the citizens of our two countries … and beyond. These include, but are not limited to health and human wellness, the Arctic, indigenous and aboriginal issues, environmental security and sustainability, and innovation and economic development.
An important part of our growth plan revolves around an increased commitment to social media, a focus on technology (spoiler alert: look for our newly updated and repurposed web site in 2016), new staff resources, a robust internship program, and more community awareness programs.
There are a great many serious challenges that we will collectively need to address in 2016. Having said that, I base my optimism on the simple fact that we are incredibly rich in human resources. Our job is to identify and support the very best and brightest, engage them on issues of national and international importance, encourage and support their research and their role in important public discourse, and nurture their spirit of volunteerism and public service. These incredibly talented and dedicated people are our future, and they are indefatigable. We are also blessed with a dedicated, hard working and focused staff, a selfless, talented, and inspiring board of directors, government partners who see the value of investing in our collective future, university partners who know and understand what it means to live and work in a global village, and private sector donors who demonstrate both vision and conviction.
Please reach out to us, and ask us how you can be part of the excitement.