Africa Awareness Initiative
2014 Heiskell Award Honorable Mention: Internationalizing the Campus
Nomination submitted by: Michelle Suderman, Associate Director
The Africa Awareness Initiative (AAI) aims to improve discourse on Africa at the University of British Columbia (UBC) by producing outstanding academic fora to encourage critical discussions pertaining to the relevance of the African continent, the Diaspora and its globalization. Since 2002, this initiative has furthered internationalization on campus by raising awareness about Africa through academic programs and extra-curricular activities. AAI hosts annual events to present world-class African scholars, writers, artists and activists, with the goal of promoting understanding of a continent whose complexities were not well understood on campus in the past.
The initiative facilitates and promotes Africa-related scholarly work to enhance academic studies and deepen the understanding of current affairs on the continent, with the ultimate goal of establishing an African Studies Major program at UBC.
President and Vice-Chancellor, Stephen J. Toope, pointed to the need for representation and intelligent dialogue surrounding Africa on the UBC campus as the spark that led to the initiative. “In general, Africa was often viewed as a poverty-stricken and homogenous continent,” said Professor Toope.
“AAI has championed internationalization throughout the UBC campus by raising awareness about Africa through academic programs and extra-curricular initiatives,” he added. “It is through student-led groups, such as AAI, that our institution can truly integrate international perspectives into our campus culture and can make internationalization and global awareness a reality.”