UVic Centre helps solve global issues

Today UVic opens the doors of its Centre for Global Studies, designed to bring together some of the best brains in the country to help solve the problems of global governance as it relates to sustainable development, human security, and national security. The centre's opening will be marked by a speech on "Globalization, Regionalization, and the Future of the Nation State" by Ambassador Philippe de Schoutheete, Belgium's Former Permanent Representative to the European Union.

According to Centre Director Dr. Gordon Smith, the interdisciplinary research centre's existence recognizes that UVic's work on public policy issues doesn't necessarily get seen by those in the policy process because policy makers don't have time to read academic journals or books. "When they do have time to read it has to be material that is short and action-oriented," says Smith. "As well, a new global agenda is emerging due to a growing interdependence among countries. The result is a series of problems which are major, which have to be tackled and to which the university can bring real value."

For example, topics such as climate change require more than one type of expertise. "You need the climatologists, the alternate energy people, the political scientists, the economists," says Smith. "You need multidisciplinary teams to tackle these sort of issues."

It is these multidisciplinary teams that the centre brings to its research. Currently, the Centre for Global Studies is working with UVic's Centre for Studies in Religion and Society and the university's Institute of Dispute Resolution on a project on religion and conflict. "From our research, we plan to produce policy briefs that are highly focused and action-oriented," Smith says. The centre is also studying the problem of international organized crime, with a conference planned for the spring of next year.

Prior to coming to UVic, Smith was deputy minister of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa and Prime Minister Jean Chretien's personal representative at the last three G7 and G8 summits. Previously he had been permanent representative and ambassador to the Canadian delegation to NATO in Brussels, secretary to the Cabinet for Federal-Provincial Relations and ambassador to the European Union in Brussels.

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