Maple League International Offices collaborate on decolonizing education abroad
SACKVILLE, NB — The Maple League of Universities, of which Mount Allison is a founding member, has received a $800,000 Global Skills Opportunity Grant to develop and launch a program for Indigenous students to participate in an international experience together. The program is called Nation to Nation: Building Indigenous Knowledge Across International Borders.
Three cohorts of Indigenous students from Mount Allison, St. Francis Xavier, Acadia, Bishop’s, will come together to have a short-term study abroad experience in Belize through Galen University in the spring 2022, 2023, and 2024 terms, focusing on sharing their Indigenous experience and learning about other indigenous cultures abroad. This grant covers all expenses for Indigenous participants in an effort to reduce barriers for students who would like to have an education abroad experience.
“Programs like the Maple League’s Nation to Nation course, provide richly transformative learning opportunities for Indigenous students as they participate in inter-institutional community building, in both local and global contexts” says Anne Comfort, Mount Allison’s Vice-President, International and Student Affairs. “The Global Skills Opportunities program is breaking down financial, social and logistical barriers that have prevented underrepresented students from participating in global study and work opportunities. We look forward to seeing students from all four Maple League campuses take part this spring and for several years to come.”
The program, organized through the universities’ International Offices, will support 72 students from the four universities over three cohorts, as well as an Indigenous faculty member and Indigenous Elder each year. The two-week program will include in-class teaching, field trips, community engagement, as well as travel to multiple locations around Belize to learn about the Yucatec, Mopan, Garinagu and K’eckchi cultures of Belize. Guest speakers and visits to cultural sites will form the basis of this immersive learning journey.
The International Offices at each of the Maple League schools recognize and are committed to decolonizing the study abroad experience and going further, the development of this program feels like a step toward reconciliation that will enhance capacities for Indigenous student experiential learning and advocacy.
In addition to the Maple League consortium, Mount Allison also recently announced three new international field schools funded through the Global Skills Opportunities Fund. The University is developing the triad of new accessible international field school opportunities with partner universities in the Netherlands (Dr. Lisa Dawn Hamilton, Psychology), Ecuador (Dr. Andrea Morash, Biology), and South Korea (Dr. Susie Andrews, Religious Studies), funded by a $500,000 grant from the federal program.
The $95 million Global Skills Opportunity program is a component of the Government of Canada’s International Education Strategy and is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada. Administered jointly by Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada, the program has been designed to allow participating colleges, universities and institutes to customize projects to their students’ needs.
Global Skills Opportunity is funding 124 projects at 56 universities and 54 colleges across the country, following a call for project proposals and a rigorous selection process. The funded projects are being run in collaboration with international partners in more than 100 countries over the next three and a half years.
Applications for the May 2022 Maple League program open on December 6 and will be open until January 7, 2022. Application forms and additional information can be found at mapleleague.ca