On 17-19 September, 2013 the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) hosted the biennial University-Based Institutes for Advanced Study (UBIAS) conference, Scientific and Academic Knowledge. The conference is an initiative by the UBIAS network to strengthen relationships among member institutes and spread knowledge globally. We have recently joined UBIAS and we are already benefitting from the enormous experience, commitment and creativity of this group of academic leaders.
UBC’s stunning Point Grey Campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Musqueam people. Elder Larry Grant, (Adjunct Professor, First Nations Language Program, Resident Elder, First Nations House of Learning, UBC), gave a welcome at the start of the conference and delegates were moved and privileged to listen to Dr. Shelly Johnson (Mukwa Musayett)’s address on embedding indigenous learning in teaching and research.
Colleagues came together from IASs in São Paulo, Freiburg, Stanford, Nagoya, Western Australia, Korea, Israel, Bielefeld, Taiwan, Dublin Jawaharlal Nehru, Helsinki, Zürich, Johannesburg, Nanjing, Princeton, Tasmania and Korea. Scholars from the humanities and sciences had the opportunity to share ideas among themselves, graduate students, and the public over the course of the three days. Delegates were also able to reflect on how institutes inspire and nurture interdisciplinarity as well as discussing the curating and dissemination of research.
The creative arts are fully embedded in the work of the Peter Wall Institute and we attended two performance events during the conference:
- "An Exploration of Fairness, Interdisciplinary Inquiries in Law, Science and the Humanities" featured a performance by Margie Gillis, Choreographer and Dancer, Fondation de Danse, Montreal, Canada, with music composed by Peter Wall Composer in Residence Dr. Alfredo Santa Ana.
- "Arts-Based Conceptions of Water" was a stimulating and varied programme featuring Water Dance by Tsatsu Stalqayu (Coastal Wolf Pack), musical performances, and presentations by award winners of a recent Peter Wall Institute Arts-Based Initiative Student Competition.
The universities represented at the conference will give an idea of the possibilities for global collaboration and initiatives with other Institutes of Advanced Studies. The first programme is an ‘Intercontinental Academy’ which is led by colleagues at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo and the Institute for Advanced Research at Nagoya University for which we will be asked to nominate early career scholars to participate. More information and a call for this will be available in late October.
We will also be inviting a range of worldwide IAS veterans to Birmingham in the coming months to share with colleagues their experiences and how cross-disciplinarity and Institutes of Advanced Studies have enriched their research and careers.
As U21 partners we took the opportunity to meet with colleagues from UBC’s International Office, and Professor John Hepburn, Vice President for Research & International. The Peter Wall staff and associates gave us an insight into how the institute is run and how ideas are generated, as well as having a tour of the wonderful and newly refurbished building.
Professor Malcolm Press, Director, and Sue Gilligan, Deputy Director and Manager