Canada and Brazil: Renewing Our Learning Partnerships for The Next Twenty Years ABECAN
To prompt discussion about ABECAN’s future, I have selected an epigraph to head this paper:
“Epistemic cultures and knowledge cultures … are to a knowledge society what national cultures were to industrial society” (Cetina 2007:373). This epigraph describes the problem-space in which I set my talk today. Does ABECAN now function within a transitional space between older models of national culture, on the one hand, and emergent models of knowledge cultures that cross national borders, on the other? And if so, what might that mean for our next twenty years as an organization? I will be offering some tentative propositions. It is too early for conclusions. The politics of research evaluation has emerged as a crucial site of contestation where serious thought must be devoted to decolonizing and deparochializing research, to recognizing the role of English language dominance in skewing access, dissemination, and citation results, and to exploring the possibility of democratizing what Arjun Appadurai calls “the right to research” (2006).
The interdisciplinary, international research projects with which I have been involved each approaches these challenges from different directions and provides lessons for our consideration about the challenges facing this kind of collaborative research across national boundaries in our times. These are the SSHRC-funded “Globalization and Autonomy” project, the Trudeau Foundation-funded project, “Building South-North Dialogue on Globalization Research,” (both led by Will Coleman); the Ford-Foundation-funded “Building Global Democracy” program (led by Jan Aart Scholte); and the SSHRC-funded partnership project, “Brazil-Canada Knowledge Exchange: developing transnational literacies,” which Walkyria Monte Mor and I will be leading over the next three years. These projects recognize the ways in which national cultures are being challenged by the rise of alternative epistemic cultures while also seeing new roles for the nation in encouraging the development of ethical learning cultures.
In April 2012, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) is leading a delegation of university presidents to Brazil “to encourage greater student mobility and international research collaboration between our two countries” (4). In their Pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, on August 11, 2011, the AUCC recommends that the government of Canada provide further support for students and faculty to participate in international collaborative research programs. The Brazilian government also is encouraging greater student mobility in its efforts to improve its educational profile on the global stage. ABECAN has been active over the past twenty years in promoting closer relations between Canada and Brazil. What will be the challenges and opportunities facing knowledge exchange between our two countries over the next twenty years?
To begin to answer these questions, this paper will briefly outline the global contexts in which we work, indicate some of the challenges we face, and, to provide a concrete example of one collaborative project working to develop one kind of transnational learning culture, I will introduce the work a group of us have begun in a new SSHRC partnership development grant, “Brazil/Canada Knowledge Exchange: developing transnational literacies.” Many members of our team are here in the audience today and will be able to answer your questions.
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