International Week aims to inspire solutions for a healthier world

UAlberta's annual celebration of global citizenship and awareness connects the campus community with the world.


(Edmonton) Open up your world to global awareness as the University of Alberta kicks off International Week 2014 on Jan. 27.

Touching on what matters in the world—from the tragedy of a collapsed clothing factory in Bangladesh to how the power of music promotes public health in Liberia—University of Alberta International’s (UAI) annual week of globally focused awareness offers up a full roster of thought-provoking events to spark discussion, educate and inspire all comers, said Nancy Hannemann, director of Global Education for UAI.

“The University of Alberta connects with the world through teaching, research and community service, and UAI’s International Week celebrates that commitment to creating global citizenship and awareness,” Hannemann said.

I-Week, as it is known around campus, invites everyone from the U of A, Edmonton and Alberta to explore pressing global issues such as poverty, food security, environmental sustainability and human rights, through more than 60 free events on campus from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1.

Now in its 29th year, I-Week is the signature event of UAI’s Global Education program, which cultivates students as future leaders who can tackle the critical challenges facing the world. Because the U of A is a leader in global teaching and research relationships, with students enrolled from all over the world including China, India and Africa, I-Week has become the university’s largest annual extracurricular education event, and the most extensive of its kind on a Canadian campus, Hannemann noted.

Named Outstanding Program in International Education by the Canadian Bureau of International Education, “I-Week is consistently praised by attendees as the best week of the year on campus,” Hannemann said.

This year, I-Week lectures, workshops, exhibits and cultural performances focus on an overarching theme of “Creating Solutions for a Healthier World.”

“The enormity of global issues can be overwhelming to think about, but at the same time, there are people around the world who are working day in and day out to change things and find solutions. UAI wants to get everyone thinking about those solutions,” Hannemann said.

Keynote speakers include Canadian designer and activist Sujeet Sennik, who calls for change in the clothing trade following the collapse of a garment factory that killed more than 1,000 workers in Bangladesh last year. Sustainability leader Alex Steffen speaks about becoming a society of “worldchangers,” and TV host Severn Cullis-Suzuki, daughter of environmentalist David Suzuki, discusses the idea of harnessing human energy for change.

U of A researchers also share insights during I-Week about their globally focused work, among them professors Michael Frishkopf of the U of A Faculty of Arts, who uses music to promote sanitation and public health in Liberia, and David Zakus of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, who promotes maternal and child health in Ethiopia.

And a homegrown cross-disciplinary panel of leading U of A researchers including nanotechnology scientist Jillian Buriak, political scientist David Kahane, sustainability researcher Naomi Krogman and obesity expert Arya Sharma lead the way in sharing ideas and opening discussion on creating a healthier world.

I-Week also exposes the local face of global issues, featuring a panel exploring ways to narrow the gap in health status between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

“Through International Week, UAI hopes to give people on campus and in the larger community a sense that they can make a difference in some way,” said Hannemann.