Education, creativity, research and innovation play a crucial role in Canadian society and Canada’s economy. Giving children in developing and transitional countries opportunities to learn and to relate in a global village is critical to our international contribution.
Canadians have succeeded in relations with other countries because of our outstanding ability to sustain relationships and conduct international activities in a spirit of shared enterprise. Education is the root of knowledge and power. Here are a few thumbnail sketches of what Canadians in education and NGOs are doing internationally.
Free the Children
In 1995, Craig Kielburger was a Grade 7 student, filled with the indignation and idealism characteristic of his age. Deeply disturbed when he read about a Pakistani boy sold into virtual slavery, he decided to make a difference in the world. With his older brother, Marc, Kielburger founded Free the Children, an organization that frees children from poverty and exploitation by creating accessible education opportunities. Their dynamic organization has developed into a youth movement that spans the globe, has built 425 schools in 23 countries and provides education to 35,000 children every day – the world’s largest network of children helping children through education.
Global Industry Olympics
In July 2007, eight students from St. Joseph’s High School in Ottawa, winners of an international essay competition, became the Canadian representatives to the Junior G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“When we worked on the G8 themes, we realized that education is a key solution required to address many of the world’s problems,” team leader Christina Abretti advised.
Canada’s contribution was a concept called The Global Industry Olympics, focused on engaging businesses worldwide to join the Olympic spirit. This would be achieved by “giving a percentage of every sale to a fund which will feed the poor, heal the sick, provide education to children and drive sustainable economic development projects – channeling funds from the point-of-sale to the point-of-need.”
The students continue to work on refining the details of their advocacy with the help of their large, international group of advisors, which include individuals, UNICEF, foundations and businesses.
Walter Derzko, educator and international consultant on innovation, lateral creative thinking and emerging smart technologies, declared: “Canada’s 30 plus years of efforts and experience in teaching lateral thinking skills to children and adults, our world-class education initiatives in teaching entrepreneurial studies, our university technology transfer successes, our made-in-Canada network of small business incubators and our innovation policy development experiences (which have been studied and adopted internationally) can serve as a working model for the Ukrainian Ministry of Education’s long term plan, its legislative decision-makers and politicians.”
Regarding the problem of human trafficking in Ukraine, Derzko was invited to suggest innovative solutions. “I was shocked to learn that 6 of 10 orphans who leave orphanages at age 18 in Ukraine, sooner or later end up incarcerated, because they have no support and little or no life skills. Many are forced into prostitution or trafficked by organized crime, preying on the children’s dreams of going to the west.” Every summer, the Canadian charity Help Us Help the Children sponsors a two-week camp in the Carpathian Mountains for 200 orphans from across Ukraine. This summer, Derzko plans to introduce creative thinking skills to help raise their self-esteem and enhance the quality of their lives.
Dr. Min Basadur, author of The Power of Innovation, professor of innovation at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, founder of Basadur Applied Creativity and the award-winning complex problem-solving Simplex System, is a recognized world leader in the field of innovation.
Dr. Basadur teaches “Innovation and New Product Development” students in the executive MBA stream of the Helsinki School of Economics at satellite campuses in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. He wants students to see innovation “as a systematic, inclusive, strategic process powered by tools and skills and diverse innovation styles.” He believes that for corporate success in the 21st Century, “discovering, implementing and commercializing new concepts must become a rigorous business process.”
Dr. Basadur’s influence and present contributions range from teaching engineering technology students complex problem-solving techniques at the University of Cincinnati to collaborating with Microsoft to develop more innovative processes outside of their product development. He was a contributor at the Canada School of Public Service’s CEO roundtable on leadership and creativity and is at present helping hospitals to reduce wait times for cancer care and emergency by thinking smarter and faster to develop new processes.
Historically, universities are breeding grounds for world-class leadership and innovation. York University’s Schulich School of Business is recognized as “Canada’s Transnational Business School” and ranked among the world’s top 15 international business schools for the third straight year by the Wall Street Journal, ahead of Chicago, Wharton, Insead, Harvard and Stanford.
The catalyst for internationalizing the school began in 1989 with its inspirational, innovative, visionary Dean, Dezso Horváth, now serving his fourth five-year term. Named International Dean of the Year in 2004 by the Academy of International Business, Horváth’s vision of strategically orienting the business school to globalization gave it a key competitive edge. In 1989, he co-founded the Graduate School of Business in Hungary; co-created the Czech Management Centre in Prague in 1990; co-established the first York-Wharton-Recanati Global Leadership Program in 1991; and co-created the joint Kellogg-Schulich EMBA program in 2002 – North America’s first cross-border EMBA.
Schulich’s global reach spans Beijing, Mumbai, South Korea, Argentina, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Russia. With university partners on every continent, they support long-term training initiatives with relevant faculty to educate post-graduate students from 92 countries.
Bruce Mau, founder of the Institute Without Boundaries and Bruce Mau Design, has used design as an instrument of change for over 20 years, looking at strategy, human environments, communications, cultures, countries and never ending possibilities. Bruce Mau Designs, one of the world’s foremost multi-disciplinary communication firms, has gained international recognition for its expertise and innovation. It collaborates with leading architects, institutions, artists, entrepreneurs, writers, curators, academics and businesses.
His “boundary busting portfolio” includes Tree City at Downsview Park in Toronto, a museum of biodiversity in Panama City, the development of a new vision for Guatemala, the Massive Change book and multi-venue traveling design exhibition and the creation of the Institute Without Boundaries, a studio-based post graduate program in partnership with George Brown City College in Toronto. As an educator, Bruce Mau is associated with a var