The University of the West Indies (UWI) will soon be introducing a new faculty that will focus on creative arts and cultural heritage in the Caribbean.
In addition, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal Eudine Barriteau announced that the university would be embarking on more research in an effort to help find solutions to mitigate challenges in Barbados and the rest of the region.
The campus is in the process of fine-tuning a proposal for the establishment of a Faculty of Creative Arts and Culture. The time is long past for the University of the West Indies to formally recognize in its academic architecture, the cultural heritage and multiple realities of the intersecting but diverse strands of Caribbean culture,” Barriteau told the official opening ceremony of the UWI’s Open Week: Academic and Arts Expo on Thursday.
She did not provide a timeline for the new faculty to be established or give any other detail.
“We believe we should respect what distinguishes us and establish a faculty that focuses on Caribbean creative arts and culture, rather than moan and groan when some university elsewhere seizes on the opportunity before we do. We have to end the tradition of paying scant respect to the very features that define us,” she said.
Stating that the UWI was committed to serving Caribbean societies, and revitalizing the region’s development, Barriteau said the learning institution would, whenever it could and as often as it could, make lectures, workshops and symposia available to the public “in order that there may be a free exchange of knowledge, ideas and experiences”.
“We know and accept that producing relevant research distinguishes us as a university, and we will deploy our intellectual capital to create ideas, policies and solutions to mitigate Caribbean challenges,” she pledged.
While pointing out that the university continued to be challenged financially, the principal said she was currently engaging senior management in “intense efforts” to come up with funding solutions to support and strengthen the university’s operations.
“The UWI’s ongoing financial crisis stems from a fragile national and regional economic environment that threatens the livelihoods and existence of the very people and institutions who are expected to contribute to the region’s sustainable economic recovery,” she said.
“I therefore welcome this opportunity to remind the campus community and the wider public, about the importance of research to the continued growth and development of the Caribbean region,” she added.
The UWI principal said a critical step towards social and economic prosperity in the region was the creation and application of knowledge to solve indigenous and other challenges.
“Strengthening the academic-industry relationship is another. and so forging stronger, collaborative ties and creating partnerships with our partners in industry will enable the university to unite applied research with the requisite business acumen towards driving economic recovery and growth,” she said.
The UWI Open Week forms part of the university’s 70-year anniversary celebrations, and will consist of a series of events including an open day for students, a student research symposium and a grand cultural extravaganza for the general public.
Officials are hoping that this will give individuals the opportunity to interact with students and staff of the institution and learn more about the Cave Hill campus.
During the opening ceremony local business magnate Ralph ‘Bizzy’ Williams shared his experience of his various research and experiments over the years. He said the most endearing experiment to date has been the implementation of a business model, which saw shareholders and employees having shares in his Williams Industries group of companies.
“This business model has really been my life’s primary focus and I believe it would be beneficial for this university, where I was educated, to take on the evaluation of this model as a research project to determine if it achieves its primary objective of enfranchising workers with part ownership of the business they work with and encourages the widespread understanding of how business runs,” said Williams.
He added, “subject to an approval by my Board of Directors, I would be happy to provide reasonable funding for a small team to research the business model to determine if it makes sense to teach it and encourage the widespread adoption.”