Editor’s note: The MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship, launched in 2009, recognizes exemplary university student civic engagement programs around the world. The Prize is sponsored jointly by the MacJannet Foundation and the Talloires Network, a global association of 379 universities in 77 countries on six continents, all committed to developing student leaders who are actively engaged with society. To date, the Prize has attracted 495 nominations, of which 38 have been awarded first, second, or third place prizes and 19 have received honorable mentions.
In June 2017, instead of awarding additional prizes, the Talloires Network assembled 12 previous prizewinners in Xalapa, Mexico, to spend four days exchanging ideas about how institutions of higher education can best promote social responsibility and human dignity. Support from the MacJannet Foundation covered travel and lodging for these 12 past Prize winners. The following is excerpted from the conference report written by Lorlene Hoyt, executive director of the Talloires Network. – D.R.
By Lorlene Hoyt
In mid-2016, the Talloires Network invited all first- and second-place MacJannet Prize winners to submit an article for the Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement. The 12 who responded—from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, Pakistan and Malaysia—were invited to discuss their work and exchange ideas with peers from around the world at the Network’s global conference.
The conference itself was a grand success by a variety of measures. It attracted 280 participants from 31 countries. The Gateways journal released a special edition, highlighting the best practices of these MacJannet Prize winners, that has since been viewed by some 4,000 users in 90 countries. Also, in collaboration with several other MacJannet Prize winners, the Talloires Network has published a book entitled Regional Perspectives on Learning by Doing: Stories from Engaged Universities Around the World.
The location was symbolic on a global level. In an era of tightening borders and resurgent nationalist ideologies, participants came together in a country whose northern neighbor sought to deepen the divide between the two nations. As a harsh reminder of the borders that separate us, a few participants were stopped by border officials mid-journey and didn’t make it to Mexico.
The Talloires Network aims to continue supporting and working with universities as they collaborate with their communities, prepare the next generation of civic leaders, and work together to mobilize higher education as a force for addressing the world’s most pressing societal challenges.
Sustainable and innovative leadership: MacJannet Prize winners in conversation
The panelists represented six countries, all but one from the Global South. This is noteworthy because, unlike the MacJannet Prize winners, the academic literature on civic engagement and global citizenship is usually dominated by universities in the Global North.
All panelists discussed the tenacity that’s required to see their initiatives through the institutional climate in which they function. They stressed the notion that success means genuine involvement among all participating students, faculty, and community members.
Dr. Chua of the International Medical University provided an example: Her work with medical students who delivered primary health care to rural indigenous communities. By working in a specific community on a regular basis, Dr. Chua said, her students developed a sense of leadership for their own learning and also reconfigured their previously held stereotypes of indigenous communities.