"The International Responsibilities Of Canadian Universities"
The Congregation Address, May 28, 1964
The University of British Columbia
by F.H. Soward

My first and most pleasant task is to thank the University of British Columbia for the signal honour which it has conferred upon Dr. Kelly and myself. It is one which we will cherish all our lives. We are well aware that it has taken us considerably longer to win our diplomas than those who will soon follow us on this platform. However, I know that I speak for Dr. Kelly as well as for myself when I say that it has only heightened our gratitude at your willingness to enroll us among the goodly company of graduates and UBC. There is another significant difference which distinguishes the two of us from our fellow members of the Class of 1964. We belong to a generation which c an turn back the years to the beginning of the Twentieth Century and claim them as their own. They have a reasonable prospect of actively participating in the eventful years of the Twenty-First Century. By that time, some of their number — we hope a good many — will have earned recognition among the distinguished graduates of the University of British Columbia who have made it well and favourably known among the universities of this continent, of the Commonwealth of Nations, and even in the entire academic world.

I know that all of you are impatient to proceed with the really important business of this Congregation and will try not to presume upon your forbearance. Bur permit me, for a few minutes, to discuss with you the international responsibilities of Canadian universities, obligations which are sometimes ignored or go unrecognized. It is so easy for uis in comfortable Canada to forget that any university is by its very nature as international as the weather or the United Nations. As the philosopher Whitehead once warned:

A university should be one and at the same time local, national and world wide. It is of the essence of learning that it be world wide and effectiveness requires local and national adaptations. It is not easy to hold the balance but unless this difficult balance be held with some genius the university is to that extent defective.

The Faculty of the University are justly proud of the fact that to an ever increasing degree UBC has trained the legislators, administrators, scholars, scientists, professional men, and business leaders upon who the progress of our Province depends. Because of the increased mobility which characterizes our contemporary civilization, UBC graduates are also to be found playing a useful and honourable role in every part of Canada. In Ottawa they are in the Federal cabinet, in the House of Commons, and among the top administrators of the Civil Service. This is as it should be. As the Massey commission pointed out a decade ago, the universities in Canada must and do serve the nation. They are national assets and as such receive some financial support from the federal Government, not as much as they would like or need, but enough to ease somewhat the costs of maintenance. What of the world-wide responsibilities of Canadian universities which have for so long been indebted to older and more established institutions of learning? What are they doing to make the Canadian people aware of the world beyond their shores? The blunt answer to this second question can be "Not very much." In support of this unflattering assessment let me quote from a recent survey, "International Studies in Canadian Universities", prepared under the auspices of the Canadian Universities Foundation by a committee headed by a former President of thie University, Dr. Norman MacKenzie. The report, written by Messrs. Hamlin and Lalande, examined the present position in our universities of International Relations, Russian and East European Studies, Asian Studies, African Studies, and Latin American Studies. It ended with two chapters, "The Needs ..." and "The International Role of Canadian Universities." In his section, after noting the North America in the inter-war years "luxuriated in an isolationist state of mind, Canada even more than the United States", and that "profound change" had taken place in the United States since 1945, Mr. Hamlin remarks that "in Canada a pervasive indifference is to be found in nearly every sector of society including government, business and the universities." He censures "... the unwillingness to admit that Canada needs men and women to know the languages of other people, their history, their way of life, this aspiration; and an unawareness that it is essential to have persons who have studied and who are pursuing research on the relations of states."

Mr. Lalande, an ex-Foreign Service Officer, turned political scientist, is equally critical. He deplores "the profound indifference which the majority of Canadians display towards foreign civilizations". These are discouraging words. The appeared at the very time when the Honourable Paul Martin, Minster of external Affairs, told the National Conference of Canadian Universities and Colleges, which had met in Ottawa to study the Hamlin-Lalande report, that

We need must more research on foreign-policy problems in Canada. We need more information about foreign countries … As events and developments in Africa, Asia, , Latin America, Eastern Europe and china have to be taken into account in the formulation of our foreign policy the need for our universities to provide us with the knowledge and understanding of these areas becomes very strong.

As Mr Martin sees it:

Until there exists in our universities strong centres for studying these areas of the world from which good research can be done, a knowledgeable body of experts can be assembled, and undergraduate and graduate courses can be formulated we shall not develop in Canada that informed and articulate public opinion which in our democracy must constitute the bed-rock upon which our policies are formulated. There is the challenge. It remains to be seen how speedy and how adequate will be the response.

I would not wish to leave you in a gloomy mood upon this happy occasion. In other areas there are more hopeful signs that the Canadian universities are beginning to meet, to some extent, their international obligation.

Within the limits of their resources, a phrase which every self-respecting administrator can produce at less than a moment’s notice, Canada’s universities have recently been playing a modes part in helping universities in the developing countries to establish new faculties or departments. What UBC is doing in conjunction with the University of Malaya in developing courses in Accounting and Business Administration or in helping Ghana to organize an Institute of Community Planning can be matched by McGill’s co-operation with the University of Madras to create a Faculty of Medicine and with the University of Dacca, Pakistan, in planning courses in Social Welfare. The University of Toronto has been active in developing a Regional College of Engineering in Mangalore, India. It has provided a principal for a university college in Tanganyika. Last autumn, a new university opened its doors in Ruanda, East Africa. The Rector was Father Levesque of Laval, who has eight Canadian colleagues on the faculty of this French-speaking University. During the last academic year, nearly thirty Canadian professors were serving abroad from Morocco to the West Indies.

Another forty are eagerly sought for the Session 1964/65. In our own Faculty of Agriculture one of the staff returned not long ago from a technical mission in Venezuela. Another has just left for a year’s strenuous duty in India. At home, our smaller universities are equally capable of performing special service to the less developed countries. At Francis Xavier, for instance, has established a Coady International Institute which enrolled students from 27 counttries two years ago in a special deploma course in social leadership. For several years, Carleton University has offered a programme in Public Administration for government officials from those countries to which Canada offers technical assistance.

I was to pay a well-deserved tribute to the sense of international public service which is to be found among our university students. Largely through their initiative, Canadian Universities Service Overseas, CUSO, was founded three years ago to select recent graduates who were willing to serve overseas and place them abroad. In a sense, they were among the forerunners on this continent of the America Peace corps, which is, of course, a government agency. This year, approximately 150 young men women have been chosen for duty of whom, I am proud to say, over a dozen are from UBC. Some of them will be graduating to-day or to-morrow. In recognition of the fact that CUSO has "done much and done it well", to quote Mr. Martin, the Canadian Government has recently promised to transport these young volunteers to their various destinations overseas.

More and more across the country we are welcoming foreign students to our lecture rooms and laboratories. The may come as Commonwealth Scholars (the Chairman of the Canadian commonwealth scholarship and Fellowship committee is our dean of Law); they may be Colombo Plan Scholars; they may arrive under the auspices of the African student foundation; they may have been sponsored by World University Service under an ingenious exchange system to which the Alma Mater society of the University give more generous support than any other student body in Canada; they may be on their own. Although the number is steadily increasing, it is only a minute fraction of those who desperately seek opportunities abroad which cannot be secured at home. You know that, at present, the resources of our universities are heavily taxed by the rising tide of youth, that Canada’s own needs for trained personnel are expanding, and that our scholarships for graduate students are relatively few and modes in value. Yet, despite these difficulties, University Departments and Faculties are doing what they can to find places and projects for worthy overseas students. A glance at the tour programme for this congregation will illustrate what I have said.

Although we at UBC have still much to do, we emerged not too badly — on a comparative basis — from the critical scrutiny which the Hamlin-Lalande Report applied to the Canadian academic scene. We were the first to develop an undergraduate course in International Studies. In such areas as Asian studies and Slavonic Studies we have made a very good beginning. We also have an unusually high proportion of our Faculty who came to us from other lands and, in so doing, widened our perspective. We owe them much. Less surprisingly, about half of our Canadian-born faculty have taken their post-graduate training abroad. Dwelling as our student body does "between the mountains and the sea" , it is small wonder that many of them have been more alert to the international scene than some of their fellows elsewhere in Canada. Indeed, Mr. Lalande has done us the honour of commenting in the report that "Of all the Canadian universities, the University of British Columbia is perhaps the one most open to the contemporary external world". Let us continue to deserve such a compliment.

More than many of our predecessors, you of the class of 1964 have been made forcibly aware, during your years on Campus, of the harsh realities of world politics. The agony of the Congo, the confrontation of the superpowers in Cuba, the senseless murder of a potentially great president who caught the imagination of youth as no American president has done in decades, the brutal guerrilla war in Viet-Nam, the clash of India and China on their borders, the tragedy of Cyprus, all these happened during your years on the Campus. There are also immensely important currents of world though to which you have been exposed — more perhaps than you realize. At UBC you have been offered membership in what President Pusey of Harvard has called "the exciting world of mind". I hope you accepted it. That mind is international, the mind of Einstein and Bohr, of Picasso and Stravinsky, of Camus and Hemingway, of Mao Tse-tung and Charles de Gaulle. Your membership is for life, if you care to exercise it. In the years to come, men and women like yourselves in all parts of Canada can leaven the lump of provincialism and complacency that disfigures our country. I know that you can. I hope that you will.

F.H. Soward
May 1964