Report from the Sixth UAC Annual Workshop

Important steps taken at 6th UAC Workshop in Vancouver 

The sixth annual workshop of the CCGHR’s University Advisory Council (UAC) took place in Vancouver on November 15th, 2016, just prior to the global Health Systems Research symposium. Of the current twenty-one institutional members, seventeen (17) were represented in the deliberations. Guided by previously distributed materials (that included an annual report), the participants focused on three questions:

  • What have we achieved in the past 12 months?
  • What is the UAC “added value”?
  • How can we make a case for increased membership fees?

Achievements in the past 12 months:

Updates were presented about the following activities:

  • Shawna O’Hearn (working group on internationalization and global health research) reported that the national dialogue on this issue was broadening to include various expressions of social responsibility. It was recommended that we share experiences from member institutions in the form of “stories”.
  • Jennifer Liu (working group on curriculum sharing) encouraged members to contribute to this resource on the UAC website;
  • Jill Allison (working group on trans-disciplinary research collaboration) reported (in absentia) that the document on this issue will be made available on the website for comment. She will facilitate an on-going dialogue on this theme over the next year.
  • Craig Janes summarized an example of the CCGHR’s “harmonization” initiative by describing a cluster of activities in Zambia’s western province, known as the “Zambezi Ecohealth Partnership” (ZEP).
  • As an example of Mentorship, Jennifer Liu described the recently completed “Ontario Coalition Institute” (OCI) and distributed reports on this event. Several members indicated an interest in organizing something like this in their own regions. The OCI team will write a “how to” toolkit for those interested.
  • The co-chairs of the CCGHR’s Policy and Advocacy Committee (PAC), summarized the recent work of this group.  Michael Clarke described efforts to speak with federal government Ministers Philpott and Bibeau about the Coalition and Canada’s potential role in global health research. This has led to upcoming meetings with Alain Beaudet (CIHR president) and a senior IDRC official.  Katrina Plamondon provided an update on the distribution and use of the recently published CCGHR Principles for Global Health Research.

UAC’s added Value:

In the vigorous discussion that followed these presentations, participants indicated that all the above activities need to continue. In particular, it was recognized that further thinking and action was needed about the UAC’s role in communication and advocacy.  These two issues were discussed in more detail.

  • Regarding communication, it was recognized that the UAC needs to work more closely with the CCGHR’s student and young professionals (SYP) network. There now are ten student chapters in member universities that will need strong support and encouragement. It was recognized that students can help in particular through the use of social media.  There also is considerable interest in planning other regional “Coalition Institutes” .
  • Regarding advocacy, a joint UAC-PAC work plan was discussed to include the following components:
  • clarify the way we talk about our identity and language as a network;
  • raise awareness of CCGHR activities, resources and benefits;
  • create a “Champion Toolkit” for work at an institutional level;
  • consider organizing a national conference on GHR with simultaneous regional hubs (“nodes”).

Making the case for increased membership fees:

This issue also led to a spirited discussion.  It was agreed that each member institution would be asked to contribute one of two “levels” of membership fees, depending in part on the size of the university and the amount of global health research activity at a given university:

  • an increased fee of $2,000 per year; or
  • continuing an annual fee of $1,000 per year, but with intentional discussions about how the institution’s capacity for GHR could be strengthened.

Participants requested that a statement summarizing potential benefits of institutional membership be prepared, for detailed discussions at each university. [Note: after the workshop, a small team drafted such a statement—it is attached to this summary.]

In addition, several participants excused themselves in order to attend a concurrent invitation session on “Canada’s Vision and Strategic Directions for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.  Later, a few colleagues were able to return to the UAC workshop to provide their observations on this special session, and its implications for the CCGHR, including the UAC.

During the lunch hour, representatives of member institutions provided summaries of global health research activities at their own institution over the past year, in particular raising issues for the UAC to consider as a “collective”.

In the final “wrap up” session, individuals stated particular insights (“a-ha’s”) that occurred to them during the day, including how they planned to use these insights to strengthen GHR at their own institutions.

Based on all the contributions and deliberations of the day, the UAC executive committee will prepare a 2017 UAC work plan outline, that will be made available to all members, and also posted on the website.