University of The Bahamas Commemorates 20 Years of Research as a National Imperative
22nd December, 2020
Nassau, THE BAHAMAS — Academic freedom and the pursuit of new knowledge are pivotal aspects of University of The Bahamas’ (UB’s) mission, which for the last two decades has been showcasing the breadth of its research expertise via its Research Edge forum.
UB recently commemorated the 20th anniversary of Research Edge in a virtual presentation which paid homage to the legacy platform.
Research Edge is the brainchild of Higher Education and Development Policy Specialist the late Dr. Joan Vanderpool and was initiated in 2000 at the then College of The Bahamas (COB). Dr. Vanderpool’s vision for Research Edge was for it to be a forum that would showcase and promote scholarly, Bahamas-based research. Over the years, of the 141 research presentations delivered, the majority has focused on education and social science. Other research studies have centered on the environment, health, technology, tourism, sustainability and business.
“Over the years, Research Edge has shared research and innovation from all disciplines with our university and the wider public,” noted UB President Dr. Rodney D. Smith in his address. “It has been an excellent way for us to showcase our commitment to research and the wealth of talent and knowledge we have here at the University and in the country.”
According to Dr. Smith UB is intentionally growing its research capacity and by the end of 2020, it aims to secure an excess of $3 million in research grant funding, despite being a relatively young university.
UB’s Director of Institutional Strengthening Mr. William Fielding, who was a part of COB’s Research Unit when Dr. Vanderpool was the Director of Research and Grants, explained that the vision was for the institution to serve as a host and facilitate the promotion of studies conducted by researchers from outside the institution as well.
“Although this was not a requirement if you like, Research Edge has become a space where we tell our Bahamian story,” said Mr. Fielding. “It was never a requirement that research presented should be about the Bahamas or on The Bahamas, and we have had a number of presentations that would fit into that category. But it obviously became a natural space where we would tell each other about the research that was taking place. And when we talk about story, of course, it’s our story in a research setting, rather than our story in any other way that we might consider it.”
Beginning with the first ever Research Edge presentation by Dr. Vanderpool, what started out as seven presentations per academic year—an ambitious goal given the lack of academic publications from COB’s faculty in the early 2000’s—has grown to almost eight times that number.
Research Edge has evolved to a hallmark UB forum that provides a dynamic environment for the scholarly exchange of ideas; encourages a lively and interdisciplinary culture supporting research, learning and innovative achievements; and recognizes and promotes the inherent value of research in academia as well as the common good. The forum has pivoted most recently into a virtual platform in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Smith revealed that the institution intends to continue developing the research expertise and excellence that The Bahamas needs.
“Since becoming University of The Bahamas, we have aimed our focus on research, with research and innovation as a key part of our mission,” said Dr. Smith. “We aim to be the go-to institution for the country’s research needs. We have the professional network to solicit and incorporate research professionals in all areas by being identified as both the principal researchers and fund managers.”
Dr. Smith noted that in keeping with its adherence to its research mandate, UB has since opened the Government & Public Policy Institute (GPPI), as well as the GTR Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Centre. Last year, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian UB also established the Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Research (CCARR) Centre, which will put much needed focus on climate change research for The Bahamas.
All of these entities, he explained, will help to bolster UB’s research capacity. Naturally, Research Edge stands to benefit from a steady pipeline of scholarly studies.
“I want to congratulate all of the faculty members who have presented research over the years, and to the organizers of research edge for ensuring such a tremendous research legacy at University of The Bahamas,” said Dr. Smith.
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University of The Bahamas
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Chartered on 10th November 2016, University of The Bahamas (UB) is a beacon for national transformation. Approximately 5,000 students are enrolled in the University of The Bahamas system which includes campuses and centres on New Providence, Grand Bahama, San Salvador and Abaco, as well as UB online education. UB’s diverse academic programmes, research engagements, athletics and leadership development experiences equip our students to become global citizens in a dynamic world. For more information, visit www.ub.edu.bs.