Laurier renews decade-long agreement with Balsillie School of International Affairs
Wilfrid Laurier University has signed a 10-year partnership renewal for the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA), together with the University of Waterloo and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a policy think-tank.
BSIA was first established in 2007. Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of BlackBerry, provided a $33 million donation investment into the school.
The main focus of the BSIA is multi-disciplinary research into public policy.
“It’s research, but policy-oriented research. The whole intention when Mr. Balsillie gave the money to set up the school, was to produce graduates who have an impact on public policy,” John Ravenhill, director of the BSIA, said.
The school, situated in Uptown Waterloo, provides space for over 60 affiliated faculty, whose backgrounds range from history to economics to political science. Graduate students in MA or PhD programs at BSIA receive a global education.
“When the school was set up, it was deliberately intended to be multi-disciplinary. The idea is that many of the crucial problems that the world faces, simply aren’t amenable to being addressed through one discipline. Here you have the opportunity to bring faculty together with different disciplinary backgrounds to work on particular problems together,” Ravenhill said.
BSIA hosts around 120 events a year, with an average of four events per week. Most of these have free admission to the public.
“We’ve organized ourselves into seven research clusters, which pretty much sum up the main areas of work that the school does. Those seven are global political economy, global security, resources and environment, migration, mobilities and social politics, multilateral institutions, science and health policy and Indigenous politics, which was just set up last year.”
The arrangement between WLU, University of Waterloo and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is unique in the academic world.
“We’re not a university department, and we are not a degree-granting institution. All of our students are either enrolled in Laurier or Waterloo in one of their programs. The school serves, essentially, as the host for these programs,” Ravenhill said.
WLU offers three programs at the BSIA: Master of International Public Policy (MIPP), an MBA/MIPP double degree and a joint PhD in Global Governance with UW. Approximately 80 graduate students study at the BSIA, of which approximately 45 to 50 are affiliated with WLU.
“One of the most important things that we do besides the educational programs, and that really is one of our core missions, is to organize various events that disseminate the work that’s being done here, and also give the community here an opportunity to hear from people who are doing exciting things elsewhere,” Ravenhill said.
BSIA hosts around 120 events a year, with an average of four events per week. Most of these have free admission to the public.The continued cooperation of WLU with the BSIA is a testament to its success in producing quality graduates who have an impact on the world.
“Considering that we are a start-up, in many ways, I think that anyone who is completing an undergraduate degree in Canada and wants to do a masters in International Affairs would now seriously consider us as one of the top three places in the country to go to.”