TRU President Brett Fairbairn and Vice-President Research (Interim) Will Garrett-Petts have signed a memorandum of understanding with Fulbright Canada, a not-for-profit educational exchange program committed to collaboration and academic excellence between the US and Canada.
The five-year agreement, which comes as TRU launches its new Strategic Research Plan, was endorsed by Fulbright Canada and TRU at a ceremony celebrating the Fulbright Program’s 30 years in Canada (delayed due to COVID-19).
Fairbairn said the partnership with Fulbright Canada allows TRU to further develop its expertise in fire and land management, something that will prove beneficial to Interior communities and the provincial fire service as the threat of summer wildfires increases with climate change.
“Fulbright scholars are the best in their fields. Creating this opportunity at TRU will bring a new level of capacity and capability to a crucially important field of research. This new chair will enable TRU to explore better ways of preventing devastating wildfires, among other things,” he says.
“This is an extremely valuable addition to TRU’s research portfolio, and I am grateful to the Fulbright team for working with us to make this happen.”
First chair will be Indigenous
Each year, under the terms of the agreement, TRU will host a leading US scholar to work with TRU faculty and students in a research area important to the university and to the communities it serves.
The inaugural chair, to be appointed in 2023, will be an Indigenous scholar recruited to support TRU’s world-class research in wildfire management, climate change and Indigenous land-use practices. They will work with TRU faculty and community research partners to study various aspects of fire science, community resilience and Indigenous land management.
Garrett-Petts says the Fulbright Canada visiting chair position will enhance TRU’s research capacity in areas of existing strength.
“Thompson Rivers University is both pleased and proud to partner with Fulbright Canada on the establishment of this chair—and as vice-president of research, I’m especially pleased to see the chair well aligned with our commitment to Indigenous research and the goals of indigenization. Our first chair will address the impacts of climate change and be an Indigenous scholar in land management and fire science,” he said.
“This is a new relationship for Fulbright Canada and we are very excited. Thompson Rivers University serves students from across the country and around the world, and it is an institution absolutely committed to promoting, supporting and encouraging Indigenous persons. We look forward to a long and supportive relationship,” said Fulbright Canada President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Michael K. Hawes.