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FACULTY FOCUS

Research for a

Better Region by Joel Henry

P

erhaps more than any other region, the Caribbean has a long tradition of public intellectuals and academics that have made a pivotal contribution to its development. During the colonial era they turned their energies towards anti-imperialism. In the post-colonial era they shepherded the growth of the fledgling Caribbean society. All along the way they relied on new ideas, bolstered by research, to find answers for questions around the alleviation of poverty, modernisation, prosperity, Caribbean identity and its place in the world. It’s a powerful legacy, that of knowledge and research-based development, one which is just as necessary today. In fact, with persistent economic challenges, greater global competition, crime, environmental dangers and a host of other issues, it could be argued that the need for research-driven solutions is more pressing than ever. And research is one of The University of the West Indies’ chief roles. “The relationship between society and achievement is one of supply and demand,” Sir Arthur Lewis, one 42 – THE PELICAN/ISSUE 14

of those original Caribbean intellectuals, once said while speaking on the topic of entrepreneurship and innovation. The demand is there—for solutions. The challenge is for Caribbean society to recognise that research can be the supply and to ensure the quality and quantity of that supply. “We are at a special time because of need,” says Professor Dale Webber, The UWI’s Pro Vice-Chancellor of Graduate Studies and Research. PVC Webber received the Graduate Studies appointment in August 2015 and the Research three months later, making him point person for all areas relating to policy and operations for both portfolios. He seems acutely aware of the urgency of the research agenda—for the university and the wider society—yet he’s remarkably at ease. There’s an easy-going, deepseated confidence in his tone. “I am very ambitious person,” he laughs. “I work tirelessly to achieve my goals. The secret to my success is perseverance. I recognise the challenge we face and I am coming.”


UWI Pelican Issue 14