No Longer Business as Usual
I firmly believe that The University of the West Indies must spark a
renaissance to renew the Caribbean enterprise.
Given the challenge of unemployment facing our countries, especially among our youth, we need to shift focus to entrepreneurship and economic diversification. For example, given its rich experience in the energy sector, Trinidad and Tobago can become a centre for innovation in energy. Since renewable resources are the energy source of the future, we need to establish centres for research and development in renewable energy throughout the region. Denmark has 5.6 million people and they have developed some of the most sophisticated technology for wind turbines. They have found a niche. We could create our own niche in products, services and technical expertise coming out of the Caribbean. In these and other areas, The University of the West Indies (UWI) can become the hub for innovation in the region.
Becoming West Indian The University of the West Indies has an influence disproportionate to its size, not only in Trinidad and Tobago, but also throughout the region. One of the
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Caribbean’s biggest and perhaps still-underused assets are its regional institutions. In my view, the most successful example of regional collaboration is The University of the West Indies. How can The UWI bring young people’s voices to the fore as assets for their communities and countries? How can our University contribute to a new focus on creativity and entrepreneurship, particularly among young West Indians? For those of us growing up in the Caribbean in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when we thought about university, we thought about The University of the West Indies. It was the place to be. At the time, UWI scholars were writing articles in the newspapers that had a profound influence on me, given my interest in government and development. This was the period of the Grenada revolution, the Cold War was at its zenith, and the Sandinista Revolution was exploding in Central America. It was a time of rich debate and The University of the West Indies, particularly the Students’ Guild, was integral to that debate. As a university student in the early ‘80s, my expectations were not only met, they were exceeded.