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International collaboration

Memorial University makes agricultural, nursing connections in Pakistan


By Pamela Gill

Making connections with international researchers and potential students.

A group of people standing in front of a building with large columns.
Memorial University representatives pose with officials outside Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University in Pakistan.
Photo: Submitted

That’s the aim of fostering closer relationships with Pakistani universities and research organizations, says a Memorial contingent that travelled to South Asia in recent months.

Dr. Mumtaz Cheema, associate vice-president (Grenfell Campus), research and graduate studies, joined Dr. Sonja Knutson, director of Memorial’s Internationalization Office, and Dr. Kimberly Jarvis, assistant professor, Faculty  of Nursing, on a familiarization mission to Pakistan last fall.

“We visited a few universities and had very productive discussions on agriculture, climate change, sustainability, environment and food security,” said Dr. Cheema. “Collaboration and potential student exchanges through nursing programs was also discussed.”

The mission evolved from a collaborative discussion at the Grenfell and St. John’s campuses in 2022 by Memorial officials and officials from the University of Agriculture Swat, in Mingora, Pakistan.

Swat delegates met with Dr. Tana Allen, vice-president of research at Memorial; Dr. Cheema; and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada representatives.

Dr. Cheema is overseeing the training of several Swat University faculty at Grenfell’s Boreal Ecosystem Research Lab.

A memorandum of understanding with Swat University is currently in development.

‘Strengths and offerings’

While in Pakistan in the fall, the group also visited the University of the Punjab, in Lahore; the University of Agriculture, in Faisalabad; Islamia University, Bahawalpur; Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University of Agriculture, Multan; Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi; and Kamalia College, Kamalia.

The CEO and crop breeders of 4Brothers Group, a research and development company, met with the Memorial contingent to discuss potential doctoral-level scholarships and research/industry student internships.

During our tour, we met with large groups of students, researchers and industry officials to build on our previous discussions,” said Dr. Cheema. “We are optimistic that we will develop MOUs with several universities, which will enable our students, and those from Pakistan, to avail of each other’s strengths and offerings.”

Nursing focus

While in Islamabad, the team engaged with hospital administration and toured several local hospitals.

“There are wonderful opportunities for collaborations and capacity building pertaining to health research, education and practice,” said Dr. Jarvis. “These types of cultural experiences and sharing of ideas are valuable to nursing and the health of populations.”

The group also met with the Government of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission, which shared goals around increasing training opportunities for nursing.

According to Dr. Knutson, there are viable and significant opportunities for Memorial’s Faculty of Nursing to engage in Pakistan to support training and accreditation goals of the country.

Since the mission, the Faculty of Nursing was invited to travel to Pakistan and to take part in discussions to improve perceptions of nursing careers and nursing research.

 Memorial representatives will return to Pakistan sometime this year.

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