Knowledge without Borders 

By Russ Cooper

Christine Jamieson knows knowledge knows no borders.

For two years now, Jamieson has been the Canadian director of the North American Mobility Program (NAMP), a Human Resources and Social Development Canada-funded exchange program facilitating the flow of knowledge through select universities in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students, the program is a one-semester exchange with a three-fold set of goals: Giving the students opportunities to face challenging issues from a different geographic angle; presenting a chance to collaborate with international students; and creating an ongoing continental network of academics.

"The program is a wonderful opportunity for students to broaden their horizons," says Jamieson, who also serves as chair and associate professor in Theological Studies. "I hope to generate more interest from Canadian students by having participants from Concordia speak to other students about the positive impact of their exchange."

Assistant Professor in Theology André Gagné (left) and Mexican exchange student Adrian Donneaud Maldonado share a harmonious moment at the Theological Studies Christmas party in December. Magnifying glass

Assistant Professor in Theology André Gagné (left) and Mexican exchange student Adrian Donneaud Maldonado share a harmonious moment at the Theological Studies Christmas party in December.

Since the program began, Concordia has received six students from Mexico and two from the U.S. Last semester saw a flurry of activity involving Concordia, hosting four students from Mexican universities.

Twenty-six-year-old theological studies master's student Colin Babin ventured to Howard University in Washington as part of his NAMP experience. Now back in Montreal, Babin reflects fondly on work he did while there and the chance to see the world from a different angle. "They take their research and work very seriously, and they were so welcoming," he says. "I had a great time."

Co-authoring a paper on copyright ethics while at Howard, Babin credits the U.S. program director Wayne Patterson and philosophy professor Charles Verharen for enriching his exchange.

"It was an extremely rewarding and extremely challenging experience," says Babin. "It was a lot of hard work, but I was pleased with the end result." Babin was the third Concordia student to participate in the program.

The exchange involves three universities from the U.S., three from Mexico and three from Canada (Concordia, Université de Montréal and University of Ottawa-affiliate St. Paul University). All nine are currently working together to develop an online course to help further facilitate the sharing of knowledge between program participants.

Although Jamieson is director, the program does not take a theological leaning. Each year, the program directors scan their grad and undergrad calendars to find courses relevant to ethics, science and public policy and place them within a collective calendar. Interested students are then able to choose courses supporting their own studies, but with added foreign perspective. The participants are not required to take the selected courses, but usually do because they relate to the theme of the project. In the process, students earn credit toward their degrees at their home school.

The actual exchange has only been up-and-running at Concordia since fall of 2007, while the groundwork took a bit longer to establish. In the spring of 2006, Jamieson was contacted by Wayne Patterson, the US NAMP program director and Senior Fellow in International Programs at Howard University in Washington. Jamieson reckons it was her work in bioethics relating to stem-cell research and genetic technology that made her stand out to Patterson.

"The theme of the program fit well with the research I conducted for Health Canada. My theological and social ethics formation resonated with the questions the program was seeking to address," she says.

By the end of the program in 2011, each country hopes to have had 21 participants in the NAMP.


Concordia University