Address and Discussion on Education at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
I would like to thank you for welcoming us so warmly to this place of learning. And I would like to thank you for presenting me with the Monsignor Larraín Gandarillas Medallion. What a wonderful representation of our two countries’ friendship and rapport.
No matter where I go in the world, whenever I enter an institution like this one, I feel right at home. All of us in this room are committed to giving students the very best opportunities to succeed in life and on the world stage. What is the best way to do that? How do we broaden the co-operation between Canada and Chile?
I often see international relations as a triangle, with three key points: education, innovation and trade. Each point influence and intersect with each other, and each one reinforces the others.
What this means for Canada and for Chile is simple. When we foster the necessary conditions for all three to thrive, and when we do so in a manner that allows us to succeed together, we are enriching the lives of both our peoples.
In fact, the education, innovation and trade nexus forms a continuum that can amplify our learning. Through education we become more innovative and enterprising, more outward-looking and attractive to the international community. And in turn, we are better able to increase the depth and reach of our teaching and learning, which strengthens our society in so many ways.
The key here is collaboration, and there are many areas in which we can do more.
Let me begin with education.
One of the most important ways we are collaborating is through the signing of agreements between institutions.
The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile already has nearly 20 agreements signed with institutions across Canada dating back to 1995, with more than 500 students from both countries taking advantage of exchange opportunities since that time.
Looking more broadly, there are over 120 agreements between our countries, ranging from student and faculty exchanges to academic co-operation. These agreements have allowed some 900 students to learn internationally.
In addition, last year there were more than 500 Chilean students studying in long- and short-term programs in Canada, and in recent years some 50 Canadians per year have participated in short-term student exchange programs in Chile.
I am happy to see these statistics, as they reveal a simple truth: the relationship between nations is strengthened the more we are able to understand and learn from each other.
And yet, there is so much more we can do. If there are 500 Chilean students in Canada now, why not 1 000? If some 50 Canadian exchange students come to Chile every year, why not 100? Why not more?
The answer lies with expanding our existing ties and encouraging our youth to pursue international education. Moreover, we need to increase our research ties, which have the added benefit of elevating our knowledge base.
And there is much we can share, in innovation, and more specifically in science and technology.
Canada is interested in increasing joint research with Chile, and we have the infrastructure and people in place to make a significant impact in the international community.
For example, Canadian university researchers are prolific publishers, and their research is of high quality. In 2010, with a share of only 0.5 per cent of global population, Canada accounted for 4.4 per cent of the world’s natural sciences and engineering publications.
This puts us eighth in the world in absolute terms, behind countries with much larger populations. Meaning on a per capita basis, Canada is near the top.
Canada’s willingness to collaborate across borders has also been on the rise. In 1980, 14.3 per cent of Canadian scientific papers were co-authored with researchers from other countries. By 2007, that number had increased to 44.9 per cent (almost half)—almost half of all our total scientific papers. That is the key point.
And Chile has been steadily increasing its own publication strength with Canada. In the fields of natural sciences and engineering research, the number of co-publications has increased by 561 per cent, from 57 to 377, between 2003 and 2012.
In addition, Chile’s total number of natural sciences and engineering co-authored papers with Canada was ranked 22nd in 2013 against other international partners. And it is the annual growth of our bilateral collaboration that holds perhaps the most impressive number, increasing over 7 per cent between 1996 and 2013—the biggest rise among all of Canada’s partners.
This is but a fraction of our output, which is supported by institutions like this one and through investment in the science and technology sector. The trajectory here is very good, and we should see it not as a culmination, but as a threshold. We can and will accomplish so much more together.
Let me now briefly touch on our trade and investment.
To give a brief overview, since the signing of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement in 1997, our bilateral trade has more than tripled. Canada is also the third largest foreign investor in Chile, as well as the largest investor in mining and the largest source of new investment.
But more than that, we are using our trade and investment to advance our collaborative approach.
One example is the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s investment of $7.9 million for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, in Chile. The array was inaugurated last year and will give Canadian radio astronomers access to the telescope, advancing our knowledge of the universe itself.
I am confident that under the auspices of the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding on Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as the action plan agreed upon last year, we will continue to find ways to invest and encourage entrepreneurship that will support our innovation and our learning.
As we can see, education, innovation and trade are all inextricably linked, and there is no shortage of opportunities to expand our relations in all three areas.
We must do this for the long-term well-being of both our nations. And we can do so by sharing our ideas.
I have often spoken of the diplomacy of knowledge, that is, the ability to share knowledge across borders and disciplines.
This kind of exchange is critical to progress in today’s world.
In today’s globalized world, nations will be defined by how well they develop and advance knowledge, and how they use this new currency as a passport to success.
And there is no excuse not to pursue collaboration. Communication is faster, easier and cheaper than ever before, and we must take advantage of the age in which we live, a time of great change, risk and opportunity on a global scale.
We must broaden what and how we learn and how we share our knowledge.
New discoveries are rarely made in isolation, the way they might have been even a generation ago. Rather, they more often occur as the result of collaboration between schools and research institutions, the private sector and governments, and, increasingly, between nations.
Canadians and Chileans must work together, must learn from each other, must do what we can to encourage greater mobility not only of products, but also of people and ideas.
Our collective well-being will be determined by our ability to empower the greatest number of citizens possible to reach their potential and to contribute to the societies in which they live.
That is where all of you can make an impact.
Through education, innovation, trade and the diplomacy of knowledge, we can harness the potential that exists between our two nations in all areas of academic exchange. In this way, we are creating a true global knowledge economy, one where people can achieve success and realize their potential.
I wish all of you the very best as you continue to offer the brightest futures possible to your students and your countries.