When Nathan Andrews was researching Canadian universities to pursue his doctorate, a name – and not an educational institution – caught his attention and played a huge role in him choosing to enroll in the University of Alberta.
Barbadian-born Dr. Andy Knight chairs the university’s department of political science. He’s also an armed conflict expert and a fellow of the esteemed Royal Society of Canada.
One of this year’s Trudeau Scholars, Andrews was impressed by Knight’s remarkable academic career distinguished by prolific and innovative research and an outstanding record of public engagement in Canada and around the world.
“He’s such an inspiring person and very supportive,” said Andrews whose thesis is The Dialectics of Globalisation, Corporate Social Responsibility and Poverty: A Comparative Study of Kinross and Newmont Mining Investments in Ghana. “Though he’s one the school’s busiest professors, he always finds the time to write references whenever you request one. He’s always very cheerful and of course he has accomplished a lot in the area of global governance and international relations. I aspire to reach such heights.”
The first executive director of the New York-based United Nations Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protest, Knight said Andrews is a remarkable young scholar.
“Nathan is a reflective thinker with a thirst for knowledge,” said the 2010 Harry Jerome Trailblazer Award recipient. “He’s a very open-minded student in my graduate seminar and someone who is not dogmatic or blindly ideological. Instead, Nathan is critical and very thoughtful in a systematic kind of way. To my mind, his gentle probing of subjects and themes in international relations and comparative politics and his quest for knowledge – leaving no stone unturned – is what makes him such an attractive young scholar.
“He’s truly a global citizen and someone that’s well-liked by his peers and well-respected by my colleagues. Furthermore, Nathan is very balanced mentally, socially, spiritually and physically. He’s a joy to be around because he’s such a nice human being and he’s truly deserving of the Trudeau Fellowship.”
Andrews is one of 15 recipients of the Trudeau Foundation Scholarship which is the most prestigious doctoral award of its kind in Canada. The scholarship supports brilliant social sciences and humanities doctoral students who are engaged in researching and sharing innovative ideas that will help solve issues of critical importance to Canadians.
In addition to the $60,000 grant given annually over a three-year period, the scholars will benefit from the shared expertise and knowledge of Trudeau Fellows and mentors.
“This honour means everything to me,” Andrews said. “It’s like the biggest deal ever because coming to Canada as an international student, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of funding. At the doctoral level, there are very few scholarships that I am eligible for. So to be nominated by the department of political science out of the many brilliant students here was quite unexpected. I am simply humbled and very grateful.”
Born and raised in Ghana, Andrews obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Ghana and his Master’s from Brock University.
“I left Ghana to study here because I was simply tired of being in the same country throughout my life,” he said. “Ghana is a great country, but I just wanted to explore the outside world, meet other people and face different perspectives. I plan to eventually return home. I am all for social change and I think I can make more of an impact if I am actually in Ghana and doing something that’s practically relevant to the people. I might go back to work with a non-governmental organization, teach or perhaps just do research and advocacy. That’s the plan now, but it could always change.”
Andrews said he developed a passion for politics while in high school.
“Everyone is a political animal of some sort, but my interest stems from my understanding that politics is ubiquitous,” he said. “As individuals, we can choose not to be involved, but that does not mean decisions will not be made or policies implemented. I don’t intend to be a politician, but I continue to be inspired by the field of political science because it helps me understand what’s going on and will eventually lead me to become the policy analyst and development researcher that I want to be.”
Prior to coming to Canada, Andrews produced development-oriented programs and attended major global conferences, including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development which Ghana hosted four years ago. He also participated in several theatre productions, playing Old Simba in The Lion King and Curtis in an adaptation of Dreamgirls.
Since enrolling at the University of Alberta, Andrews has served as the president of the African Students’ Association, graduate-student-at-large on the general faculties council and academic planning committee, coordinator of the university’s 2012 Black History Month youth forum and board member of the Edmonton Free Methodist Church.
Andrews and the rest of this year’s Trudeau Scholarship winners met for the first time with the Trudeau community in Montebello, Quebec last week.
BY RON FANFAIR