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SFU and Aga Khan University further collaborations with new agreement

November 22, 2022
Simon Fraser University President Joy Johnson (left) and Aga Khan University Sulaiman Shahabuddin (right).

Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the Aga Khan University (AKU) have signed an agreement to facilitate joint research, faculty and student exchanges and collaborations between the two institutions that address pressing global issues, such as climate change and environmental sustainability.

There are longstanding connections between the universities. AKU’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and SFU’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies have offered jointly-run summer courses, and students from AKU and SFU have completed virtual internships at each other’s campuses.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in Burnaby by SFU President and Vice Chancellor Joy Johnson and AKU President Sulaiman Shahabuddin envisions a broader partnership, allowing for a range of cooperative endeavours.

“This partnership with the Aga Khan University will allow both institutions to build on our shared values as we work together to tackle some of humanity’s most pressing challenges,” says SFU President Joy Johnson. “I know that AKU does incredible work and I am excited about the opportunities that students, faculty and staff will have to learn with and from the community there.”

“The problems that individuals, communities and countries face today are increasingly global in nature,” says President Shahabuddin. “Partnerships that bring like-minded institutions together across borders and boundaries are indispensable to addressing the challenges we face.

“All of us at AKU are eager to continue collaborating with Simon Fraser University, one of Canada’s top universities, to advance knowledge and educate future leaders.”

With both universities committed to addressing key global challenges, discussions on joint initiatives are already underway.

AKU recently established its 3,700-acre Arusha Environmental Research Reserve near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. In October, a delegation from SFU visited the site,  a living laboratory, demonstration and community collaboration space focusing on studies related to climate change, environmental stewardship, biodiversity, agriculture, community engagement and other fields.

Their visit to Nairobi and Arusha provided an opportunity to learn more about the work of AKU and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the region and better understand the kinds of research and environmental sustainability activities that the two institutions could undertake collaboratively.

The MOU is in keeping with SFU’s strategic sustainability and climate action plan and its goal of mobilizing the entire institution to embed climate action throughout its operations, research, academics, and community and global engagement.

The agreement is the second between SFU and an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. Under a 2019 Memorandum of Understanding, faculty members from the University of Central Asia, an AKDN agency, are pursuing postgraduate degrees at SFU.

In 2018, SFU and UBC conferred a special joint honorary degree on His Highness the Aga Khan, in recognition of his lifelong service to humanity and the intersection of this work at both universities, during a ceremony in Vancouver.

Founded in 1983, the AKU’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Asia, Africa and beyond through world-class teaching, research, health-care delivery and service.