Centre for International Governance Innovation celebrates 20 years
A think tank with deep roots at Waterloo has celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) was incorporated as the New Economy Institute, a not-for-profit corporation, on July 30, 2001. Jim Balsillie, then-chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion (RIM), announced a donation of $30 million for the establishment of the global research centre, renamed CIGI, in July 2002, which included $10 million from RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, and the institute received a matching donation from the federal government the following year. CIGI's mandate was "to produce expert analysis on international governance, as well as national and international policy recommendations." At the time of its founding, it was the only such centre in Canada.
"We are living in a knowledge-based economy, where the most successful individuals, companies, and nations are those able to capitalize on the right information,” said Jim Balsillie in 2002. “Our centre will help Canadians, and the world, make better sense of the global political and economic changes, and discover the best ways to manage those changes."
CIGI brought together international scholars, policymakers, and experts to study the global political economy, focussing on the restructuring of international governance, with particular emphasis on financial and economic institutions. It drew on the academic expertise of the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and on the region's expertise in information technology. CIGI’s early research focused on two thematic areas: international relations and the international economy.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus John English, then a faculty member in Waterloo’s history department and a former Member of Parliament, was CIGI's first executive director. CIGI’s first working paper was published in 2005.
The institute’s first home was the St. Jacob’s-Waterloo train station in uptown Waterloo, but it soon crossed Erb Street to the former Seagram Museum, which it purchased from the City of Waterloo.
In 2007, in partnership with the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, CIGI launched the Balsillie School for International Affairs. The BSIA offers three world-class academic programs through Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo: the Master of Arts in Global Governance (MAGG), the PhD in Global Governance, and the Master of International Public Policy (MIPP). In 2018, the original 10-year partnership was extended for an additional ten years.
This institutional partnership led to the construction of the CIGI Campus adjacent to CIGI’s original location, completed in 2011. In 2014, the CIGI Campus became the fourth building at the corner of Erb and Caroline Streets in Waterloo to win the prestigious Governor General’s Medals in Architecture.
“I vividly remember the early days at CIGI in the Sunshine Room of the former Seagram Museum when with a blank sheet of paper and a digital recorder we met to anticipate the needs and design for CIGI and the building for the Balsillie School of International Affairs,” says Professor Emeritus Ken McLaughlin, who was appointed the University’s representative on the building committee. “It is a powerful statement of our University and its benefactors that puts UWaterloo in a league of the best in the international community. I happily recall my wife and I having coffee there with the brother of a former president of France. That too is part of the CIGI experience. Each day when the CIGI bell sounds at 12:00 noon I am reminded of the strong sense of presence of its campus and of UWaterloo’s role in making this happen.”
CIGI’s current president is Rohinton P. Medhora, who has served in that capacity since 2012.
"CIGI has had a profound impact on the international reputation and recognition of UWaterloo as a leading university," said Ken McLaughlin. “CIGI enabled UWaterloo to attract major scholars and exceptional students to our programs in the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of the Environment: Bessma Momani in Political Science, Eric Helleiner in Economics, Jennifer Clapp in Environmental and Ecological Studies and Dan Gorman in History actively participate in programs at CIGI. The presence of an internationally recognized “think tank” has shaped the perceptions of our University and our country’s policies in government and society.”
Unlike other global crises, the pandemic did not spark more smoking in its initial stage
Unlike other population-level stressful events such as natural disasters, COVID-19 has not resulted in a net increase in smoking, according to a new study from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Project, at the University of Waterloo.
The researchers also found that although nearly half of smokers reported that COVID-19 made them think about quitting, the vast majority of smokers did not change their smoking habits during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Led by Shannon Gravely, research assistant professor with the ITC Project, the study surveyed 6,870 smokers and vapers in four high-income countries—Australia, Canada, England, and the United States—during the first global wave of COVID-19 between April and June 2020. The team examined the association between COVID-19 and thoughts about quitting smoking, changes in smoking, and factors related to positive changes such as attempting to quit or reducing smoking.
Only 1.1 per cent of smokers in the four countries attempted to quit and 14.2 per cent reduced smoking, but this was offset by the 14.6 per cent who increased smoking, with 70.2 per cent reported no change.
“It is important to note that population-level stressful events, such as 9/11 and natural disasters, have often led to increased smoking,” said Geoffrey Fong, professor of psychology at Waterloo and principal investigator of the ITC Project. “So, our findings that there was no net increase in smoking in response to COVID-19 may actually represent a positive result for public health.”
The study found that those who thought about quitting smoking because of COVID-19 were predominantly females, ethnic minorities, those with financial stress, current vapers, less dependent smokers, those with greater concern about personal susceptibility of infection, and those who believe COVID-19 is more severe for smokers.
According to Fong, who was a co-author of the study, this latter finding may be the key to why the COVID-19 pandemic has not led to significant increases in smoking, compared to past tragedies.
“Unlike other population stressors such as earthquakes, which are unrelated to smoking, COVID-19 severity is indeed linked to smoking,” Fong said. “Public health officials have mentioned the link as yet another reason for smokers to quit, and over 80 per cent of smokers across the four countries believed that smoking made COVID-19 more severe. And this led to the lack of an increase in smoking, unlike what we have seen after other tragedies.”
The study, Smokers’ cognitive and behavioural reactions during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic: Findings from the 2020 ITC Four Country Smoking and Vaping Survey, was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. The authors were Gravely, Fong, Lorraine V. Craig, K. Michael Cummings, Janine Ouimet, Ruth Loewen, Nadia Martin, Janet Chung-Hall, Pete Driezen, Sara C. Hitchman, Ann McNeill, Andrew Hyland, Anne C. K. Quah, Richard J. O’Connor, Ron Borland, Mary E. Thompson, and Christian Boudreau.
The study was funded by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program.
Professor gets funding for EXERGETIC physical and cognitive exercise project
This article was originally featured on the Games Institute website.
Dr. Lennart Nacke, associate professor of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Director of the HCI Games Group, was awarded $350,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in the Active and Assisted Living Program as a Canadian partner to fund EXERGETIC, a research program aiming to develop innovative digital solutions that utilize exercise games (Exergames) to improve physical and cognitive functions. EXERGETIC researchers will create exergame training experiences in an ecologically valid and safe setting for geriatric populations, called the ExerCube.
As part of EXERGETIC, Dr. Nacke and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Katja Rogers will work with Sphery AG to build an ExerCube at the Stratford School. The ExerCube is an immersive fitness game environment that combines innovative software and hardware design with state-of-the-art training concepts. When working out in the ExerCube, players are surrounded by three walls that serve as projection screens and haptic interfaces for energetic bodily interactions.