Written by: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor
In a first-of-its-kind event, SFU and UBC are each conferring an honorary doctorate of laws degree to His Highness Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini Aga Khan in a joint ceremony.
The Aga Khan founded the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network of development aid agencies working through post-secondary institutions, hospitals, and school programs. This network is particularly active in underdeveloped and war-torn nations. The Aga Khan, who is the 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims, founded this network as an expression of the social conscience of Islam.
The awards mark both universities’ recognition of the Aga Khan’s lifetime of philanthropy. “His Highness has demonstrated an exemplary international commitment to address the needs of others,” said SFU president and vice-chancellor Andrew Petter to SFU News.
The award ceremony will also honour Aga Khan’s collaborative work with UBC and SFU. Petter expressed gratitude for the Aga Khan’s support provided to programs at both universities. “We are grateful for his generosity in promoting positive change in the lives of young people and in advancing the well-being of the communities we serve.” said Petter.
The Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations at the Aga Khan University worked with the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies at SFU to set up a world-renowned summer school on Muslim diversity called “Expressions of Diversity.” This program helps participating students understand Muslims in a diverse framework and larger context in a critical and historical manner.
“Expressions of Diversity opened up many windows into the historical heritage and contemporary relevance of Muslim peoples globally,” stated Derryl MacLean, founder of SFU’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies. Maclean praised the program for its large role in making current research on Muslims and Islam accessible to all.
The Aga Khan also works with the Canadian government on projects increasing inclusive and sustainable development. His contributions through institutions like UBC have helped impact students from around the world.
For instance, UBC’s International Baccalaureate (IB) education team of faculty and adjunct faculty, in association with The Aga Khan Academies’ Teach Preparation Programme, offers mentorship to and assessment of interning teaching candidates seeking IB certification in Mombasa, Kenya.
“We applaud His Highness the Aga Khan’s outstanding humanitarian contributions,” said UBC president and vice-chancellor, professor Santa J. Ono.
The joint conferral ceremony by SFU and UBC is to be held on October 19 in Vancouver.