Academics Without Borders oversee a surveying project with students at the Royal University of Bhutan.
Photo Credit: AWB

Academics Without Borders settle at Concordia University

Academics Without Borders have been working internationally with no permanent base until now. Montreal’s Concordia University has offered the space and the additional financial support necessary to raise the profile of the organization.


Steven Davis is the founder and executive director of AWB. A former philosophy professor he says he loves universities. “I spent all my adult life connected in one way or another with universities either studying or teaching. And I said to myself, universities make an enormous contribution to our society and I thought well, the developing world needs universities as well.”

He began his research, “I was very surprised I thought there would be an organization that helped improve or build capacity in higher education in the developing world.” In 2007 he established the group. The academics volunteer their expertise, while their expenses are covered. Davis says they only work in poor countries.

“What’s important is, we don’t go to them with projects, telling them what they need; they come to us.”

Word of mouth has been the source of AWB’s growth to date, and in this relatively short time they have been active in 60 projects in 14 countries, most in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Sharing our expertise with AWB partners in developing countries is a natural extension of Concordia’s educational mission,” Alan Shepard, the university’s president, said in a statement today. “This allows us to widen the reach and impact of our long-standing commitment to exploration and innovation through research and teaching.”

Steve Davis says he hopes to help Concordia internationalize, and he has plans to extend the program to other universities in Canada, creating an AWB network.

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