Activist’s work worthy of Trudeau Prize

Bob Huish, MA ’03, has won a 2004 Trudeau Scholarship.
Bob Huish, MA ’03, has won a 2004 Trudeau Scholarship.
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A Trudeau Foundation Scholarship just made Bob Huish’s, MA ’03, flights to social activism a little easier.

“This is not the kind of business where you can [work] from an armchair,” the former Queen’s geography student said. “You have to rack up the air miles.”

The Pierre Trudeau Foundation selected Huish, who is now attending graduate school at Simon Fraser University, as one of 14 scholarship winners on June 30, 2004.

The Foundation grants scholarships to outstanding doctoral candidates in the social sciences and humanities whose work falls under one of the foundation’s four themes: human rights and social justice, responsible citizenship, Canada and the world, or humans and their natural environment.

The scholarship’s recipients receive $35,000 per year for up to a maximum of four years to cover tuition and living expenses during their doctoral program.

They also receive an additional $15,000 per year to support research-related travel approved by the foundation.

Huish, who has already completed field studies in Cuba, Mexico and Guatemala, said the impact of traveling is tremendous.

“Go down and travel. Buy a plane ticket, learn the language and get yourself down there,” he said. “Going to those places is absolutely essential and I think there’s no other way to see the gravity of some of these situations.”

During his field placement in Havana, Huish met Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan writer who inspired him to raise awareness of underdevelopment in Latin America.

When Huish spoke to Galeano about becoming an academic with civic responsibility, Galeano called him an “activista,” Huish recalled.

“It was good to hear another voice agree that the title ‘academic’ encompasses the responsibility of activism,” Huish said.

In his doctoral research, Huish will examine development strategies and issues of empowerment in Latin America.

He said he will monitor the influence the Latin American School of Medicine has in Havana, Cuba where the school trains poor students from rural Latin America to become qualified physicians.

Huish said he wants to create more dialogue within the academy and in the public sphere concerning health and rural development.

“The grant will involve an unprecedented opportunity to dream and to put some idea into motion and see how they play out,” he said.

Huish completed both his undergraduate and master’s degree in geography at Queen’s and gave a guest lecture for the Queen’s Project on International Development. He said he was happy to be part of a interesting mix of people.

“[Working] with [enthusiastic] people who are socially conscious and concerned with the direction social issues are taking ... is my greatest inspiration,” he said.

Huish left for Cuernavaca, Mexico on July 19 to continue his work with the SFU Economic Development Capacity Building Project. He plans to finish his Ph.D. in 2007.

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