Any event that is held by an academic institution has a purpose. This paper explains the context within which the conference was held, its significance, and how it will shape the University of Botswana as it moves forward.
While a conference has objectives, there are always people behind it who initiate the idea and determine how that idea will be implemented. The usual practice is to deal with this matter at the institutional level, emphasizing institutional activities. However, in this particular case, it is difficult to follow that route because the main actor, Professor Edward Gabriele, represents a number of institutions: the Society for Research Administrators International (SRA), US Navy Medicine, and the US Uniformed Services University Graduate School of Nursing. It was through his work in them all that he took the opportunity to engage members of the University of Botswana in holding this first-ever conference in Botswana. In particular, in his capacity as the Editor of the Journal of Research Administration, Professor Gabriele worked with Professor Isaac N. Mazonde and Dr. Jose Jackson-Malete and helped them publish, with Dr. Jeremy Sugarman, an article on ethics (Mazonde, Malete, & Sugarman, 2007). The bond grew and a relationship was forged, resulting in the conference and in the research collaboration that the two parties are now vigorously pursuing between the University of Botswana on the one side and many colleagues around the world on the other.
In its strategic plan, officially known as A Strategy for Excellence, the University of Botswana lists several priority areas in which it will engage. The two most applicable to the matter at hand are Engagement and Improving Research Performance. Essentially, Engagement is about reaching out to real and potential stakeholders, as in forging links between the university and industry. Engagement can also refer to international collaboration in research. Improving Research Performance is by and large self explanatory.
The world class conference on healthcare ethics held at the University of Botswana from December 6-9, 2009 addressed these two priorities in a resounding manner. That global event, a joint collaboration among the University of Botswana, US Navy Medicine, and the US Uniformed Services University Graduate School of Nursing, was graced by two prominent men of international stature. These were His Grace, the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a...