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Global conference to renew international charter at UBC Okanagan

Global conference to renew international charter at UBC Okanagan

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Universities and colleges from around the world will come together at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna for four days in June to share their experiences and develop new strategies to create healthier communities on their campuses and beyond.

The 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, June 22 to 25, is a gathering of experts from more than 40 countries focused on health promotion, wellbeing and sustainability in higher education settings and in the wider community. Organizers expect to welcome more than 400 delegates from around the world.

“We are creating a dynamic meeting place for researchers, practitioners, administrators, students and policy-makers from around the world to explore pressing issues and identify promising paths for healthy and sustainable campus development,” says Conference Chair Claire Budgen, Wellbeing Initiative director and associate professor emerita nursing at UBC Okanagan.

One of the conference’s major objectives is to renew an international charter originally created in 2005 when institutions of higher education gathered at the University of Alberta to establish the Edmonton Charter.

“Delegates to our conference will co-design a new international charter to inspire and guide future action,” says Martin Mroz, conference co-chair, practice partner lead, and director of Health and Counselling Services at Simon Fraser University.

“Through dialogue, network activity and drawing from the Edmonton Charter, a new Okanagan Charter will guide and inspire action for ongoing practice, research and policy. It will embrace a holistic view of health and recognize all campus members as part of healthy campus communities, including students, staff, academics and campus businesses.”

The conference is intended to mobilize the power and highlight the responsibilities of institutions of higher education to provide exceptional learning opportunities for students, to develop vibrant campus communities where everyone thrives, and to advance knowledge and practices relevant locally and globally to campuses and other communities.

The timing is right for this conference, says Matt Dolf, Wellbeing Initiative director at UBC’s Vancouver campus. “Universities and colleges around the world are seeking to promote health and wellbeing on their campuses. Our own UBC Wellbeing Initiative, for example, is engaging across our communities to develop UBC into a ‘wellbeing promoting’ university, bringing together the health and sustainability sectors.

“What we learn at UBC – and what other universities learn from their experiences in promoting health, sustainability and wellbeing – can be powerful for our own campuses and influence policies and programs for positive change well beyond our campuses, in our cities and neighbourhoods,” says Dolf, one of the conference’s 14 plenary speakers.

UBC President Arvind Gupta is attending the conference and will participate in signing the new Okanagan Charter on June 25.

The conference website is: www.internationalhealthycampuses2015.com.

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