Balsillie School of International Affairs

 Balsillie School of International Affairs

Balsillie School of International Affairs

The Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) is a University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University School of International Affairs department housed at the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s (CIGI), which is a think tank Jim Balsillie-created. Research In Motion (RIM) co-founder Jim Balsillie provided significant support for the study of international affairs.

The $33 million accord between CIGI and Wilfrid Laurier/University of Waterloo modified the universities’ governance structures, giving Balsillie’s CIGI an effective veto over academic matters at BSIA. As part of its funding agreement, CIGI demanded to be consulted on “the selection of individuals” appointed to a dozen academic posts at BSIA. In criticizing its flagrant contravention of the most basic notions of academic integrity, a 70-page Canadian Association of University Teachers report noted that “the donor agreement specifies that the universities are obligated to consult with CIGI about which individuals they are considering for appointment as CIGI Research Chairs and Balsillie Fellows.”

When the first head of BSIA ever so timidly resisted CIGI’s effort to control BSIA, Ramesh Thakur was dismissed in what turned into a major conflict over academic freedom.