For Professor Andy Knight, one shouldn’t only help one’s family and friends – we have an obligation to be of service to the world as a whole.
Professor Knight became a member of the Baha’i Faith after being introduced to it through his wife, Mitra Najaf-Toumrai, who came to Canada in the mid-eighties as one of thousands of Baha’i refugees welcomed to Canada as they fled persecution in Iran. They met in Halifax where she first arrived and where Andy was completing his M.A. at Dalhousie. Knight was attracted to the Baha’i emphasis on the solidarity of humankind and its vision of global governance and peace. “One of the things that attracted me to the Baha’i Faith was the notion of cosmopolitan citizenship. We are all citizens of this planet,” he said. “Thus, the injunction of service goes beyond serving our local community.”
Knight says faith was always a part of his life since he was a kid growing up in the Caribbean. His parents, including his father who was a Christian minister, taught him the value of service to the community. He has tried to make a positive contribution to society his whole life – and now his efforts have been recognized by the Black Business and Professional Association of Canada, which presented him with the prestigious Harry Jerome Trailblazer Award at a gala event in Toronto on April 24. Knight is the seventh person to receive this particular Trailblazer award since it was created in 1983.
When Knight acknowledged the significance of the award, which is presented to African-Canadians, he stressed that it places a responsibility on the recipient to excel. He said when people who feel marginalized because of discrimination and prejudice see his accomplishments, it is encouraging. “[They] can look at me and say, ‘If he can do it, so can I,’” he said.
Knight has a substantial list of achievements. He is the Chair of Political Science and Professor of International Relations at the University of Alberta, sits on the Board of Governors of Canada’s highly regarded International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Board of Governors of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies, as well as the boards of directors of several other organizations concerned with peace studies.
He has written and edited numerous books, including “Adapting the United Nations to a Postmodern Era: Lessons Learned”, “Building Sustainable Peace” with Tom Keating, and “Children and War: Impact” (forthcoming) and “Global Politics, Globalization and Multilevel Governance: Emerging Trends and Challenges for the Third Millennium” with Tom Keating (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) as well as dozens upon dozens of journal articles. He is a frequent contributor and commentator on national radio and television as well as in the national press. Knight was Vice-chairman of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) and the Editor of “Global Governance Journal” for five years.