St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) is one of Canada’s leading undergraduate universities, located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. One of the distinguishing features of StFX is that it combines the pursuit of research excellence with local and regional social relevance achieved through community engagement and partnerships. These efforts have had global reach and impact. Dating back to the Antigonish Movement, StFX has had a long and continuing tradition of working with communities to facilitate social change, address inequities and marginalization, as well as improve policy and governance. The StFX Extension Division, which can trace its roots to the beginning of the Antigonish Movement, has been instrumental in these efforts, reaching communities across Atlantic Canada. StFX is also home to the Coady International Institute, a world-renowned centre of excellence in community-based development and leadership education. In collaboration with partners in Canada and the Global South, the Coady Institute works to reduce poverty and transform societies by strengthening local economies, building resilient communities, and promoting social accountability and good governance.
Today, the Coady Institute and Extension Division have joined in a united effort to address local and global development challenges at the community level. Through Coady-Extension, StFX hosts the Nova Scotia Government-funded Centre for Employment Innovation (CEI), which supports capacity development and applied research needed to improve employment prospects for under-represented and traditionally marginalized populations. StFX is also home to the National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health (NCCDH), funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The NCCDH focuses on health equity and how differences in local socio-economic conditions at the community level can cause inequities in health and public health care services. StFX’s efforts in community-university research were organized into the Centre for Regional Studies in the mid-1980’s, which had a wide-reaching mandate to promote research into the social, economic, cultural and political issues of relevance to Atlantic Canada, and to eastern Nova Scotia in particular. More recently, StFX launched the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership, as part of a new focus on public policy, governance and leadership issues, as well as the newly formed Climate Services and Research Centre, which aims to use climate data and models to provide climate information and adaptation strategies responsive to community needs.