From Left to Right: Professor Sir David Eastwood, Chair of Universitas 21 and Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham; Professor Joseph Lo Bianco, University of Melbourne; Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor University of Nottingham

We are thrilled to share the news that TIRF Trustee Joe Lo Bianco was recently announced as one of two recipients of the Universitas 21 Award, which recognizes excellence in the internationalization of higher education among the members of the Universitas 21 organization. Dr. Lo Bianco was selected for this prestigious award for his work in language policy, particularly in areas of strife.

According to a message on Universitas 21’s website, the organization “is delighted to announce the award of honours to two star researchers, Professors Cora Burnet-Louw of the University of Johannesburg and Dr. Joseph Lo Bianco of the University of Melbourne. The U21 Awards were created in 2012 to recognise the innovative work being done at Universitas 21 member universities to the internationalisation of higher education within our members. For this, the sixth year of the presentation, two exceptional researchers are being honoured who have a lot in common, in that their work is being taken and applied to improve the world in which we all live, and both have undertaken work which has been taken up by the Olympic movement.”

The website announcement continues, “Professor Joseph Lo Bianco holds the Chair of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Melbourne. Among many other achievements, he has pioneered a method of conflict mitigation in multi-ethnic states in which language issues are a source of tension. These facilitated dialogues bring together antagonist groups in a process of collaborative writing, as well as applying research evidence and conflict reduction techniques to produce compromise, collaboration, and new policy. Applying these methods since 2012, Professor Lo Bianco has designed, coordinated and implemented peace-building initiatives in language rights for indigenous people in conflict zones in South-east Asia – Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand.

Like Professor Burnett-Louw, Professor Lo Bianco also has a connection with the Olympics, having provided advice on language policy to the Olympic movement. Of particular note are his contributions to practical solutions to urgent and extreme language problems provoking violent ethnic civil strife in multilingual states, working with UNICEF and UNESCO.

Reacting to news of the award, Professor Lo Bianco said, “This is such a surprise! It is a wonderful honour to receive recognition from such a prestigious and important body as Universitas 21. I thank those who nominated and selected me very sincerely for this award. Language rights and efforts at reconciliation in conflict-affected zones are urgent questions and demand a greater investment in research and application. I believe this award will assist in attracting more attention to the cause.”

Carmel Murphy, Executive Director International, Chancellery, The University of Melbourne, who was responsible for helping to develop the nomination of Dr. Lo Bianco for the award, said the following: “For well over two decades, Professor Lo Bianco has provided policy advice, research and conflict mitigation for key agencies of the United Nations to contribute practical solutions to urgent and extreme language problems provoking violent ethnic civil strife in multilingual states. Through his recent work as the Chief Investigator of UNICEF’s Peace Building and Education International Project, Joe has made a significant contribution towards those in conflict, recognising that the right for access to education for children in their mother tongue is a potential path to peace. This award recognises this important contribution by Joe to internationalisation.”

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Lo Bianco for receiving this excellent award!