2017 U21 Awards for Internationalisation announced

06 December 2016
Johannesburg and Melbourne Professors honoured with 2017 U21 Awards for Internationalisation


  • Universitas 21 recognises excellence in the internationalisation of higher education among its members
  • Awards to Cora Burnett-Louw for her work in sport (for) development and Joseph Lo Bianco for his work in advice on language policy, particularly in areas of strife
  • Olympics link the two Award winners



Today, Universitas 21 is delighted to announce the award of honours to two star researchers, Professors Cora Burnett- Louw of the University of Johannesburg and 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.


Professor Cora Burnett-Louw has worked in the area of physical education for many years, spearheading the establishment of the first Olympic Studies Centre in Africa, one of 38 throughout the world.   She is an established voice from the Global South in the field, working closely with other scholars in Africa and beyond in the use of sport for development following the United Nations declaration of Sport for Development and Peace in 2003.  Her work shows the impact which academic work can have throughout the world and within the many world communities.  On  hearing of her award, Professor Burnett-Louw said “Researchers from the Global South are obliged to unearth new ways of knowing with a voice that matters in academic discourse": a view with which members of the U21 family would concur wholeheartedly.


Professor Joseph Lo Bianco holds the Chair of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Melbourne and, 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 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, he 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”.


By recognising these two researchers, Universitas 21 underlines its commitment to harnessing knowledge to improve the world in which we live and providing challenging and innovative environments in which new knowledge is created.  U21 Provost Professor Bairbre Redmond said ‘Both of these outstanding academics continue to integrate their cutting-edge research into teaching and wider scholarship, ensuring that the flame of academic enquiry continues to burn bright.  We are hugely delighted that the contribution of both will be honoured at our forthcoming Presidents’ meeting in Nottingham, UK where they will be presented with their awards. Congratulations to both’