Coady International Institute Attracts Distinguished Leader as New Director

April 11, 2011

Antigonish, NS - Dr. Sean Riley, President of St. Francis Xavier University, has announced the appointment of Dr. John Gaventa, a pioneer in the field of development research and education, as the new Director of the Coady International Institute and Vice-President of International Development at StFX.

Dr. John Gaventa, Director
  Coady International Institute     
(photo: Andy Hall/Oxfam)

“John Gaventa is a renowned innovator in the world of international development,” said Dr. Riley. “His exceptional academic and community accomplishments have contributed to modern approaches to international development and have won many prestigious awards. I’m extremely pleased that John will lead the Coady Institute into an exciting future. It’s an honour to welcome him to the Institute and the broader StFX community.”

Among his many achievements, he is a former Rhodes Scholar and MacArthur Prize Fellow, and holds a doctorate in political sociology from Oxford University. For the past 15 years, Dr. Gaventa served as a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in England where he was also Director of the Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability. Previously he was Director of the Highlander Center in Tennessee, a non-governmental organization with over 75 years of experience working on poverty and social justice issues in the United States. He currently serves as Chair of the Council of Trustees at Oxfam Great Britain, one of the country’s largest international non-governmental organizations.

Dr. Gaventa has written widely on issues of citizen-led development and action. His first book, ‘Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley’ won four major prizes, including the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Book Award from the American Political Science Association. In April, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts will present him with the 2011 Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize. The award recognizes distinguished scholarship on civic learning, citizen participation and engaged research.


“I have long been aware of the Coady Institute’s legacy of good work,” said Dr. Gaventa. “I’ve had the good fortune to meet community development practitioners around the world. They have nothing but praise for the quality of its educational programs. It’s abundantly clear that the adult education principles of the Antigonish Movement are alive and well.”

Dr. Gaventa said he is also very enthusiastic about the Institute’s future. “I look forward to the opportunity to continue to build Coady as an international centre of excellence in action research and leadership training in community and citizen-led development. I particularly support its strong focus on leadership by women. This includes the new International Centre for Women’s Leadership, which received dedicated funding from the Government of Canada.” 

Dr. Riley says the appointment builds on the already-strong foundation at the Coady Institute. “With this legacy of education delivery, the strength and resources of St. Francis Xavier University, plus the success in attracting financial resources to build a world-class facility, the Coady International Institute is well-positioned to benefit from a leader of John’s calibre.”

Dr. Gaventa will begin his new role in Antigonish in August 2011.

Born out of the Antigonish Movement, a people’s movement for economic and social justice that began in the 1920’s, the Coady International Institute at StFX University upholds the tradition of building the capacity of community leaders. The Institute is world-renowned for its innovative leadership education programs and action research in the field that promote self-reliance and practical ways to improve our world. By educating a worldwide network of leaders, more than 5,000 in 130 countries to date, the Institute is building better organizations, communities and societies around the globe.

Link to John Gaventa's bio.

Link to high-resolution photo

Link to Citizenship DRC program.


Broadcast version:


The Coady International Institute has a new director.


He is John Gaventa, (guh-VENT-ah) a research director in England and board chair of Oxfam Great Britain, one of that country’s largest overseas non-governmental organization.


Dr. Sean Riley, President of St. Francis Xavier University, made the announcement today. 


Riley says Gaventa’s exceptional academic and community accomplishments have contributed to modern approaches to international development and have won many prestigious awards.


He says attracting a person of his calibre is testimony to the strong reputation of the Coady Institute and StFX University.


The new Coady Institute director begins his new duties in Antigonish in August.



Media contact:

Richard Perry

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