Concept Note

York University is hosting the 2nd edition of the Sustainable on the Go (SOTG 2022), co-organized by York International, the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, McLaughlin College, and international partners on 24th January 2022, the fourth UN International Day of Education.  

After the inaugural conference in 2021, with international education scholars, mobility professionals, policymakers, sustainability experts, representatives from international development and UN organizations, as well as industry from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe participating, the SOTG 2022 will engage new voices, partners and stakeholders in creative dialogue formats to further enrich the discussion on sustainable and inclusive internationalization in higher education. 

Following the Toronto DeclarationYork University and their partners aim to refine the concept of physical and virtual internationalization and mobility, supporting a post-pandemic recovery that will further global connections and simultaneously enhance a more sustainable future. We have benefitted from and endured virtual learning, teaching, and research over the last 18 months. While we have gained new insights and perspectives in navigating the opportunities and challenges in educating global citizens, how can we systemically incorporate this new knowledge into higher education practice in suitable ways to enhance the student and scholar experience without compromising our commitment to sustainability?  

The SOTG 2022 will feature inclusive, innovative, and interactive formats and facilitate participation of international education stakeholders from most time zones and world regions following our joint commitment to the Toronto Declaration.  

Conference themes:

The Sustainable on the Go Conference (SOTG 2022) will focus on three themes, while gendereducation for sustainable development, and Indigeneity, are considered cross-cutting issues in all conversations. 

  1. Sustainable and inclusive global learning fostering diversity and equity in internationalization: How can universities ensure that all students, regardless of their socio-economic or cultural background, are empowered and supported to participate in international education and global learning opportunities? Acknowledging that racism and other forms of discrimination are present in higher education and represent crucial sustainability challenges, what are universities doing to create better systems and to provide equitable opportunity?  
  2. Connecting the local and global classrooms: While the pandemic virtually connected many of us, local teaching and learning is often not yet put into global context and vice versa. How can we include the broad range of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) pedagogical strategies in meaningful ways to create ongoing reflection of what our local experience means in a broader understandingHow can we embed an even stronger sustainability focus into specific concepts, such as Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and Globally Network Learning (GNL), when in-person opportunities return to campuses?  What are new or innovative forms of pedagogy in different regions to specifically address diversity, equity and other sustainability themes? How have assessment models and practices evolved during the pandemic? 
  3. Local and global community engagement: What are the roles and responsibilities of students or alumni of higher education in their local communities? How do we empower and prepare students for continued community and global engagement post-graduation? What skills do students need to navigate a post-pandemic job market? How effective has virtual community involvement proven to be during COVID-19? What lessons have we learned and what needs to change?  

Overall conference themes:

  • Sustainable and responsible mobility – new paradigm or just paradox?
  • ‘All means all’ inclusive access to international exchange and collaboration
  • Practical approaches to innovation in higher education practices of student and scholar mobility

The Conference aims to:

  • Initiate a discussion with global perspectives on international education and sustainability (post COVID-19) by bringing together mobility experts and coordinators responsible for international services and exchange programs, as well as experts in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) with policymakers and other practitioners
  • Develop a Toronto 2022 York Declaration on responsible mobility in higher education: while recognizing the importance of international student and research mobility, higher education carries a responsibility to understand their impact in contexts of addressing both globalization and sustainability
  • Contribute to the future of international education and sustainability in a new era of global uncertainties (post COVID-19)
  • Bring forward international mobility discussions beyond student exchange to include innovative and inclusive global learning models and pedagogies whilst sharing a Canadian perspective(s) on internationalization and mobility
  • Develop a strategy for ongoing networking and sharing in research and capacity building within the field that will extend well beyond the Conference

Sustainable on the Go Initiative

The 2022 Virtual Conference on Sustainable and Inclusive Internationalization is an element of a bigger York University project - the Sustainable On The Go (SOTG) Initiative. Funded by the Academic Innovation Fund, SOTG seeks to address student and scholar mobility in a responsible manner with aim to contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals and incorporating the principles of inclusivity and innovation. It will offer proactive, collaborative, engaging, and educational approach for student mobility programs through combining international, experiential, and sustainability aspects while reimagining the university’s mobility programs. 

York University is a leading international teaching and research university in Canada, and a driving force for positive change. In 2020, York University launched a new University Academic Plan (UAP) 2020-2025 titled “Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025,” serves as a blueprint for action, positioning York University as an agent of positive change in a world facing a convergence of unprecedented trials from climate change, a global pandemic, racism and xenophobia, poverty and inequality.  

“Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. In the spirit of coming together, the York community has expressed a strong desire to bring our unique capacities to bear on some of the most urgent issues facing the planet, from climate change to inequality to truth and reconciliation to forced migration, among others. Over the next five years, we will challenge ourselves as a University to deepen our collective contributions to the United Nations’ seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The York University SDG Challenge will invite participation from all interested members of our community. York is already recognized globally for our excellence in SDG-relevant research, education, innovation, and civic action. The SDG Challenge will further elevate our engagement and project our distinctive ethos as a community of changemakers. Additional details are provided in the final section of the Plan.” (page 3, UAP 2020-25)