Canada Symposium 2023: Tackling inequity within - and through - higher education


The Association of Commonwealth Universities and York University will host a one-day symposium on 19 July 2023, with the aim of sharing experiences, ideas, and debate around how universities are tackling inequity, the distinct and shared challenges they face, and how international collaboration can support their efforts. 

‘Leave no one behind’ is the central, transformative promise of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), recognising that inequities continue to undermine the potential of individuals and of humanity as a whole. Universities around the world both reflect, and can exacerbate these wider inequities, but they also have a major role to play in closing these gaps, both on campus and beyond.  
The symposium programme will bring universities together to discuss topics of common relevance, such as access and inclusion, decolonisation of higher education, social impact and highlight the important role higher education plays in addressing global challenges.  
University leaders, academics and higher education industry experts will share best practices, establish partnerships, and discuss issues crucial to the evolution of higher education across the Commonwealth.  

Dr Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities said: ‘I look forward to welcoming members and attendees from all over the Commonwealth to this topical symposium. It is a testament to the ACU’s convening power and expertise in facilitating conversations around international collaboration in higher education and equitable partnerships in university research and beyond.’  

The keynote address will be delivered by Dr Opiyo Oloya, Associate Vice-President of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, a renowned advocate for social justice and human rights.  

Speakers include Dr Mark Green, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) at Queen’s University, Canada; Dr Qui Alexander, Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Trans Studies in Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of Toronto, Canada; Jennifer Brennan, Director, Canada Programs at the Mastercard Foundation; Dr Andrea A. Davis, an expert in literatures and cultures of the Black Americas at York University, Canada and academic convenor of the 2023 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences; Dr David Phipps, Assistant Vice-President, Research Strategy and Impact at York University, Canada and Director of Research Impact Canada; Professor Sandeep Sancheti, Vice-Chancellor at Marwadi University, India; Professor C. Raj Kumar, Vice-Chancellor at O.P. Jindal Global University, India; and Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice-Chancellor at Makerere University, Uganda.  

Also speaking at the symposium on the topic of ‘Opportunities for international collaboration in higher education to promote more equal universities and societies’ is Dr Rhonda Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor of York University, Canada. Dr Lenton comments:  

‘As the world continues to face systemic inequities and other persistent, global problems, universities play an important role in addressing these issues through building international research and study collaborations, idea sharing, and facilitating the conversations needed to build a more equitable world. York University is pleased to co-host the symposium with the Association of Commonwealth Universities, which is well-aligned with York’s long-standing commitment to global engagement, advancing the SDGs, social justice and providing access to a high-quality, research-intensive education dedicated to the public good. We look forward to welcoming our university colleagues worldwide to our campuses.’ 

Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ Council adds: ‘I am very excited to see so many of our members coming together from all over the world to discuss this important topic and give a truly global perspective on how international collaboration can support universities’ efforts in tackling inequity. I would like to thank our partner, York University, for hosting the event on their campus.’