University of Ottawa students engage on pressing global issues with global leaders and their peers at the U7+@NEXT Milan Forum

International and Francophonie
Students attending the U7+@NEXT Milan Forum
Two students of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Social Science contributed to discussions that aim to shape global policies as they attended the U7+@ NEXT and the NEXT Milan Forum 2024 that were hosted by the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and Bocconi University in Italy, on 18 and 19 March 2024.
Camila and Grace
Camila Navarro and Grace Kim-Shin at the U7+@NEXT Milan Forum.

The U7+@ NEXT Forum was a two-day event where young talents and future leaders from across the globe gather to discuss and develop policy proposals on urgent international issues. This event featured interactive workshops and plenary sessions, offering participants the opportunity to engage with world-class speakers and international figures. The NEXT forum, held in parallel, aims to empower participants, aged 20-35, fostering a network of proactive, inspired individuals ready to drive positive change.

Grace Kim-Shin, a student in the Department of Political Science of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Camila Navarro who’s pursuing her studies as a graduate student in the Public and International Affairs program, also at the Faculty of Social Sciences, had the honour of representing the University of Ottawa at this prestigious gathering that brought together student delegations from universities worldwide. The forum’s agenda was rich, focusing on climate change and access to higher education.

The U7+@ NEXT Forum kicked off with warm welcomes from Francesco Billari, Rector of Bocconi University, and Catherine De Vries, Dean for International Affairs, followed by discussions on the importance of global access to education and sustainability and climate change, facilitated by scholars from the Bocconi University, the University of Cape Town, the Boston Consulting Group and the University of Edinburgh.

The NEXT Milan Forum, held in conjunction with the U7+@ NEXT, emphasized the crucial role of university students in shaping future educational and environmental policies. Discussions led by experts, including Nobel laureates Ouided Bouchamaoui and Oleksandra Matviichuk, as well as speakers from prominent organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency, the South African Institute of International Affairs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the European Space Agency, covered vital topics from AI and the Ukrainian conflict to sustainable urban design and multilateral cooperation.

Reflecting on the enriching experience at the NEXT Milan Forum, Grace Kim-Shin stated: “Throughout this conference I have learned immensely from my peers’ perspectives. From the plenary sessions, I developed my understanding of the complexities that will continue to persist in our geopolitical landscape, with the urgency of climate change, changing conceptions of the ‘global north’ and ‘global south’, ongoing wars, and the rise of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence.”

Camilla Navarro’s experience at the NEXT Milan Forum was particularly impactful, as she highlights: “I personally enjoyed listening to the panel on ‘North’ Versus ‘South’ replacing ‘Versus’ with ‘And’, highlighting the need to shift the balance of power and recognize the important the global south contribution to addressing the world’s challenges. It was not only the opportunity to listen firsthand to so many distinguished speakers/policymakers but also the opportunity to engage with other students from universities around the world.”

“The participation of our students in the U7@NEXT and the Milan Forum showcases our commitment to bringing a global perspective to students experience as they can contribute to key discussions on global issues. Such events not only help broaden their horizons but also position the University of Ottawa as a hub of future leaders who are well-prepared to make meaningful impacts on the international stage,” notes Gisèle Yasmeen, Associate Vice-President, International, at the University of Ottawa.

The University of Ottawa strongly supports our students in becoming influential global citizens, thereby driving forward our international mandate. As we look forward to hosting the 2025 U7+ Alliance Summit, we are dedicated to reinforcing our commitment to academic excellence and collaborative research, while we’re further raising our global academic profile and fostering an inclusive, globally engaged academic community.