Faced with a pandemic and the devastating impacts of global warming, today’s youth are confronted with some of the greatest challenges of our time. In November, uOttawa joined universities from around the world at the U7+ Alliance of World Universities Presidential Summit to discuss how to best support this generation and give them the tools they need to become agents of positive change.
The U7+ Alliance brings together university presidents from G7 countries and beyond who are committed to academic freedom and scholarly values. This group believes that universities are global actors responsible for taking action in the face of pressing global challenges.
“As a single university, we have the power to make incredible societal impact for the greater good. It is inspiring to think of what we can do as a collective,” says uOttawa President and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont, who was at the table for the two-day summit.
This year’s summit centered on the role universities play in fostering intergenerational justice and ensuring that solutions to global challenges are developed in a way that take the interests and rights of future generations into account. Topics for discussion included youth mental health, the impact of COVID-19 on youth employment and global learning opportunities, and ethical applications of artificial intelligence.
“Sitting at the same table as universities from nearly twenty countries around the world is a powerful way to gain insight into issues on a global scale,” says uOttawa Vice-President International and Francophonie Sanni Yaya, who also attended the summit. “We can be extremely powerful problem solvers when we extend our gaze beyond our own city and country.”
The 2020 summit agenda was influenced in part by the first U7+ Worldwide Student Forum, where university students from countries including Ghana, Morocco, Canada, the U.S., the UK, Italy, France, Germany, India, Singapore, Korea and Japan put forward their recommendations for how universities can best prepare them to address pressing global issues.
2020 declaration and commitments
The 2020 summit culminated with a declaration and a series of commitments to help advance justice and equity for global youth. They include:
- Advancing intergenerational justice by responding to issues of global relevance that take the interests and rights of youth and future generations into account;
- Serving as platforms for open intergenerational dialogue and supporting students' development as global citizens and leaders;
- Calling on multilateral organizations including the G7 and leaders across public and private sectors to help create new opportunities for mutual understanding and equitable resource sharing across generations; and
- Advocating for the open exchange of accurate scientific knowledge, and for the application of that knowledge to address local and global challenges within all sectors of society.
Our commitment to promoting intergenerational justice builds on the overall commitments, principles, and actions of the U7+ Alliance, representing our collective efforts in areas that need our attention in order to promote intergenerational justice, including:
- Training and nurturing responsible and active citizens;
- Addressing the world’s environmental issues through research and in leading by example;
- Combatting polarization in society and working toward equality and inclusiveness; and
- Promoting interdisciplinary research and education and engaging with stakeholders to solve complex global issues.
uOttawa walks the walk
The University of Ottawa is a founding member of the U7+ Alliance and believes firmly in its mandate. It is working to fulfil that mandate through several initiatives, including its uOGlobal Certification, which promotes and facilities international education. Jointly with the University of Bordeaux, uOttawa co-lead the U7+ action aiming at developing global citizenship skills in our students.