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Clockwise from top-left: Dr. Vianne Timmons; Dr. Meric Gertler; Dr. Angela Redish; Dr. Wendy Cukier.

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What you don't know will hurt you

Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina and Chair of Universities Canada's Standing Committee on International Relations

I remember as a child hearing the saying "What you don't know won't hurt you." After close to four decades in the university sector, I have learned that with respect to international education and global citizenship, that phrase could not be further from the truth.

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Growing up in the 1960s and '70s, I had few opportunities to travel beyond my home community of Labrador City or learn about international issues. By the time I completed four university degrees, things hadn't changed much. Student exchange or study abroad opportunities were few, and through my studies I had not engaged in global issues. Only much later, I realized that what I didn't know about the larger world had indeed hurt me.

Canada's post-secondary system has come a long way since then. Universities have internationalized by recruiting students from other countries and increasing the number of Canadians studying abroad.

But if we want our students to be global citizens – something I believe is essential – we need to do much more. We have to internationalize our curricula and infuse cultural awareness and appreciation into the fibre of our campuses. We must create more meaningful opportunities for students to connect their studies to international experiences.

In short, we need to ensure that our students have all the international educational opportunities we did not have so that as tomorrow's leaders, they can manoeuvre in a world of complex cultural interactions, acknowledge the richness of other cultures and demonstrate empathy. If we fail to do that, what our young people don't know will hurt all of us in the years to come.

Preparing students for an interdependent world

Dr. Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto

Universities have a responsibility to help prepare their students for an ever more interdependent and connected world. The University of Toronto is working to fulfill this responsibility in several ways.

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U of T is fortunate to have international partner institutions in every major region of the world. A significant number of these partners are, like U of T, situated in vibrant urban regions, including New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo, Mumbai and São Paulo. These relationships provide fantastic research opportunities for our faculty and students, and provide valuable opportunities for our students to become global citizens.

Our students also gain a global perspective just by being on our three campuses every day. As part of a community of 80,000 students, they interact regularly with people from more than 160 countries. And when they step off campus, they can enjoy an array of social and cultural activities in one of the world's most ethnically diverse and globalized cities.

But we cannot rest on our laurels. Our identities are increasingly defined by multiple affinities and connections, and our daily experience is permeated by both local and global relationships. As one of U of T's top priorities, we are working hard to leverage and strengthen our international partnerships, exchanges and programs in order to help equip our students for success in the global economy.

Educating global citizens: it's not an option,

it's a responsibility

Dr. Angela Redish, UBC Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Enrolment and Academic Facilities

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It might, once, have seemed ostentatious to declare yourself "a citizen of the world" – but no longer. In our increasingly interconnected society, we are all "global citizens." No surprise, then, that 97 per cent of the University of B.C.'s incoming domestic students choose "to be successful in a diverse world" as one of their highest priorities.

That presents universities with two challenges: to nurture the skills of citizenship and to provide, by every means, a global perspective. That includes providing specific curriculum, supporting students who study abroad and attracting international students who bring the world directly to Canada.

For example, UBC's Vantage College is pioneering a model of language-training-embedded-in-course-content that enables academically gifted international students to complete first year while attaining English language proficiency. The program broadens the range of students UBC can attract, and their presence fosters cultural understanding and expands knowledge.

I have seen the impact personally, such as in economics classes when I'm describing how hyperinflation can devastate an economy – international students who have experienced inflation at rates of 500 or 1,000 per cent can make it real and relevant for their classmates. Their contribution fulfills the promise of good citizenship: everyone wins.

Drawing resources from a diverse environment

Dr. Wendy Cukier, Vice President, Research and Innovation, Ryerson University and founder of the Diversity Institute

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Pico Iyer wrote that "the very notion of what is 'foreign' is shifting," and nowhere is that more true than in Toronto – where half the population was born outside Canada. Research from Ryerson's Diversity Institute and Global Diversity Exchange shows that diversity improves creativity, innovation and performance, and our immigrant diaspora can enhance economic growth and quality of life. Ryerson fully leverages the opportunities and linkages of a richly diverse city.

Our Global Campus Network links students from the USA, India, South Africa, Israel and more to create live collaborative programming ranging from news stories to dance performances. With 135 international academic partners in over 38 countries, we provide students and faculty with rich connections and research collaborations spanning the world. A global perspective is embedded in our MBA, because today, all business is international business.

Our Canada-China Institute for Business and Development leverages the networks, skills and expertise of immigrants for building new opportunities, markets and relationships. And the globalization of our DMZ, one of the top incubators in the world, is creating strong links with educational institutions and businesses in India, South Africa, Poland and more.

As Canada's first Ashoka Changemaker Campus, we are also driving innovation across social sectors, and our global partnerships provide rich learning opportunities from health, food, energy, peace-building, human rights and poverty alleviation, to other global challenges. Toronto is a global city, and Ryerson is a global campus.


This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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