II. Introduction and Background of the Sustainable On The Go Initiative

A young Black woman with curly hair wearing a lilac coloured face mask winking with a living room out of focus in the background.
Photo by: Monstera


Where do calls for more sustainability and inclusivity and an increase of student and scholar mobility in higher education meet? In conversations and in literature, buzz-phrases such as “responsible”, “ethical”, “sustainable”, and “inclusive” internationalization at the university/college level exist, but how do these words translate into the global, national and institutional mobility programs and fit into a culture of collaboration and exchange?


Higher education institutions have long been a catalyst of international knowledge exchange with people and ideas crossing borders for hundreds of years. However, international mobility is increasingly challenged with global geopolitical tensions, economic strains, climate change concerns, a global pandemic, and systemic racism. This has prompted scholars and practitioners to question whether this is the decline of the internationalization of higher education as we know it or a beginning of a new era complete with new models of practice.


This virtual conference is an open forum that welcomes “multiple voices” to help build an understanding of the evolving status of mobility in Canada´s higher education and beyond, to critically reflect on where we are now, and to collectively build a future vision of international mobility within internationalization strategies and practices. With student mobility at focus while also looking into related mobility issues such as research collaborations and university partnerships, the discussion will focus on the challenges, benefits, impacts, and shifting nature of international mobility at educational institutions.


Discussions will include how the perception of education abroad is evolving in an era of climate change, global pandemics, and global geopolitical and economic strains; how to cultivate reciprocal, sustainable, and mutually beneficial mobility programs; and share innovative frameworks, policies and practices. This is an opportunity to share experiences with the wider national and international communities; learn from others’ experiences and initiate long term discussions and partnerships.

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 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.

Note: The Conference dates chosen are aligned with the celebration of UN International Day of Education on 24th January 2021.