President Rhonda Lenton leads delegation to Mexico

hands holding a globe

By Elaine Smith

York University President Rhonda Lenton recently participated in a keynote fireside chat on the importance of virtual internationalization, at the ninth International Conference on Educational Innovation (CIIE) in Mexico.

Lenton led the delegation that attended the conference, which was hosted by York’s partner, Tecnológico de Monterrey (TEC), in January. The delegation provided the opportunity to connect with alumni and strengthen York’s partnerships in the region.

“Sharing the Vision for Online Internationalization”

During the fireside chat, titled “Sharing the Vision for Online Internationalization,” facilitated by José Escamilla, associate director of the Institute for the Future of Education at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Lenton shared lessons York has learned about the future of higher education during these past few years. She discussed examples of pedagogical innovation including globally networked learning (GNL), online internationalization and new technologies that have been further spurred by the pandemic.

Rhonda Lenton
Rhonda Lenton

“York’s vision as a high-quality, internationally recognized research university has been part of the University’s identity since it was founded in 1959. Ensuring that our students graduate with the knowledge and skills they need for success and strengthening our impact on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by working across sectors with local and global partnerships are central tenets of our academic plan,” Lenton said.

“Online internationalization has been crucial in enhancing access and lowering barriers to global learning initiatives throughout the pandemic and beyond as more students are able to engage with peers at home and around the world. It facilitates the exchange of ideas and knowledge, incorporates new perspectives, widens access to global competencies and co-creates sustainable and inclusive solutions.”

The delegation’s visit came on the heels of the Three Amigos summit in Mexico between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, American President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and offered a perfect opportunity to strengthen the University’s ties with Mexico and partners in Latin America.

Globally networked learning

York has been a strong proponent of online educational innovation initiatives such as GNL, an approach to teaching, learning and research that enables students, faculty and non-academic researchers from different locations around the world to participate in, and collaborate on, knowledge-making processes and concrete research projects. 

To date, York faculty have implemented 25 projects between York and partners and engaged over 40 faculty members and more than 900 students from 15 countries.

James Simeon, an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), has been one of the most enthusiastic GNL adopters at York, and TEC has been a regular collaborator in his seven GNL projects, based on his courses International Refugee Protection Regime I and II.

“The GNL relationship between our colleagues at TEC and myself will strengthen and deepen since actually meeting for the very first time in person and presenting together on a panel at CIIE 2023,” said Simeon.

Connecting with alumni and building partnerships

The trip to Mexico also featured York’s first alumni gathering in Mexico City.

“Getting to reflect on how York U shaped my future and career with Dr. Lenton and other alumni was very special, especially given that it is thanks to a York International internship that I now live in Mexico City and work for the Howard G. Buffett Foundation,” said alumna Ana Vianei, who assists the organization’s goals to improve quality of life for marginalized populations across the world.

During the trip, York was able to deepen its relationships with its two Mexican partners, TEC and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). York delegates participated in the Hemispheric Universities Consortium (HUC) meeting that followed the conference; York was the only Canadian university to be a member.

“The visit has not only strengthened our partnerships with universities in Mexico, but reinforced York University’s commitment to advancing global engagement and to our cutting-edge work in GNL,” said Vinitha Gengatharan, assistant vice-president, global engagement and partnerships. “The conference itself has highlighted to us the world’s common interest in the future of education. It was not only high quality, but also accessible, flexible and underscored the importance of strengthening ties and sharing insights with our outstanding partners in Mexico and elsewhere.”