The Future of Leadership
A unique Global Leadership Minor program is coming to a UofT campus near you
The tri-campus Minor in Global Leadership, which is a program that aims to develop students’ leadership skills and enrich the concept of leadership in a global context, officially launched at UofT Mississauga on March 6, with representatives from all three campuses gathering together.
Though speakers spanned a diverse range of fields, backgrounds, perspectives, UofT campuses, and beyond, two distinct themes emerged that united those assembled: there is a need for this kind of program now and also how the experience of exposure and immersion in another culture shapes good leadership.
“There was a terrific op-ed piece over the weekend by our dear friend Zabeen Hirji, formerly the head of Global HR at RBC and now a thought leader in the future of work, in which she talked about the importance of international learning,” said Professor Joseph Wong, UofT’s vice-president, international, in his opening address that emphasized the timeliness of this program.
“Not only for the betterment and the creation of global citizens, but also for the workplace: that there are a set of skills that come with the kind of international learning and the global scope that we look to achieve in this program, as well as the skills young leaders are able to gain, deploy, and put to good use as they move forward.”
Wong went on to define that the program was also about “principled leadership” that he sees in students innately, with their creative collaborations across all disciplines.
He further stated that current students are dedicated to carrying forward crucial commitments, such as sustainable development and moving away from fossil fuels, as well as to issues of equality and equity.
Professor Alexie Tcheuyap, UofT’s associate vice-president and vice-provost, talked about the extraordinary program that is a “first of its kind” in its multidisciplinary and tri-campus initiative, which has been in the works since 2017 with a comprehensive planning and consultation phase and key members of the UofT community contributing, including the tri-campus advisory committee, the Office of the Vice-President, International, and the Centre for International Experience.
“We look forward to seeing the program evolve under the academic leads and the students exploring the wealth of learning, networking, and growth opportunities this new minor can offer to become principled, inclusive, and also empathetic, global leaders,” said Tcheuyap.
Student speakers at the launch, Shub Atreya (Management and International Business Administration, UTSC), Alex Kousinioris (Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, UTSG), and Thaisa Sant’Ana (Biotechnology, UTM), all reiterated how their own experiential education, in the lecture halls, lab, and field, as well as beyond the classroom, impacted their respective academic journeys. They each had experiences working in various places across Europe, US, and Africa.
Atreya mentioned his placement in Spain as well as a recent opportunity to represent UofT in San Francisco has led to his securing an upcoming internship this summer in California.
“It’s a joke amongst students that whenever a student returns from an exchange term, suddenly they have changed, they have achieved enlightenment, and they are a completely different person,” said Atreya.
“And, as over-exaggerated as that is, I do believe part of the experiences you have abroad really have a profound impact on you.”
Kousinioris, who worked with collaborators in Nigeria in relation to palm oil extractions to produce nutrient-rich fertilizers, spoke about how much her experience illuminated the obstacles encountered by the population she studied.
“Coming in to the project, I knew it would be a unique challenge to take on a task with an international partner,” said Kousinioris.
“Not only was it challenging for my team and I to not physically be able to do hands-on work in our project, but it was also challenging to understand some of the limitations and barriers faced by other countries, such as access to electricity and running water, both things we take for granted here in Canada, and we had to adapt our design to operate without these standard utilities.”
Sant’Ana, who is collaborating on a conservation project in Kenya, spoke about the “tipping point” we are reaching, and the need for “diversity of thought to propose innovative solutions” to the various current societal challenges.
Rounding out the roster of speakers at the launch were Arturo Franco, senior vice president at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Margaret Biggs, former president of the Canadian International Development Agency, who both emphasized the transformational change that comes with global experiences and the need for this multifaceted leadership.
“There is a moment where you start to begin to see yourself as a citizen, as a member of something much bigger than your country or your region,” said Franco, who is originally from Mexico.
“I still love my country, Mexico, and I don’t think that this global career has taken any Mexican out of me, if anything it’s put more Mexican out in to the world. And because I understand what other cultures look like, how other tax systems operate, what other health systems look like, I can contribute in a more meaningful way back in Mexico.”
Biggs brought up the “clarifying moments” that came as a result of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine with echoing effects related to climate change, food insecurity, and health impacts.
“These issues are interconnected and they transcend boundaries – disciplinary boundaries and national boundaries – and we need people who can work at the conjunction of these issues, working across these boundaries,” said Biggs.
“We really do need a seismic shift, a generational change, in the way in which we teach and learn. That’s why this program is so exciting and unique in Canada because it’s going to give students this opportunity to work and think and collaborate across disciplines, to put their heads together to solve problems, and to really develop the kinds of critical thinking skills that the world needs right now.”
The Global Leadership program is being administered through UTM’s Department of Language Studies, UTSC’s Department of Management, and UTSG’s Faculty of Science and Engineering (FASE), Daniel’s Faculty of Architecture, and Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. It starts officially in September 2023 with 100 students (25 each at UTM and UTSC, and 50 at UTSG) being admitted in the first year.
Professor Amrita Danière, UTM's vice-principal, academic and dean, is keen to see how the program evolves and was thrilled with the enthusiastic and lively turnout for this event.
"I am delighted that UTM is able to inaugurate the Global Leadership Minor this fall on our campus, and look forward to welcoming the outstanding students we know that this program will attract and inspire," said Danière.
As part of the program, students in the undergraduate program will take three core courses that will be delivered online and in-person by each of the three campuses, with the final hands-on capstone project based at FASE.
- Initial proposal submitted for approval to UTM Academic Affairs Committee at Governing Council in January 2023.
- The Medium article “UTM approves proposal for a Minor in Global Leadership” (January 2023).
- UofT News article “UofT launches new tri-campus Minor in Global Leadership” (February 2023)