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APAIE 2022: brave new realities for higher education in the Asia Pacific

Vancouver had been set to host the first APAIE conference in the Americas, with an appropriate theme of Bridging the Oceans, in March 2020.

"History has shown that choices made or ignored during crises do have consequence and have the ability to shape the world for decades to come"

The city remains the perfect choice to host such conversations, and the strands of what we were to explore in 2020 maintain their relevance: the Pacific Century, shifting tides of geopolitics, newly empowered voices and communities, accelerated and changing patterns of human movement and migration, disrupted employment models, environmental change, evolving dynamics and models of faculty and student mobility, new cultures of learning and teaching, and radically new and diverse generations of learners.

Still, much has changed in and around these oceans. Some conversations planned for Vancouver may have diminished or grown in urgency, while other and new conversations now demand our attention. Seismic shifts have altered our landscapes and horizons.

Only ponder on our recent experiences of catastrophic climate change, of pandemic and recovery, a new spotlight on resilience, surging mental health and addiction issues, of populism with privilege and systemic racism laid bare, the currency of alternative truth and misinformation, the intrusion, enabling and weaponisation of technology, the radical fracturing of how we interact, work and study, and paradigmatic shifts in how nations and societies define progress.

All these issues highlight the importance of our values in international education, but also the inherent gaps, inequities, and ‘short-termism’ in many of the systems we design, operate and inhabit as international educators.

There have been coincidental calls to change, decolonise, defund, replace, to silence, cancel and disrupt, as well as repetitive calls to pivot, transition, rebuild and re-imagine. History has shown that choices made or ignored during crises do have consequence and have the ability to shape the world for decades to come.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion have leapt to the fore of our agenda. Climate must be addressed. Through the disruptive migration of content and conversation online, geography has become almost irrelevant in our most geography-obsessed of sectors. International education has put on hiatus much of its proposition and it may need a new and sustainable model. It has been a difficult time and a disruptive one, but spring follows winter. Things that were hidden are revealed. We are able see the world and our sector from a new vantage.

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust

What a great opportunity to take a step back and to view things from the other side of the Pacific.

Vancouver will offer one of the first opportunities for the global international education sector to meet again and to explore the Brave New Realities for Higher Education in the Asia Pacific. Let us do this well, once more, with feeling. Allegro Con Brio

Conference Keynote: Fareed Zakaria

Conference keynote Fareed Zakaria on managing the new global disorder: “The world we have known and been comfortable with for decades is being disrupted – by broad forces like pandemics, climate change but also shifting power dynamics and the rise of populism and nationalism. The post-pandemic world will be fundamentally different from the one before. All of this means navigating this new era will be complex, especially if the goal is to preserve core values such as freedom and individualism. How do we do that? How especially does the modern university do that?”

About the author: this sponsored article is authored by the Local Organizing Committee. APAIE 2022 Conference and Exhibition will take place in Vancouver, BC, Canada from March 27-31, 2022.

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