Progressive Universities Essential to Facilitate Global Engagement to Address Complex Challenges  

India-Canada Higher Education Partnership:  Excellence, Inclusion and Empowerment

Professor Rhonda L. Lenton is the Eighth President and Vice-Chancellor of York University.

New Delhi, 15 Sept, 2023: As the world recovers from a global pandemic, progressive universities like York University and JGU have an opportunity to play a greater role in facilitating global engagement to address incredibly complex challenges. In a post-pandemic environment, the world continues to face seemingly insurmountable challenges – from rising geopolitical tensions, economies destabilized by inflation, and surging temperatures that threaten the demise of our planet, all while navigating the rapid deployment of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation.

Despite technological progress, many people around the world still do not have access to quality education, health care, sustainable food options or even clean drinking water. We cannot solve these problems in isolation.

Higher education institutions have an opportunity to serve as catalysts for positive change by addressing deeply rooted systemic inequalities. We can achieve this by leveraging our talent and by providing the next generation of leaders with global learning opportunities and investing in global research collaborations. Talent remains our strongest asset and our best chance for empowering excellence and combatting systemic inequality.

India and Canada are natural partners to lead in this new global context – our diverse communities, our values of inclusivity, democracy and pluralism, and our commitment to excellence in education will enable us to leverage our strengths in internationalization to promote a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for our communities.

York University is Canada’s third largest University and ranks in the world’s top 40 for its impact on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Working in collaboration with partners around the world, it offers high quality programs and leadership in world-class interdisciplinary research such as a $318M Connected Minds Initiative that will enable industries to bring equitable technologies to market sooner and train the next generation of students.

Like many prestigious Indian industries and institutions, York is prioritizing teaching, research and knowledge mobilization in areas that will address equity and inclusion. We know that global crises such as the pandemic and climate change impact different countries and populations disproportionately. York is the first Canadian University to have a United Nations CIFAL Training Centre dedicated to promoting intersectoral cooperation on policy development in areas such as disaster risk, emergency management and humanitarian actions; health, development, environment and climate change and equity, diversity and inclusion. It is also the lead academic partner in a transformative new Global Water Academy that aims to tackle the water sustainability crisis in partnership with UNITAR.

York is proud to invest in several critical initiatives that will strengthen our ties with India and create mutually beneficial opportunities for our talented students and researchers, including an India Immersion Programme with O.P. Jindal Global University as it’s important for Canadian students to understand India, it’s growth story and the impact of India on the world. As well as a Pan-India entrepreneurship boot camp that will expose talented students to the world’s largest business and consumer market; and the launch of a new global research seed fund that will invest in global research collaborations with leading universities, industries, government agencies and NGOs in priority countries such as India.

Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar,

Founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University

Since our founding in 2009, our vision has been focused on building India’s first ‘Global University’. We have proven our commitment to this vision by instilling internationalism in every aspect of higher education, ensuring a global learning experience in an international setting. This has enabled JGU to have more than 1,100 full-time faculty members from 50+ countries and over 10,000 students from 70+ countries. In India’s quest to create a global arena of knowledge exchange and opportunities, Canada is an important partner in establishing mutually strong partnerships focused on our collaborative strengths. Both our countries are deeply committed to democracy, diversity, rule of law and pluralistic values.

Our universities reflect these democratic values in which academic freedom and institutional autonomy empowers the faculty and students to pursue excellence in teaching, research and institution building. The collaboration with York University, Canada’s leading university, is an important milestone in our institutional journey. In this partnership, we aim to further progress with student and faculty exchange programmes, short-term study abroad programmes, dual degree programmes, and also focus on collaborative research projects. As India’s leading private university, this relationship will not only boost the association between our universities but also strengthen the long-term educational relationship between India and Canada.

In the field of education, India and Canada have a close and long-standing relationship. Higher education and research partnerships are a critical part of the Canada-India bilateral relationship. As is natural for two countries that share so many diplomatic and cultural associations, areas such as student mobility, research partnerships and educational exchanges, are of ever-increasing productive cooperation. Recent data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education shows nearly 34% of Canada’s international students come from India. We need to encourage growth in the number of Canadian students visiting India in the near future.

India has emerged as a geopolitical leader and its recent presidency of the G20 has demonstrated its key position in international partnerships. Canada and Indian educational institutions have a shared vision of internationalization, collaboration and innovation. We aim to ensure that this special relationship is strengthened further with research projects, dual degree programmes and student exchanges. Educational diplomacy can pave the way for growth and development of the vibrant young population of India where over 950 million people are less than 35 years of age. We need to engage with them for global opportunities, skills development and in improving career prospects which are in tune with their burgeoning ambitions.

Education is the key to unlocking the full potential for both India and Canada. With more than 10,000 students from 70+ and over 1100+ full time faculty members from 50 + countries, studying and living on a fully residential campus, JGU’s twelve schools focus on Law, Business & Management, International Affairs, Public Policy, Liberal Arts & Humanities, Journalism, Art & Architecture, Banking & Finance, Environment & Sustainability, Psychology & Counselling, Languages & Literature and Public Health & Human Development.

This year, JGU has announced the award of more than 2,000 scholarships to deserving students for the forthcoming academic year 2024-25. This transformative initiative is geared towards providing outstanding young talent with equal opportunities to access high-quality education. The decision to award more than 2000+ scholarships for the incoming batch of 2024-25 is to commemorate the special occasion of the 15th anniversary of JGU to be celebrated in 2024. This will empower more than 60% of the new students admitted in 2024 to receive these scholarships to study at JGU.



Professor Rhonda L. Lenton is the eighth President and Vice-Chancellor of York University. She joined York in 2002 as Dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal& Professional Studies and went on to serve as Vice-Provost Academic and then Vice-President Academic and Provost. A dedicated champion of community engagement and innovative partnerships, she has significantly expanded York’s institutional collaborations with government, business, community organizations, and other post-secondary education partners.

In addition to her roles at York, Dr. Lenton serves on the Universities Canada International Committee and the Hemispheric University Consortium Executive Committee, and is Vice Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities. She is also on the boards of Venture LAB, the Conference Board of Canada, and the Loran Scholars Foundation. She is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities Executive Committee, Canada School of Public Service’s External Advisory Committee, and a member of the Business + Higher Education Roundtable. She previously served on the Executive of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents and represented that Council on the eCampus Ontario Board and ONCAT.

Before joining York, Dr. Lenton was an associate dean and professor at McMaster University. A sociologist by training, her areas of teaching and research expertise include gender, family conflict, research methods, and more recently, higher education.

In recognition of her leadership and service as a senior executive in higher education, Dr. Lenton was named one of the top 100 most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) in 2015, and in 2016 received the Angela Hildyard Recognition Award for the continual demonstration of innovative leadership in advancing the mission of, and achieving outstanding contributions to, her institution and to higher education.

Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar,

Founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University

Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, a Rhodes Scholar, was appointed as the Founding Vice Chancellor of O. P. Jindal Global University in India at the age of 34. Professor Kumar also serves as the Founding Dean of Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) and the Director of the International Institute for Higher Education Research & Capacity Building (IIHEd). Professor Kumar has academic qualifications from the University of Oxford, Harvard University, University of Hong Kong, University of Delhi and Loyola College. He obtained his Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.) degree at the University of Oxford, UK. He was a Landon Gammon Fellow at the Harvard Law School, USA, where he obtained his Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree and a James Souverine Gallo Memorial Scholar at the Harvard University. He was awarded the Doctor of Legal Science (S.J.D.) by the University of Hong Kong. He also obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from the University of Delhi, India; and a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) degree from the Loyola College of the University of Madras, India. Professor Kumar’s areas of specialisation include, human rights and development, terrorism and national security, corruption and governance, law and disaster management, comparative constitutional law and higher education. He has over two hundred publications to his credit including nine books and has published widely in journals and law reviews in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan and USA.


Dean John Justin (JJ) McMurtry has been the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University, the largest and most diverse liberal arts faculty in Canada, since 2018. He manages a faculty of nearly 700 full-time faculty members, a staff of over 300, and a student body of over 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Professor McMurtry is also a full professor in the Department of Social Science and a member of the Faculty’s Business & Society (BUSO) program. He holds MA and PhD degrees in social and political thought from York University. Professor McMurtry’s research and teaching interests focus on the theory and practice of alternative social, political and economic forms including social enterprises, co-operatives and non-profit organizations. His publications include over 25 solo and co-authored articles and book chapters, and he is editor of the books Living Economics: Canadian Perspectives on the Social Economy, Co-operatives and Community Economic Development as well as Co-operatives in a Global Economy. In addition, he was English language editor of the Canadian Journal of Non-Profit and Social Economy Research for over three years and has won several awards for his teaching, research and community engagement.


Professor Wang has been the dean of the Faculty of Science at York University since January 2020. Previously, he was York’s interim vice-president of research and innovation and inaugural deputy provost Markham Campus. Before joining York University, he was vice-president of research at Laurentian University from 2015-18 and vice-president of research, economic development, and innovation at Lakehead University from 2004-14. He was a professor of physiology and leader of both the Cardiovascular Research Group and the Cardiovascular and Respiratory Network at the University of Saskatchewan from 1997-03.

Wang is an international leader in the biomedical study of a group of small molecules of gas known as gasotransmitters, a category that includes nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). His research has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and over the course of his career, he has received more than $13 million in research funding.

He has published 300 peer-reviewed papers and edited three books. His publications on H2S biology and medicine have received the highest total citations in this field in the world. He is also one of the world’s Top 2% scientists for career impact (out of a total of 8 million scientists). He has been invited to give 173 lectures and keynotes around the world. He has trained more than 125 graduate students, post-doctoral Fellows, visiting scientists, and other research personnel.


Alice J. Hovorka is Professor and Dean at the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University. She earned her PhD in Geography from Clark University in 2003 and became a Humboldt Fellow in 2009. Her research program broadly explores human-environment relationships, with specializations in animal geographies, gender and environment, urban geography, Southern Africa, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She leads the SSHRC-funded The Lives of Animals Research Group which applies interdisciplinary and action-oriented approaches to studying human-animal relations in Botswana, Canada, and Costa Rica ( As Dean of the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, she leads and champions a community of faculty, students, staff, and collaborators in mobilizing knowledge for a just and sustainable future.


Julie Lafford is the Assistant Vice-President for Alumni Engagement at York University in Toronto, Canada where she has worked since 2018. She has two decades of experience in the advancement of post-secondary education. Prior to her time at York, she spent 10 years at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine as part of their highly successful Advancement team where she built the Faculty’s landmark strategic plan for Alumni Relations. Prior to U of T, Julie spent several years at McGill University where she held increasingly senior roles on their central Alumni Relations team and major gift fundraising.

Julie holds BA and MA degrees from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. From 2020-2023, Julie was a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) International Commission on Alumni Relations.


Skandha Sunderasen is the Associate Director of Global Engagement & Strategic Initiatives at York University. His responsibilities, under the leadership of the AVP Global Engagement, include providing strategic direction and coordination as it relates to the development, communications, coordination, and integration of York University’s international strategy. His areas of foci include international brand & reputation, research partnerships and stakeholder/government relations.

Prior to joining York two years ago, he served as the Strategic Partnerships Officer at the Office of the VP International (OVPI) at the University of Toronto (U of T). At U of T, under the guidance of OVPI (and its precursor University Relations) leadership, Skandha served as the lead for developing U of T’s institutional-level partnerships with Tata Trusts, Fujitsu Labs, National University of Singapore’s Overseas College for Entrepreneurship in Toronto, International Doctoral Cluster Program and Ph.D. scholarship partnerships with Latin American governments. Prior to working at U of T, Skandha worked for the Liberal Party of Canada and for a global media startup. Skandha is a former international student who graduated from New College, University of Toronto, St. George Campus. Skandha has native fluency in Tamil.


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