Principal Fortier extols integrated learning in World Economic Forum session

COVID-19 pandemic provides opportunities for new skills, priorities and approaches within university education
Clockwise from top left: Nzinga Qunta, South African Broadcasting Corp.; Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares; Principal Suzanne Fortier; and Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of the United Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Principal Suzanne Fortier was a featured panelist in a World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Davos Agenda virtual session on Reimagining Education on Monday, during which she stressed the importance of integrated learning.

Principal Fortier was joined by moderator Nzinga Qunta, an anchor with the South African Broadcasting Corp., Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of the United Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares, a philanthropic organization that aims at improving education opportunities in developing countries.

The livestreamed session centered on how the disruptions in education caused by COVID-19 have provided an opportunity to reset the skills that are prioritized at all levels of education.

Bringing a new generation into the workforce

Principal Fortier discussed new skills priorities emerging within university education, and new approaches to teaching and measuring employability skills.

“We need to create a community of learners,” Principal Fortier said. “Students in universities can be in the communities globally… Learners with learners is a way to ensure that everybody in the world will have access [to education] and maybe solve some of the problems that technology alone cannot solve.”

“The model of integrated learning is used in many countries. While students are learning, they have an opportunity to also be part of a firm or a governmental agency, so that they can learn also on the workforce. They have an increased chance of being hired because they do a great job being seen in action and people realize how important it is to bring the new generation into the workforce.”

McGill and WEF

McGill is the only Canadian member of the WEF’s Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), comprised of some of the top 29 universities in the world. GULF was created in 2006, and Principal Fortier has served as its chair since 2019. She is also co-chair of the Global Future Council on the New Education and Skills Agenda, part of a WEF interdisciplinary knowledge network dedicated to promoting innovative thinking to shape a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future.

In 2021, the GULF community will focus on how universities can facilitate a more equal and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including through exploring the skills for the future, reskilling, social inclusion and climate action.

This time each year, WEF traditionally hosts its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, but the in-person event has been postponed due to the pandemic. It is now scheduled to take place in May in Singapore. In its stead, the Davos Agenda virtually convenes heads of state, industry leaders and public figures to discuss how to advance and accelerate public-private collaboration on critical issues such as COVID-19 vaccination, job creation and climate change.

Watch the Reimagining Education session online