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U of M students at the G20 Youth Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia

L-R: Rebecca Kunzman (University 1), Christiane Fischer (political studies), Laura Poppel (law), Melina Djulancic (law) and Matthew Stewart (business) at the G20 Youth Forum closing plenary in St. Petersburg, Russia.

From Russia with insight: G20 delegates bring home what they’ve learned

August 15, 2013 — 

Cameron Zywina and Rebecca Kunzman

This past April, a delegation of students, faculty and staff representing the U of M participated in the 8th annual G20 Youth Forum, held in St. Petersburg, Russia. The G20 Youth Forum, organized by the G8 & G20 Alumni Association, a non-governmental organization, is expected to be one of the largest gatherings of different members of civil society to discuss diverse global issues in 2013. Over 1,500 students, academics, young leaders, business people and politicians from around the world presented and discussed current and emerging global problems and potential solutions.

During the forum, U of M students took on active roles, with Melina Djulancic and Rebecca Kunzman acting as Head of State and Minister of Education for the Canadian students’ delegation at the Youth Summit part of the forum. Christiane Fischer and Laura Poppel made presentations during the conference, and Matthew Stewart participated as an observer.

Faculty members Jacky Baltes, professor, computer science, James Fergusson, professor, political studies, Maureen Flaherty, assistant professor, Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice, Witold Kinsner, professor, electrical and computer engineering, and Roberta Woodgate, professor, Faculty of Nursing, made presentations specific to their fields and led discussions at the conference.

Having organized the delegation in partnership with Brendan Hughes, director, student life, Cameron Zywina, international project officer, office of international relations, accompanied the delegation as a staff observer.

As a follow-up to the G20 Youth Forum and to coincide with the actual G20 Summit of the Heads of State, members of the delegation will hold a G20 public engagement event featuring presentations from student and faculty delegates to share their insights on global issues with U of M students, faculty, staff and the general public. The presentations and a roundtable discussion with the audience will take place on Thursday, September 5.

Both students and faculty members are excited to share their experiences in Russia with the university community. Student delegate Rebecca Kunzman said, “Being able to participate in the G20 Youth Forum was an amazing experience. The international dialogue that took place at the forum has challenged my perception of youth as agents of change in the 21st century.”

Academic delegate Maureen Flaherty concurred, affirming that “it was definitely worthwhile.

“It was an opportunity to publicize the work of our university and my field of scholarship in particular. I was also able to network with other academics and prospective students. Several connections have come out of this. Thirdly, it was an opportunity for all of us from the U of M to mentor not only our own students, but students from other universities. And finally, we learned about this organization, which has the potential, I believe, to have quite an international impact.”

The G20 public engagement event is also a opportunity to highlight two priorities of the U of M’s Strategic Planning Framework. Student leaders enjoyed an exceptional student experience (one of the university’s priorities) through an outstanding international travel and learning opportunity, and the academics involved promoted the teaching, research and creative excellence of the U of M internationally, thereby contributing to the academic enhancement priority. The financial and logistical support provided by different units to enable their participation at the G20 Youth Forum is closely aligned with the international strategy that is currently being developed through consultation with all U of M constituencies.

The U of M hopes to send a delegation to the next G20 Youth Forum, which will take place in Brisbane, Australia in spring 2014.


G20 public engagement event

Presentations and a roundtable discussion with the audience

Thursday, September 5, 12:00 to 2:00 p.m.

Borger Boardroom, Engineering (E1-270)

Cameron Zywina is an international project officer in the office of international relations; Rebecca Kunzman is a University 1 student.

This article first appeared in the August 15, 2013 edition of The Bulletin.


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