This paper draws on two case studies to examine the transformational opportunities afforded by internet technologies to post-secondary institutions in urban centres looking to work directly with marginalized communities across the globe. It begins by providing a brief overview of the way that key issues in the critical geographies of education are being taken up to address global issues around how access, educational outcomes, infrastructure and displacement. Then, reflecting on the author’s experience teaching in the Borderless Higher Education For Refugees program within the Faculty of Education at York University, the author discusses the way that the program was able to use internet technology to create immersive blended courses with students participating in Toronto and the UNHCR camps in Dadaab, Kenya (and surrounding areas). Building on the projects success in providing access and accreditation to youth in the UNHCR camps via digital technologies, this paper then turns to a discussion of the educational issues facing Northern Indigenous Communities in Canada, arguing that digital technologies that have been successful in the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees Program could be adapted to provide opportunities for Indigenous youth to access post-secondary education without having to leave their support structures and communities. Highlighting some of the considerations that need to be taken to increase capacity for this process in both the UNHCR camps and Northern Indigenous communities, the author puts forward a framework for leveraging digital technologies in service of building bridges between disparate geographies of education that can deepen the transformation of university teaching.
Aedan Alderson is an L’nuk (Mi’kmaw) and Irish scholar, currently serving as a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Dublin where he is undertaking research on Irish-Indigenous relations. Aedan currently teaches Indigenous studies, Canadian studies and research methodologies at various universities across Canada, while also working as an educator in the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees Program in Kenya (via York University).