Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search

The Talloires Network Leaders Conference (TNLC2021), hosted by Tufts University and Harvard University (30 September – 3 October), brought together hundreds of university presidents, vice-chancellor, rectors, faculty, student leaders, and community partners around the world to share ideas, build momentum, and create a more equitable and just future. This was the fifth global conference since the Network’s founding in 2005 and our first hybrid conference. To expand conference access and participation in under-resourced countries, we created the “hub-and-spoke” model.

The “hub-and-spoke model” was highly effective in increasing global conference access and direct participation. We provided 18 Grants for Engaged Universities in 14 countries around the world; each hosted local TNLC2021 gathering thanks to generous support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, Mastercard Foundation, and Open Society Foundations. Grant recipients included institutions in Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Egypt, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. We admire the courage and conviction of grant recipients, many of whom faced significant obstacles.

Overcoming Obstacles

Participants gather to join TNLC2021 at Mount Kenya University (Kenya)


Despite a number of barriers, grant recipients found innovative and inspiring ways to participate in TNLC2021. We heard from several grantees about the challenges they faced and overcame.

  • At Meridian Global University (Cameroon), in order to reach the local gathering safely, attendees had to take shelter in the campus four days ahead of the conference as they faced an unprecedented three weeklong lockdown due to violent conflicts with armed separatist fighters in the Anglophone region.
  • At the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (Nicaragua), students arrived at their local gathering at 5:30 AM local time due to the time difference. Despite this, up to 90 participants attended the duration of the days' events every day.
  • Mount Kenya University (Kenya) faced a similar issue, as they faced an evening curfew which required attendees to rush home toward the end of each day's events due to the difference in time zones.
  • Universidad Veracruzana (Mexico) participants adapted quickly when their region faced increased COVID-19 restrictions, which required them to transform their five originally planned viewing spaces into fifteen remote viewing spaces.


Student Experiences

University of Zimbabwe students tuning into TNLC2021 session moderated by Dean Rachel Kyte


“I learned about Climate Change and its huge impacts on the lower class. Rainfall patterns in Zimbabwe are no longer predictable due to climate change. Everyone has a part to play, but as students we have a greater part to play because we are the future, and education should not be confined to the four corners of our classrooms…” 

– Samantha Malasha, a Speech and Language Therapy Undergraduate at University of Zimbabwe. Samantha was among the 20 students who safely gathered at the University of Zimbabwe to virtually participate in TNLC2021. Hear more takeaways from UZ students here. 

“The pandemic presented us with several challenges, but at the same time, it made possible many possibilities to be creative and innovate in different processes and activities at our university."

– Joao Elton de Jesús, a scholarship recipient from Centro Latinoamericano de Aprendizaje y Servicio Solidario (CLAYSS) in Brazil.

“I learned a lot about resilience stories by the youths that presented during the panel sessions, and that despite the obstacles they faced, they were able to continue the fighting for what they believed in. It made me aware of how youths can have a big impact, no matter where we come from. All it takes is just for us to take initiative and always think positively and innovatively in times of crisis.”

– Yang Xing Zhi, a student at the International Medical University (Malaysia)

"It is important that we are part of promoting more spaces for the promotion of critical thinking and questioning. Productive discussions and taking fair dialogues, from a rights-based approach."

– Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua participant


Feedback from Participants 

TNLC2021 participants at Kalinga Institute of Industry Technology (India)


  • Suggestions to provide additional "spaces for interaction" among the attendees using various platforms to increase the ability to connect and share experiences
  • "It was great to hear insights about how I can improve my take on inclusive leadership"
  • "Clear and well-presented ideas and activities that allowed for us to be reflective and gain insights about our own thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Great to hear from others and feel we are not alone. Positive mindsets all around."

Continuing Efforts

Gathering of participants from LivingStone International University (Uganda) attending TNLC2021


We heard from several universities about the ways in which their local gatherings created new opportunities for collaboration and the creation of initiatives born out of conference topics.

Filliam Efiti of LivingStone International University (Uganda), describes one of the results from their event being that "the team resolved as individuals to become members of the Talloires Network, and advocate for membership by the universities, and organizations they came from." Filliam notes that the "student body also formed a joint group to venture more into a community engagement program by partnering with other universities which were represented in the conference.”

Stephen Langa of  Makerere University (Uganda) describes an exciting new proposal, saying, “One of the outstanding outcomes from the conference is a proposal to initiate a project for service-learning at Makerere University. To this end, the presenter of this topic Carol Ma, has already been contacted."

The locations of the grant recipients around the world can be seen below.

The Talloires Network of Engaged Universities thanks all who were able to attend, whether virtually or from a local gathering. You may learn about the conference agenda, speakers, and more here.