U7+ Strategic Priorities

  • Robust democracy
    U7+ members are committed to working together to foster robust and democratic civil societies, by promoting:
    • Freedom of speech
    • Academic freedom at the institutional and individual levels
    • Understanding of and solutions to the impact of AI on societies, including both opportunities and risks
  • Planetary priorities
    The U7+ Alliance is addressing planetary priorities and championing the interests of future generations, including:
    • Access to education
    • Climate change and sustainability
    • Universities’ contributions to peace and security
  • Multilateral engagement
    The U7+ is deepening its multilateral engagement and influence through:
    • G7 engagement with a priority focus on the above topics, with a goal of becoming a G7 engagement group over the coming two years
    • Engagement through COP by sharing scientific expertise with policymakers and working with other university networks to increase the visibility of universities as partners to mitigate climate change.

These strategic priorities, adopted in 2022, build on the founding U7+ Principles and Commitments, adopted in 2019.

Partner University Presidents of the U7+ Alliance at the International U7+ Summit in Paris, July 9-10, 2019, Sciences Po

Partner University Presidents of the U7+ Alliance at the International U7 Summit in Paris, July 9-10, 2019, Sciences Po

U7+ Working Groups

To activate the U7+ Strategic Priorities, the U7+ has working groups dedicated to the following global challenges:

  • Access to Higher Education Working Group 
    • Co-chairs: Bocconi University, University of Cape Town
    • Description: Social and economic inequality are rising in many parts of the world and are very much on the global agenda – not least as Goal 10 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Inequality poses a critical challenge to the achievement of every other SDG. Inequality manifests profoundly in access to higher education; at the same time, differential access itself is a significant contributor to inequality and the achievement of social justice.

Equitable access to higher education poses a challenge within individual institutions, between them and between regions of the world. Many universities are developing strategies to provide inclusive access, and although some progress has been made, achieving access is proving intractable, in part because collective action across borders is often lacking.

This working group is aimed at bringing together different higher education institutions to tackle global issues in access to education. Over a series of meetings, we will define the scope of working group: for instance, access can encompass the full cycle of the student journey from admissions to graduation (from access to success) and through the academic pipeline into all stages of academic research, where diversity of viewpoints are critical for innovation and knowledge sharing. We will also refine our purpose and identify areas of collective action at the U7+ Presidential Summit, at the G7 Summit and in the longer term.

  • Climate Change and Sustainability Working Group 
    • Co-chairs: University of Edinburgh, Université PSL, University of Toronto
    • Description: The Climate Change and Sustainability Working Group is committed to driving specific actions in alignment with the U7+ Alliance’s founding principles, which recognize that our universities have a major role to play in addressing the environmental issues and challenges to sustainability such as climate change, biodiversity, and energy transition. The working Group will convene member universities’ senior leaders, staff, faculty, and engage key content experts as appropriate.

The working group will inform, support, and develop programs, resources, and analyses to advance progress on key goals related to GHG emission reduction and enhancing access to sustainability curricula. In the past we have done this through activities including sharing policy frameworks and best practices on student engagement; developing a pathway to GHG reduction framework for universities; and convening policy discussions at COP.

The working group is committed to influence the global policy agenda, including through joint projects and engagement with the G7, UN and other multilateral organizational processes. It will engage with our respective student communities, recognizing that they will bear a disproportionate share of the burden and consequences of climate change.

  • Peace and Security Working Group 
    • Co-chairs: Keio University, Northwestern University
    • Description: The U7+ Peace and Security Working Group was created in preparation for the 2023 G7 Summit, hosted by Japan in Hiroshima. The goal of the group is to provide a space for U7+ universities to commit to working together through education, research and public engagement to foster a more peaceful and secure world.

The world has seen significant innovation in warfare; it is now time for innovation in peace and security. Traditional notions of negative peace as the absence of violence or threat of violence are now increasingly replaced by a recognition of the need for positive peace– comprehensive, long-term and complex understandings of the patterns and processes that lead to sustainable peace, including strong institutions, economic stability, and social inclusion.

Universities are uniquely positioned to innovate for peace and security through research, education, and international exchange. The U7+ Alliance, with its strong multilateral ties between top research universities in both G7 and non-G7 nations, can generate new solutions across traditional geopolitical barriers.

The U7+ Peace and Security Working Group provided leadership in the creation of the Tokyo Statement on Peace and Security: Universities as Engines of Innovation for Peace and Security, which was presented to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.