International Week Keynote

We will be bringing in another world-changing speaker for International Week 2021. Stay tuned! For reference, here is the speaker we hosted in 2020.

Lizzie O'Shea: Future Histories on Feb. 1, 2021

Future Histories: How social movements can shape a sustainable, digital future

The rapid advances of digital technology show how human ingenuity and cooperation has the potential to overcome profound challenges, reduce inequality and develop a sustainable world.

But so far, the digital revolution has not delivered. Digital technology has invaded our physical and psychological spaces, often without our consent, sometimes without our knowledge. It has created billionaires, while relegating billions to struggle with insecure and underpaid work. The backbone of the Internet is directed towards commerce rather than human flourishing.

Technology is presented as a force of nature—but technology is made by human hands.

We can create a world in which technology is put to work in service of the many rather than the few. As Lizzie O'Shea shows us, history can show us how people can organize successfully to hold power accountable. We’ll hear how labour worked collectively to redistribute the benefits of industrialization in the 1800s. The internet itself is shown to be the product of public investment and research. States developed regulation to ensure design processes respected human rights.

By turning to the past, we can help create future histories that show how we came together to build a sustainable, peaceful and prosperous world.

Sponsored by: City of Edmonton Change for Climate, University of Alberta International Global Education Program, University of Alberta Sustainability Council. Promotional Partner: MacEwan University.


Lizzie O'Shea speaking on stage

About Lizzie O’Shea

Lizzie O’Shea is an Australian lawyer, activist and writer. Her 2019 book, Future Histories, looks at radical social movements and theorists from history and applies them in service of a more democratic digital tomorrow. It was shortlisted for the Premier’s Literary Award in Victoria.

Lizzie is a founder and the current chair of Digital Rights Watch, which advocates for freedom and fundamental rights online. She has worked with lawyers, journalists and activists to establish a Copwatch program in Australia, for which she was a recipient of the Davis Projects for Peace Prize. In June 2019, she was named a Human Rights Hero by Access Now for her work defending encryption.

As a lawyer, Lizzie has worked for many years on strategic public interest litigation. She was proud to represent the Fertility Control Clinic in their battle to stop harassment of their staff and patients by anti-abortionists, as well as the Traditional Aboriginal Owners of Muckaty Station, in their successful attempt to stop a nuclear waste dump being built on their land. At present, she is representing 8,000 clients in a class action against Uber, which is set to be the largest case of its kind in Australian history.


International Week: February 1–6, 2021

A warming globe, increasing numbers of refugees and displaced persons, gender disparity, economic inequalities, freshwater shortages, famine, war… We are bombarded with these issues and many others facing the planet and its inhabitants every day. To address these issues, the UN established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030.

Learn more about the SDGs and find hope and opportunity for action at International Week 2021 (I-Week).

I-Week is a chance for you to hear international and local perspectives on global issues. International Week speakers will connect their work to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted in 2015. The Goals call on governments and civil society around the world to address the world's most pressing issues from poverty and education to health and the environment.

UAlberta's annual International Week is an incubator of ideas and a source of inspiration for us to work together for a better world.

Learn more