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The future of human mobility

September 28, 2023 - September 29, 2023
All Day
Hybrid (In person at CERC Migration office/ online via Zoom)
Future of human mobility banner

Advances in transportation technology, urban design, and digital technologies have opened up possibilities for mobility scarcely imaginable fifty years ago. Air travel is widely accessible to a growing global middle-class, the wealthy can enjoy (brief) trips to outer space, and hyperloops are becoming a plausible option for future commuting, even as growing numbers of digital nomads live and work from anywhere. But at the same time, residents of burgeoning mega-cities choke on the fumes of perpetual vehicular gridlock, and the poorest billion people have mobility options no better than those of our ancestors. The future of mobility, and the effects mobility will have on the future wellbeing of people and the planet, are open questions of critical importance.

“Mobility” in its simplest term refers to movements – or potential for movement – of groups and individuals. The reasons why people move, and the distances and timeframes over which they move, range widely. New technologies provide opportunities to facilitate and expand voluntary mobility that has tremendous economic and social benefits (i.e. moving for work, pleasure or in pursuit of opportunity). However, government policies, macro-economic forces, and unexpected extreme events often constrain the mobility options of many. In too many countries, corruption, conflict and persecution cause involuntary displacement and growing refugee flows. Mobility is further affected by pandemics and the impacts of climate change.

These considerations inform the proposed workshop on the Future of Human Mobility.

The format of the workshop is interactive. Each panel starts with two position papers. Position papers will be sent to registrants. There are a set of designated discussants that should take five minutes each and the question then is open to all participants. The workshop brings together about 30 active contributors including both senior scholars and early career researchers.


9:30-10 AM EDT Welcome coffee
10-10:15 AM EDT Welcome and introduction to the Future of Human Mobility workshop, Anna Triandafyllidou
10:15 AM-12:15 PM EDT

Panel 1

Can we come up with an analytical framework that brings together both voluntary and forced migration and mobility, as well as community displacement? Do we need new concepts to discuss physical and virtual mobility (and presence)?

Position papers: What does a new analytical framework for mobility look like?, Anna Triandafyllidou, Conceptual tools for rethinking the future of mobility: A migration perspective, Brenda Yeoh

Discussants: Ebrahim Bagheri, Gioconda Herrera, Kristie Ebi

Chair: Audrey Macklin, Co-Chair: Shiva S. Mohan, Notes: Hari KC

12-1 PM EDT Lunch break
1-3 PM EDT

Panel 2

How do the new capacities for digital mobility shape the future of work? And what are the implications of this relationship for the migration and development narrative and policy paradigm?

Position papers: Migration, advanced digital technologies and the future of workAnna Triandafyllidou, Digitalization, inequalities, and the migration and development agenda, Gioconda Herrera

Discussants: Igor Grossmann, Richa Shivakoti

Chair: Rupa Banerjee, Co-chair: Marshia Akbar, Notes: Nick Dreher

3-3:30 PM EDT Coffee/tea break
3:30-5:30 PM EDT

Panel 3

Can there be a community of digital nomads? What would a digital nomadland look like? How does it relate to current ‘nomadlands’ of those who are actually dispossessed by the forces of globalisation (see the Nomadland film for instance)?

Position paper: Digital Nomadism: The freedom romance and the reality of dependence, Igor Grossmann, What is a digital nomadland?, Anna Triandafyllidou

Discussants: Ana Beduschi

Chair: Christopher Gore, Co-chair: Stein Monteiro, Notes: Hari KC

9:30-9:45 AM EDT Welcome coffee
9:45-11:30 AM EDT

Panel 4

How does human mobility interact with climate change and health concerns? Should mobility be embraced as a strategy of resilience? And what would be the implications of that for those most vulnerable? And what about immobility voluntary or forced related to climate change and health concerns?

Position paper: Toward a typology of the linkages between climate change, health, and migration, and the implications for health systems and policy, Robert McLeman, Kristie Ebi

Discussants: Brenda Yeoh, Achilles Kallergis

Chair: Elisabeth Gilmore, Co-chair: Melissa Kelly, Notes: Nick Dreher

11:30-11:45 AM EDT Coffee break
11:45 AM-1 PM EDT

Panel 5

How do big data and advanced digital technologies shape the future of migration and mobility governance?

Position paper: How do big data and advanced digital technologies shape the future of migration and mobility governance?, Ebrahim Bagheri, Ana Beduschi

Discussants: All

Chair: Isthiaque Ahmed, Co-Chair: Masoud Kianpour, Notes: Hari KC

1:30 PM EDT Lunch and end of workshop

This workshop arises from sustained discussions over emails and on Zoom and a hybrid workshop held in Toronto in the summer of 2022 among a group of scholars from different disciplines and world regions.

The group was coordinated by Anna Triandafyllidou, Professor and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration, TMU and Robert McLeman, Professor of Geography, Wilfrid Laurier University.

It benefitted from contributions and input from the following colleagues:

  • Ebrahim Bagheri, Professor Electrical Engineering and Canada Research Chair, TMU
  • Ana Beduschi, Professor of Law, Exeter University
  • Kristie Ebi, Professor, Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Igor Grossmann, Professor of Social Psychology, University of Waterloo
  • Gioconda Herrera, Professor of Sociology, FLACSO, Ecuador
  • Brenda Yeoh, Raffles Professor of Social Sciences, National University of Singapore
  • Isthiaque Ahmed, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Dept. of Computer Science
  • Rupa Banerjee, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair Tier II, TMU
  • Joanne Chung, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Elisabeth Gilmore, Associate Professor, Environmental Engineering, Carleton University
  • Christopher Gore, Professor, Dept. of Politics and Public Administration, TMU
  • Shion Guha, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, The iSchool Institute
  • Achilles Kallergis, Assistant Professor, Director, Cities and Migration Project, The New School, NYC
  • Audrey Macklin, Professor, Human Rights Law, University of Toronto
  • Jérémie Molho, Senior Research Associate, Urban Studies, Diversity and Migration, TMU
  • Lucia Nalbandian, Researcher TMU, PhD Candidate University of Toronto
  • Joanna Redden, Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Information and Media Studies
  • Maksim Rudnev, Research Fellow, University of Waterloo
  • Andrew G. Ryder, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal
  • Richa Shivakoti, Research Area Lead, Migration Governance, TMU

Video recordings

The future of human mobility - Panel 1

The future of human mobility - Panel 3

The future of human mobility - Panel 5

The future of human mobility - Panel 2

The future of human mobility - Panel 4