VIA ensures international competence development for students during pandemic 

Under the institution agreement between Capilano University in North Vancouver, Canada, and VIA University College, students and faculty at VIA Film and Transmedia Storytelling and Capilano University School of Motion Picture Arts have been working together to create a professional environment for building international and intercultural skills in a time when international encounters are few and far between and travel opportunities all but non-existent.

CapU and VIA students in Zoom session

VIA is working towards offering an international element to all students at sometime during their studies. Often this international element consists of study trips, an exchange or internship abroad. Although restrictions on travel due to the global covid-19 pandemic have made mobility much more difficult, international sharing and exchange of knowledge is still an option for students across the globe. This new collaboration initiative between VIA University College and Capilano University in British Columbia, Canada, is a perfect example of internationalisation at home.

Cross Atlantic coproduction

The two institutions have a long-standing strategic partnership especially within film and transmedia. As the pandemic set in, they had to develop new ways of working together. This innovation process resulted, among other things, in a collaborative film project, in which 3rd and 4th year students from the institutions’ film study programmes were invited to work together creating films inspired by global sustainability.

“Today's changing circumstances caused by the pandemic has had a profound effect on education, especially international education and partnerships - but this has also created opportunities. The Global Coproduction Film Project is just such an opportunity. Working together, students from two universities, in different countries and time zones, will not only meet the new challenges in film production and consumption but work creatively to address issues of global importance,” says Dr. Michael Thoma, Chair, School of Motion Picture Arts, Capilano University.

The students from both institutions will practice their international and intercultural skills while working together on a common project and learning from each other and about their profession across continents and time zones.

Rune Lünell, Assistant Professor at VIA Multiplatform Storytelling and production explains that the product-oriented collaboration is a great way of getting to know a different culture, as the common product development and teaching give the participants experience and ‘muscle memory’ on international relations, while at the same time teaching students how to produce film virtually – a production form that has gained traction in the industry recently.

Students, lecturers and international staff from both universities met for the first time in February to pitch ideas and from groups based on interests and the groups will spend March and April before submitting their films in May. The cinematic creations will be considered to be part of the collection of sustainability short films in Global Sustainability Short Film Alliance.

Knowledge exchange for staff

The new collaboration initiative with Capilano also includes faculty, who has joined forces in developing joint curricula, media for sharing and webinars as well as virtual staff exchanges in which faculty delivers guest lectures at the partnering school, e.g. representatives from Capilano University will give a virtual lecture on Canadian Cinema for VIA students, or a lecturer from VIA will facilitate a workshop on sustainability and film for Capilano students.

“Through this project, learners and teachers alike are building networks across the Atlantic that will help them strengthen their craft and contribute toward sustainable futures for the planet. We are extremely proud of the efforts and energies of all involved in this important work." Dr. Chris Bottrill, Director, International, Capilano University

Sustainable Commitment

Associate Dean Louis Thonsgaard, VIA Film and Transmedia adds: “We are very happy that CapU wanted to join us in the Global Sustainability Short Film Alliance. An alliance of universities promoting a common message of sustainability through production of short films on the subject. In this context, the films produced in connection with this teaching collaboration will also have the opportunity to be screened at events all over the world,” says Louis Thonsgaard, Associate Dean, VIA Film and Transmedia.

As an institution, VIA is committed to working with sustainability and all students are introduced to circular thinking, sustainability in general and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in theory as well as in practice. In addition, VIA is a part of the world-wide network of UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals Schools. 

Meet Oscar, one of the participating students.

More about VIA’s commitment to sustainability.


Capilano University

  • North Vancouver, Canada
  • App. 12,000 students
  • 4 campuses
  • Programmes within Arts and Sciences, Business and Professional Studies, Education, Health and Human Development, Fine and Applied Arts, and Global and Community Studies
  • Capilano’s School of Motion Picture Arts offers 12 programmes


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