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NECTAR 2022: University of Toronto hosts multidisciplinary social science network's international conference

NECTAR 2022 Conference banner with title, photo of Lake Ontario, two boats, Toronto skyline
September 15, 2022

After postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Network on European Communication and Transport Activity Research (NECTAR) successfully presented NECTAR 2022, its 16th international academic conference, at the University of Toronto's Chestnut Conference Centre July 20 to 22, 2022.

Most of the 110 conference attendees travelled from outside Canada to take part, journeying from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the USA. About a third of attendees were Canadian scholars from across the country.

U of T's Professor Michael Widener, Conference Chair, opened the conference with a thoughtful Land Acknowledgement before welcoming guests warmly. He remarked on the timeliness of the 2022 conference theme, “Mobilizing Justice: moving toward action for an equitable transportation future” in light of the increased visibility of inequities during the pandemic.

Prof. Michael Widener opening remarks at NECTAR 2022 Conference
Professor Michael Widener, NECTAR 2022 Conference Chair, welcomes attendees warmly, July 20, 2022. (Photo: Amber DeJohn)

I cannot think of a better time to be hosting this meeting, given the profound challenges our transportation systems and related institutions have faced since the start of the pandemic.

I do not have to tell this crowd about the important role that transportation and mobility play in enabling equitable cities, fair societies, and high quality of life. In 2020 most of us experienced unprecedented restrictions to our movements. And while we are seeing our transportation systems gradually adjust to a new normal, the impacts of the initial shock were not distributed evenly, and inequities in the recovery are continuously becoming apparent.

So, to focus, in this moment, on transportation equity is crucial. Our conference theme could not be more timely.

Professor Michael Widener, NECTAR 2022 Conference Chair

A video recorded welcome message from Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karst Geurs, Chair, NECTAR, was then shared.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karst Geurs, Chair, NECTAR, provided a video recording of his conference address (screen shot)

As NECTAR Chair, I would like to welcome you to the 16th International NECTAR Conference in Toronto.

In June 2018, when I asked Michael Widener to explore whether we could host a conference in Toronto, we had no idea that it would take four years to actually organize it. I'm happy of course that the conference is starting today with an amazing program. At the same time, I'm also a bit sad that I'm not able to attend because of a small COVID outbreak in my family at home.

For those who are new to NECTAR, a very brief introduction. NECTAR is a multidisciplinary social science network whose primary aim is to foster research, collaboration and exchange information between transportation experts within Europe and across the globe. NECTAR is a membership-based organization with currently around 200 members. The first NECTAR conference was organized in March 1992. So today we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of NECTAR.

At the heart of NECTAR, there are eight clusters who organize meetings and events around their different themes. And of course, we have our biannual conferences. Each workshop and conference also has social events, because it's important to enjoy informal talks with old friends and meet new friends. NECTAR also generates scientific output. NECTAR has a book series with Edward Elgar. … Discourse Analysis in Transport and Urban Development will be published early next year, and is edited by Robin Hickman, who is one of the Cluster 1 co-Chairs. NECTAR members get a 50% discount on the volumes in the Edward Elgar series, so ask the NECTAR Secretariat for a discount code if you decide to order one.

Also, please join the open NECTAR Cluster Meetings Thursday morning to have a discussion on NECTAR research, new avenues for collaboration, and new NECTAR events. We're always open for suggestions for new NECTAR meetings, workshops, special sessions of conferences, and so on. So please join in and join the discussion.

At the closing session, we will award the fourth PhD Award which will be awarded to the PhD candidate who wrote the best thesis in the last three years within a NECTAR domain.

And, finally, I would like to thank the University of Toronto for hosting the conference, the sponsors for making it possible, and, of course, a big thanks to Michael for all of the work that you put into organizing these wonderful events.

I hope you enjoy it. Enjoy Toronto.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karst Geurs, Chair, NECTAR

Gwen Burrows, Assistant Vice-President, International Engagement and Impact, University of Toronto, also welcomed attendees to the conference on behalf of the University of Toronto. She emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary global collaboration, as demonstrated by NECTAR 2022, in her remarks.

Gwen Burrows speaks at NECTAR 2022
Gwen Burrows, Assistant Vice-President, International Engagement and Impact, University of Toronto, welcomed NECTAR guests on behalf of the University of Toronto. (Photo: Amber DeJohn)

It is wonderful to see some many experts from around the world gathered in person for the first time since 2019 to discuss the role transportation and mobility play in enabling equitable cities, fair societies, and high quality of life.

Global collaboration—bringing experts from diverse disciplines, sectors and regions together to share research and insights—is critical to driving urgently needed new innovations and community impact.

Gwen Burrows, Assistant Vice-President, International Engagement and Impact, University of Toronto

Mobility Network Director, Professor Eric Miller, welcomed attendees and gave a brief introduction to Mobility Network in his NECTAR address.

Dr. Eric Mille speaks at NECTAR 2022
Professor Eric Miller, Director, University of Toronto Mobility Network, welcomes NECTAR 2022 attendees. (Photo: Amber DeJohn)

About the program

The conference hosted 28 parallel sessions over three days featuring 82 presenters. Topics addressed NECTAR under the theme “Mobilizing Justice: Moving Toward Action for an Equitable Transportation Future.”

Angela Gibson speaks at NECTAR 2022
Angela Gibson presents NECTAR 2022 keynote "Equity in Transit Planning, July 20, 2022. (Photo: Amber DeJohn)

The program opened on July 20 at 1:30 p.m. with keynote presentation “Equity in Transit Planning” from guest speaker and U of T alumnus Angela Gibson, RPP, Head, Strategy & Foresight, Toronto Transit Commission. Parallel sessions followed. The day was capped with an evening welcome reception at the Clark Reading Room, University College, University of Toronto, presented jointly by NECTAR and Mobilizing Justice.

Panel discussion at NECTAR 2022
A panel discussion and Q & A followed Professor Steven Farber's NECTAR 2022 keynote "Mobilizing Justice," July 21, 2022. L-R: Prof. Michael Widener, Prof. Steven Farber, Dr. Rafael H. M. Pereira, Dr. Léa Ravensbergen, Dr. Floridea Di Ciommo. (Photo: Amber DeJohn)

The morning of July 21, keynote speaker Professor Steven Farber presented “Mobilizing Justice.” His talk was followed by panel presentations from Dr. Rafael H. M. Pereira, Researcher, Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea), Brazil; Dr. Léa Ravensbergen, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford; and Dr. Florideo Di Diommo, cambiaMO, and discussion and audience Q & A moderated by Professor Michael Widener. A full day of parallel sessions was followed by the official conference reception and dinner at the nearby Duke of Cornwall restaurant and pub.

The final day program on July 22 featured parallel sessions until 3:00 p.m. The NECTAR PhD Award winner, Dr. Jeroen Bastiaanssen, was then announced. Dr. Bastiaanssen's then presented his PhD thesis, “Youth Mobility and Access to Economic Opportunities,” which he had carried out under the supervision of Professors Karen Lucas and Daniel Johnson at the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds.

On behalf of NECTAR, Professor Maria Attard, right, presents Dr. Jeroen Bastiaanssen with the 4th NECTAR PhD Award, July 22, 2022. (Photo: Amber DeJohn)

The conference closed with brief remarks from Professor Michael Widener, who thanked everyone who participated for contributing to the success of NECTAR 2022.

Visit the NECTAR 2022 official conference website to see the full program and details.

NECTAR 2022 Group Shot at Conference Closing
NECTAR 2022 attendees pose for a group shot at the close of the conference, July 22, 2022. (Photo: Amber DeJohn)

Thanks and acknowledgements

Professor Widener acknowledges the contributions of members of the conference organizing committee in presenting NECTAR 2022:

  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karst Geurs, Chair, NECTAR
  • Professor Eric Miller, Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering, and Director, Mobility Network, University of Toronto
  • Professor Steven Farber, Department of Human Geography, and Project Director, Mobilizing Justice, University of Toronto Scarborough
  • Professor Shoshanna Saxe, Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering, University of Toronto
  • Professor Karen Chapple, Department of Geography & Planning, and Director, School of Cities, University of Toronto
  • Professor Raktim Mitra, Director, School of Urban and Regional Planning, and Co-Director, TransForm Research Laboratory, Toronto Metropolitan University
  • Professor Shauna Brail, Institute for Management & Innovation, and Associate Director, UTM Mobility Network, University of Toronto Mississauga

NECTAR 2022 also gratefully acknowledges sponsorship from the University of Toronto’s Mobility Network, School of Cities, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Faculty of Arts & Science, Department of Geography & Planning, and Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering.

For assistance with conference preparation and execution, seven University of Toronto students are also acknowledged with thanks: Robert Arku, Amber DeJohn, Marianne Lahaie Luna, Bochu Liu, Carly MacEacheron, Paromita Nakshi, Alexander Tabascio.

NECTAR 2022 Social Media

NECTAR 2022 Photo Slide Show

A video slideshow of NECTAR 2022 photographs taken by Amber DeJohn.


NECTAR is a European-based scientific association. The primary objective is to foster research collaboration and exchange of information between experts in the field of transport, communication and mobility from all European countries and the rest of the world. It is a multidisciplinary social science network bringing together a wide variety of perspectives on transport and communication problems and their impacts on society from an international perspective. Learn more about NECTAR on their website.

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