Roopa Desai Trilokekar

Associate Professor

Ed.D. - University of Toronto, Canada; M.S. - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA; Ed.M. - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA; B.S. - Middle Tennessee State University, USA

Location(s) / Contact Info:

Phone: 416-736-2100 Ext. 77368


Website: Project website: International Education, Future Citizens, and the Labour Market: Challenges and Prospect for Ontario

Available to supervise graduate students
Currently taking on work-study students, Graduate Assistants or Volunteers
Available to supervise undergraduate thesis projects


Roopa's professional career has been focused on international education. She  first became interested in these issues as an international student returning to her home country and was subsequently exposed to the formal profession through her work with the Fulbright Commission in India where she facilitated academic exchanges between Indian and US academics and students. In Canada, she has worked mainly at the institutional policy level in internationalizing curriculum and student learning experiences. Her attempts to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice in the field, led to the publication of national conference proceedings, with two esteemed colleagues, Dr. Glen Jones and Dr. Adrian Shubert, titled: Canada's Universities Go Global (2009).

The two specific areas of her current research interest include government policy in international education and a critical understanding of the study abroad student experience. Questions that concern her include: how national characteristics influence the nature of higher education policy making, especially in highly decentralized federalisms such as Canada. She is struck by the absence of any persuasive research and formalized policy coordination mechanisms within the education policy processes. With regards to the student international learning experience, she is troubled with the assumptions made about student learning outcomes and the growing popularity of a competency based learning model. She wonders why defining features of the nature of the international learning experience such as students’ particular identities and locations and their diverse personal experiences are left largely unexplored.

Scholarly Interests

Current research interests: internationalization of higher education as government and institution policy, higher education policy making, internationalization of curricula, teaching and learning, student experiential learning through international education, internationalizing pre-service and in-service teacher education, intercultural and cross cultural education and learning.


Faculty & School/Dept

  • Faculty of Education

Courses Taught

  • Internationalization of Higher Education: Semantics, Polemics and Politics of Policy-Making (GS/EDUC 5417)
  • Non-Western Perspectives on Education and Learning (ED/EDST 2700)
  • Student Experiences and Educational Outcomes in Colleges and Universities (GS/EDUC 5455)

Selected Publications

  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai & Sheila Embleton (2014). The complex web of policy choices: dilemmas facing Indian higher education reform. In Simon Schwartzman, Pundy Pillay & Romulo Pinheiro (Eds.), Higher Education in the BRIC countries. . Springer Publications Ltd.
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai & Zainab Kizilbash. (2013). IMAGINE: Canada as a leader . Canadian Journal of Higher Education.
  • Trilokekar, Roopa & Zainab Kizilbash (2013). Selling Illusions? Measuring 'Learning Outcomes' of Study Abroad. . In Ming Fang He & JoAnn Philion (Eds.), Internationalizing Teacher Education for Social Justice: Theory, Research, and Practice . Information Age Publishing.
  • Axelrod, Paul; Theresa Shanahan, Roopa Desai Trilokekar & Richard Wellen (Eds.) (2013). Making Policy in Turbulent Times; Challenge and Prospects for Higher Education.. McGill-Queens University Press
  • Shanahan, Theresa, Paul Axelrod, Roopa Desai Trilokekar & Richard Wellen (2012). The Politics of Policy-making in Post-secondary Education inCanada and the Province of Ontario, 1990-2000 . In Hans G. Schuetze, William Bruneau & Garnet Grosjean (Eds.), University Governance and Reform: Policy, Fads, and Experience in International Perspective. London: Palgrave-MacMillan
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai and Sarah Rasmi (2012). Student Perceptions of International Education and Study Abroad: A pilot study at York University, Canada. Intercultural Education (23-2).
  • Wellen, Richard, Paul Axelrod, Theresa Shanahan & Roopa Desai-Trilokekar (2012). The Making of a Policy Regime: Canada's Postsecondary Student Finance System since 1994 . Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 42 (3).
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai and Polina Kukar (2011). Disorienting Experiences \During Study Abroad: Reflections of Pre-service Teacher Candidates. Teaching and Teacher Education (27 -7), 1141-1150.
  • Axelrod, Paul, Roopa Desai-Trilokekar, Theresa Shanahan & Richard Wellen (2011). People, Processes, and Policy-Making in Canadian Post-secondary Education,1990-2000. Higher Education Policy (24), 143-166.
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai (2010). International Education as Soft Power? TheContributions and Challenges of Canadian Foreign Policy to the Internationalization of Higher Education . Higher Education (59-2), 131-147.
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai (2009). Canadian Federalism, Foreign Policy, and theInternationalization of Higher Education: a Case Study of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). . In Trilokekar, Roopa Desai, Adrian Shubert and Glen Jones (Eds.), Canada's Universities Go Global. . Toronto: James Lorimer and Company
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai and Adrian Shubert (2009). North of 49: Global Citizenship à laCanadienne . In Lewin, Ross (Ed.), Introduction to Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad (pp. 191-211). New York: Routledge
  • Taraban, Svitlana, Roopa Desai Trilokekar, and Tove Fynbo (2009). Beyond Intellectual Tourism and Global Market Competencies: Student Interns Reflections on Learning in Global Spaces. In Trilokekar, Roopa Desai, Adrian Shubert and Glen Jones (Eds). (Eds.), Canada's Universities Go Global. Toronto: James Lorimer and Company
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai, Adrian Shubert and Glen Jones (Eds.) (2009). Canada's Universities Go Global..

Selected Presentations

  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai & Amira ElMasri. (2014, May 26). The “[h]unt for new Canadians begins in the classroom*:” The construction and contradictions of Canadian policy discourse on international education. Presented at: Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, Brock University
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai & Sheila Embleton (2014, May 25). The next global knowledge powerhouses? The Importance to Canada's role in a global knowledge society of comparing Chinese and Indian higher education reform policies.. Presented at: Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, Brock University
  • Tarc, Paul & Roopa Desai Trilokekar (2012, May). Researching Impacts of the International . Presented at: Canadian Society for the Study of Education
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai & Kumari Beck (2012, May). Internationalization a ‘passing fad’ or certitude?. Presented at: Canadian Society for the Study of Education
  • Shanahan, Theresa & Roopa Desai Trilokekar (2012, March). Profiles in Policy-making: . Presented at: Policy Formation in Post-secondary Education: Issues and Prospects in Turbulent Times
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai (2011, May). India a rising power? The Contemporary Context of Indian Higher Education. Presented at: Asian Heritage Month Festival 2011. OISE/University of Toronto
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai (2011, April). Why can’t Canada get its act together in International Education?” Internationalization: Myth vs. Reality. Presented at: UPCEA Global Associates Symposium Toronto.
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai (2011, April). Disorienting Experiences During Study Abroad:Reflections of Pre-service Teacher Candidates . Presented at: Research in International & Comparative Education -(RICE) Symposium, University of Western Ontario
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai (2011, January). Imagine: Canada a leader in International Education. What can we learn from the Australian Experience? . Presented at: Being Global 2011
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai (2009, August). Student Perceptions of International Education and Study Abroad: A pilot study at York University, Canada. Presented at: Annual European Higher Education Society (EAIR) Forum, Vilnuis, Lithuania
  • Trilokekar, Roopa Desai (2009, May). Internationalizing Teacher Education: Challenges and Opportunities. Presented at: Association of Canadian Deans of Education, Canadian Society for Study in Higher Education, (CSSHE), University of Ottawa

Research Projects

China, India and the Challenge to Canada's ‘Diplomacy of Knowledge’: A comparative study of the internationalization of higher education

Role: Co-Investigator

Amount funded: $71, 275

Year Funded: 2014

Duration: 2

Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Canada-China and Canada-India academic relations have attracted attention from Canadian policy makers; however development of more effective and targeted strategies critically depends on deeper understanding of the historical, political and cultural traditions of each country’s higher education systems. This project will examine their internationalization policies as an excellent entry point to understanding their national interests and global positioning strategies, and a solid foundation for more extensive long-term study of policy developments in higher education in China and India and implications for Canada.

International education, labour market and future citizens: prospects and challenges for Ontario

Role: Principal Investigator

Amount funded: $$45,766

Year Funded: 2013

Duration: 1

Funded by: Ministry of Education

Ontario’s skilled labour shortage, a dire concern for the province and Canada as a whole, is to be met, albeit partially, by targeting international students (IS) as Canada’s future immigrants. The Ontario government has worked strategically to “make Ontario the destination of choice for international students” (Ontario, 2010). Has Ontario’s strategy proven successful? Do IS in fact integrate more smoothly and seamlessly into Canadian society? This research question framed a pilot study conducted at two of Ontario’s universities, as little is known about IS as immigrants.

Student engagement, experience and learning as an

Role: Principal Investigator

Amount funded: $5000.00

Year Funded: 2011

Duration: 2 years

Funded by: York University

This project will examine the impact of Ontario’s international education strategy on postsecondary student access to study abroad opportunities, quality of learning experiences and outcomes in gaining global knowledge and skills. This project will contribute to an understanding of international and intercultural knowledge as a student learning outcome; development of links between study abroad pedagogy and the student experience; and the assessment of the impact of international education on Ontario student’s further education and employment. Research on the impact of a provincial strategy will contribute a Canadian perspective to the existing literature and also contribute a theoretical perspective to the discourse on student engagement and learning in postsecondary education, especially as it relates to the value of experiential education and the pedagogy of study abroad.

A Pilot Project on International Students in Ontario and New York

Role: Co-Investigator

Amount funded: $$5000

Year Funded: 2009

Duration: 1 year

Funded by: TRUN Project

The primary objective of this project is to identify the dynamics of and factors that predict and influence the experiences and adjustment of International Students from multidisciplinary perspectives. The two goals of the project are to provide the universities’ administrators with information and insight on how to better integrate assist IS to adjust into the academic and cultural milieu of North American universities and also to identify the specific psychosocial and educational factors that predict adaptation of IS to have a successful and rewarding academic and cultural experience. This project will be carried out in two Canadian Universities (University of Guelph and York University) and one American University (University at Buffalo).

Making Policy in Postsecondary Education

Role: Co-Investigator

Amount funded: $$82,736

Year Funded: 2008

Duration: 3 years

Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

This project explores and analyzes the making of public policy in Canadian post-secondary education between 1993 and 2010.The primary research will focus on policy development and implementation in the federal government and the province of Ontario. It will concentrate on five themes: 1) Funding Structures and Processes, 2) Research and Development, 3) Accessibility and Student Assistance; 4) Labour Market Preparation; and 5) Internationalization. For each of the themes, researchers will seek to determine where policy initiatives originated, (e.g. in which government departments), how policy issues were constructed, why and how policy choices were made, and the means by which policies were (or were not) implemented. Answers to these questions will contribute to an improved analytical framework and an empirical basis for understanding the processes, determinants and consequences of key policy initiatives in Canadian higher education

Canadian Student Perceptions on International Education & StudyAbroad: A Pilot Study of York University Students

Role: Principal Investigator

Amount funded: $$2500

Year Funded: 2007

Duration: 1 year

Funded by: Faculty of Education, Minor Research Grant

The focus on the study abroad experience has only recently received attention with most studies either examining the relationship of the experience to the characteristics of the participants and the program structure (length and type of program) or assessing the learning outcomes of the study abroad experience. Very few studies have included both participants and non-participants and considered students’ perceptions of international education and study abroad. A comprehensive study on student perceptions will contribute to our overall understanding of the interpretation and relevance of international education and study abroad to Canadian university students. It will also have policy implications for institutional administrators and government policy makers, providing them with insights for future program modification and development.

Professional Affiliations

  • The European Higher Education Society (EAIR)
  • Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER)
  • The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE)
  • Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE)

York University Affiliations/Cross Appointments

  • Faculty of Education, York University (Post secondary Education diploma)
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University