A warning to Canada: Start growing

Food policy theorists are split between those who believe in reforming the industrial agro-economic system and those who want a more radical shift to a system based on sustainability and environmental balance, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 8, in a story about a report by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute that shows Canada’s position as a major food exporter has fallen to number seven in the world.

Rod MacRae, a food policy expert at York University, is among the latter. He praised the spirit of the report – one of several non-government food strategy efforts under way across Canada – but questioned its focus on expanding into global markets.

“Some regional economic theorists are saying you feed the family and trade the leftovers – you focus on minimizing your need to import, really optimizing what you can produce domestically and then you trade your excess,” he said. “That’s what will really give you both environmental and economic bang for the buck.”

Popular kids more likely to be bullies, study finds

It’s common to cast the class bully as a marginalized, troubled kid acting out, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 8, but we should be taking a closer look at the behaviour of the popular kids. According to new research on aggression and social status, it’s actually the second-most popular kids who are particularly likely to torment their peers as a way to earn status and power.

A key objective would be to strip aggression of its perceived power among the majority of students who, while they may not be aggressive themselves, may not be discouraging it among their peers [said the study’s author, Robert Faris, of the University of California, Davis]. “They’re the ones who hold all the power, collectively,” he says.

Bullying expert Debra Pepler, [Distinguished Research Professor] in York University’s LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution and scientific co-director of the anti-bullying website www.prevnet.ca, says this conclusion is especially useful.

In her work videotaping children, she has found that 85 per cent of the time, an act of bullying is witnessed by other children. And 75 per cent of the time, those watching are encouraging the bully, Pepler adds.

Steeles West subway station gets hip, downtown facade

Organic, whimsical, a monster or a flying saucer – the new Steeles West subway station design makes a statement, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 8. What that statement says probably depends on who’s looking or listening.

The entrance will sit north of the York University [Keele] campus on the dividing line between Toronto and York Region. It has been designed by British “starchitect” Will Alsop, best known in Toronto for the futuristic Ontario College of Art & Design on stilts.

The station, on the Spadina subway extension, will open in 2015 and is expected to be used by 3,810 commuters in the peak morning rush by 2031, according to the TTC.

The distinct façade will be made of Corten steel, which has a copper component that weathers to a rusty patina. “It develops this rich oxidized surface,” said Celia Johnstone, lead designer with the Spadina Group Associates that includes Alsop and Stevens Group Architects in Toronto.

The station incorporates 12 bus bays for the TTC and five York Region bus bays, as well as two cool roofs and a green roof. There will be a commuter parking lot with 1,850 spaces on the nearby hydro corridor.

On air

  • Research by York psychology Professor Nicholas Cepeda, of the Faculty of Health, about applying the lessons from research to teaching methods was featured on radio stations in Toronto and Ottawa Feb. 7.
  • David Doorey, professor in York’s School of Human Resource Management in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the issue of contracting out city garbage collection, on Global TV News Feb. 7.
  • York Professor Priscila  Uppal, of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about her work as Canadian Athletes Now Fund (CAN Fund) poet-in-residence during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympic Games, on CBC Radio’s “Dispatches” program Feb. 7.