Jewish education book launched at York-hosted conference

The International Handbook of Jewish Education, a two-volume tome published by Springer Science & Business Media in April, was launched June 12 at the 25th annual conference of the Network for Research in Jewish Education, wrote the Canadian Jewish News June 22.

The academic meeting, held for only the second time in Canada, was hosted by York University’s Faculty of Education and Israel & Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies. Some 75 academics attended the three-day conference.

Helena Miller, who is research and evaluation director of the United Jewish Israel Appeal in London, England, spearheaded the project after learning of a comparable book on Catholic education three years ago. She enlisted Lisa Grant, of Hebrew Union College, and Alex Pomson, formerly a Koschitzky Family Chair of Jewish Teacher Education at York [1996-2004] and now based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to round out the group of editors geographically, and also because they are “the absolute best in their field,” she said.

Minister predicts a ‘phenomenal’ building for York engineering school

It is important for York, one of the fastest growing universities in one of the fastest growing areas of Canada, to educate the country’s next generation of leaders in a global economy, said John Milloy, minister of training, colleges and universities, wrote June 22, in a story about the provincial announcement of $50 million in funding for a new engineering school building.

In its spring budget, the government announced funding for 60,000 new student places in colleges and universities over the next three years. "The new engineering building at York will help fulfill that promise," Milloy said. "I know this is going to be a phenomenal new building for York," he said.

The exact location of the building will be revealed within four to five weeks, said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri.

Not only will the department expand as part of York’s efforts to become a more comprehensive university, but York will take pride in producing engineering students who take advantage of the University’s strong reputation in social sciences, humanities and business, he said. "This is truly an exciting day for York University," Shoukri told the audience.

At most universities, there is no mistaking the engineering students. But York engineering students don’t enjoy the same feeling, said engineering student Andrew Speers [BASC ’09], who is working on his master’s degree and also completed his undergraduate education at York. "A lot of people on campus don’t even know there is engineering (on the campus)," he said, adding the engineering facilities are shared with science departments. "Having your own building gives you your own identity. (Now), we’re kind of like a sub-school (of other departments). For a lot of engineering schools in Canada, identity is a huge thing."

Science & engineering Dean Janusz Kozinski said he considers the province’s funding announcement a stepping stone towards York’s position as an engineering leader in the 21st century.

York West MPP Mario Sergio said the government’s investment at York adds to the province’s future prosperity.

The new building will cost about $75 million to $80 million. The University will launch a fundraising campaign to finance the portion not covered by the provincial government.

Construction is expected to begin later this summer and be completed by September 2014. The project is expected to create 800 to 1,200 construction and related jobs.

York prof calls government back-to-work bill ‘highly unusual’

Carla Lipsig-Mummé, a York University professor [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the Centre for Research on Work and Society] who specializes in work and labour relations, called it highly unusual to put in a wage settlement as well as bring in back-to-work legislation in a lockout situation, wrote the Toronto Star June 22, in a story about the Canada Post labour dispute.

She believes this legislation could be subject to a court challenge on the grounds [it] contravenes charter protections, including the right to collective bargaining.

Austria’s shameful Nazi past

As the child of refugees from Austria who are academic historians of that period, I am shocked by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff ‘s claim that: "It took five years, from 1938 to 1943, for a full-fledged dictatorship to appear," wrote Carl Ehrlich, professor of humanities in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a letter to the National Post June 21.

On the contrary, Austria was a Fascist country following the assumption of power by Engelbert Dollfuss in 1932, who had officially assumed dictatorial powers well before his 1934 assassination. As soon as the Nazis incorporated Austria into the German Reich in March 1938, the discriminatory laws and policies that had been introduced relatively gradually in Germany over the course of a few years were imposed in Austria "overnight".

Indeed, Austria was to be the proving ground for anti-Jewish brutality. Contrary to Austrian mythology, these events were enthusiastically supported by the vast majority of the populace. One of the differences between Germany and Austria in the modern world is that Germany has long been honest in confronting its past, while Austria has until recently swept its shameful history under the rug by wrapping itself in the false mantle of victimhood.

Show off your corner of Markham

A mentoring partnership between the Varley Art Gallery and the Art History Graduate Students Association of York University is calling on all Markham residents to show off their town this weekend.

Artists behind Cul-de-sac, an upcoming interactive art exhibition at the Varley, are inviting volunteers out for breakfast June 24, 25 and 26 to get to know Markham better.

Cul-de-sac explores the notion of suburbia as a geographic, architectural and fictional space in relation to the communities that embody them. It runs at the Varley June 26 to 28, beginning with a block party in the courtyard of the gallery from 2 to 4pm Sunday (rain or shine).

The Varley Art Gallery is at 216 Main St. in Unionville.

Murder suspect in webcam slaying to remain in custody

The man charged in the death of a 23-year-old York University student [in April] will remain in custody until his next court appearance Aug. 16, wrote The Globe and Mail June 21.

Brian Dickson is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Chinese visa student Qian Liu, who was seen struggling with an attacker on a webcam.

Dickson, 29, appeared in court via video conference. He has not entered a plea, his lawyer said.

On air

  • Comments by Joel Lexchin, professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management, about the difficulties of monitoring weight-loss products, were reported on Moncton, NB’s News 91.9 radio June 21.
  • Perry Sadorsky, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the recent stock market struggles of Waterloo’s Research In Motion, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” June 21.
  • Gregory Chin, professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the York Centre for Asian Research, took part in a panel discussion about differences in economic development between India and China, on TVO’s “The Agenda” June 21.