York University launches new academic plan for 2020 to 2025

Today, York University officially launches its new academic plan that will chart its path for the next five years. The plan, which is titled “Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025,” received a strong endorsement by the University Senate during its meeting on Thursday, June 25.

“The University Academic Plan 2020-2025 is about coming together to make positive change for our students, our campuses, and our local and global communities. It reflects the significant opportunities that York will embrace over the next five years in advancing our vision to provide a broad sociodemographic of students with access to a high-quality research-intensive University committed to the public good,” says York Provost and Vice-President Lisa Philipps. “I am confident that this new UAP will continue to project our commitment to our values of excellence, progressiveness, diversity and inclusivity, social justice and equity, and sustainability.”

A document rooted in York University's history and values

An inspirational document that is rooted in York University’s history, values and commitment to a more just and sustainable future, the new UAP 2020-2025 was developed following extensive community input obtained through 22 consultations with Senate committees, students, Faculty councils and staff over a period of nine months. In addition, its authors considered more than 3,000 written responses provided by University community members via polling software, online forms and email correspondence

As a result, the new University Academic Plan 2020-2025 is truly a communal effort, says Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Professor Carl S. Ehrlich, who is Chair of Senate’s Academic Policy, Planning & Research Committee (APPRC).  “Over this past academic year, we have held innumerable consultations with – and received feedback from – every segment of our York University family at every stage of our journey. The resulting document is one that is truly reflective of where our University currently is and of what our hopes and aspirations for the future are,” says Ehrlich. “For the most part eschewing specificity for the sake of inclusivity, all members of our community should be able to find themselves and their interests/concerns reflected in some manner in this new UAP.”

The new University Academic Plan 2020-2025 identifies six priorities

A dynamic document that was designed to grow and change, Ehrlich says the built-in flexibility of the new UAP should allow the University to continue doing what it has done and does best, while moving forward in both anticipated and unanticipated new directions for the future, whether academically, communally, or socially.

“We are the inheritors of a proud academic tradition that provides us with a solid foundation as we continue building upon it,” observes Ehrlich. “The new UAP challenges us to act responsibly as members of a vast array of differing intersectional communities, both local and global. And as a diverse community, we can exemplify irenic interactions and mutual social responsibility, while keeping our minds open to various ways of viewing and understanding ourselves and the world in which we live.”

“I would like to thank Provost and Vice-President Academic Philipps and APPRC Chair Carl Ehrlich for their leadership, and to everyone who contributed to the new UAP,” says  President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “York’s strong planning culture, exemplified in this plan, has always positioned us for success. Thanks to the hard work of the community, we have a powerful new guiding document that will allow us to expand the positive change we create in the world through research, innovative teaching and a commitment to community engagement.”

Six priorities for action

The UAP 2020-2025 contains six priorities for action, which are based on the University’s enduring commitment to critical inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge that comes from many differing perspectives and ways of knowing. The six priorities are:

  1. 21st Century Learning: Diversifying Whom, What, and How We Teach
    Every York University graduate, regardless of background or field of study, must be equipped with the knowledge, transferable skills, and values to navigate a 21st century world in which change is the only constant.
  2. Knowledge for the Future: From Creation to Application
    As change accelerates around us, York University aims to be more responsive to its communities by generating critical knowledge and works of art, ideas and innovations that engage multiple perspectives while propelling Ontario as a global knowledge-economy leader.
  3. From Access to Success: Next Generation Student Supports
    With many of the University’s students facing current challenges and uncertain futures, York will devote additional attention to supporting students of all backgrounds and circumstances to complete their studies successfully and to realize their full potentials.
  4. Advancing Global Engagement
    York University draws people from around the world who seek to learn from each other and to gain the global fluencies needed to work locally and across borders toward a better future.
  5. Working in Partnership
    York University understands that by partnering with other entities and sectors it gains vital insights and capacity to create positive impact for its students, campuses, and broader communities.
  6. Living Well Together
    Making positive change requires that all members of the University’s diverse community feel welcomed into a sense of belonging, common purpose, and shared responsibility to support and enrich each other’s work.

A challenge to elevate York's contributions to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

The new UAP serves as a blueprint for action, positioning York University as an agent of positive change in a world facing a convergence of unprecedented trials from climate change, a global pandemic, racism and xenophobia, poverty and inequality. The plan  responds with a challenge to elevate York’s contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which  offer a framework for UN member countries to take urgent action in 17 areas that are critical to ensure peace and prosperity for people and the planet. York University’s new UAP serves as a rallying call for students, faculty and staff – a call to bring their expertise from across disciplines to work together to build new tools, develop strategies and solutions to global challenges.

A graphic showing the UN sustainable development goals

The United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals

“Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025” positions York as a University with distinctive capabilities to rise to these challenges and uncover the opportunities that lie within them.

The document states, “We believe that at this juncture, to make a better future, the world needs more of York University.” To learn more, read the full version of “Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025,” available here: https://vpap.info.yorku.ca/files/2020/06/Building-a-Better-Future-YorkU-UAP-2020-2025.pdf.

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