Welcome to the April 2021 issue of ‘Innovatus’

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Welcome to the April 2021 issue of ‘Innovatus,’ a special issue of YFile devoted to teaching and learning at York University. This month, ‘Innovatus’ explores some of the exciting innovations happening in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.

Will Gage
Will Gage

It is my distinct pleasure to present this collection of stories to you. Here’s why. As we continue to navigate what is an epoch-defining pandemic, there’s much to be considered when we think about the future of our planet. The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) is taking a future-forward approach to educating and preparing the changemakers of tomorrow who will carry the responsibility of leading our world through the many challenges brought into focus by the pandemic. Future generations are facing unprecedented hurdles, including climate change and its associated forced migration of peoples, working in a warming world, food security, urbanization, environmental degradation, habitat loss, and so much more. And yet, I remain so hopeful and this is in large part due to the extraordinary work in teaching, learning and the student experience that’s happening within EUC and York University.

In her letter to the community, EUC Dean and Professor Alice Hovorka speaks to the Faculty’s focus on hands-on experiential learning in providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to be sustainability champions and global leaders. The saying “walk the talk” is fully evident in the wonderful stories presented in this issue of ‘Innovatus.’ The appreciation of diverse ways of knowing, the power of innovation, the importance of collaboration and creativity are all evident in the stories in the April issue of ‘Innovatus,’ which by no mere coincidence is being published in advance of Earth Week.

As you read these stories, take a moment to think about your personal role as a changemaker. How can you enhance your own approach to sustainability and using only what you need? How will you become a sustainability champion? I will leave you to consider those questions.

Thank you, as always, for the many suggestions and comments about the stories and concepts presented in ‘Innovatus.’ Please keep them coming.

Featured in the April 2021 issue of ‘Innovatus’

Dean’s letter to the community: Transformative change through hands-on learning
n her letter to the community, Dean Alice J. Hovorka writes about the inaugural year of the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) and its focused approach to hands-on learning aimed at empowering students to be champions of sustainability and justice. Read full story. Read full story.

Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change students are all about planning
Students in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change are working with the Climate Risk Institute, in partnership with Ontario Professional Planners Institute and Risk Sciences International, on climate change adaptation to extreme weather events and training for professional planners in a win-win experiential education endeavour. Read full story.

Student experiences benefit the planet
Environmental and Urban Change students are engaged in valuable experiential education opportunities designed to give students practical training on precision agriculture, climate change solutions and local sustainable development strategies, using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and the Earth Charter as guidelines. Read full story.

Unique course has students seeing the land blossom online
Since Black Creek Community Farm (BCCF) is within shouting distance of York University’s Keele Campus, it seemed odd for Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change Assistant Professor Sarah Rotz to be taking her Land and Food Politics class there virtually, but such is life during the pandemic. Rotz has embraced the challenge and the result is a meaningful experience for her students. Read full story.

From conversation to action: powerful collaboration yields impactful report
The Public Involvement in Planning: Engaging Black People and Power course, created and taught by Jay Pitter, an award-winning placemaker, author, and urban lecturer, provided students with the opportunity to collaborate with Black urbanists to create a collective book of case studies, policy analysis and recommendations for how to engage Black people and power. Read full story.

‘Innovatus’  is produced by the Office of the Associate Vice-President Teaching & Learning in partnership with Communications & Public Affairs.

I extend a personal invitation to you to share your experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the ‘Innovatus’ story form, which is available at tl.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=16573.

Will Gage
Associate Vice-President, Teaching & Learning