For the third year in a row, York University has been ranked highly by the Times Higher Education (THE) global Impact Ranking, which classifies universities on their work towards the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year, York has placed 11th in Canada and 67th overall against 1,115 post-secondary institutions from 94 different countries.
“York’s strong performance in the rankings this year is a result of the extraordinary efforts of our students, faculty, course directors, staff, and alumni, whose dedication to our communities and our planet has helped us make great strides in furthering the UN SDGs,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “We are proud of the way our community members have come together in support of the SDGs, and grateful for their passion, enthusiasm, and continued commitment to driving positive change in our local and global communities.”
The THE Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ranking compares universities on research, stewardship, outreach and teaching across 17 categories.
York ranked in the top four per cent globally in two SDGs that closely align with the strategic focus of the University’s Academic Plan (2020), including third in Canada and 27th in the world for SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals, which examines a university’s stewardship of resources and its preservation of community heritage, and fifth in Canada and 24th in the world for SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities, which looks at how the University supports and collaborates with other universities in working towards the SDGs.
“The Impact Ranking is a strong reflection of York’s progress in advancing the University Academic Plan 2020–2025 (UAP), which challenges us to build a better future, bringing our unique capacities to bear on the most urgent issues facing the world, while deepening our collective contributions to the SDGs,” said Provost and Vice President Academic Lisa Philipps. “I am very proud of the significant contributions that have been made to advance our UAP and address complex global issues.”
Partnerships for the goals: Global hubs, partnerships and collaborations improved ranking in SDG 17
Hosting global hubs for international initiatives, sharing best practices, and partnering with the federal government to offer expertise improved York’s ranking to 27th overall in Partnerships to Achieve Goals − a major improvement over last year’s rank of 50th.
Driven by a welcoming and diverse community with a uniquely global perspective, York’s international network of partnerships helps our students and faculty make a difference across the world.
York hosts four significant global partnerships and hubs that contribute to the pursuit of the SDGs.
The UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Educations Towards Sustainability, held by Charles A. Hopkins, works in association with the many other entities, including the International Network of Teacher Education Institutions and the #IndigenousESD, towards achieving the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The Ecological Footprint Initiative, which hosts a data centre at York, focuses on researching, investigating, mapping, and explaining humanity’s ecological footprint on the planet.
The World Health Organization has recognized the work of York’s Global Strategy Lab team led by Director Steven J. Hoffman, a professor of global health, law and political science and the Dahdaleh Distinguished Chair in Global Governance & Legal Epidemiology, by designating it as the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Governance of Antimicrobial Resistance (WHOCC). The Glendon Accelerator for Innovation and Best Practices in French Teaching will also host a new knowledge mobilization hub to meet the need for French as a second language teachers at a time when they are in short supply.
In addition to these international hubs, the Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom won the 7th Airbus Global Engineering Deans Council Diversity Award for its efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in engineering education.
Finally, through the leadership of Osgoode Hall Law School Associate Professor Deborah McGregor, who is cross appointed to the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice, the Osgoode Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic intervened successfully with the federal government to obtain a regional impact assessment for proposed mining and road infrastructure in Ontario’s Ring of Fire.
Sustainable cities and communities: COVID-19 research and new green buildings recognized in SDG 11
New Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified buildings, timely COVID-19 research, projects funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and a new Charter Centre on Homelessness propelled York to 24th overall in the Sustainable Cities and Communities ranking. York University’s top ranking in this category is further proof of its commitment to make things right for our community, the planet and our future.
York’s researchers have also been helping lead the fight against COVID-19, with a pair of projects to simulate mass vaccination sites and model COVID-19 transmission.
Ali Asgary, associate professor of Disaster and Emergency Management, and Jianhong Wu, a Canada Research Chair in Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the NSERC/Sanofi Industrial Research Chair in Vaccine Mathematics, Modelling and Manufacturing and York Distinguished Research Professor in Mathematics, have together developed a simulation that models ongoing processes in a drive through vaccination clinic. The innovative approach is being used in Canada and the United States and has been listed as one of the best community models available.
Jude Kong, an assistant professor in Mathematics & Statistics at York, leads a team of 50 researchers from organizations across Africa and Canada to predict the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their project builds on a South African-led COVID-19 dashboard and combines modelling at York to inform and support national policymakers from across Africa manage the virus in real time.
Two SSHRC grants awarded to York professors will enhance the ability to preserve local heritage in communities around the world. Laura Levin, associate professor in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, and director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology, leads the “Hemispheric Encounters” partnership project to build a network of organizations across Canada, the United States, and Latin America, with the aim of sharing knowledge and strategies for positive social change. Linda Peake, professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and director of the City Institute, leads “GenUrb,” a research project aiming to build a network to examine the changing relationship between gender, poverty, and inequality across the globe.
In working to make their own community more sustainable to live in, York Faculty of Education Professor Steven Gaetz leads a collaboration between the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and A Way Home Canada, a successful partnership to prevent youth homelessness that was recognized by the United Nations.
The Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study and Research Building, part of the internationally renowned Schulich School of Business, became LEED Gold-certified earlier this year. The new site, which opened in 2019, features a glass solar chimney that provides natural ventilation for the facility.
Two more buildings under construction, the School of Continuing Studies at the Keele Campus, and the first phase of York’s Markham Centre Campus, are also aiming for the LEED Gold standard. The School of Continuing Studies features a high-performance prismatic façade, composed of photovoltaic panels and glazed openings to bring natural light into the building. The photovoltaic panels will also allow the building to produce its own power. The School of Continuing Studies is scheduled to open in the fall of this year, while the Markham Centre Campus will open in Fall 2023.
York’s ongoing success in the THE Impact Rankings is owed entirely to its community of positive changemakers. With so many projects, initiatives, and partnerships underway, and many more in development, York University continues to expand the work that makes the world a better place to live, learn and work.