Connected Minds: one year later

connected minds banner

Since Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society launched in spring 2023, the $318.4-million project has already achieved several milestones pushing forward the project – and York University – as a leader in socially responsible emerging technology.

It’s been nearly a year since President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and Vice-President Research and Innovation Amir Asif announced that Connected Minds had received $105.7 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), the “largest single federal grant ever awarded to York.”

The cutting-edge program aims to bring together experts across eight York Faculties and three Queen’s Faculties to examine the ways in which technology is transforming society – dubbed the “techno-social collective” – and will work to balance both the potential risks and benefits for humanity. Some of the program’s proposed projects include explorations into a more inclusive metaverse, virtual reality and community organizing, neurotechnologies for healthy aging, Indigenous data sovereignty and how human brain function changes when people interact with artificial intelligence (AI) versus each other.

Doug Crawford
Doug Crawford

Since the funding announcements in early 2023, Connected Minds – the biggest York-led research project in the University’s history – has been busy. “As founding scientific director, it’s incredibly gratifying see the progress we have made this first year, thanks to the very hard work of our leadership team, dedicated staff and the support of our board of directors,” says Doug Crawford, who is also a Distinguished Research Professor and Canada Research Chair in visuomotor neuroscience.

In addition to seed grants and PhD awards given out, over the past 12 months, Connected Minds has expanded its roster of experts by onboarding 14 research-enhanced hires across York University and institutional partner Queen’s University. The new additions are part of the program’s efforts to attract and retain the best talent, as well as a fulfillment of its commitment to add 35 strategic faculty hires, research Chairs or equivalent levels of support to its interdisciplinary research ecosystem. The new Connected Minds members will benefit from support that includes $100,000 in startup research funding, salary top-up and/or teaching release, and a research allowance of $25,000 per year.

Connected Minds’ progress was also successfully commended by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat – which administers the Canada First Research Excellence Fund – during a site visit showcasing the various research units affiliated with the program, and the progress its made.

To further demonstrate the program’s – and York University’s – leadership in socially responsible technology, Connected Minds has also been organizing events, like the Introductory Meeting on Law and Neuroscience in Canada, which united experts from Canada and the United States for in-depth discussions on socially responsible research at the intersection of law and neuroscience at the renowned Monk School of Global Affairs in Toronto.

Giuseppina (Pina) D'Agostino
Giuseppina (Pina) D’Agostino

Connect Minds will also shortly host an event marking the culmination of its inaugural year: the Connected Minds Annual Research Retreat on Feb. 22 and 23. The retreat will unite members across diverse disciplines – including arts, science, health, law and more – to collectively shape the future of socially responsible technology. The goal is to help provide networking opportunities for members to get to know each other better and form the teams that will apply to grants and achieve the program’s long-term goals. It aims to do so through information sessions, active participation in shaping Connected Minds’ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) action plan, and connect with our research-enhanced hires, who will be delivering big-idea talks during the retreat.

The retreat will also mark another notable milestone: a transition in leadership. Crawford will be succeeded by Professor Pina D’Agostino, founder and former director of IP Osgoode and co-director of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Society, where her expertise is frequently sought by government bodies to address the evolving intersection of AI and the law. Now, it will be applied to leading Connected Minds into what will promise to be another year of accomplishments.

“I am thrilled to be taking the program to the next level by building on the strong foundation we now have and engaging with all of our incredible partners and communities to work towards our goals of a healthy and just society,” says D’Agostino, looking ahead to how Connected Minds will continue to thrive and make contributions to interdisciplinary research.

York conference to advance AI for a healthy, just society

connected minds banner

On Thursday, March 7 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., York University’s Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society, the Centre for AI & Society (CAIS) and the IP Innovation Clinic will host the latest iteration of the Bracing for Impact conference series, which will focus on the rapid advancements and implications of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is changing the world rapidly and as it does, it is important to have conversations not just about how to develop and use AI, but what the most responsible ways to do so are.

This year’s Bracing for Impact conference – titled Shaping the AI Challenge for a Healthy, Just Society – looks to advance socially conscious AI by exploring what implications the technology’s advancement may have for improving society. The conference will focus on the rapid advancements and implications of AI, with the spotlight on the technology’s intersection with health, neurotechnology, intellectual property, regulation, data governance, the arts and more. This one-day conference will bring together a multidisciplinary audience to discuss how AI can help shape a healthy and just society.

Giuseppina (Pina) D'Agostino
Giuseppina (Pina) D’Agostino

“In 2017 when we first launched Bracing for Impact, AI was still somewhat far-reaching,” explains Giuseppina (Pina) D’Agostino, vice-director of Connected Minds, founder and director of the IP Innovation Clinic and co-director of CAIS. “AI is now here and many of us are still in a brace position, attempting to understand how this technology is intermingling with our daily lives with all of its benefits and challenges. Our conference brings together diverse voices essential to explore these critical issues for the benefit of a healthy and just society for all.”

The conference will bring together Canadian and international academics as well as legal, policy, and technology practitioners to speak to ways of shaping AI and its uses for social betterment.

The event is being held at OneEleven on 325 Front Street West in Toronto and is sponsored by Microsoft Canada. Student and professional rates are offered and include food and refreshments.

Register via the Eventbrite page. For any questions about the conference, email connectedmindsinfo@yorku.ca.

Upcoming event explores societal polarization threatening democracy

Man and woman standing opposite of each other, divided by a white line. Social distancing, quarantine, borders and barrier concept.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to solve important societal problems and has already found broad application, but there remain substantial challenges. York University’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Society (CAIS) hosts a monthly speaker series called CAIS Talks to shed light on some of these hurdles – and opportunities. This month, the series features Professor Moshe Vardi, a University professor and the George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering at Rice University in Houston, with a talk titled “Technology and Democracy.”

Moshe Vardi
Moshe Vardi

On Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Vardi will discuss the deep societal polarization – in the U.S. and elsewhere – that not only leads to political gridlock but threatens the very foundations of democracy. This hybrid event will take place both online and in person in Osgoode Hall Law School, Room 1014, on York’s Keele Campus.

When speaking of societal polarization, the phrase “the Disunited States of America” is often thrown around. But, according to Vardi, other countries are displaying similar division. At this talk, he will argue that the current state of affairs is the result of the confluence of two “tsunamis” that have unfolded over the past 40 years: one is technology, from the introduction of the IBM personal computer in 1981 to the current domination of public discourse by social media; the second is neoliberal economic policies favouring private enterprise and reduced government spending. The combination of these two shifts, he will argue, has led to both economic and cognitive polarization.

Vardi’s is highly regarded in his field of mathematics and computer science. He holds nine honorary titles, is a recipient of numerous awards, and is the author and co-author of two books and over 750 papers. He serves his community as a fellow of several societies and a member of several academies. He is also a senior editor of premier computing publication Communications of the ACM.

Interested in hearing more? Register by Feb. 9 at CAIS Talks Presents… Moshe Vardi (yorku.ca) to attend. For more information about CAIS, visit yorku.ca/research/cais.

Innovative safe water tool receives major grant

Many hands reaching for tap water

Access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are critical to health and well-being, and yet an estimated two billion people globally still lack access to it. Researchers in the Humanitarian Water Engineering Lab at York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research are doing their part to address this crisis, and their efforts have been recognized with a major grant from Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge (CHIC).

Water supply tower at the Kyaka II refugee settlement in Uganda
Water supply tower at the Kyaka II refugee settlement in Uganda, where the SWOT has been deployed to help ensure water safety. Photo by Gabrielle String.

Valued at $300,000, the CHIC Transition to Scale Grant will provide transformational funding to accelerate the global scale-up of the York-developed Safe Water Optimization Tool (SWOT), an innovative water quality modelling platform that helps humanitarian responders ensure water safety and protect public health in crisis zones globally.

This free and open-source tool has been deployed in nine countries by seven different humanitarian organizations, as part of initiatives aiming to improve water safety for over half a million people. The new funding will support the development and piloting of the tool as a joint quality-assurance platform used by safe water programs in a selected country this year.

“This grant will enable the integration of the SWOT into the ways of working in the humanitarian sector,” says Syed Imran Ali, an adjunct professor at York’s Lassonde School of Engineering and research fellow at the Dahdaleh Institute who leads the Humanitarian Water Engineering Lab. “We are excited to work with local implementing and global co-ordination partners to demonstrate how the SWOT can help ensure safe water program effectiveness and protect public health in crisis zones globally. We are incredibly grateful to Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge for their amazing support in the past, and now with this grant.”

Syed Imran Ali
Syed Imran Ali

Fawad Akbari, director of humanitarian innovation at Grand Challenges Canada, which oversees the implementation of CHIC, says, “The Safe Water Optimization Tool is a pre-eminent example of how innovation adoption in the humanitarian system can directly and efficiently save and improve lives. We are proud to continue to support this initiative and are looking forward to nurturing this next stage of collaboration.”

The SWOT was developed by a team of researchers and humanitarian practitioners at the Dahdaleh Institute and Lassonde, including Ali; Lassonde Associate Professor Usman Khan; Professor James Orbinski; and Lassonde PhD candidate Michael De Santi; with collaboration from Dahdaleh Institute research staff James E. Brown, Mohamed Moselhy and Ngqabutho Zondo.

Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge is a partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Global Affairs Canada, with support from Grand Challenges Canada. CHIC seeks to enable local organizations, humanitarian agencies, and the private sector to work alongside affected communities to respond more nimbly to complex emergencies, address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering around the world and empower people to create better lives for themselves. This challenge seeks to fund and accelerate innovative solutions that enable life-improving assistance to reach the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people in conflict-generated humanitarian crises.

To learn more about the Safe Water Optimization Tool, read YFile‘s recent story or visit safeh2o.app. To learn more about Creating Hope in Conflict: a Humanitarian Grand Challenge, visit humanitariangrandchallenge.org.

De-escalating robocops? York study imagines future of crisis response 

Robotic hand reaches for human hand

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

Picture this: a 911 operator in your city receives a call from a person in mental distress and needs to send help.  

They could dispatch the police or an integrated unit of both police and mental health professionals. But instead, the operator sends a robot.  

This scenario may sound like science fiction, but it’s the kind of futuristic thinking that has researchers at York University considering all angles when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) and crisis response.   

Building more empathetic bots through interdisciplinary research  
Kathryn Pierce
Kathryn Pierce

In a paper published in Applied Sciences earlier this year, psychology PhD candidate Kathryn Pierce and her co-authors explore the potential role robots could play in crisis de-escalation, as well as the capabilities engineers would need to program them to be effective.    

The visionary paper is part of a larger project at the Lassonde School of Engineering that involves early-stage research to design and test robots to assist in security and police force tasks. The York engineers asked the psychology researchers to provide their social scientific lens to their forward-thinking work on humanizing machines.  

“De-escalation is not a well-researched topic and very little literature exists about what de-escalation really looks like moment by moment,” says Pierce, who is supervised by Dr. Debra Pepler, a renowned psychologist and Distinguished Research Professor in the Faculty of Health. “This makes it difficult to determine what kinds of behavioural changes are necessary in both responders and the person in crisis to lead to a more positive outcome.”   

No hard and fast rules for de-escalation, for both humans and robots  

With limited academic understanding of what really happens in human-to-human interactions during a crisis response, let alone robot-to-human, training a robot to calm a person down poses an incredibly tall task.  

Despite the challenge, Pierce and her co-authors were able to develop a preliminary model outlining the functions a robot should theoretically be able to perform for effective de-escalation. These functions are made up of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that engineers would need to be mindful of when building a robot for such a task.    

Some of these strategies include a robot’s gaze – the way a machine and human look at one another – the speed in which they approach (slow and predictable), and the sound and tone of their voice (empathetic and warm).  

But, as the researchers point out, ultimately, robots cannot be “programmed in a fixed, algorithmic, rule-based manner” because there are no fixed rules for how people calm each other.   

“Even if there were algorithms governing human-to-human de-escalation, whether those would translate into an effective robot-to-human de-escalation is an empirical question,” they write.  

It is also difficult to determine whether people will react to robots emulating human behaviour the same way they would if it was an actual person. 

Advances in AI could add new layer of complication to the future of crisis response  

In recent years, the use and discussion of non-police crisis response services have garnered growing attention in various cities across North America, and elsewhere in the world.  

Advocates for replacing traditional law enforcement with social workers, nurses or mental health workers – or at least the integration of these professionals with police units – argue that this leads to better outcomes.  

Research published earlier this year showed that police responding to people in mental distress use less force if accompanied by a health-care provider. Another study found that community responses were more effective for crime prevention and cost savings.  

Introducing robots into the mix would add to the complexity of crisis response services design and reforms. And it could lead to a whole host of issues for engineers, social scientists and governments to grapple with in the future. 

The here and now 

For the time being, Pierce and her co-authors see a machine’s greatest potential in video recording. Robots would accompany human responders on calls to film the interaction. The footage could then be reviewed for responders to reflect on what went well and what to improve upon.  

Researchers could also use this data to train robots to de-escalate situations more like their human counterparts.    

Another use for AI surveillance the researchers theorize could be to have robots trained to identify individuals in public who are exhibiting warning signs of agitation, allowing for police or mental health professionals to intervene before a crisis point is ever reached.  

While a world in which a 911 operator dispatches an autonomous robot to a crisis call may be too hard to conceive, Pierce and her co-authors do see a more immediate, realistic line of inquiry for this emerging area of research.  

“I think what’s most practical would be to have engineers direct their focus on how robots can ultimately assist in de-escalation, rather than aiming for them to act independently,” says Pierce. “It’s a testament to the power and sophistication of the human mind that our emotions are hard to replicate. What our paper ultimately shows, or reaffirms, is that modern machines are still no match for human intricacies.”  

Background  

The paper, “Considerations for Developing Robot-Assisted Crisis De-Escalation Practice,” was co-authored by Pierce and Pepler, along with Michael Jenkin, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the Lassonde School of Engineering, and Stephanie Craig, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Guelph.  

The work was funded by the Canadian Innovation for Defence Excellence & Security Innovation Networks. 

Smart holidays: how AI can make the season brighter 

Two people wearing holiday-themed sweaters on smart phones

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile editor 

As the festive season approaches, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) technology into holiday planning can transform the way individuals navigate what are often hectic preparations. For those unfamiliar with AI, or those hesitant to embrace it, understanding its practical applications can help give back the gift of time. 

Utilizing AI, such as ChatGPT, can serve as an invaluable tool in simplifying holiday tasks. Though some may have reservations about using AI due to concerns about privacy, or uncertainty about its capabilities, ChatGPT offers settings to help keep data secure such as turning off the “chat history and training” setting.

To protect your privacy while using ChatGPT, you can also take the following steps: 

Avoid sharing any personal information such as your name, address, phone number, email address or financial information, says Vidur Kalive, artificial intelligence architect lead for York University. Kalive also suggests using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address. 

What is ChatGPT? It’s an AI-powered conversational assistant designed to understand and generate human-like text based on the input it receives. It is capable of generating text based on context and past conversations. It can answer questions and assist you with tasks such as composing emails, essays and code.

Set up with a user-friendly interface, ChatGPT was designed to be accessible even to those less familiar with technology. For holiday planning tasks, it can guide users through suggestions and solutions tailored to their individual needs. 

“A well-structured prompt will ensure that ChatGPT gives you useful, relevant information,” says Kalive. “Prompts are the inputs that you provide to ChatGPT to generate a response.” 

To write effective prompts, consider the following tips: 

  1. Write one or two lines describing the task at hand, its purpose, your intended audience and the output you need ChatGPT to generate. 
  1. Assign ChatGPT a role – as an identity or profession – to help guide its responses. It will then generate output based on the area of expertise related to the role you assigned to it.  
  1. Keep prompts concise and to the point. Long prompts can lead to irrelevant or incorrect responses.  

Example prompt: You are a chef who specializes in holiday cuisine. Create a Christmas dinner menu that includes a main course, side dishes and dessert. You will be serving eight guests. Two of them are vegetarians.  

Below are some examples of how AI, and tools like ChatGPT, can trim planning time for the holidays. 

Food planning: One significant advantage is ChatGPT’s ability to plan and organize shopping lists and create them from recipes. It will also offer recipes for anything from appetizers to desserts to festive drinks. It can curate recipes and meal plans tailored to dietary needs. Planning a cooking schedule is another helpful tool AI offers. 

Gift items: Using AI to generate gift lists based on preferences, budget and recipient details can inspire new ideas and save time shopping in crowds. 

Greetings and messages: With the right prompts for tone, AI can expertly craft personalized greetings and messages. Using AI-generated images, personalized holiday cards can also be easily designed. Crafting poems and creating stories and songs with a personal touch are also options for holiday-related AI content. 

Consider this short poem, generated by ChatGPT: 

At York University, the campuses are aglow,  
Faculty, staff and students in festive flow. 
Amidst winter’s charm and joyous sights, 
Shared moments shine in holiday delights. 

Decorating: Understand the latest decorating trends, or where to find specific decorative items, to make your space more festive. 

Holiday-themed activities: For those who enjoy outings, experiences and more, ask ChatGPT to summarize activities in the area or provide a few holiday-inspired games to play with family and friends. 

Travel: Those planning travel during the festive season can rely on AI assistants to generate itineraries, provide real-time updates on weather or traffic conditions, offer directions and even suggest offbeat local experiences. 

By harnessing the power of AI in holiday planning, individuals can streamline preparations, reduce stress and create more time to spend with friends and family.  
 

Using AI to enhance well-being for under-represented groups

A man meditating

Kiemute Oyibo, an assistant professor at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning to build group-specific predictive models for different target populations to promote positive behaviour changes.

Kiemute Oyibo
Kiemute Oyibo

From reminders to take a daily yoga lesson to notifications about prescription refills, persuasive technology is an effective technique used in many software applications. Informed by psychological theories, this technology can be incorporated in many electronic devices to change users’ attitudes and behaviours, including habits and lifestyle choices related to health and well-being.

“People are receptive to personalized health-related messages that help them adopt beneficial behaviours they ordinarily find difficult,” says Oyibo.

“That is why I am designing, implementing and evaluating personalized persuasive technologies in the health domain with a focus on inclusive design, and tailoring health applications to meet the needs of under-represented groups.”

By considering the specific needs of these groups, Oyibo’s work has the potential to change the one-size-fits-all approach of software application design. “By excluding features which may discourage some populations from using certain health applications and focusing on their unique needs, such as the inclusion of cultural elements and norms, personalized health applications can benefit users from marginalized communities,” he explains. “Another method that can help improve user experience is participatory design. This enables underrepresented groups, such as Indigenous Peoples, to be a part of the design and development of technology they will enjoy using.”

Through demographic studies, Oyibo is investigating the behaviours, characteristics, preferences and unique needs of different populations, including under-represented groups, throughout Canada and Africa. For example, he is examining cultural influences on users’ attitudes and acceptance of contact tracing applications – an approach that is unique for informing the design and development of public health applications.

“Group-specific predictive models that do not treat the entire target population as a monolithic group can be used to personalize health messages to specific users more effectively,” says Oyibo of his work, which is supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant.

In related work, Oyibo is collaborating with professors from Dalhousie University and industry partners at ThinkResearch to explore the application of persuasive techniques in the design of medical incident reporting systems, to improve their effectiveness in community pharmacies across Canada.

“There are a lot of near misses and incidents in community pharmacies across Canada that go unreported,” says Oyibo. “Apart from personal and administrative barriers, such as fear of consequences and lack of confidentiality in handling reports, the culture of little-to-no reporting reflects system design. We want to leverage persuasive techniques to enhance these systems and make them more motivating and valuable, to encourage users to report as many incidents and near misses as possible so that the community can learn from them. This will go a long way in fostering patient safety in community pharmacies across Canada.”

Oyibo’s work is part of a global effort to bridge the digital divide in health care and utilize technology to improve the lives of diverse populations.

York-developed safe water innovation earns international praise

Child drinking water from outdoor tap water well

The Safe Water Optimization Tool (SWOT), an innovative technology used to help humanitarian responders deliver safe water in crisis zones, developed by two professors in York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering and Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, was recently highlighted as a success story in two international publications.

Syed Imran Ali

Built by Syed Imran Ali, an adjunct professor at Lassonde and research Fellow at the Dahdaleh Institute, in collaboration with Lassonde Associate Professor Usman Khan, the web-based SWOT platform generates site-specific and evidence-based water chlorination targets to ensure water remains safe to drink all the way to the point of consumption. It uses machine learning and process-based numerical modelling to generate life-preserving insight from the water quality monitoring data that is already routinely collected in refugee camps.

One of the SWOT’s funders, the U.K.-based ELRHA Humanitarian Innovation Fund, recently published a case study on the tool to serve as an example of a successful humanitarian innovation.

As a result of that publication, the SWOT was then highlighted as a success story in another case study, this time in the U.K. government’s latest white paper, titled “International development in a contested world: ending extreme poverty and tackling climate change.”

Water quality staff tests chlorination levels in household stored water at the Jamam refugee camp in South Sudan. Photo by Syed Imran Ali.

“These international recognitions highlight the impact our research is having on public health engineering in humanitarian operations around the world,” explained Ali.

As his team works to scale up the SWOT globally, he believes these publications will help increase awareness of and confidence in the technology. “We’re excited to build new partnerships with humanitarian organizations and help get safe water to the people who need it most,” he said.

For more information about the Safe Water Optimization Tool, visit safeh2o.app.

To learn more about how this innovation is advancing, read this YFile story.

Federal grant supports innovative project to improve Canadian digital health care

Medical,Healthcare,Research,And,Development,Concept.,Doctor,In,Hospital,Lab

A three-year grant totalling $500,000 will fund a collaborative project between York University Professor Maleknaz Nayebi and RxPx, a company that creates and supports digital health solutions.

Maleknaz Nayebi

Naybei is a professor in the Lassonde School of Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and a member of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Society (CAIS). CAIS unites researchers who are collectively advancing the state of the art in the theory and practice of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, governance and policy. The research includes a focus on AI systems addressing societal priorities in health care.

The funding, awarded by the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Alliance Grant program, will support the development of the Digital Health Defragmenter Hub (DH2).

Alliance Grants support university researchers collaborating with partner organizations to “generate new knowledge and accelerate the application of research results to create benefits for Canadians.”

This collaborative project aims to address the intricate challenges within the Canadian digital health-care landscape by integrating advanced software engineering principles with machine-learning algorithms.

The project’s goal is to develop a software platform dedicated to digital health services. Currently, digital health services are designed and offered in isolation from other social, economic or health services, says Nayebi, adding that this results in inharmonious digital health care where many services overlap, while many pain points and requirements remain untacked.

“Lack of co-ordination among providers, the inability of patients to choose services and make open decisions, the rigidity of the market toward digital innovations and isolation of providers are known as the main barriers in the Canadian digital health-care ecosystem,” says Nayebi. “In this ecosystem, the physicians act as service-supply-side monopolists, exercising significantly more power than their demand-side patients. A survey conducted by Price Waterhouse Cooper showed the unpreparedness of the ecosystem, where only 40 per cent could envision a collaboration with other organizations. This further leads to increased inequality within the health-care system. In contrast, 62 per cent of American-based active health-care organizations had a digital health component in their strategic plan.”

DH2 is a platform that brings together open innovation in health care, allowing health-care providers to deliver personalized services to the public. The project is aimed to provide software and AI-based technology that makes digital health services more affordable and accessible to a broader population, integrates innovative business strategies for new entrants or low-end consumers, and creates a value network where all stakeholders benefit from the proliferation of innovative technologies.

“DH2 serves as a marketplace where not only can individuals with basic health-care services contribute, but it also features AI-driven matchmaking services, connecting patients with the specific demands of health-care providers and caregivers,” says Nayebi.

In this capacity, DH2 addresses the defragmentation in the wellness and health ecosystem by enabling users and user communities.

“DH2 goes beyond just connecting people; it also uses machine learning to help patients make informed decisions about their digital health-care options. Such platforms can act as the governing and strategic solution for leading market and innovation, and provide faster time to market by assisting providers in their deployment, distribution and monetization processes. They provide even access to information for all parties and effectively reduce inequalities.”

In addition, platforms add to the geographic diversity of participants. Moreover, says Nayebi, the platform enhances the diversity of participants across different geographic locations, establishing an ecosystem that enables quicker responses to disruptive events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies sheds light on new projects, global opportunities

Header banner for INNOVATUS

In this issue of Innovatus, you will read stories about how the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) is responding to the needs of our students with innovative new projects and programs to help them succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Dean J.J. McMurty
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Dean J.J. McMurty.

One such program is our 12 U Math waiver pilot class. After the COVID-19 lockdowns, it became clear that some students needed to catch up in math fundamentals. This prompted the development of the pilot class to help address the numeracy shortfall experienced by many incoming LA&PS students.   

We also know that students want paid work experience in opportunities related to their field of study; this is one of the reasons paid co-op placements will replace internships and be available for all LA&PS programs starting September 2024.  

And now, more than ever, we know global leaders need a global perspective. We’ve reactivated our fleet of summer abroad opportunities, offering seven study abroad courses in 2024.  

Finally, educators across universities are all grappling with artificial intelligence (AI). Learn more in this issue about how we are dealing with both the drawbacks and benefits of AI. 

Thank you to our entire LA&PS community for all the work you have put into making our teaching and pedagogy so great.  

I hope you enjoy learning more about some of the ways we are helping our staff, students and faculty.  

J.J. McMurtry
Dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies 

Faculty, course directors and staff are invited to share their 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.


In this issue:

LA&PS study abroad program evolves, expands its offerings
Students in LA&PS have opportunities – at home and abroad – to engage in global citizenship and learning.

Summer course opens door for students missing numeracy skills
A pilot program created to close the gap on math skills is adding up to success for students in LA&PS.

LA&PS opens conversation about academic honesty and artificial intelligence
A recent event to educate students about generative artificial intelligence, and the University’s policies, sparked meaningful discussions about the changing landscape of education.

It’s co-op programs, not internships, for liberal arts and professional studies students
The introduction of an optional paid co-op program will allow students to participate in work-integrated learning earlier in the educational journey.