Faculty of Education launches season two of UnLeading Project podcast  

The UnLeading Project

Assistant Professor Vidya Shah and her team from York University’s Faculty of Education – course directors Jocelyn Shih and Sayema Chowdhury, and York master’s of education student Amanda Lima – launch the second season of The UnLeading Project, a call to reclaim and redefine leadership, on Aug. 22.  

The UnLeading Project makes two assumptions: Leadership exists in all spaces, and we are all leaders. “UnLeading” requires a commitment to holding multiple truths, troubling common-sense assumptions, living the inquiries and sitting in the ambiguities of complex ideas such as leadership, schooling and society. It focuses on engaging in the praxis of leadership, a continual interplay of action towards systemic change and deep, inner reflection.  

UnLeading looks for leadership in unfamiliar places and challenges the notion of the individual leader. This podcast series highlights voices of leaders in classrooms, communities, homes, schools, school districts, and beyond. It focuses on naming the logics of discourses and intersecting systems of oppression that have been used to oppress, dispossess, and dehumanize and centering approaches to leadership based in knowledge systems that have been silenced under dominant conceptions of leadership.  

“People have asked, ‘Well you’ve recorded all these podcasts on UnLeading, so what is leading? What is leadership?’ After listening to these 10 podcasts, I am even less clear on that answer. Maybe that’s the point. We spend so much of our time knowing the answer, progressing forward, perfecting our image, and perfecting the message but when we look around at the state of education, we must ask ourselves what these attachments to knowing, perfection, control, progress and innocence have done to us. This is the undoing, unlearning and UnLeading we need to engage in,” says Shah.  

The UnLeading website contains the guiding questions that have helped the team to frame what it is they are attempting to do with this project. The Systems of Oppression tab identifies some of the logics that uphold and maintain these intersecting systems so that leaders might identify these orientations and attachments in their knowledge, practice and embodiment of leadership. The website also contains teasers for season two episodes.  

Podcast guests come from community, classrooms, schools, school districts and the academy, providing a range of perspectives and approaches to leadership. The five podcast topics in this new season include: 

  • leading through in/visibility; 
  • leading for climate justice; 
  • leading toward disability justice; 
  • leading through solidarities; and 
  • inner landscapes of leadership.

Season one of The UnLeading Project was released in August 2021 and is available online. For more information about the project and the podcast, visit the UnLeading website at yorku.ca/edu/unleading. Check out the season two teaser here: https://youtu.be/Ihu_-PTNNt0

Faculty of Education Summer Institute takes place Aug. 15 and 16  

Banner image for FESI 2022

The Faculty of Education Summer Institute (FESI) 2022 will take place on Aug. 15 and 16, exploring Collective Dreaming: Co-Constructing Conditions for Liberatory Education. 

FESI 2022 will focus on the meaning, vision, and conditions for liberatory education, which is centered on principles for social change and transformation, such as raising collective consciousness, understanding power imbalances, disrupting oppressive forces, and cultivating individual and collective agency.  

This annual event will address timely and relevant needs for students, communities, school boards and the Ontario Ministry of Education. The Institute’s belief is that a variety of stakeholders must contribute to this dialogue in meaningful and powerful ways to ensure that collective knowledge is generated and mobilized, resulting in a plan for action towards significant systemic changes for all students. 

“There is some important work being done to dismantle harmful structures in K-to-12 schooling contexts. As we dismantle, we also need to put our energy and thinking towards creating the spaces, structures, and possibilities for all students, families, and educators to bring more of their full selves into classrooms and communities. FESI 2022 invites us to dream into educational futures in which we all belong, learn, thrive, dream, experience joy, question, and advocate for more justice and humanity,” says Faculty of Education Assistant Professor Vidya Shah.  

The two-day event will feature workshops, panellists and will focus on actualizing liberatory education through the following questions:  

  • What questions must be asked in order to move towards liberation? 
  • How must we think differently about current practices? What systems must be abolished for more liberatory approaches to education? 
  • What practical changes are needed for more liberatory approaches to education? 
  • What is the place of the relationships, the emotional realm, and the spiritual realm in education for liberation? What is the place of healing, love, and joy in these efforts? 
  • How do we need to relate to this work differently and prepare ourselves differently to dream collectively? 
  • How might we draw on multiple knowledge systems to challenge Eurocentricity in schooling and offer different insights within education? 
  • What possibilities still need to be imagined and created? 
  • How do we dream collectively with families and communities? 

FESI aims to highlight local knowledge and local solutions that are relevant to young people in Ontario, with a belief that harnessing the wisdom of the local collective is key to enacting change for the betterment of our most vulnerable students. These discussions happen with a recognition of discourses, dialogues and actions operating globally, historically and presently.  

Faculty of Education members can attend the event for free (50 people max) by registering at the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfiIbpdwc3ukMO7EGCq3OBqBtZZ683-2JdGb3er4-4KtL9VFg/viewform?usp=sf_link.

For additional information, visit the FES 2022 website. Event registration is available online.  

UNESCO Chair Coordinator Katrin Kohl awarded fellowship by The Royal Society of Arts in London

United Nations SDGs

For her international engagement with sustainable development, York’s Executive Coordinator to the UNESCO Chair, Katrin Kohl, has been awarded a fellowship by The Royal Society of Arts in London.

Katrin Kohl
Katrin Kohl

The Royal Society of Arts recognizes outstanding contributions and thought leadership in positively impacting society for a better future. Members come from all walks of life and branches of learning that align with these values and have contributed to positive change in the arts, humanities or sciences.

As York University´s UNESCO Chair, Kohl leads research and provides policy advice for education for sustainable development (ESD) – which is recognized as a key enabler for the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prior to this role, Kohl served in strategic management positions at the University of Duesseldorf (Germany) as well as the German National Commission for UNESCO. She was actively involved in the negotiation process that led to the adoption of the SDGs in 2015.

With this fellowship, York University’s community is once more recognized as a driving force for positive change and committed to embed the SDGs throughout the whole institution, said Kohl.

Elder Duke Redbird draws on the wisdom of Mother Earth

Elder Duke Redbird

By Jenny Pitt-Clark

During the Faculty of Education convocation ceremony for the Class of 2022 that took place on June 10, Indigenous Elder Duke Redbird delivered a moving and passionate address about Mother Earth, strawberries and universities, and the enduring spirit of a mentor.

The month of June is National Indigenous History Month and in the Indigenous calendar it is also Ode Miin Giizus or Strawberry Moon. June is also a time of new beginnings for York University students as they receive their degrees and embark on the next stage in their lives.

So it was fitting that during Ode Miin Giizus, the renowned poet, actor, journalist and Indigenous Elder, Duke Redbird (MA ’78), returned to York University to receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. In his convocation address that he delivered through poetry and a story, Elder Redbird spoke of the importance of strawberries, universities, the nourishment that knowledge provides and the enduring spirit of a mentor to a young strawberry heart.

Above, from left: York University Chancellor Gregory Sorbara, Elder Duke Redbird, and York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton

Elder Redbird began by reciting his celebrated poem “Our Mother The Earth,” which speaks to the essential sustenance and love that Mother Earth provides to all living creatures and the importance of sustaining and protecting her against the perils of climate change. With this poetic setting in place, Elder Redbird, in acknowledgement of Ode Miin Giizus, observed that “the strawberry is shaped like a heart. This fruit is associated with the teaching of ‘truth.’ And unlike every other fruit, the seeds of the strawberries are on the surface, and we humans, like these seeds, occupy the surface of the Earth.”

He noted that universities could also be described as strawberries of knowledge “that require the human heart with the desire for the truth to be nourishing and successful.”

Referring to his own strawberry heart, he told the story of how in 1975, he was interviewed by York University politics Professor Ed Dosman (now professor emeritus) for his research on Indigenous life and culture. For the young Redbird, who was then 36 years old, Dosman’s interview was one of many he had completed with academics who were researching Indigenous Peoples. “I was regarded as a primitive source at the worst, and a layman without a formal education at best,” said Elder Redbird, noting the interviews that quoted him were then used by researchers to acquire degrees and publish papers and yet his knowledge, which was so freely and truthfully shared, was not credited or cited as a source, a visceral concern he relayed to Dosman.

After this conversation, Dosman introduced Redbird to David Bell, then a professor in both political science and environmental studies at York University and a globally recognized expert in learning for a sustainable future. Dosman and Bell offered to sponsor Redbird as a mature student to pursue a master’s degree. “With the support of Professor Christopher Innis, the founder of the master’s degree program in Interdisciplinary Studies at York University, I was accepted as a candidate,” he said.

In the years that followed, enriched with the gifts of knowledge, friendship and mentorship from Bell, the young Redbird’s strawberry heart was nourished and ripened. “On a June day, much like today in 1978, 44 years ago, I was the only recipient of a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from York University,” said Elder Redbird.

Decades later, it was with a full strawberry heart that Elder Redbird once again turned to Bell. “Dr. David Bell passed in 2017. I wrote ‘Our Mother The Earth’ in 2020 during COVID-19. In my heart of hearts, I choose to believe that my friend David Bell co-authored the poem with me and was there in spirit when I recited it to a global audience last fall at the COP26 conference on Global Warming.” Poetry like science share many of the same insights and create new ways of thinking about the world, said Elder Redbird, who credited the theoretical physicist Carlos Rovelli with the original comparison. Elder Redbird asked the graduands to nourish their own hearts and minds by thinking of “nature as an Earth verse, like the Universe written by the Creator as beautiful, epic poem to embrace our spirits with love throughout our lifetimes.”

Elder Duke Redbird delivers his convocation address to graduands of the Faculty of Education
Elder Duke Redbird delivers his convocation address to graduands of the Faculty of Education

In closing his graceful story, Elder Redbird reminded all gathered for the convocation ceremony to continue to feed their own quest for knowledge because they too would eventually become ancestors. “Seven generations from now, the grandchildren of your grandchildren will be seeking the wisdom that you have learned and passed on in your lifetime,” he said. “I want to wish you every conceivable success as you continue to harvest the fruits of your enlightenment that may not have been tasted yet.”

Five faculty members receive 2022 President’s University-Wide Teaching Awards  

Vari Hall

Five individuals who have considerably enhanced the quality of learning for York students are recipients of the 2022 President’s University-wide Teaching Awards.  

The faculty members who will receive an award at the 2022 Spring Convocation Ceremonies include: Faculty of Health Professor Michael Connor, recipient in the senior full-time category; Faculty of Education Professor Susan D. Dion, recipient of the senior-full-time category; Lassonde School of Engineering Professor Andrew Maxwell, recipient of the full-time faculty category; Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Professor Carolyn Steele, recipient of the contract and adjunct faculty category; and Janice Anderson of LA&PS, recipient of the teaching assistant category. 

Rhonda Lenton
Rhonda L Lenton

The purpose of the awards is to provide significant recognition for excellence in teaching, to encourage its pursuit, to publicize such excellence when achieved across the University and in the wider community, and to promote informed discussion of teaching and its improvement.  

“York University has a well-established reputation for high quality teaching,” says York University President and Vice Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “This past year was no exception, despite on-going challenges associated with the pandemic, as evident in the foundational work of our five extraordinary award recipients who found innovative ways to incorporate international activities, experiential education and technology-enhanced learning to inspire another generation of students to drive positive change in their communities and in the world. We are deeply grateful for the superb contributions of this year’s recipients as well as of all our course directors.” 

The awards demonstrate the value York University attaches to teaching and recognizes individuals who, through innovation and commitment, have significantly enhanced the quality of learning for York students. The recipients are selected by the Senate Committee on Awards. Recipients receive $3,000, have their names engraved on the University-Wide Teaching Award plaques in Vari Hall and are recognized at convocation ceremonies. 

The President’s University-Wide Teaching Award recipients are:

Full-time tenured faculty with 10 or more years full-time teaching experience 

Michael Connor

Professor Michael Connor was selected as a recipient in the senior full-time category. The nomination file prepared by Professor Angelo Belcastro speaks eloquently to Connor’s achievements in providing excellence towards student learning, in supporting teaching development, and in his dedication to program and curricular development as undergraduate program director (UPD) in the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences. Connor has been influential in his role as UPD in ensuring excellence, quality, and exemplary service in leading the undergraduate program. Maintaining the quality of such a large program is time intensive, and yet Connor is noted to tirelessly make himself available to listen to, and address each student’s concern, no matter the request. A core feature to Connor’s teaching strategies has been to employ multiple teaching approaches such as technology-enhanced learning, critical thinking assignments, and experiential education which are all complemented by his clear passion for teaching.  

Connor also strives to make course content relatable and meaningful to students, and to make each student’s voice heard by creating a safe and inclusive environment to ask questions. In addition to his role as course director for two demanding courses, and his responsibilities as UPD, Connor has been recognized as an outstanding mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, having taken the time to supervise 23 undergraduate students for independent research studies (including two summer Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Awards (NSERC USRA) students) and 17 MSc and PhD graduate students thus far. Connor serves as Chair on the Faculty of Health Committee on Examinations and Academic Standards, and as a member of the Faculty of Health Committee on General Education Requirements where he has been on the task force for developing effective teaching and learning practices at the faculty level.  

Full-time tenured faculty with 10 or more years full-time teaching experience 

Susan D. Dion

Professor Susan D. Dion was selected as a recipient in the senior full-time category. The nomination file prepared by Professor Sean Hillier describes Dion as a shining example as an educator, scholar and community advocate. Dion is also an internationally recognized Indigenous educational scholar at the cutting edge of the field. The letters of support for her nomination consistently referred to Dion’s teaching style as clear, respectful, kind and supportive, always asking the best of her students and making accommodations for those who need time to develop their thoughts allowing all to think deeply and authentically. Dion is noted for thinking and writing about her scholarship, teaching and service contributions as inextricably interwoven, and works to embody her life as a University professor through the themes of community, story, cultural practice and ceremony.  

Dion sees cultivating relationships between the University and Indigenous Peoples is part of her responsibility. She has a particular focus on both what and how teachers teach and ways that systems operate regarding Indigenous education and on hearing and learning from the voices of Indigenous Peoples and their encounters within systems of education. During her 19 years at York University, she has worked with colleagues in the Faculty of Education, across the University and at universities across the country sharing stories of land, history and Indigenous perspectives. While she is committed to teaching non-Indigenous educators how to represent the humanity and diversity of Indigenous people’s experiences and perspectives, she is equally committed to creating opportunities for Indigenous students to access postsecondary education, and specifically to access programs that are relevant to their experiences, perspectives and needs. 

Full-time faculty (tenured/tenure stream/CLA) with less than 10 years teaching experience 

Andrew Maxwell

Professor Andrew Maxwell was selected as the recipient in the full-time faculty category. The nomination file prepared by Professor Alex Czekanski highlights Maxwell has played an active role on the undergraduate curriculum committee since joining Lassonde and has worked with many colleagues to enhance their course proposals and design. He is a leader in the deployment of new technologies in the classroom and online, including using TopHat, iClicker, PolleV, and Peer Scholar. His deep links in the community, both locally and internationally, have enabled him to invite multiple guests to the school, to stimulate student engagement, and inspire the next generation of engineers. In addition to mentoring undergraduate students and supporting graduate students, Maxwell’s role in the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Techology (BEST) Lab allows him to mentor and support over 20 budding technology entrepreneurs from Lassonde, the Faculty of Science and Schulich School of Business. He is also the mentor for Lassonde Engineering Society, Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), Lassonde Renaissance Engineering, and several other student activities.  

Maxwell pioneers new approaches to student learning, such as encouraging first-year engineering students to participate in non-engineering activities across campus, and through active promotion of, and participation in activities such as StartUp Weekend, Engineering Competition, ElleHacks and Engineers Without Borders. Specifically, he has transformed the annual Mercier lecture to a bi-monthly Mercier seminar, so that over 1,000 students a year can meet with visiting guests. This activity is complimented by his active role in the community, where he has videotaped 500 guest lectures, which he not only shows in his classes, but shares with the broader academic community. Maxwell is a member of the evaluation committee for the Academy of Management’s Entrepreneurship Pedagogy Award, where he provides feedback and guidance to those developing new entrepreneurship pedagogies. He is also a member of the Entrepreneurial Engineering Consortium, focusing on integrating aspects of the engineering and entrepreneurship curriculum. 

Contract and adjunct faculty 

Carolyn Steele

Professor Carolyn Steele is the recipient in the contract and adjunct faculty category. The nomination file prepared by Professor Bridget Cauthery speaks to Steele’s many achievements including developing new courses, consulting on curricular change, mentoring hundreds of students and stewarding numerous projects that have fundamentally shifted and reinvigorated teaching and learning at York University. She is also the recipient of many faculty teaching awards. In 2020, Steele received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for LA&PS and the Department of Humanities Award for Teaching Excellence. Since 2019, she has been a member of the Research and Innovation in Teaching and Learning Subcommittee convened by the associate dean as part of the Teaching and Learning Council. Currently, Steele is part of the leadership team on a proposed three-year University-wide Academic Innovation Fund project to embed Sustainable Development Goals into York’s curricular vision at all levels. In each of these capacities, Steele is recognized as a pioneering educator with a strong vision for curricular change. It is Steele’s commitment to teaching boldly, to supporting students in developing a growth mindset, to championing work-integrated learning, and to developing innovative yet sound teaching and pedagogical practice through her scholarship of teaching and learning and greater University service that distinguishes her as an innovative faculty member.  

This is further demonstrated in a letter of support provided by student Carolyn White which states, “Professor Steele’s approach to teaching and learning has contributed to my development in essential skills that will positively influence my future career, qualities such as critical reasoning, problem-solving and daring to take creative approaches to problems… In my view, she is exceptional as a teacher and a mentor in every aspect.”  

Teaching assistants 

Janice Anderson

Janice Anderson was selected as the recipient in the teaching assistant category. The nomination file, prepared by York University alumnus Zamani Ra speaks to Anderson’s impactful and innovative practices which directly contribute to the enhancement of student success. Anderson listens to the immediate needs of her students through one-on-one and office hour sessions, advocates for necessary support, and develops individual plans of action for student success. Anderson’s practices informed skills development in student writing, the implementation of course-wide critical reading sheets, and support for colleagues and students navigating university systems during the emergence of major institutional changes due to COVID-19. Recognizing the different learning abilities of students, Anderson pivoted to uncommon methods of engagement to maintain student interest and support critical thinking to the students’ own amazement. 

In a letter of support, student Chantelle Afriyie describes Anderson’s teaching approach as follows: “Care [is] an integral part of her teaching pedagogy. Students are encouraged to see themselves as valuable contributors to humanity first and foremost who have been afforded the privilege to share communal space in a university classroom and participate with their ‘whole self.’” Anderson created a recycling course material program that connected former students with new students. At the beginning of the semester, she held a raffle for new books and set students on a path to pay the learning forward by opting into a shared book/give back program which demonstrates true community building with other equity-seeking groups across intersectional lines. Highlighted in the letters of support in the nomination file is Anderson’s innate ability to safely engage emergent ideas from students and ensure they know their value in world-making practices. 

In previous years, four awards are offered each year in the noted categories. Following on past practice, the Committee came to the decision that two professors would share the award for full-time tenured faculty this year. The Committee found the nomination files for this category to be particularly strong and determined that both nominees are equally deserving of the award. 

In keeping with the committee’s commitment to valuing diversity and equity within the York community, the committee made sure to discuss these values during the adjudication process. 

Faculty of Education Professor Sharon Murphy receives title of University Professor 

A drone image of Vari Hall on the Keele campus

York University will honour Faculty of Education Professor Sharon Murphy for her outstanding research contributions to the University with a 2022 University Professorship. It will be recognized and celebrated during Spring Convocation.

A University Professor is a member of faculty recognized for extraordinary participation and contribution to university life, as well as scholarship and teaching success. The award is conferred upon long-serving tenured faculty members who have made extraordinary contributions to the University as colleagues, teachers and scholars.

Sharon Murphy
Sharon Murphy

Such achievement fulfills the following requirements: significant long-term contribution to the development or growth of the University or of its parts; significant participation in the collegium through mentorship, service and/or governance; sustained impact over time on the University’s teaching mission; and recognition as a scholar.

Murphy, who currently serves as associate dean, academic in the Faculty of Education, is an esteemed scholar and educator in early childhood language and literacy studies, in learning assessment and in the role of play and creativity in learning and child development. 

“Among the highest lifetime honours a university can bestow on faculty, the University Professorship is awarded to Sharon Murphy to recognize her extraordinary contributions to York and to the communities we serve,” says Rhonda L. Lenton, York University president and vice-chancellor. “A truly outstanding scholar with significant research impact and a devoted academic leader, Sharon’s many achievements and unfailing allegiance to York’s core social justice values – as well as her tireless work to prepare the next generation of Faculty of Education students – is a deep inspiration to all. Sharon is simply the best of us, and this honour is so richly deserved.” 

Murphy joined York University in 1988 after a career in education in Newfoundland and Labrador. During her time at York, she has held several leadership roles including: director of the Graduate Program in Education; associate dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies; undergraduate program director. She has also served as a coordinator for two graduate diplomas, and in 2020, stepped into the role of interim dean of the Faculty of Education during a challenging time in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many of her contributions to the Faculty of Education revolve around her scholarly interests, including: the development of courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels; the development of graduate diplomas in early childhood education and in language and literacy; supervision of a significant number of graduate students; and a long history of active participation and leadership in local, national and international scholarly associations. 

As graduate program director, she participated on several committees to establish the Faculty of Education Doctoral Program and played an essential role in growing the program by expanding course offerings and diversifying the Faculty’s Summer Institute. She also co-developed the first Type 2 and 4 graduate diplomas offered at York, and is renowned for her work in co-developing and coordinating diplomas in early childhood education and language literacy. She supported the development of the first Graduate Students’ Guidebook for faculty and students, which continues to serve as the roadmap for students on their journey through their degrees. 

As well, at the completion of her term as graduate program director, she served as associate dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies where she turned her attention to the renewal of collegial governance structures and worked with graduate program directors, program staff and graduate students to come up with processes and procedures that ensure fairness, accountability, transparency and continuity. 

“As I have served the University in different capacities over the years, the thing that I have learned is how complex our institution is and how motivated staff and faculty are to have the lives we live here exemplify our motto – Tentanda via – the way must be tried – which is a wonderful testament to us all,” said Murphy. 

Her strategic leadership has greatly benefitted the York University community; Murphy has actioned several initiatives that align with York’s commitments to decolonization in education, equity, diversity and inclusion. She led the intensification and expansion of hiring Indigenous faculty, and also appointed a special advisor on anti-Black racism and inclusion. 

She is described by her nominators as an unfailing, trustworthy, and deeply fair leader who puts the University, and the Faculty of Education, first. 

York University commits $1M over three years to support Indigenous research  

Artwork by Métis (Otipemisiwak) artist Christi Belcourt

Indigenous research at York University will be supported with funding of $1 million over three years through the York University Indigenous Research Seed Fund. 

The fund provides emerging and established Indigenous scholars with support for research that advances excellence in Indigenous knowledge, languages and ways of knowing and being. 

A call for applications was administered by the University’s Indigenous Council, and in May, 10 scholars were awarded with Indigenous Research Seed Fund grants, receiving a total of $204,298. The applications for the seed fund were reviewed by a faculty committee chaired by the inaugural director of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages, Deborah McGregor, professor at Osgoode Hall School of Law.

The Indigenous Research Seed Fund will fund scholarly output to address colonialism and advance excellence in Indigenous scholarship. A further $795,000 has been committed to support Indigenous research over the next three years, for a total of $1 million. 

The fund was created by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation in collaboration with the Office of the Vice-President Equity, People and Culture in response to recommendations made in the the Indigenous Framework for York University: A Guide to Action. Guided by the Framework, and working in consultation with the Indigenous Council, the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) supported the Decolonizing Research Administration Report and subsequent implementation plan that focused on addressing the University’s research administration practices and policies, and identifying further steps the University should take to better support Indigenous scholars.  

The fund builds on the University’s ongoing commitment to support emerging and established Indigenous scholars, their knowledge creation and the Indigenous communities they are working with. 

“The Indigenous Research Seed Fund supports York’s recognition of Indigenous world views and the importance of ensuring that Indigenous scholars have space and place to thrive.” said Sheila Cote-Meek, vice-president, equity, people and culture. “While this is an important milestone for York on its journey towards reconciliation and decolonization, we still have work to do. In order to bring about change and create a truly inclusive environment we must foster an environment where diverse views are nurtured and supported.” 

The Indigenous Research Seed Fund supports the goals of York’s Strategic Research Plan 2018-2023 which identifies Indigenous Futurities as an opportunity to advance social, cultural, artistic, legal, policy, economic and justice areas that holistically shape Indigenous experience. 

“Indigenous scholars and students have and continue to contribute significantly to the benefit and well-being of society. This investment signals York’s commitment to acknowledging and supporting Indigenous research and scholarly activity, now and in the future,” says Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation. “The Indigenous Research Seed Fund aims to facilitate research that is relevant to Indigenous life and respects Indigenous approaches to knowledge and learning. The fund will foster opportunities to collaborate, engage with, and learn from Indigenous communities.” 

York’s 2020-2025 Academic Plan: Building a Better Future affirmed its commitment to the Indigenous Framework and identified six priorities for action for building a better future, including stronger relationships with Indigenous communities. 

Successful projects were awarded to: 

  • Delany McKenzie Allen, assistant professor, Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) – Mapping Wampum Three Horizons 
  • Rebecca Beaulne-Stuebing, lecturer, Faculty of Education – The Full Moon Firekeeping Capacity-Building in Toronto 
  • Catesby Jennifer Bolton, PhD candidate, Department of History, LA&PS – National-Building: Exploring the Contributions of Anishinaabekwe to the Military, Their First Nation, and Canada 
  • Don Davies, postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science – Dementia Caregivers in the Metis Population 
  • Nicole Muir, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health – Parental Residential School Attendance, History of Foster Care and Incarceration: Urban Indigenous Peoples’ Experiences and Strengths 
  • Archer Pechawis, assistant professor, Department of Visual Arts & Arts History and Theatre, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design – The Electric Jingle Dress
  • Brock Pitawanakwat, associate professor, Department of Humanities, LAPS – Anishinaabe Ethno-labour and Clan Responsibilities
  • Rebecca Lazarenko, PhD candidate, Department of History, LA&PS  Complices et victimes des projets coloniaux assimilateurs: les communautés francophones et Métis de l’Ouest (1890-1945)
  • Chandra Maracle, PhD candidate, Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change – Feeding the Good Mind: Nourishing the New Faces Coming and the Post-Partum Family
  • Cecilia Best, PhD candidate, Department of History, LA&PS – Intergenerational Resilience: A Survivor’s History of the Scoop 1950-2010

York welcomes the seventh North American Schelling Society conference to campus  

Laptop and coffee cup

NASS 7: Schelling and Philosophies of Life will be hosted at York University in a hybrid format, with an in-person meeting from May 24 to 26 in the Accolade East building at the Keele Campus and in an online meeting from May 30 to June 1.  

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling
Image: Wikimedia Commons

The North American Schelling Society (NASS) hosts a conference every other year in a different North American location. NASS7 has been postponed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The theme of this year’s conference is “Schelling and Philosophies of Life.” Life is presented in diverse ways in Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling’s many works. Schelling’s nature philosophy gives prominence to organic life. Yet his emphasis on the activity of nature draws attention to the dynamic vitality of all natural phenomena. Many value Schelling’s work for its rich openings to spiritual life or the life of the mind. Some read his philosophy as a conspiracy of life and as exposing the tensions at the heart of philosophical systems. The conference also explores the connections of Schelling’s work to the philosophy of art and the history of philosophy. 

The conference will feature speakers from across North America as well as from across Europe. The North American Schelling Society is pleased to welcome several members of the Japanese Schelling Society for the first time to one of its meetings. 

Several York University graduate students will present papers at the conference. PhD students Robert O’Shea Brown, Cecilia Inkol and Chris Satoor in the Graduate Program in Humanities, are participating in the conference. Tyler Gasteiger and Shavez Imam, from the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought, are also giving talks. Associate Professor Joan Steigerwald from the Department of Humanities is the organizer of the conference. Associate Professor Jay Goulding in the Department of Social Sciences is also presenting a paper at the in-person meeting. Conference details and schedules are available on the NASS website.  

Adrian Johnston, Chair and distinguished professor at the Department of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque and a faculty member at the Emory Psychoanalytic Institute in Atlanta will provide a keynote address during the NASS 7 conference. Johnston is the author of a number of books which address contemporary issues in philosophy, psychoanalysis, psychology, materialist theory, neuroscience and political theory. His current research interests have turned to Schelling’s nature philosophy.  

Participants who cannot attend in person will have access to the in-person presentations through the conference website. In-person participants may also participate in the virtual meeting. The website will have discussion forums for ongoing conversations. The conference website for this hybrid meeting is being maintained by York University Learning Technology Services. 

This event is sponsored by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connection Grant; the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; Department of Humanities; Vice-President Research and Innovation; Vice-President Academic and Provost; Faculty of Graduate Studies; Social and Political Thought graduate program; Department of Philosophy; Department of Political Science; and Faculty of Education. 

Further information about NASS7 can be found online. Registration is available through Eventbrite.  

Education research empowers youth to support planetary health

Usa globe resting in a forest - environment concept

Today’s youth will face some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including the climate crisis, global inequality and sustainability. Preparing young people with the educational tools and skills to navigate complex issues is a key driver behind the research of Faculty of Education Professor Kate Tilleczek.

Through the Young Lives Research Lab she leads, Tilleczek is working with, by and for youth to design revolutionary, innovative and community-based educational models that empower younger populations to respond to emerging global challenges while supporting their own personal and community well-being.

Professor Kate Tilliczek addresses new graduates
Professor Kate Tilliczek addresses new graduates of the Wekimün Project

“Education is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” explains Tilleczek, a Canada Research Chair in Youth, Education & Global Good. “As educators, our role must consider the different needs of different communities. What we need is not a set curriculum, but a model that can be adapted to what matters to youth, their communities and the planet.

“The kind of education I’m advocating for is one that opens up space for dialogue to talk about what one person can do, what one community can do. It is a shift towards understanding the place of education in youth socialization and development as it relates to planetary health.”

Tilleczek says that education will be key to achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which York University has pledged to support. The UN SDGs represent the blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

“Education underpins every single SDG,” she says. “Young people’s lives are at the intersection of many of the SDGs, with climate justice being one of them.”

New knowledge

The Wekimün Project is one of the initiatives supported by the Young Lives Research Lab. With funding from Global Affairs Canada, Tilleczek and her team, including her Senior Research Assistant and Manager, Deborah MacDonald, worked with Indigenous communities in Chiloé, Chile to build a school and develop a community-centered approach to sustainable education for Indigenous Williche youth. The project successfully created a curriculum based on traditional knowledge informed by Indigenous youth and community members.

“Indigenous Peoples have experienced ongoing colonization for hundreds of years. This project puts those communities at the centre to design, implement and execute their own educational model,” says Pablo Aránguiz, a PhD student at Polytechnic University in Valencia, Spain, who is a visiting research Fellow and associate researcher with the Young Lives Research Lab, and professor of sustainable development for the Wekimün Project. “(It is) a model that addresses the problems of the planet, including issues such as climate change, biodiversity and pollution.”

Pablo Aránguiz (second from left) pictured with students

Wekimün, which translates to “new knowledge” in the Indigenous Williche language of Mapudungun, was integral to the creation of new relationships between people, but also with that of the Chiloé environment.

Tilleczek’s research at the Young Lives Research Lab has inspired a larger collaboration at York University through the Catalyzing Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (CIRC) grant, which was announced in December 2021. The project “The Partnership for Youth and Planetary Well-being,” brings together an interdisciplinary team that includes, among others: Tilleczek; Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice Deborah McGregor (Osgoode Hall School of Law, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change); James Orbinski (Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research); and Postdoctoral Fellow in Planetary Health & Education James Stinson.

The research will employ ethnographic research to understand how young women, men and gender diverse people experience system inequalities and climate injustice, and how this impacts their well-being and ability to live sustainably. The project aims to support youth in sustaining life on the planet for healthier individuals and healthy communities.

Stinson is a cultural anthropologist working on a number of research projects centred around working with Indigenous youth in digital media production. Through the CIRC project, Indigenous youth will have the opportunity to head out into the field to record environment-themed content to connect with other youth, their Elders and the natural world.

“Research demonstrates that connecting to nature is really good for our mental and physical health, but consuming environment-related media – whether you’re seeing or hearing environmental images and sounds – can also have positive health benefits,” says Stinson.

“There are multiple pathways of learning that will take place for youth,” says Stinson. “The CIRC project will support youth with the skills to produce media content about the issues affecting their lives, their communities and the environment they live in. That information can be distilled to the broader community and with policymakers.”

Despite the challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation, Tilleczek says that today’s youth are motivated and inspired.

“Young people may be overwhelmed by the challenges they face, but they are also hopeful,” says Tilleczek. “Being able to work alongside them, learning from their fresh ideas and perspectives makes me more hopeful for the future.”

Ron Owston Award to provide support for education students

three students look at a computer

A new award named after Ron Owston, who served as Dean of York University’s Faculty of Education from 2012-16, will provide financial support to students enrolled in the Faculty of Education’s Bachelor of Arts (BA) Educational Studies and Master of Leadership and Community Engagement (MLCE) programs.

Ron Owston
Ron Owston

Valued at $500 each, the awards will be granted to domestic or international students who, during their first year have a minimum 7.5 or A average and demonstrate financial need.

The BA Educational Studies and the Master of Leadership and Community Engagement programs were established under Owston’s leadership as dean of the Faculty of Education. A pioneer in teaching, learning, and research on the internet since its early days, he also was the founding director of the Institute for Research in Learning Technologies at York University.

“Since both of these programs are reasonably new and had no specifically designated student awards, I wanted to provide this opportunity for students in each of the programs,” said Owston. “The award will help ease the financial burden students in these programs face.”

Earlier this year, Owston decided to endow the award by committing to raise $30,000 over the next seven years.

Learn more about the Dean Ron Owston Award, or contact legacy@yorku.ca.