Luminato Festival features York event: Howard Adelman Lecture


York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) will present its annual Howard Adelman Lecture, in collaboration with Luminato Festival – Illuminating Ideas and the Provocation Ideas Festival, on June 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at York’s Keele Campus.

The event will feature special guest speaker and journalist Anna Lekas Miller and co-panelists Zahra Dhanani, lawyer and co-owner of Old’s Cool General store, and Jay Ramasubramanyam, assistant professor, Department of Social Science, York University. The event moderator will be Ruth Green, associate professor and special advisor to the Dean’s Office on Indigenous Issues, in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University.

The event is free, but everyone must register:

About the speakers

Anna Lekas Miller

Miller will discuss and read from her newly published book Love Across Borders and a will lead a panel discussion from experts and artists with lived experience of forced migration. In her book, Miller spotlights couples around the world who confront frustrating immigration systems to be together – as she did to be with her husband.

Miller is a writer and journalist who covers stories on the ways that conflict and migration shape the lives of people around the world. She has reported from Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, covering the Israeli occupation, the Syrian civil war and exodus to Europe and the rise and fall of the Islamic State. Since moving to London, she has turned her attention to the rise of the far right in Europe and the United States, investigating immigration systems, white supremacist ideology and the ways that people are standing up to them. She is most interested in stories of love and healing in an unpredictable, and often unstable world.

Jay Ramasubramanya

Ramasubramanyam is an assistant professor in the Law and Society Program at York University. Ramasubramanyam obtained his BA in criminology from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He received a postgraduate diploma and LLM in international human rights from Birmingham City University, United Kingdom and his PhD from the Department of Law and Legal Studies and the Institute of Political Economy, at Carleton University, Ottawa. 

He is a global south migration researcher. His research expertise includes forced migration, international refugee law, statelessness, third-world approaches to international law, human rights, race and racialization, postcolonial theory and South Asian studies. His research explores the asymmetries of power, knowledge production and the ostensible legitimacy of norms in the field of refugee studies and refugee law.

Zahra Dhanani

Dhanani is a lawyer, trainer, adjudicator, facilitator, consultant for non-profits and small business owner. With more than 25 years experience, she has extensive knowledge in the areas of anti-oppression, diversity, inclusion, organizational development, restorative justice, conflict resolution, social justice, gender violence, disability, sexual orientation and newcomer realities.

About the moderator

Ruth Green

Green is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at York University. She is an activist turned accidental academic and identifies as an urban Indigequeer woman. She is a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. She is from the Kanien’keha:ka Nation and is a member of the Turtle Clan. She was born a Canadian but was half disenfranchised when she was 10 years old. By the time she was 34-and-a-half years old she was completely disenfranchised. She acknowledges the privileges she gets in a world of identity politics to be governed by legislation that is 100 years older than she is. She also acknowledges her paternal Celtic heritage. Green likes to think about Indigenous education and social issues that impact Indigenous communities.

A reception will be hosted by the Centre for Refugee Studies in the Gales Art Gallery, York University. The gallery will also host an art exhibit, Transmigrations. Artist Ryan Kelln will be on hand to provide a brief introduction to the art work at 6 p.m. 

York community celebrates Pride Month

Pride Month vari hall stickers 2023

A ceremony to celebrate Pride Month on June 7 at York University’s Vari Hall Rotunda was attended by staff, faculty, students and other University community members, who took part in the day’s events organized by the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (CHREI) in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Events and Student Community & Leadership Development.

Beginning with opening remarks, the event featured a flag unfurling ceremony and booths to share information about SLGBTQIA+ resources and services available at York. Attendees were also invited to enjoy free treats and snap a selfie with York’s mascot Yeo.

See a photo gallery of the event, below. Visit York’s Pride Month website to learn more.

York University Pride 2023 opening ceremony

Special performance part of AGYU exhibit by York grad student

York University's Accolade Galleria, Keele Campus

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) will host a special performance by York University PhD student Erica Stocking as part of MotherGinger Promenade, an exhibit running until Dec. 2.

The performance, which takes place June 10 at 3 p.m. with a reception following at 4 p.m., charts a path through the emergence of fashion as a discipline within modernism in late 19th century Paris, its entanglement in rhythms and spaces of visibility, and the social and material conditions of movement. Inspired by early examples of public promenades (such as those on the Bois de Boulogne in Paris after its redevelopment as a society gathering point in the late 1800s) as spaces where economic, social and aesthetic interests come together in an event of looking and being seen, Stocking invites the audience to consider, “What is a closet and where can it take you?”

Erica Stocking, MotherGinger Promenade, 2023. Courtesy the artist.
Erica Stocking, MotherGinger Promenade, 2023. Courtesy the artist

The performance builds on Stocking’s ongoing project, MotherGinger, named after the iconic drag character from Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. By referencing this figure, characterized by a massive dress that houses eight children, Stocking foregrounds the connection between mothers as producers of human bodies for labour, Western industrialization and the blurring of the boundary between leisure and work.

Stocking has developed MotherGinger as a brand, with multiple forms from performances to pop-up shops. Situating itself within fashion as a conceptual framework, this project considers the ways that gender, fashion, Western modernism, subjectivity and survival intertwine within this balletic character.

Engaging both container technologies and the character’s roots in the Zanni characters of commedia dell’arte, MotherGinger Promenade is an invitation, a monologue, and a fashion show.

Exhibition: AGYU Vitrines
May 27 — Dec. 2

For this installation of MotherGinger, Stocking has transformed the AGYU vitrines into stylized containers – evoking closets, window displays and travel trunks. In calling attention to the structure of the vitrines, and their role as containers, this installation echoes the writing of Australian researcher Zoë Sofia on “container technologies,” which highlights the significant role of containers throughout history, including vessels and a myriad of objects and devices frequently associated with women’s labour. For Sofia, as well as for Stocking, containment is not passive; it is active and integral, exemplified by human beings’ inextricable entanglement and reliance on their own container, their own environment.

The AGYU vitrines are situated in the colonnade of the Accolade East Building, a space designed for movement. To promenade is to move with the intent of display, and, in this iteration of MotherGinger, garments made from domestic household materials and found objects displayed in the vitrines are removed, worn, and later returned in a series of performances that echo the movement of clothing through private and public spaces, testing what it means to be seen.

Erica Stocking: MotherGinger Promenade is curated by Clara Halpern, assistant curator, Exhibitions, AGYU.

About the artist

Erica Stocking is an artist working at the intersection of sculpture, performance and installation. Her work has been exhibited in Canada at Artspeak, Mercer Union, The Western Front and at the Contemporary Art Gallery. Stocking’s public artworks are part of the City of Vancouver, City of Surrey and SFU Community Trust Collections. She received her BFA from Emily Carr Institute in 2004, and recently completed an MFA at OCAD University in 2021. Stocking lives and works in Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD in visual arts at York University.

AGYU gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, during exhibitions; AGYU vitrines can be accessed at any time.

AGYU is a public, University-affiliated, non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and by our membership.

SDGs-in-the-Classroom Curricular Innovation Hub to present at national conference

Female conference lecture teacher professor

York University’s SDGs-in-the-Classroom Curricular Innovation Hub will share its strategies for integrating United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into classroom curriculum development at Together|Ensemble, Canada’s national conference devoted to tracking progress on the SDGs.

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Funding Program, the online programming put together by the conference will run from June 7 to 9 and feature more than a dozen lectures, workshops and more.

The theme of Together|Ensemble this year – in keeping with its approach to addressing Canada’s toughest sustainable development challenges in collaboration with the private sector, academia, government and civil society – is a focus on accelerating Canada’s SDGs progress as Canada currently ranks 29th in the world on SDGs implementation.

Banner for 2023 Together|Ensemble conference

The presentation by SDGs-in-the-Classroom’ Curricular Innovation Hub, at 10 a.m. on June 9, will provide an overview of how the program – supported by the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) and overseen by Sandra (Skerratt) Peniston, an assistant professor of nursing – has enabled the pan-University interdisciplinary infusion of the SDGs into classrooms at York University through faculty engagement and support, as well as enabling innovative ways to include the SDGs in meaningful manners in their classrooms – including experiential education (EE) initiatives, e-learning strategies, and strengthening SDG-focused globally networked learning (GNL) projects.

Those interested in registering for SDGs-in-the-Classroom’ Curricular Innovation Hub presentation, or the conference, can do so here.

Transportation Services celebrates Bike Month

Keele campus bikes trees Lassonde

On June 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., York University Transportation Services (TS) will host an event to promote Bike Month outside Vari Hall.

The day of the event, Transportation Services will offer resources such as York Region and City of Toronto cycling maps, bike skills and safety handbooks, and more. Patrons can also spin a prize wheel to win prizes.

Bike Month logo

Bike Month is a celebration to encourage individuals across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area to cycle, learn new riding skills, and connect with new people at organized events. Throughout the month, TS will partner with Point A, a sustainable commuting consultation company, to challenge the community to get on their bike and discover their neighbourhood – on campus or at home. In particular, TS’ promotion of Bike Month aims to encourage contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by promoting commuting to campus to reduce the demand for parking at York University by increasing awareness of alternative sustainable methods of transportation.

For more information, visit the official Bike Month website, or Transportation Services throughout the month of June.

Snapshot of Congress 2023

Community mural at Congress 2023

As host of the 92nd annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, together with the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences from May 27 to June 2, York University Keele Campus has been buzzing with activity.

With more than 10,000 participants, over 400 volunteers, and York community members who are working and studying on campus, the week-long event created opportunities to attend scholarly presentations, panels, art exhibits, live performances, interactive events and more at Congress 2023. It was the first in-person Congress held in four years.

View a photo gallery below for a glimpse of some of the activities and performances held throughout the week.

Vari Hall Exterior_Congress (May2023)-7

Pride Month a time to celebrate, reflect, learn

Pride Month banner 2023

Dear York community,

June marks Pride Month, a time to celebrate and reflect on the lived experiences of 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and to learn about the history, culture and contributions they have made to our campuses and to Canadian society. 

Members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community have been historically, structurally and systematically excluded. These barriers very much exist today in Canada and around the world. For example, more than 70 countries today still criminalize same-sex conduct, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community still experience disproportionately high rates of gender-based violence and harassment.

York continues to fight for the equal rights and safety of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community standing against all forms of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, discrimination and racism. These actions are central to York’s core values of equity, diversity, inclusivity and social justice.

York is focussing on ways to remove systematic barriers to ensure that our campuses are experienced as safe spaces where everyone feels that they belong. This focus can be seen through York University initiatives such as the Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Strategy, the Provostial Fellows Program: 2023-24, and the newly announced President’s award for Excellence in Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) which recognizes sustainable and measurable change on campus, with an intersectional social justice lens, especially for equity-deserving groups such as women, visible/racialized minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and 2SLGBTQIA+ people.

We invite you to visit the Pride website to learn more about the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and their ongoing work and accomplishments. We also encourage you to attend the events that are happening during Pride Month through the Central Events Calendar and Student Event Calendar. Join us for the Pride 2023 Opening Ceremony on June 7 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Vari Hall. The Ceremony is hosted by The Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion in collaboration with Student Community & Leadership Development.


Rhonda Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor

Alice Pitt
Interim Vice-President Equity, People & Culture

Déclaration à l’occasion du Mois de la Fierté

Chers membres de la communauté de York,

Le mois de juin est le mois de la Fierté, une période de célébration et de réflexion sur les expériences vécues par les membres de la communauté 2ELGBTQIA+, et de découverte de leur histoire, de leur culture et de leurs contributions à nos campus et à la société canadienne. 

Ces personnes ont été historiquement, structurellement et systématiquement exclues. De telles barrières existent encore aujourd’hui au Canada et dans le monde. Par exemple, plus de 70 pays criminalisent encore aujourd’hui les comportements homosexuels, et les membres de la communauté 2ELGBTQIA+ subissent encore des taux disproportionnés de harcèlement et de violence basée sur le genre.

York continue de lutter pour l’égalité des droits et la sécurité de la communauté 2ELGBTQIA+ en s’opposant à toutes les formes d’homophobie, de biphobie, de transphobie, de discrimination et de racisme. Ces actions sont au cœur des valeurs fondamentales de York, à savoir l’équité, la diversité, l’inclusion et la justice sociale.

York se concentre sur les moyens d’éliminer les barrières systématiques afin de garantir que ses campus soient des espaces sécuritaires où tout le monde se sent à sa place. Cette orientation se traduit par des initiatives de l’Université York comme la Stratégie de décolonisation, d’équité, de diversité et d’inclusion (DEDI) et le programme de bourses de la rectrice  2023-2024, ainsi que le nouveau prix de la Présidente pour l’excellence en matière de décolonisation, d’équité, de diversité et d’inclusion (DEDI), qui récompense les changements durables et mesurables sur les campus, dans une optique de justice sociale intersectionnelle, en particulier pour les groupes en quête d’équité (les femmes, les minorités visibles/racialisées, les peuples autochtones, les personnes en situation de handicap et les personnes 2ELGBTQIA+).

Nous vous invitons à visiter le site Web de la Fierté pour en savoir plus sur la communauté 2ELGBTQIA+, ainsi que sur son travail et ses réalisations. Nous vous encourageons également à participer aux événements du Mois de la Fierté en consultant le calendrier central des événements et le calendrier des événements pour les étudiantes et étudiants. Joignez-vous à nous pour la cérémonie d’ouverture du Mois de la Fierté 2023 le 7 juin de 12h30 à 14 h au pavillon Vari. La cérémonie est organisée par le Centre des droits de la personne, de l’équité et de l’inclusion, en collaboration avec Développement de la communauté étudiante et du leadership (SCLD).

Sincères salutations,

Rhonda Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Alice Pitt
Vice-présidente intérimaire de l’équité, des personnes et de la culture

Encounters brings augmented reality to Congress 2023

An AR image of water on campus

By Elaine Smith

Experience York University’s Keele Campus with new eyes during Congress 2023 by participating in Encounters, an augmented reality (AR) event commissioned for the event.

Using AR technology, participants can engage with their surroundings in new ways, potentially deepening connections with each other in the process.

“The Encounters app was designed to encourage users to get together, as opposed to staying apart, as might commonly be expected with digital interfaces,” says artist Elahe Rostami, from the Artifact Lab where she works with brother, Amir Bahador Rostami, a graduate of the Digital Media program at York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD). Both artists have expertise in experimental interfaces and virtual world building.

Once participants download the app to their mobile phones, they are prompted to invite another person to join them for the experience.

“The users embark together on a journey of exploration and discovery, sharing new perspectives and insights about their intersubjective experiences of the landscape,” Elahe said.

“The app also generates an avatar that’s overlaid on your body,” said Joel Ong, a professor in the AMPD and member of the Congress 2023 Scholarly Planning Committee. “It’s a fun experience that also invites conversation and the relationship building that is an important aspect of Congress 2023.”

Using the app, participants will be guided to various spots around the Quad at the Keele Campus in a choreographed walk, including wayfinding to locations for other Congress 2023 activities. As they walk, bodies of water appear virtually, providing the opportunity to pause for conversation or contemplation.

A body of water as it appears through AR
A body of water as it appears through AR

“When the lake or pond is there, it connects people back to each other, and they can discuss the latest talk, event, other possibilities and futures or just celebrate connection,” Elahe said. “It’s a moment of trust.”

Elahe, who immigrated to Canada from Iran, hopes people will think about ways people come together, whether in celebration or in protest, as was the case in her homeland during the past year. Citizens there gathered regularly to protest the prison death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was jailed for not wearing her hijab properly.

“If there are images projected on the ground, it’s something to come together around, to collaborate,” Elahe said. “Why not think about the future of public spaces and democracy when we think about interfaces?”

In various ways, Encounters evokes the theme of Congress 2023, Reckonings and Re-imaginings.

York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2. Register here to attend, community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.

Congress 2023 celebrates Indigenous education initiative Wüléelham


By Elaine Smith

Join the Faculty of Education for “Presenting Wüléelham: The Gifts of Our People,” a May 31 celebration of the Faculty’s Indigenous education initiatives and the visionary behind them – Professor Susan Dion, York University’s inaugural associate vice-president, Indigenous initiatives and a Lenape and Potawatomi scholar, with mixed Irish and French ancestry.

Susan Dion
Professor Susan Dion, York University’s inaugural associate vice-president, Indigenous initiatives

Wüléelham translates from Lenape as “Making Good Tracks,” and the program has led many Indigenous students on a journey to becoming educators and academics themselves. Its options – the Waaban Indigenous teacher education program and the master’s and PhD cohorts – were developed to highlight the specific strengths of urban Indigenous communities. They are not intended to be taken in a linear sequence; instead, students make their own tracks, choosing to participate based on their timelines and interests. 

“Susan [Dion] saw the opportunities to develop these programs and made it happen,” said Pamela Toulouse, a visiting scholar at the Faculty and the emcee for the day’s events. “We want to celebrate these programs and honour her for seeing the possibilities.”

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the McEwen Auditorium, Room 141 in the Seymour Schulich Building and is open to Congress 2023 attendees and the local community. It features a traditional opening and closing by Elder Pauline Shirt, three panel discussions and a Circle on the Gifts of Our People, where Dion will be awarded with a Star blanket at 2 p.m.

“The Star is about being visionary and it is a reminder of the possibilities Susan gave us,” said Toulouse. “When we wrap her in it, it is letting her know that the community will always hold and take care of her and that we are okay, too.”

Students in the Wuleelham program
Participants in the Wuleelham program

The three panels will demonstrate the benefits of the Wüléelham programs. A Waaban panel happening at 10:30 a.m. will feature alumni from the teacher education program discussing what they learned and the gifts gained and carried into the workplace. A second panel at 11:45 a.m. will include graduate students from the Master of Education (Med) Urban Indigenous Cohort, focusing on the opportunities they have had. Finally, a faculty-staff panel will start at 1:15 p.m. and this group will share their stories about working with the students who have come through Wüléelham.

Shirt, who will open and close the program, is one of the driving forces behind the Wandering Spirit School, a learning environment that is culturally safe and nurtured their child’s Indigenous identity.

“There is a special relationship between Elder Pauline, Susan and Wüléelham,” Toulouse said. “Wandering Spirit School is the place where many of the Wabaan students go to do their teaching placements; it’s a downtown school. Pauline is a main reason that the school came into being and a leader in Indigenous education.”

York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2. Register here to attend, community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.

Congress panel explores pathways to equitable and sustainable world


From the climate crisis to the next pandemic, how can individuals work together to solve complex global problems while ensuring the promotion of an equitable and sustainable world? Zeynep Güler Tuck, a producer, journalist, social entrepreneur and York alum will unpack these issues during Congress 2023.

The President’s Office at York University sat down with Güler Tuck to delve into what to expect at this engaging and thought-provoking session on June 1.

President’s Office: At Congress, you will moderate a panel discussion that aims to understand and address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) through the lens of decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI). Why is this topic so timely and important right now?

Zeynep Guler Tuck - headshot
Zeynep Güler Tuck

Güler Tuck: For those who have been working toward these goals with organizations, NGOs, and institutions since the SDGs were introduced by world leaders in January 2016, these goals have either become second nature or have gone through a number of interpretations and iterations over the years. The same goes for DEDI. Especially for those who have been directly impacted by inequitable, colonial practices, policies and systems, this work has been ongoing for quite some time. However, the last decade has brought many more of us face-to-face with the kinds of disasters, pandemics, injustices and crises we might have only seen on CNN. For some, it took a crisis or emergency to happen right in their own backyards to realize the importance of centering our communities and their needs. Taking an intersectional approach to the SDGs with a DEDI lens is top of mind as a result of the social and environmental reckoning of recent years. The intersectional DEDI lens is long overdue, which has put the development goals at risk. It has never been more timely and important to address and take action toward prioritizing DEDI in the advancement of SDGs.

President’s Office: How are you advancing the SDGs in your personal and professional life? What are you hoping to learn from the panel?

Güler Tuck: Professionally, I’ve supported the SDGs through my work in the media and non-profit spaces. With Microsoft News, I collaborated with global news outlets to curate ethical story packages that raised awareness and over $1 million in funds for causes like COVID-19 relief, disaster recovery, racial justice, poverty, climate action, LGBTQ+ representation, and STEM education for girls. When Microsoft laid off MSN’s digital producers in the height of the pandemic due to automation and AI systems, I was one of them. I adapted to the change by starting my own social impact business to support organizations working in the gender equity space.

With non-profits, I have supported the economic advancement of equity-deserving entrepreneurs who run impact-driven startups in North America’s tech and innovation sector.

Personally, when it comes to SDGs and humanitarian aid, I sprung into action when the devastating earthquakes hit Turkiye and Syria in February 2023. While the Turkish community across the world was mourning, we knew we needed to act fast. I mobilized community organizations, private-sector partners, allies, neighbours and the Turkish Consulate in support of relief and recovery efforts. We continue to rely on this support as we fundraise and implement long-term projects that help earthquake survivors, including refugee families to Canada and child amputees.

For this panel, I’m eager to learn from each of the illustrious speakers about the ways organizations, institutions, and individuals have started to reframe the SDGs in the context of DEDI, and perhaps dive deeper into why it has taken this long to bring this intersectional approach to these global issues. 

President’s Office: How has your experience as a York U student and now an alum prepared you to take on these challenges in your own way?

Güler Tuck: I didn’t realize until after I graduated that my experience at York had given me more than a higher education. While York taught me about the media landscape in North America, it also taught me a lesson in adapting to changes in the industry. I experienced these changes first-hand when the decline of print media met the mercurial rise of digital media, requiring me to transition from a role as the editor-in-chief of a magazine to the digital producer of an online content platform.

Though, my “a-ha” moment occurred when I realized that my BA in communications and sociology could lead me into purpose-driven work for social good. It was a revelation and came later in my career than I had expected. So, I hope more students in comms and humanities can make the connection sooner because we need all hands on deck.

The transition wasn’t overnight. I knew I wanted to be a storyteller, so I began building narratives in the sales pits of PR firms then devising content strategies in the boardrooms of the private sector. However, it wasn’t until I came head-to-head with challenges and barriers as a woman in tech – and saw many other women facing those same obstacles – that I recognized how storytelling and narrative-building could lead to change in the world. I began mentoring and championing other women in the field, speaking at conferences and volunteering with women in STEM organizations to help amplify their work. One of the highlights of my career was releasing the Gender Equity Roadmap with Women in Tech World in 2018. As the most extensive qualitative data set on the experiences of Canadian women in tech, it was based on research collected from 1,600-plus voices in 30-plus tech communities across Canada with the collaboration of 100-plus community and national partners. In regions like the Yukon, New Brunswick and northern Ontario, partnerships allowed us to cater action plans to advance the women and gender-diverse folks working in these areas.

Now, as I double down on my advocacy and DEDI work in line with the SDGs, I am grateful that I’ve been able to come back to York as a speaker, moderator and a stakeholder in the future of this great institution.

President’s Office: Congress will include thousands of scholars, students and experts in the social sciences and humanities. How will their perspectives, research and knowledge be critical to solving complex societal issues from pandemics and global health and climate change to political conflict and racism?

Güler Tuck: This is definitely a question that keeps me up at night. However, it starts with showing up. Whether virtually or in person, Congress facilitates a crucial opportunity for us to come together to spark dialogue, share stories, have difficult yet important conversations, and walk away with actionable ideas for the future. When we bring the right people together, the discourse can have a butterfly effect that can impact how we approach a number of critical environmental and social issues. I cannot speak directly to how Congress might help resolve political strife and conflict in our world, but I can speak to the importance of acting fast, as we speed toward 2030, to use opportunities like Congress 2023 to ideate community-first action plans at local, regional and global levels that can serve as roadmaps for governments, private sectors, civil societies and individuals to visualize their next steps.

President’s Office: What action do you hope students and scholars will take from the panel discussion, and from the experience of Congress?

Güler Tuck: Luckily, this is a question that gets me up in the morning. Understanding the full scope of the SDGs as a whole can be a lot for people to wrap their heads around in the context of their everyday lives. It’s not easy to find time to end poverty or fight injustice when you are rushing to get the kids off to school, running a small business, relocating to a new country, finishing your degree or living paycheck to paycheck. Distilling them down to the impact you and I can make in our local communities and neighbourhoods makes them more digestible. Then, once we see that change, we’ll be empowered to take on larger-scale projects. The head of World Wildlife Fund-Canada, Megan Leslie, had the perfect response when I asked her in an interview how we can reverse the damaging effects of the climate crisis. She suggested that simply planting a Black-Eyed Susan flower in your garden or on your balcony can trigger a chain of natural events that could lead to the creation of a micro-habitat for the animals in your neighbourhood. You can also support businesses owned by underrepresented founders, get involved with a neighbourhood fundraiser, or join one of your company’s ERGs. There are many ways to advance these development goals at the local level. It just takes showing up. By attending Congress, either virtually or in person, students and scholars will have taken a crucial first step toward these goals. All they have to do is keep up that momentum.

President’s Ofice: Anything else you wish to add?

Güler Tuck: I’m incredibly privileged to get to host this panel at Congress and want to thank all the incredible people who made it possible. It’s always been an honour to be an active part of the York U community. It all started with the Mid-Career Conversations Series, organized by the amazing team at the York U Alumni Engagement Office.

Finally, as a takeaway for Congress attendees, I encourage you to choose one or two of the development goals to focus your efforts on at the local level this year. We all need to get involved to reach these goals. It’s better if we do it together.

The panel “Understanding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) through the lens of Decolonization, equity, diversity & Inclusion (DEDI) is taking place on Thursday, June 1, 10 to 11 a.m. and features panelists and experts: President & Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton;  Founder and Co-Director of Future Ancestors Larissa Crawford; Deputy Minister & Commissioner of Emergency Management Bernie Derible and York Associate Professor of Biology Sapna Sharma.