Schulich ExecEd partnership brings innovative upskilling programs to Atlantic Canada

Diverse teacher and student at a laptop

Schulich ExecEd has announced its new strategic partnership with 5D Corporate Teaching and Learning Centre (5D) based in Halifax, N.S., which will offer executive education programs in both leadership and management training, with the aim of providing practical solutions to combat labour force challenges in Atlantic Canada.

Rami Mayer close-up photo
Rami Mayer

Halifax-based programs from Schulich ExecEd will connect local managers, senior leaders, human resource professionals and learning development professionals from various private, public-sector and non-governmental organizations, who look to implement strategies for employee retention, inspiring change in the workforce and building capacity from within their organizations. Executive education plays an important role in teaching working professionals, in a focused and accelerated format, how to effectively empower individuals and teams and create transformational leaders within their companies. This method of education aims to promote positive changes happening sooner and foster strategic foresight to avoid future roadblocks.

The Schulich ExecEd and 5D partnership will extend the reach of the tier-one business school into local provincial communities resulting in increased access to high-quality education; Schulich ExecEd Executive Director Rami Mayer attested to the importance of broadening the Schulich ExecEd scope.

“We are excited to partner with the 5D Corporate Teaching and Learning Centre to create a program that fosters the career journey of Atlantic Canadian leaders,” he said. “By creating opportunities to grow their skills, enhance their careers and enable them to contribute to their local community, we are confident that we will be able to elevate 5D even further.

“Schulich ExecEd has partnered with a myriad of communities across Canada to support local organizations and leaders by upskilling, reskilling and growing their business and leadership capabilities,” Mayer added. “These partnerships with local community organizations are vital in ensuring the relevance and success of these programs by providing insight into the unique needs of these communities as well as offering practical support before, during and after the formal program is completed. This ensures employees are retained locally and further contribute to the health, success and well-being of their communities, municipalities and ultimately, the province and country as a whole.”

Central to this partnership are programs which will be provided to participants in their home province of Nova Scotia, with in-person and hybrid options maximizing accessibility. All programs within this partnership will include additional support that will lead to sustainable changes in local organizations, such as action planning, leadership coaching sessions and sessions from local educators post-program to further participants’ knowledge while they work. The goal is to not only deliver education but to provide solution-based learning to solve real challenges. 

Nancy Thompson close-up portrait
Nancy Thompson

As a registered non-profit with more than 23 years of experience in educating corporate leaders and managers in Atlantic Canada, 5D is uniquely positioned to facilitate Schulich ExecEd’s growth in the region. 5D CEO Nancy Thompson offered insight into the impact this partnership will make within the community.

“The 5D-Schulich ExecEd partnership is a powerful combination. 5D’s understanding of the complex real-world challenges that face organizations within Atlantic Canada brings a customized approach to the development of the educational content that will be delivered through this partnership. We believe through the collaborative efforts of 5D and Schulich ExecEd that a stellar leadership program has been created to serve the needs and priorities of the corporations in Atlantic Canada.”

Through this partnership, Schulich ExecEd strives to advance a commitment to expanding accessibility and helping organizations and businesses facing challenges which can be resolved through executive education, thereby building a strong and more resilient workforce with local and global reach.

The Schulich ExecEd-5D executive education program is currently scheduled to launch in Winter 2023. For more information on this program and others like it, see the Schulich ExecEd programs page.

York satellites headed to space

Satellite in space

By Alexander Huls, deputy editor, YFile

One CubeSat – a square-shaped satellite the size of a Rubik’s cube – created by York University students, and another with hardware supplied by students, will launch from the Kennedy Space Center and be placed in orbit by International Space Station astronauts.

Zheng Hong (George) Zhu
George Zhu

Funded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), since 2017 the Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP) has provided the opportunity for students to gain greater access and experiential learning to better prepare for careers in the aerospace industry by designing and building their own satellites.

“In the past, students who wanted to learn the design of space instruments and satellite technology never had the hands-on opportunity to build, launch and operate their own. Everything was on paper. This gives them opportunities,” explains Zheng Hong (George) Zhu, director of the Space Engineering Design Laboratory at York’s Lassonde School of Engineering.

Zhu led the team of students who created an entirely York-made satellite set to enter space this summer. The Educational Space Science and Engineering CubeSat Experiment (ESSENCE) is the first satellite to be designed and built mainly by undergraduate students across engineering programs at Lassonde. A previous York-made satellite was launched in 2020, but was designed, built, integrated and tested by graduate students led by Zhu.

The ESSENCE carries two science payloads expected to contribute to understanding of the effects of climate change, aligning the project with the York University Academic Plan 2020 – 2025, and the School’s dedication to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

The first payload is a high-resolution 360 degree by 187 degree fisheye camera which will be used to capture images of Canada’s Arctic Region from a height of 400 km to monitor the thawing of permafrost and Arctic ices. The camera can also capture images of stars and space debris. The team will collaborate with scientists at Defense Research and Development Canada to observe and monitor space debris with these images. The second payload is a proton detector, developed by the University of Sydney in Australia, which will collect data on energetic solar protons from solar storms in low Earth orbit, providing insights into the impact of climate change on Earth.

The ESSENCE was a collaborative effort between students, four co-investigators from Lassonde (Franz Newlands, Mike Daly, Andrew Maxwell and Alexsander Czekanski), as well as strategic partnerships with the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), which provided novel attitude control algorithms to point the camera in desired directions.

The ESSENCE Satellite team
The ESSENCE CubeSat team saying goodbye to their satellite before it was shipped off for launch preparation

The second CubeSat to be launched into space this summer, thanks to York students, is also a product of an external partnership. However, while the ESSENCE was a York-led satellite relying on hardware from other institutions, a University of Manitoba-led CubeSat project draws on innovative hardware provided by Lassonde students.

Supervised by Regina Lee, professor of space engineering, a team of students was asked by the University of Manitoba CubeSat team – who named their satellite “IRIS” – to create a critical component to help realize the partner school’s CubeSat goal of consistently exposing geological samples to solar radiation in space and study the effects.

Regina Lee
Regina Lee

“Our job was to design the subsystem to go into their satellite that would figure out which direction it’s pointing in within space, and make sure it’s pointing to the sun,” explains Ryan Clark, who worked on the project, and is a former member of the Nanosatellite Research Laboratory at York.

“They set a general guideline for the hardware component development, and our contribution was the sun sensor, magnetorquers and then the board that contains the full Attitude Determination and Control System that fits on the CubeSat,” says Peter Keum, who was part of the team.

Lastly: “We were focused on testing, calibrating and – once we were done – shipping it off,” says Gabriel Chianelli, the remaining member of the team, who is part of the Nanosatellite Search Group at York.

The two CubeSats – the ESSENCE and IRIS – are now being readied for their space-bound journey, and both teams are preparing to see them launched this summer. Zhu and 20 of his students are planning to travel to the Kennedy Space Station Center to witness the launch, some of them from within a NASA VIP room that is only five kilometers away from the launch pad. Others, like Lee’s team, will eagerly be watching via YouTube livestreams.

For both professors behind the work on the two satellites, the launch will mark the fruition of a desire to see their students work on something that won’t just make it to space, but impact their futures. “My goal was to make sure that my students have hands-on experience so they can graduate and do well in their career,” Lee says. Zhu shares that sentiment. “I have a passionate love for space engineering, and I like my students to have the same life experience I do,” he says.

Projects like the ESSENCE might be the first satellite to be designed and built mainly by undergraduate students at York, but it’s unlikely to be the last. “When I was an undergrad, starting to 2014, there were no internships or placements for undergrad space students,” Clark says. “Now, there are so many more placements, so many opportunities available, it seems like just the barriers to entry are coming down, and a lot more people are getting into space.”

Lassonde’s Education Innovation Studio enhances learner engagement

Lassonde School of Engineering contest

Since its launch in 2020, the goal of the Lassonde Education Innovation Studio (LEIS) has been to partner with professors and learners to tackle educational challenges, innovate modes of learning and positively impact experiences across three domains: elementary and secondary education; postsecondary education; and executive and professional education.

Salvatore Paneduro
Salvatore Paneduro

“Together with our faculty, we are developing new ways of learning through multifaceted immersive experiences that bring education to life and enhance learner engagement,” says Salvatore Paneduro, director of educational innovation.

LEIS aims to do so through agile innovation processes by galvanizing a custom cross-functional team of learning experience designers, educational developers, e-learning developers, graphic designers, programmers, educational technologists and postdoctoral Fellows.

Among LEIS’ recent successes has been a collaboration with a professor who understands what the innovation studio is trying to do. “We were thrilled when Alidad Amirfazli, Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, brought LEIS the challenge of finding new ways to achieve this in traditional theory-heavy courses.”

Alidad Amirfazli
Alidad Amirfazli

He and the LEIS team proceeded to experiment with the Fluid Dynamics course by introducing a virtual escape room classroom activity. Students used their laptops to navigate avatars of themselves through various spaces – campgrounds, a casino, a museum – where they hunted for clues. These clues were questions relating to course concepts, and each time they answered correctly, they earned “fluid dollars.” They then redeemed this digital currency for a real-world treat – a mini Caramilk or Dairy Milk chocolate.

At the same time, Amirfazli worked with the LEIS team to design and run focus groups throughout the subsequent offering of this course, and capture feedback to be responsive to student learning experiences. However, positive results were quickly apparent. “The first time we offered students the opportunity to play this game, it was very interesting,” says Amirfazli. “None of the students were leaving the class despite the period being over; 15 minutes after class ended, they were still playing. This usually never happens. In fact, I’ve never experienced this in more than 20 years of teaching.”

“The more dynamic, interactive and immersive experiences got the students excited about learning and created an opening of possibilities for Alidad,” says Paneduro, noting that LEIS innovation continued from there. “Alidad and the team designed and created brand new ways of assessing students through concept mapping and infographics. It was so exciting to see the team working to re-invent what assessment and instruction could be in mechanical engineering education.”

Amirfazli and LEIS’ goal to foster community and share work with other engineering educators will be realized when he presents on the course innovation at the 2023 Canadian Engineering Education Conference later this year. That goal is driven by a desire to ensure new modes of learning are adopted not just at Lassonde, but elsewhere. “How are we going to connect with students who are largely visual, and not very interested in, or accustomed to through their K-12 education, the traditional way of acquiring knowledge, which means reading a textbook? We cannot be static and keep doing the same thing. We need to be more creative in our methods,” says Amirfazli.

The professor credits LEIS for promoting that type of thinking, and for enabling projects like the virtual escape room activity to be easy and viable. “Without LEIS, the change was likely not possible or would have taken a lot longer to implement,” he says.

Paneduro says he is excited for what’s next. “This is shaping a whole new approach to andragogy at Lassonde.”

Student-led waste diversion project celebrates first compost harvest

Hands holding seeds and soil

By Alexander Huls, deputy editor, YFile

The Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4) student-led project to create a full-cycle composing system at York University will soon distribute a metric ton of compost across the Keele campus, fulfilling its goal to divert organic waste from selected vendors at York.

The project creates a closed-loop system by turning the waste that would otherwise go to landfill into useful compost that can be used on campus.

Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson

The upcoming harvest, which began with the 2019 revitalization of the decaying three-tier composting systems in the Maloca Community Garden, is the result of woodchips received from the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, fruit and food from Grocery Checkout in York Lanes, as well as coffee grounds and more from the two Starbucks locations on campus. Partnerships with the businesses, and transportation of the waste to the Maloca composting system with a push cart, was all hands-on experience initiated by the students themselves – a significant objective for C4.

“Our approach to experiential education keeps students in the driver’s seat,” says Danielle Robinson, co-lead of C4. “The more that we let them take the lead, the more it shows them that we believe in them, that we think they have valuable skills and knowledges, and that they can do things in the world that matter.”

Ronan Smith
Ronan Smith

Changing the world, and righting the future, is especially important to the C4 initiative, which aligns its offerings with York’s dedication to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). “We organize all of our projects by SDGs at C4 because it helps students channel their efforts directly towards specific kinds of impacts outside the classroom,” says Robinson.

The C4 students’ composting system will also have a significant impact on campus. “Our whole idea is to keep this closed loop system where we’re getting our waste from campus and then we’re giving it back to campus in one way or another,” says Ronan Smith, a student who has been with the project since it started. Once the compost from the harvest is tested to see how nutrient rich it is, it will be distributed to several nearby recipients such as the community farmers at Maloca Community Gardens and Many Green Hand, a student club. Smith also hopes to have a seed a drive to get interested students set up with pots, plants and soil. Anything left over, would be distributed to different grounds across York, such as garden beds like those outside the Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies building.

From there, the group’s ambitions turn towards the future, Smith says. They want to scale up by exploring row composting or worm bins to create a greater diversity of compost sources, as well as processing more waste with composting hubs around the University in high density spots – like Central Square – to streamline the process. Generating more awareness will also be a goal, not only to draw in new students and volunteers, but illustrate the composting system’s success. “Our goal is showing that this can work, like how in just under a year we can process over a metric ton of waste,” Smith says.

They don’t need to show it can work to Robinson, however, who has been impressed by the efforts of Smith and his fellow compost collaborators. “I am constantly blown away by what our students can do, what they dream up, and the drive they have to create change in the world,” she says.

Learn more about Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom

students black diverse woman

The Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4) values the importance of interprofessional collaboration as it brings together individuals from different backgrounds to work towards achieving common goals while solving complex, real-world problems.  

C4 is hosting a series of virtual information sessions, taking place on various Fridays at 10 a.m. until June 23. The next information session will take place on April 28, where prospective C4 students can explore interprofessional collaboration in the classroom.

By applying this method of collaboration in the C4 classrooms, students develop and hone transferable skills while learning the value of multiple perspectives and approaches to research, design and problem solving. Students come together from across campus to work in small teams on real-world problems with social impact.

While some students may lack hands-on work experience during their undergraduate studies, and only participate in interdisciplinary team environments once they’re employed, C4 fills these gaps and gives students an advantage by exposing them to an applied learning environment that promotes intellectual diversity before graduation.

Register for an upcoming information session and learn more on the C4 website.

Dean’s Changemaker Placements offer unique experience 

Eco campus bridge

Since she’s planning a career in environmental law, undergraduate student Kaitlin Pal was thrilled that the Dean’s Changemaker Placements at York University’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) funded her to undertake a summer project related to her interests.

Kaitlin Pal
Kaitlin Pal

The placements program offers students the opportunity to apply scholarly knowledge through paid positions with EUC’s living labs: Ecological Footprint Initiative, Zig Zag Gallery, Maloca Garden, Waste Wiki and Las Nubes EcoCampus. The guiding principle behind the placements is that the students must design projects that have the potential to create change. 

“I was looking for a summer job that was related to my research interests and came across the Dean’s Changemaker Placements,” said Pal, a second-year environmental arts and justice (BES) student. “There was an open call to apply, so I applied to all of the labs and got assigned to the one that interested me most.” 

Pal spent the summer working with the Ecological Footprint Initiative, a group of researchers and organizations who work together to advance the measurement of ecological footprint and biocapacity, which includes cropland, grazing land, built-up land, fishing grounds, forest products, and forest carbon uptake, providing measurements by country, as well as worldwide. Her task was to run the lab’s social media accounts, which required featuring the data in meaningful ways. She also developed a strategy report for the team so they could keep the accounts active.  

In addition, she pursued her own change project: a research paper that applied environmental metrics to the land claim case being put forward by Saugeen Ojibway Nation. She estimated the biocapacity – or number of biologically productive global hectares – for the area being claimed. The goal of this project is to apply these metrics to this land claim to determine the value of the land that has been dispossessed.  

Pal, who has continued working with the team part-time during the academic year, has already presented her work at an Ecological Footprint event and will do so again in May at the Dean’s Changemaker Exhibit. She also hopes to be accepted to present her research at the Canadian Society of Ecological Economics conference. 

“I’m trying to get it out there,” Pal said. “Initially, I was pretty nervous about presenting, but they’ve given me a lot of opportunities that have allowed me to improve. I’ve grown in terms of confidence in a professional setting.”

Thereza Eric
Thereza Eric

One of her professors encouraged fourth-year environmental studies student Thereza Eric to apply for a Changemaker’s Placement in eco arts, and she took up the challenge this past fall, continuing through the academic year.  

“I like and practise art myself,” Eric says. “I had to create a project to implement change in the Faculty, and I wanted to build community through art. This has been a very transitional time as people return to campus from the COVID-19 lockdown and I thought about rebuilding community and how art could help do that.” 

Reviving and programming EUC’s Eco Arts and Media Festival post-pandemic was a major focus of Eric’s work. The February festival brought faculty, staff and students together through events such as workshops and art exhibitions. The theme of the festival was “Mending,” and Eric was eager to repair the damage to the sense of community lost during the months of remote learning. 

A collaborative mural was one of her favourite events, because it brought students together in an informal way. Everyone who dropped by the student space where the canvas was laid out was invited to paint a part of the mural. Ultimately, it provided what Eric calls, “a mosaic of the students and cultures involved in our Faculty.” 

Eric says that the Changemaker’s Placement allowed her to “realize my skills in a professional setting.” Initially, she fell victim to imposter syndrome, wondering “Who am I to host workshops and be an event promoter?” Soon, she became comfortable in her role and tasks became second nature as her skills came to the fore. 

As she finishes her placement, she is creating a handbook that contains a record of her work and tips for navigating the position in future. 

“I had to start from scratch, so I want to pass on any strategies that worked,” she said.

Samantha Navalta
Samantha Navalta

Samantha Navalta, who is in the third year of her undergraduate degree in sustainable environmental management, also had a Changemaker Placement. She worked with the Las Nubes EcoCampus, focusing on expanding the communications and marketing program for the Casita Azul library there. It was the perfect way to mix her interest in the environment with her advanced diploma in public relations. 

“When I first joined the library team, I did an online search and couldn’t find much information about their place in the EcoCampus,” Navalta said. “I wanted to make it clear that the library was a part of York and that it served both the campus and the surrounding community.” 

Navalta is also updating and refreshing the library’s branding to fit with York’s brand, which means revising the website, communications materials and handbook. 

“While working in public relations, I knew I needed a deeper connection to my own interests,” she says. “York is so big in environmental studies that I really feel at home and in the right place for my career. This placement feels like a good fit, because I’m doing what I want to do and can see that it’s something I want to do in the medium- and long-term. 

“It has given me real-life skills and has helped me be excited about potential career prospects.”

Dana Craig
Dana Craig

Dana Craig, director of Student Learning and Access Services for York University Libraries, was thrilled to have a student with marketing expertise to assist her in promoting the Las Nubes library. 

“Casita Azul is the connector between York and the community, but it’s hard to explain what it is because it has so many audiences,” Craig said. “We needed a student voice to help make it more visible in the Las Nubes universe and Samantha has that magical communications experience in environmental education, so we hit the jackpot. 

“Changemakers is definitely a successful program.” 

Lunch n’ Learn pilot a pathway to career opportunities 

Two women chatting over coffee

First-year student Anthony Loschiavo has turned the resume guidance he received at his York University Faculty’s Lunch n’ Learn program into a summer position with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). 

“I attended a session about resumes and cover letters and created a resume with help from Aren Sammy, our Faculty’s experiential education (EE) coordinator,” said Loschiavo, who is in the sustainable energy management program at the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC). “I took my resume to a career fair in January and talked to the people at the TRCA booth. I discovered they had field assistant positions available each summer. I applied for a number of them, had interviews in February and will begin working for TRCA’s Erosion Hazard Management Division in April. 

“The Lunch n’ Learn I attended was the seed for all of this. I’m glad the Faculty offers this kind of assistance.” 

Sammy and her fellow EE coordinator Rosanna Chowdhury are delighted by Loschiavo’s success and hope other EUC students will find the sessions equally helpful. 

“We knew that Career Education & Development offered workshops, but green careers are so specialized that we decided to tailor a professional/skills development series to our EUC students’ needs,” Sammy said. “These sessions provide our students with the opportunity to receive coaching and development from York staff, alumni and industry partners.”

EUC lunch n learn
Both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent graduates, attend the Lunch n’ Learn sessions

The Lunch n’ Learn sessions take place during the lunch hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the fall and winter terms. Students can attend in person or virtually, although the organizers see additional benefit to the in-person option. 

“The sessions were always held on the same days and time, so we fostered a community each semester,” Sammy said. “Everyone was growing with each other. They could collaborate, compare and communicate about the plans they were putting into action, and it was heartwarming to see the students wanting to help each other.” 

Sammy and Chowdhury promoted the sessions on social media channels and through internal communications networks. They drew undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent graduates, to the sessions. The topics addressed the basics of professional development, such as resume writing and interview preparation. Other topics included career well-being and optimizing a LinkedIn profile. People in the field also share their experiences. 

“We scheduled the first month of the programming and used the feedback from participants to develop the programs for the next month,” Sammy said. 

They drew on faculty and staff experts to lead the sessions and also reached out to external partners such as the City of Toronto. Staff from the Prince’s Trust Canada, a not-for-profit organization inspired by King Charles III, delivered a series of four workshops focused on Green Career Excellence. 

“The concept of sustainability and partnership has always resonated with me,” said George Amoh, program manager with Prince’s Trust Canada. “Through these workshops, I am able to combine my passions more interactively and inclusively … It will be great to host more workshops and inspire people to pursue and obtain green jobs authentically.” 

The organizers are pleased by the success of the program and plan to continue beyond the pilot to the 2023-24 academic year. 

“We want to make this a recurring annual item,” Chowdhury said. “We want our students to learn about career paths and benchmarks that indicate where they should be in their career planning so that they aren’t panicking when they reach their final semester before graduation.” 

As climate change becomes increasingly apparent, “every organization is looking for sustainability personnel,” Sammy noted. “The opportunities are vast but specific, so a specialized program is key to our students’ success.” 

EUC champions hands-on learning, immersive outdoor classrooms

For the birds project

By Angela Ward  

In the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), students gain hands-on education through a variety of experiences, dismantling the traditional four walls of a classroom.

Lisa Myers
Lisa Myers
Phyllis Novak
Phyllis Novak

In the Community Arts for Social Change course, taught by Professor Lisa Myers, EUC students collaborated to create the “For the Birds” window mural. Designed out of the student-run Sky Studio Collective and headed by graduate student Phyllis Novak, it now sits outside the first floor of the Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies (HNES) Building. It serves as a reminder to care for the songbirds in the design of built spaces, after the estimated 1,000 deaths each year from window glass. 

“The project came out of research in which we considered our relationships with the sky world, and the life cycle of the songbird,” Novak says. “It was great to co-design with 30 students in the class. And to make sure our designs connected with the outdoor space at HNES/EUC including the Native Plant Garden – a great draw and habitat for the more-than-human species around us. I then worked with four EUC students, as a collaborator, to produce the final mural application.”  

As director of Maloca Living Labs – Community and Native Plant Gardens, Novak also sees the arts playing key roles in environmental education. “There’s so much opportunity and so much we can do,” Novak explains. “Both the arts and environmentalism serve each other, but the arts are accessible, make way for subjectivity, and offer a more-than-words-alone way to struggle through and communicate about urgent issues such as land, food and racial justice. 

“The arts are a great way to archive and map stories that have preceded us in these Anishinaabeg territories, and a modality from which to (re)learn relationships with the natural world that can help us all move forward. Interacting withplace’ through the arts broadens ecological consciousness. My aim is to integrate the arts in urban agriculture, community gardening and environmental learning and activations in EUC’s Maloca and Native Plant Gardens.”

Patrick Mojdehi
Patrick Mojdehi

Living labs are a huge part of EUC’s makeup. “The ability to gather your own data, rather than reviewing someone else’s data and getting outside the four walls of a classroom is a neat experience; not a lot of courses have this component to it,” says Patrick Mojdehi, laboratory technician/field course support, EUC. “Some challenges include not always having a roof over your head and calm conditions, but you must prepare for these elements by having the right clothing, right mindset and right protection. Being adaptable and resilient is an important life lesson. 

“I recall an experience where I was very cold, my hands were in the freezing cold water, but we still took the samples and got the work done. We felt better for it and since we were there with colleagues, we made those types of friendships where you collaboratively experience those hardships together.”  

Mojdehi has over a decade of technical experience in environmental geoscience; and is capable of conducting various research experiments, report writing and sampling methods and design. 

Mojdehi believes that experiential education (EE) is fundamental to a student’s education. “I think that students should really get to it, do it and experience it. Once you go through some type of EE experience, you fall in love with it. It’s very rewarding.”  

As for the career readiness and employment EUC provides, EE offers a challenging yet meaningful experience. “There is a huge paradigm shift these days towards experience and hands-on learning. Having this experience on your resume is beneficial because in terms of physical geography and environmental sciences, companies are doing the same on a larger, more repetitive scale,” Mojdehi explains.

Field trip
One of the experiential education opportunities for EUC students

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and how that changed science practices, Mojdehi sees a need for science students in EUC complementing their online research with online resources. He says, “Since things are always changing and adapting, I do see it going this way. We’ve used census data and satellite imagery data in the past; which are a type of old open educational resources (OER), where we make digital maps.”  

Moe Clark, a Métis multidisciplinary artist who held a guest workshop in ENVS 1100 The Land We’re On: Treaties, Art and Environment, says that her work is grounded in environmental soundscapes, spoken word poetry and experiential learning. Clark explains, “The innate power of video and the visual realm are at the frontlines of social and political movements as they communicate directly to convey story and transmit understanding. 

“One example during the workshop I presented includes Anishinaabe writer, poet and activist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s piece How to Steal a Canoe. In her video, she used her ancestral tongue, Anishinaabemowin, to speak about power, kinship relationships and the process of locating ourselves. The repetition within her spoken text included images of water as earth blood, used to nurture a dried-out birch bark canoe. I invited students to consider the images and coded symbolisms within their writing and demonstrated how Simpson codifies her work through re-matriation (repatriation) practices of Land Back from an Anishinaabe Kwe perspective.”   

Betasamosake Simpson’s poem was complemented with vivid animations by Amanda Strong. “Strong is a Métis animator based in Vancouver. Her visual language offered examples of ways to weave these living metaphors within the cellphim realm to underscore land acknowledgements. Land acknowledgments then become more than a concept; they become a sensory experience of place.” 

In her workshop, Clark encourages her students to consider how relationships are dynamic and living, explaining, “They should be wary of placing any relationship, any understanding of power, of treaty relations or of land claims or land title as a past thing. I want to ensure students are upholding and uplifting their roles as allies, as immigrants, refugees and settlers and they are improving how they build and maintain relationships.”  

EUC aims to create meaningful experience for its students that are different, unique and rewarding, equipping them to become career ready, and become critically and creatively engaged as future changemakers in this time of unprecedented environmental change.  

York presents second annual Sustainable Development Goals virtual teach-in day


In collaboration with the Teaching Commons, the SDGs-in-the-Classroom Community of Practice is offering its second UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Teach-in Day.

The event, called “The Right Balance: Teaching and Learning the SDGs through Collaboration and Connection,” takes place May 8 from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The online half-day event will offer panel discussions, interactive sessions, and experiential learning about teaching, internalizing, connecting and collaborating with the United Nations’ 17 SDGs. The program will also share approaches to working with the SDGs through student, interdisciplinary/interdepartmental and other unique partnerships, as well as encourage strategies for engaging students in SDG-focused lessons.

The York co-chairs of the event are Assistant Professor Sandra Peniston (Faculty of Health), PhD student/SDG project coordinator Nitima Bhatia and SDG project coordinator/curricular expert Tracy Bhoola.

Visit this page for further programming information and register for the event here.

Groundbreaking global health simulation slated for May

Global health

Students will be immersed in an unparalleled learning experience on May 1 and 2 as York University’s School of Global Health unveils an innovative global health simulation event designed for Faculty of Health students.

Ahmad Firas Khalid
Ahmad Firas Khalid

Spearheaded by Dr. Ahmad Firas Khalid, a physician and assistant professor of global health and faculty Fellow with the Faculty of Health, this first-of-its-kind simulation will transport students into the heart of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Assembly.

Participating students will have a unique opportunity to collaborate, tackle multi-sectoral challenges, and deepen their understanding of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The deadline to register is April 17. Students must register using this link. Those who would like to attend the opening and closing plenary sessions and the side sessions as an observer are also welcome; the registration deadline is noon on April 21 using an online form.

Khalid has created a state-of-the-art simulation of the World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO’s supreme governing body, giving students the chance to participate in creating collaborative governance approaches to multi-sectoral and multi-jurisdictional global challenges. The simulation, the first of its kind, also provides a deeper understanding of the UN SDGs.

“This project is groundbreaking because simulation-based learning in global health training is new,” Khalid said. “Presently, there is a distinct lack of continuous efforts aimed at advancing experiential education through simulation-based learning in global health, especially beyond the traditional clinical settings.

“In accordance with the University Academic Plan, the WHA SIM advances experiential education (EE) at York beyond the classroom by pioneering a novel EE strategy that combines the opportunity to explore and analyze real-world problems by applying theory and skills to a concrete experience and producing outputs that are collaborative and action oriented.”

The simulation, which takes place at the Keele Campus, begins with an opening ceremony and a welcome address by York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton, followed by a panel discussion on “Building Solidarity for Worldwide Health Security” moderated by Professor A.M. Viens, director of York’s School of Global Health. The panel features Dr. David Peters, dean of the Faculty of Health; Dr. James Orbinski, director of York’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research; and Krishnan Shankar, science advisor and community partnerships lead at ScienceUpFirst Initiative, Canadian Association of Science Centres.

Afterward, students will immerse themselves in the simulation, joining one of three committees: Public Health Emergencies: Preparedness and response; Strengthening Infodemic Management; or Universal Health Coverage: Reorienting health systems to primary care. Students will discuss the issue facing them and draft a related position paper and resolution. Each committee will work with a York University mentor who is an expert in the field: Godfred Boateng, assistant professor of global health; Matthew Poirier, assistant professor of social epidemiology; and Farah Ahmad, associate professor in the School of Health Policy and Management.

On the second day of the simulation, each committee will take its resolution through the WHA approval process, aiming to have it passed.

“The WHA simulation should be eye-opening for students as they are exposed to the procedures and politics involved in global health initiatives,” Khalid said. “This amazing opportunity will offer valuable lessons that will be transferable to their future careers.”

Participants will also attend a career session focused on opportunities in global health and enjoy a lecture by Anthony Morgan, the new host of CBC’s acclaimed television program, The Nature of Things.

The simulation will end with an awards ceremony, recognizing the best delegate, best collaborator and best position paper.

“This is a fantastic EE opportunity for our students,” said Viens. “York’s undergraduate global health program was the first in Canada and one of the first in the world to offer a free-standing undergraduate global health degree. Its reputation and record of educating the next generation of global health leaders will be further advanced by this innovative, real-world simulation-based experiential learning initiative. It’s something we hope to enlarge upon in years to come.”