Schulich triumphs in fall case competitions

Rob and Cheryl McEwen Graduate Study & Research Building

This semester, the Schulich School of Business sent several case competition teams to universities across North America – to much success. Each student team received coaching from alumni and faculty as part of Schulich’s highly regarded Case Competition Program, which serves as a platform to develop essential skills in strategic thinking and presentation.

Schulich School of Business Fall 2023 case competition teams. Left photo, from left to right: Ian Chang, Disha Mittal and Abilash Sathyakumar. Right photo, top row: Siddharth Dave, Jack Goodwin and Omer Rahim; middle row: Kian Rastegar and Sophia Katzell; bottom row: Sophie MacLellan, Joanne Estephan, Joe Fayt and Mikayla Wronko.

Team Schulich clinched the $10,000 top prize at Duke University’s 2023 Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition. Ian Chang (JD/MBA ’24), Disha Mittal (JD/MBA ’24) and Abilash Sathyakumar (JD/MBA ’25) competed against 60 teams from over seven countries, including finalists from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Judget Business School at the University of Cambridge. Their winning proposal offered a practical business model addressing the electrification challenges in Nigeria’s rural areas. The team’s achievement, with support from alumna Neda Riazi (BBA ’14), reflects Schulich’s commitment to developing solutions with positive social and environmental impact.

The DeGroote Innovative Solutions Competition (DISC), which took place virtually earlier this month, saw two new Schulich case teams secure second and third place. Students Mikayla Wronko, Sophie MacLellan, Sophia Katzell, Joanne Estephan, Jack Goodwin, Omer Rahim, Kian Rastegar and Siddharth Dave tackled two real-life business cases sponsored by industry leaders. The competition tested their ability to quickly devise business strategies, with one week of preparation for the first case and a three-hour timeframe for the second. The DISC teams received guidance from alumni coaches Michael Chan (MBA ’19), Santoshi Tadanki (MMAI ’23), Kristen Ferkranus (MBA ’20), Adam Wexler (MBA ’11) and Ollie Adegbulu (MF ’23).

All student teams were coached by Professor Joe Fayt, who teaches several marketing courses at Schulich and is responsible for training the graduate-level case teams. Fayt brings over a decade of experience to the Case Competition Program and has earned over 60 international competition victories through his coaching of Schulich teams.

“Congratulations to the Schulich teams on their top-tier placements at recent national and international case competitions,” said Schulich Dean Detlev Zwick. “Kudos as well to the case competition coaches, alumni advisors and supporting faculty who did an outstanding job preparing our students to compete at the very highest levels.”

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

Header banner for INNOVATUS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faculty, course directors and staff are invited to share their experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the Innovatus story form, which is available at

In this issue:

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

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

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

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

LA&PS study abroad program evolves, expands its offerings

Map plane travel international world

By Elaine Smith  

The slate of summer study abroad courses offered by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) at York University is as popular as it was pre-pandemic and features new courses, as well as old favourites. In fact, its success has the Faculty looking toward a domestic version.  

Katie Gribbons
Katie Gribbons

“The program is back in full force with seven courses, and students are really excited to travel again,” said Katie Gribbons, study abroad co-ordinator for LA&PS.  

In 2024, three popular intermediate language courses – language and culture in China, Italy and Spain – will be reactivated, as well as three others: Anthropology Through the Visual in Lisbon; Greece: A Modern History in Athens; and the Politics of Youth and Old Age in Seoul. In addition, a new course joins the roster, Romantics en Route: Contexts of Literary Production in England. 

MJ Maciel Jorge
MJ Maciel Jorge

“We don’t offer the same courses every year,” said MJ Maciel Jorge, associate dean, global and community engagement for LA&PS. “The goal is to offer a variety of courses that engage students in global issues and provide an immersive experience they wouldn’t get otherwise. We work with instructors to promote attractive, value-added experiences and meaningful student learning. Our study abroad courses are very student-centric, with learning outcomes that provide added value and an opportunity to think globally.” 

LA&PS organizes the program itself. Gribbons works closely with York International (YI) so that LA&PS processes and policies are closely aligned with those YI co-ordinates. She works with faculty who are proposing summer abroad courses, shepherding them through the proposal stage, evaluations, review, the formal curriculum process and approval. Gribbons also works with study abroad partner institutions and organizations to arrange accommodations, activities and day trips. She promotes the program and recruits students, too.  

“We take a concierge approach to studying abroad that is tailored to student needs,” said Maciel Jorge. “In addition to being with an instructor they know while abroad, they are in contact with Katie, with whom they’ve been working for months. All of our students also get some financial support from LA&PS.”  

Both Maciel Jorge and Gribbons are happy to see the current interest in the courses, because many of the students enrolling are those who were constrained by the pandemic and have never travelled on their own. Gribbons said culture shock among the students is not uncommon but, luckily, the professors are incredibly supportive and are comfortable with the location, which helps the students adjust, too.

“Katie works with the students to build their confidence and stretch their comfort zone,” said Maciel Jorge. “They get to experience and learn from global perspectives and in doing so students are able to acquire intercultural skills and reflect on the value of global citizenship.

“Each year of the program, we learn valuable lessons and we are able to fine-tune our policies and processes for an enhanced experience for faculty and students.” 

Gribbons noted that LA&PS conducts pre-departure surveys and post-trip surveys to learn about the students’ experiences.  

“The top skills they gain are confidence and independence,” she said. “For many, it’s the first time they are travelling without their parents; it may be their first airline ride and first passport. They’re so nervous beforehand, but when they come back, they wish the trip was longer. They’ve been able to navigate a new place and learned to be resilient and resourceful.”  

This month, LA&PS is launching a community of practice around studying abroad, targeting both instructors scheduled to teach in summer of 2024, but also colleagues considering the 2025 experience.  

“We want to bring together all our colleagues who teach abroad or are interested in proposing courses for deep reflection on a student-centred approach,” said Maciel Jorge. “We will share best practices and look at how to continue providing tailored resources. We’ll also be revamping our website to include a variety of tools for students and faculty.” 

A potential domestic study away program is being discussed, and the Faculty is hoping to run a pilot program in 2024.   

“This is very meaningful to the Faculty and the University as a whole,” said Maciel Jorge. “It will give our students an opportunity to learn about global issues from a national perspective. Global citizenship starts at home. We plan to work with historically marginalized, immigrant and Indigenous communities on issues that often go unnoticed. We want to see how we can advance the University’s mission of decolonization, equity, diversity, and inclusion and our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. So much of what we do domestically, such as water management and sustainable economics, for example, is of a global nature. 

“Either domestically or abroad, the benefits for students are immense. Learning about new ways of being and seeing the world makes one take notice of one’s own place in it, a collective human experience. We gain a notion of empathy and connectedness to the world at large from these global interactions.”  

Those interested can learn more about the LA&PS Summer Study Abroad Program by visiting the website.     

It’s co-op programs, not internships, for liberal arts and professional studies students

A man shaking a woman's hand at a meeting or interview

By Elaine Smith 

Beginning in September 2024, students in all programs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) at York University will have the option to choose to enrol in a paid co-op program as they pursue their education.

Previously, said Neil Buckley, associate dean of teaching and learning for LA&PS, the Faculty had internships associated with its programs, but internships in general aren’t well-defined; some are for credit, some are paid and some are voluntary, leaving students and employers confused. 

“With the transition from an optional internship to an optional co-op program, people will understand that the co-op is a paid work-integrated learning (WIL) experience that is related to a student’s area of studies,” Buckley said. “It will help us to better communicate this opportunity to students and allow them to communicate with future employers exactly what their WIL means.”

Fahima Elsani
Fahimeh Ehsani

Fahimeh Ehsani, manager of employer engagement for LA&PS, said the Faculty wants to ensure that students are compensated for their work, and the change to co-op programs addresses any confusion, because co-op programs are traditionally paid work terms. 

“When students are choosing York, they will know that they can contribute toward their tuition, which makes a difference,” Ehsani said. “It was immediately obvious to us at this fall’s Ontario Universities Fair. One of the main questions parents asked was, ‘Do you have a co-op option?’ We are hoping that it will bring us more prospective students.” 

Buckley said that a 2020 report written by the C.D. Howe Institute supports the value of co-op programs, noting that Canadian university graduates from such programs are significantly more likely to get a first job that is closely related to their field of study, and three years afterward they have significantly better incomes than those students who don’t participate. In addition, regardless of their employment status, three years after graduation they have significantly lower debt levels than non-co-op students. 

The introduction of an optional co-op system will allow students to participate in WIL earlier in their educational career, beginning in the second year, rather than the third or fourth. They will have the opportunity for more work terms, experience and remuneration before leaving university as a result and more opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom, ultimately making them more competitive in the workplace. 

“Co-operative Education & Work-Integrated Learning Canada also says that it’s essential for students to have a study term between each work placement so they have time to reflect on what they’ve learned,” Buckley said. “We incorporate reflection into the co-op process so that students can integrate workplace experience and practise with the theory they learn in the classroom; it’s completing the loop.” 

Ehsani views co-ops as valuable in helping students decide what type of work suits them. 

“Co-ops open their eyes to multiple career paths,” she said. “They can also help students land full-time jobs. They are often offered jobs by co-op employers; it makes their recruitment easier to hire a known candidate who does good work. For students, this can be a relief, because finding jobs is extremely stressful. 

“In any case, successful co-op placements demonstrate that they have skills and are ready to learn, employers are ready to mentor and train them.” 

Before students begin their co-op terms, LA&PS’s co-op team prepares them with some non-credit training, addressing soft skills, resume preparation and what to expect in the workplace. 

“Our students compete with those from other schools, so support from our team is valuable,” Ehsani said.  

Ehsani is busy working with various other Faculties and the Career Centre to bring recruiters to campus and will work with employers to get feedback about how the program could be improved or which other courses might augment a student’s career potential. 

“Many students are just in a hurry to finish their degrees, but they may end up behind,” says Buckley. “Experience on their resumes is often worth the extra year or two until graduation, especially since that experience is paid. We are excited for this transition and looking forward to welcoming all LA&PS students to our optional co-op program next fall.” 

York U Motion Media Studio a hub for future creative talent

YUMMS green screen studio

By Alexander Huls, deputy editor, YFile

The York U Motion Media Studio (YUMMS), supported by Cinespace Studios, continues to see growth as it offers courses, workshops, talks and critical hands-on experiential education for those in the York University community looking to become the next generation of content creators across creative industries.

Originally gifted to York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) and York University in 2016 by the Mirkopoulos Family, the York U Motion Media Studio was branded and relaunched in its current iteration post-pandemic in February 2021. Located within Cinespace’s expansive content production complex in Toronto, YUMMS’ interdisciplinary studio space features a student lounge, two studios, a standing set, a green screen stage and state-of-the-art equipment provided by MBS Equipment Co. Its offerings are geared towards providing opportunities to receive hands-on experience with industry tools.

Students enrolled in AMPD courses have access to the space, and various courses – including production design, cinematography, virtual production, motion capture, creative producing and film production – integrate the space into the curriculum.

Ingrid Veninger
Ingrid Veninger

“We’re really on the ground with experiential education,” says Ingrid Veninger, director of YUMMS and associate professor in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts.

Beyond developing hands-on familiarity and mastering of filmmaking equipment, YUMMS intends to help students build up a resume of experiential accomplishments that will assist them with their future content creation careers. “The first thing they’re going to be asking you when you sit across an interview table will be, ‘What is your experience? What have you done? What sets have you worked on?’ ” says Veninger.

YUMMS empowers them with answers. It also aims to assist students navigating the industry by connecting them with creative professionals through the facility.

One way is through being located within the Cinespace complex – a hub of international filmmaking activity. “Our students and folks in the greater York U community can just open the door and look down the hall and see the world of productions swirling,” says Veninger. “They’re just one step away from the creative industries they want to be a part of.”

Another way is through workshops, masterclasses and programming like the YUMMS Industry Talks Series, a monthly career development and networking event, hosted in partnership with Cinespace’s CineCares program and OYA Black Arts Coalition, creating further opportunities to learn and form industry relationships. “We’re trying to help facilitate that extra step to foster meaningful connections, so that AMPD students can gain greater access, insight and opportunity to engage with our ever-growing on-screen industries.”

York U Motion Media Studio Industry Talk event
Ingrid Veninger moderating a session of the YUMMS Industry Talks series.

Veninger stresses that YUMMS isn’t solely meant for undergraduate students, however. “It’s a teaching, learning and research space for undergrad and graduate students, alumni and faculty researchers to utilize this invaluable resource for courses, labs, workshops, master classes and production,” she says. “The space is multifaceted. Media arts research faculty are building a three-panel installation on-site, graduate students are shooting thesis projects, AMPD alumni are returning to workshop feature film screenplays with actors, award-winning cinema and media arts instructors are launching new interdisciplinary courses like Shooting the Set, and more. We are continually receptive to new initiatives, which help us maximize the opportunity of this gift, originally from the Mirkopoulos family and now with TPG Real Estate Partners.”

Still relatively new, the use and awareness of the studio’s multiple offerings requires outreach through a variety of channels. In addition to social media, building excitement happens with students. “I’m sometimes surprised when I go into first- and second-year classes. And I’ll ask if they know about the Motion Media Studio and there will be crickets,” she says. “But as soon as I mention we are located at Cinespace, where award-winning features and shows have been produced – like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘The Umbrella Academy,’ Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water ­– their eyes light up.”

Awareness of YUMMS is changing quickly. As the University heads into the winter term, YUMMS currently has 13 student film productions booked back-to-back. “The space has never been more active. Our calendar is packed, which is a great problem to have,” says Veninger.

An ongoing $3.12-million investment of support, from 2022 by the Cinespace Film Studios, will continue to allow YUMMS to pursue its goals and build up momentum, not just to benefit those who use the studio but the industry as well.

“Our students are the next generation of original content creators. They’re the forward-thinking innovators,” says Veninger. “The industry wants to discover new talent? Well, here you go. Let us introduce you to the next wave of bold, new, fresh, original visionaries ready to ignite our creative industries across Canada and around the world.”

For more information about the York University Motion Media Studio, visit

OsgoodePD introduces three new courses for internationally trained lawyers

Two women students in a law class

Osgoode Professional Development’s Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law program is introducing a new stream of practice skills courses next fall. Developed by Audrey Fried, OsgoodePD’s director of faculty and curriculum development, in partnership with instructors Shelley Kierstead and Germán Morales Farah, the new courses offer students the opportunity to integrate their substantive knowledge and skills from several courses in a way that simulates the realities of Canadian legal practice.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to offer this suite of courses, which are unique in integrating substantive law and practice skills in a way that meets the needs of our Professional LLM students,” said Fried. “And these courses are a natural fit for OsgoodePD, building on our experience with simulated clients and problem-based learning, and drawing on the expertise of Professor Paul Maharg and experienced instructors like Professor Shelley Kierstead and Germán Morales.”

In Canadian Legal Strategy, Research and Writing (CCLW 6609), students will go beyond the basic legal research and writing skills by drawing on material from Professional Responsibility and Constitutional Law courses to develop interview, communication and strategy skills. They will learn how these skills work together with legal research and writing to serve the needs of clients. Students will deploy their newly gained knowledge in authentic tasks as they are called on to draft practice documents and write memoranda of law, opinion letters and demand letters.

In Canadian Business Transactions (CCLW 6638), students will move from a solid foundation in Canadian law related to corporate and commercial transactions into exercises involving communication, strategy, drafting and negotiation. Students will prepare practice documents, plan due diligence, conduct or review selected regulatory searches and negotiate key terms of a transaction.

The third new course, Capstone: Canadian Law in Practice (CCLW 6610), further builds on those newly acquired skills as students work in a virtual firm environment, completing both a litigation and a transactional file and engaging in structured reflection of these new skills and experiences. The course will also focus on building client relationships.

These new course offerings will help internationally trained lawyers meld practical experience from other jurisdictions with Canadian substantive law and practice techniques.

Applicants with an international law degree are encouraged to apply to the OsgoodePD Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law program by Jan. 15, 2024. For more information about the program, the new course offerings and how to apply, visit the program website.

New certificate prepares professionals for business optimization

School of Continuing Studies

The York University School of Continuing Studies announced the launch of its new part-time Certificate in Business Process Improvement. The new program will prepare professionals with the hard skills and cross-functional competencies to thrive in business process improvement roles, supporting organizations through digital transformation initiatives focused on discovering and implementing opportunities to improve processes.

The three-course experiential program will launch with a part-time, accelerated, 11-week intensive format. A six-month, part-time format will launch at a later date. Registration for the Certificate in Business Process Improvement is now open, with classes beginning in March 2024. 

“Professionals who enrol in our new Certificate in Business Process Improvement will develop a change management skill set that will help organizations optimize business processes,” says Christine Brooks-Cappadocia, assistant vice-president of continuing studies at York University. “Our program is highly experiential, with assignments and group activities led by industry-expert instructors that simulate real-world use cases, preparing students for the responsibilities of a role that encompasses business process improvement.”

Business process improvement involves analyzing, measuring and optimizing an organization’s business processes to become more efficient and effective. As many Canadian organizations experience economic complexities due to dynamic market conditions, business process improvement initiatives are being prioritized by leaders across a range of sectors. Consequently, these roles are on the rise.

Business process improvement has evolved from following the Six Sigma methodology, introduced by Motorola engineer Bill Smith in 1986, in favour of using automation tools and artificial intelligence-based technology. This new certificate program will introduce students to these automation technologies in a process improvement context.

The program also features a capstone project that threads through each course, aligning with program milestones and allowing learners to graduate with a portfolio of work.

The Certificate in Business Process Improvement is a direct registration program, meaning an application is not required. For more information, visit the School of Continuing Studies web page.

Student wins inaugural Faculty of Science award

3d golden star golden with lighting effect on black background. Template luxury premium award design. Vector illustration

Department of Mathematics & Statistics student Yibin Zheng is the inaugural recipient of the Global Engagement Funding Award (GEFA), created by the Faculty of Science to support York University science students who want to study or participate in academic activities abroad as part of their degree.

Yibin Zheng
Yibin Zheng

Zheng received the award in recognition of ongoing academic excellence and a profound commitment to expanding his research knowledge and skills across borders. Most recently, he demonstrated those qualities this summer by taking part in the Faculty of Science’s experiential education program, which led him to participate in a research internship in the Department of Applied Mathematics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he was responsible for using the Bayesian statistics theory to work with R, a programming language, and help solve statistical problems.

GEFA is part of the Faculty of Science’s efforts to support a wide variety of global experiences and perspectives for science students, notably eligible degree-seeking undergraduate students (domestic or international), by facilitating international academic experiences.

The award was spearheaded by the Office of International Collaborations & Partnerships within the Faculty and – recognizing the financial barriers that may deter students from engaging in enriching opportunities – is designed to extend financial aid to ambitious students like Zheng, enabling them to immerse themselves in global scientific communities and endeavours.

Experiential education, DEDI key priorities of teaching and learning

Header banner for INNOVATUS

Welcome to our October issue of Innovatus. This month, we introduce you to a variety of inventive teaching and learning efforts that will undoubtedly interest you and provide food for thought. The initiatives featured in this issue focus on the key priorities of experiential education (EE) and decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI).

Chloe Brushwood Rose
Chloë Brushwood Rose

For example, stories from the Teaching Commons featured here highlight programs that reinforce York University’s commitment to DEDI, as set forth in our University Strategy. One, a 10-part workshop series called Trauma-Informed Pedagogies, may be of particular interest; it runs throughout the 2023-24 academic year. The Teaching Commons team has also begun to do research into the impact of York’s Model for Engaged Teaching, created in 2019 and updated in 2021. The model is worth exploring as a way of broadening your understanding of teaching as a profession.

For those who want to assist students in learning new skills and better cope with life’s demands throughout their university careers, Envision YU is a wonderful resource that you will learn more about in this issue. It provides classroom tools that are relevant to any subject and aid faculty as they guide their students toward the working world or further academic studies.

And let’s not forget the importance of EE. The University Academic Plan states that York will “attain our goal of providing every student with an experiential learning opportunity, regardless of program.” Two of our stories offer wonderful examples of such opportunities.  

In May, students in the School of the Arts, Performance, Media & Design had the opportunity to participate in a summer course, Shooting the Set, that provided them with hands-on experience in writing, shooting and acting in short films produced in front of a green screen. York’s amazing Motion Media Studio at Cinespace offered them the opportunity to gain professional-level experience in a low-stakes environment. 

In another example, faculty from the School of Global Health describe their Academic Innovation Fund-funded, simulation-based experiential learning initiative, the World Health Organization World Health Assembly (WHA) simulation (WHA SIM). WHA SIM seeks to enhance knowledge and skills around collaborative governance approaches, involving multisectoral and multijurisdictional global challenges, such as those found in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

So, there you have it: a full, varied slate of interesting stories that may entice you to tweak your own course delivery or ensure that your students learn some new skills. Our office is proud to showcase the diversity and range of teaching and learning efforts taking place across York University.  



Chloë Brushwood Rose 
Vice-Provost Teaching and Learning 

Faculty, course directors and staff are invited to share their experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the Innovatus story form, which is available at

In this issue:

Teaching Commons leader in bringing DEDI lens to the classroom
York University’s Teaching Commons continues to bring equity-informed pedagogy to York University faculty, introducing relevant ideas and practices through its workshops and courses.

WHA simulation is excellent EE teaching tool
Students from the Faculty of Health will engage in a World Health Assembly (WHA) simulation to experience first-hand how global health policymakers at the World Health Organization make decisions. 

Hands-on green screen course an AMPD hit
An exciting opportunity for students in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) to work with green screen technology resulted in the production of several short films.

Model for Engaged Teaching basis for conference presentation
York University’s Model for Engaged Teaching will take centre stage during an upcoming presentation by educational developers from the Teaching Commons at the International Society for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference in November. 

Envision YU eases student transition to and from university
Two professors from different Faculties have joined together to create Envision YU, a curriculum tool designed to help faculty guide students through university life.

WHA simulation is excellent teaching tool 


By Elaine Smith 

Students from York University’s Faculty of Health will once again have the opportunity to engage in a World Health Assembly (WHA) simulation: a chance to experience first-hand how global health policymakers at the World Health Organization (WHO) make decisions.

Adrian Viens
Adrian Viens
Ahmad Firas Khalid
Ahmad Firas Khalid

Dr. Ahmad Firas Khalid, a physician and assistant professor at the School of Global Health, created the simulation and ran it to great acclaim for 100 students last May in partnership with Associate Professor Adrian Viens, director of the School of Global Health. As a result, they have slated the second annual WHA simulation for May 1 to 3, 2024, with the theme of One Health.  

The simulation provides students with an experiential education (EE) opportunity to understand the workings of the WHO’s supreme governing body, and asks them to consider a current global health issue, participate in a WHA committee, draft a resolution and present it to the entire assembly.

James Orbinski
James Orbinski

In addition, students are exposed to numerous experts in the field who will offer guidance and share their own experiences. Participants in 2023, for example, were treated to an online address by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, and Dr. James Orbinski, a Nobel laureate and director of the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York. 

“It demonstrates how valuable experiential education is,” said Khalid. “It was so well received that we’ll be making it an annual event. We started working on this year’s simulation the minute the last one ended.” 

Khalid and Viens can attest to the value the simulation has for students, based on their research. The pair used a mixed method of study to evaluate the program, an event that was supported by a grant from the Academic Innovation Fund and funds from other donors.  

They asked all participants to fill out a pre-assessment survey to evaluate their skills with dialogue, complex problem thinking, communications and use of simulations. Afterward, they conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 participants to determine which of their skills participation improved and how it benefited them. These findings will form the basis of a research paper and will be shared at conferences. 

The findings indicated: 

  • 97 per cent of the participants affirmed the topics covered in the simulation were highly relevant to their current studies, future academic pursuits and prospective career opportunities. This data emphasizes the simulation’s alignment with students’ evolving needs, ensuring they’re well prepared for their future endeavours. 
  • 86 per cent rated the simulation as “very effective” in showcasing significant global health challenges and issues, illustrating its crucial role in imparting a nuanced understanding of global health dynamics. 
  • 79 per cent felt the simulation notably enhanced their preparedness for future career paths. 
  • 70 per cent confirmed the experience positively influenced their ability to apply knowledge in practical scenarios. 
  • An impressive 98 per cent showed enthusiasm for participating in similar simulations in the future, underscoring the simulation’s significance in meeting students’ aspirations and interests in global health. 

“The simulation improved our students’ skill sets in communication, interpersonal skills, time management and collaboration, and it enhanced their understanding of complex issues, filling gaps in their knowledge more effectively than a classroom lecture,” said Khalid. “We’re mimicking the outside world with a structured, informed pedagogical approach. 

“You can’t underestimate the simulation’s value in career preparation. I have already heard from two students who took part in 2023 and have decided to pursue master’s degrees in public policy as a result of this experience, something that wasn’t on their radar previously.” 

Khalid and Viens have taken the feedback they received during these interviews to improve upon the experience for this year’s participants. They’ll be holding four workshops in the months leading up to the simulation to help students prepare for the negotiating, informed discussion and writing required.  

“We want to be innovative in our approach every year and push the envelope,” said Khalid. “We want to push the students to think about both the dominant and the counter-narratives.” 

Currently, available funding means that the simulation is capped at 100 students, but Khalid and Viens are working with partners to see if it’s possible to open the door to larger numbers.  

Interested students from the Faculty of Health should contact Khalid directly.