What Ontario’s Step 3 reopening means for York University

Vari Hall from the exterior
Vari Hall

On Friday, July 16, the province officially moved into Step 3 of its Roadmap to Reopen.  At this time, it is encouraging to see an improving public health situation and surpassed vaccination targets; however, it is important to be mindful of recent comments made by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health about the need to have the highest rate of vaccination possible heading into September, as more will begin to gather indoors.

The latest health data also shows that there is a disproportionate rate of infection among those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. The University continues to strongly recommend that all eligible members of the York community receive their COVID-19 vaccines this summer.

A preliminary review of the impact of Step 3 for York suggests that while there are no major changes posed to the delivery of the Summer 2021 term (with courses largely delivered remotely), some fitness and in-person research activities involving human participants will resume. The following will apply under Step 3:

  • Beginning on July 19, the Tait McKenzie Fitness Centre will have a limited reopening for York students only, with workout times available on a reserved basis. The Fitness Centre has scheduled fitness classes to resume the following week by reservation.
  • While indoor gatherings must allow for all to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, in-person instruction will continue to abide by existing gathering limitations (10-person maximum), with an exception for a maximum of 50 persons allowed for in-person instruction in the School of Nursing.
  • All indoor gatherings must still abide by two-metre physical distancing, masking/face covering requirements and/or the proper use of personal protective equipment.
  • Students filming outdoors or undertaking other activities outdoors must abide by the 100-person outdoor gathering limit.
  • Beginning on July 16, in-person/face-to-face research involving human participants will resume with exceptions, subject to approved health and safety plans, current ethics and/or permit approval and applicable physical distancing requirements.
  • If you do need to come to campus, please request access through the Campus Access system or have pre-existing approval to access campus spaces. Completion of daily screening is also part of this process.

The University continues to await guidance from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities on what will and will not be permitted for the Fall 2021 term and it is anticipated that this information will be shared with Ontario’s post-secondary sector soon. Plans continue to be developed to implement changes to on-campus activities, in-person classes and student experiences at the appropriate times.

In the coming weeks, more information will be shared via weekly Wellness Wednesday Return to Campus Special Issues and on the Better Together website. If you have questions about York’s safe return to campus that are not currently covered under any of the existing FAQs, feel free to submit them here.

Two York PhD students awarded prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

research graphic

Two York University PhD students dedicated to the advancement of trailblazing research have been awarded 2021 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships. Valued at $50,000 per year for up to three years, this prestigious scholarship is presented by the Government of Canada to support doctoral students who are conducting world-class research. The scholarship recipients embody all of the rigorous selection criteria: academic excellence, research potential and leadership.

This year’s Vanier Scholars, Debbie Ebanks Schlums and Maureen Owino, are advancing knowledge in areas that can stimulate positive change on a global scale. Both of their research areas have a diverse reach, from addressing the issues around the underrepresentation of small diasporic communities in formal archives to tackling injustices of pandemic responses that often overlook vulnerable populations.

“York University and its community are proud to support these incredible scholars in the advancement of their groundbreaking research and empower them for long-term success,” says Thomas Loebel, dean and associate vice-president of York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Debbie Ebanks Schlums, cinema and media studies/film
Debbie Ebanks
Debbie Ebanks Schlums

Ebanks Schlums acknowledges the important role small diasporic communities play in the constitution of the Canadian nation in her proposed dissertation titled “Community-Engaged Memory Preservation: Co-Creating an Audio-Visual Archive of the Jamaican Diaspora in the Greater Toronto Area.”

“Small diasporic communities significantly impact the national fabric of Canada, yet their contributions are marginalized within official archival collections and, therefore, within the idea of the nation,” says Ebanks Schlums of her project.

This cutting-edge study challenges the work done by official archives through creating an alternative presentation of artifacts that does justice to preserving the cultural heritage of the Jamaican diaspora in the Greater Toronto Area. Ebanks Schlums underscores that there are portable and non-material forms of archiving that carry history on and through bodies of communities that have a migratory nature. This project will embody a creative and collective imagining of a diasporic archive by creating a variety of unique artifacts from musical compositions to cellphone portraits of people and places. This innovative type of archive will be shared in mainstream spaces to provide as much accessibility to these cultural artifacts as possible.

Through this research, new methods dedicated to the study of diasporas and under-examined archives will emerge through the creation of novel forms of artifact presentation. The project aims to support the Jamaican community in exploring their own identity and sense of belonging through creating connections to community members, their homeland and the society in which they reside.

In addition to the cutting-edge academic work that Ebanks Schlums performs, she is also an active leader in her community. She was a founding member of the Out of a War Zone and To Lemon Hill collectives, both addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.

Maureen Owino, environmental studies
Maureen Owino
Maureen Owino

Owino’s research, titled “When HIV and COVID-19 Pandemics Collide in Black Communities in Canada,” confronts issues relating to pandemic responses that impact already vulnerable communities.

Through institutional ethnography, the research will examine the cumulative impacts of existing and emerging social and public health policies on Black people’s health and well-being in Canada. “It will do so by: 1. Tracking the rapidly changing health and public policy landscape in Canada; 2. Using critical feminist and race theories to analyze, compare and contrast COVID-19 and HIV containment and mitigation strategies; and 3. Examining how these policies address, reify, challenge, and uphold existing health inequities from the perspective of Black people living with and at risk of pandemics in Canada,” says Owino of her research.

This research is vital, as it exposes how pandemics reveal inequities in health outcomes for vulnerable communities who also face racism, sexism, homophobia and poverty, which create acute conditions for these vulnerable populations. The findings will be accessible to a diverse audience base through a collaboration with Black organizations, community members, researchers, activists and scholars.

“Whereas most Canadians are reeling from the impact of COVID-19, Black people also remain in an HIV pandemic zone and must deal with the impact of both pandemics simultaneously,” says Owino. “This structural inequities creates conditions of vulnerability that are increased by barriers to effective and timely health care, and increases the Black communities’ risks to future pandemics.”

In addition to being a dedicated scholar who promotes these vital social causes, Owino also shows exemplary leadership skills. She is the director of the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment and a member of the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS.

“Both Debbie Ebanks Schlums and Maureen Owino are outstanding examples of Vanier Scholars through their innovative research and dedication to the community,” says Loebel.

York scholars receive Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

Life Sciences Building FEATURED

York University Postdoctoral Fellows Mohammad Naderi and Vasily Panferov have been named among this year’s recipients of the prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Awarded by the Government of Canada, the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship is valued at $70,000 per year for two years, supporting postdoctoral researchers who will positively contribute to Canada’s social, economic and research-based growth. Following a highly competitive selection process, this esteemed award allows researchers the privilege of conducting ambitious work, while focusing entirely on advancing their respective fields.

Mohammad Naderi
Mohammad Naderi
Mohammad Naderi, biology

Naderi’s project investigates the impact of early-life exposure to environmental chemicals in the development of autism spectrum disorders. Identifying a dramatic increase in incidents of autism in Canada (from one in 94 children in 2008-10 to one in 66 children in 2018), Naderi’s research focuses on one of its possible causes, the chemical compound bisphenol, widely used in the production of plastic and packaging materials.

Titled “Understanding the role of environmental contaminants in the development of autism using the zebrafish model,” Naderi’s study focuses on uncovering the mechanisms through which bisphenol may contribute to the pathogenesis of autism. Recognizing the high level of genetic and physiologic similarities between humans and zebrafish, Naderi’s work uses zebrafish as a means of modelling relevant autistic behavioural characteristics.

“This project can be a crucial step towards identifying the role of environmental contaminants in the etiology of this brain disorder,” says Naderi, thus offering both governments and private institutions a means of redefining regulations while searching for safer alternatives.

Vasily Panferov, chemistry
Vasily Panferov
Vasily Panferov

Panferov’s study proposes an innovative technology for the diagnosis of sepsis, one of the major causes of death in hospitals worldwide. Combining a test strip (similar to those used in home pregnancy tests) with a smartphone, Panferov’s research focuses on developing an inexpensive diagnostic tool that can be widely accessed, thus expanding the opportunities for prevention of this life-threatening condition across the globe.

Titled “Technology for Rapidly Diagnosing Sepsis at the Bedside,” Panferov’s device monitors the blood levels of several inflammatory biomarkers capable of confirming a diagnosis of sepsis even before the onset of symptoms. In the form of a 10-minute test to be performed by nurses at the bedside, this technology would eliminate the current need for expensive laboratory equipment and time-consuming practices.

Privileging “early-stage diagnosis and long-term prognosis,” says Panferov, this reliable yet cost-effective tool will inevitably “benefit patients’ health worldwide.”

Study shows arts-based relational caring helps those living with dementia thrive

hands relationship love heart
hands relationship love heart

A newly published study addresses the compelling call for connection and relationships for persons, families and communities living with dementia.

The qualitative research study, “Free to be: Experiences of arts-based relational caring in a community living and thriving with dementia,” aims to address the gaps in literature by focusing on experiences at an arts-based academy for persons living with dementia that is guided by a relational caring philosophy.

It shares what is possible when the focus is on relationships and where the arts are the mediums for meaningful engagements that are both human and non-human.

Christine Jonas-Simpson
Christine Jonas-Simpson

Led by York University Associate Professor Christine Jonas-Simpson from the School of Nursing in the Faculty of Health, the study’s findings contribute to the growing body of knowledge about both relational caring and arts-based practices that highlight an ethic of care that is relational, inclusive and intentional.

The research was conducted in collaboration with: Gail Mitchell, York University School of Nursing; Sherry Dupuis, University of Waterloo; Lesley Donovan, Unity Health Toronto; and Pia Kontos, KITE-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.

Few studies explore the meaning of arts-based, relationship-centred care or relational caring with an entire community living with dementia where the voices of persons living with dementia are also included. For this research, 25 participants were recruited from the arts-based academy and interviewed one-on-one or in small groups. Participants included five persons living with dementia, eight family members, four staff, five artists, one personal support worker and two volunteers. Participants were asked to describe their experiences of relational caring or relationships in the academy space.

Three themes were identified in the analysis of the interviews with participants:

  • freedom and fluid engagement inspire a connected, spontaneous liveliness;
  • embracing difference invites discovery and generous inclusivity; and
  • mutual affection brings forth trust and genuine expression.

“Findings from this study shed light on what is possible when a relational caring philosophy underpins arts-based practices – everyone thrives,” the study states. “As new settings and programs are developed, grounding them in a relational caring philosophy from the beginning and providing ongoing support of the principles will better support the transfer of the philosophy into practice.”

Relationships, human and non-human, are essential for human flourishing and this is no different for a person living with dementia, says Jonas-Simpson, adding that when engagement in the arts is guided by relational caring philosophy, the arts become powerful mediums for connection and for relationships to grow and thrive.

Study provides insight to help parents reduce post-vaccination stress in young kids

A photo with a black backgroud that features two vials of COVID-19 vaccine and a syringe

Looking forward to a fall with hopefully one of the most important vaccination uptakes of children in a generation, a new study provides insights to help parents with reducing post-vaccination distress in younger kids. The study, published in the journal PAIN, looked at preschool children who were at least four to five years old and what their parents said that could help reduce distress during their vaccination.

This study is part of the largest study in the world – coined the OUCH Cohort – looking at caregivers and children during vaccinations from birth to the age of five. The OUCH Cohort originally followed 760 caregiver-child dyads from three pediatric clinics in the Greater Toronto Area and were observed during vaccinations during the first five years of a child’s life.

Rebecca Pillai Riddell
Rebecca Pillai Riddell

“What we found is that in the first minute after the needle, the more parents said coping-promoting statements such as ‘you can do this’ and ‘it will be over soon’ or tried to distract them with talking about something else, the higher distressed the children were. This really surprised us,” said Rebecca Pillai Riddell, senior author, professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, and director at the OUCH Lab at York University. “We found, however, during the second minute after the vaccine when the child was calmer, these same coping-promoting statements resulted in them calming down faster. On the other hand, distress-promoting statements such as criticizing the child or reassuring them that they were fine had no relationship with child distress in minute one, but in minute two the distress-promoting comments were strongly predictive of higher distress in kids. We also showed with preschoolers that the more distressed they were prior to the needle, the more distressed they were after the needle – like a domino effect of previous pain.”

“Previous research has shown that the vast majority of preschoolers calm down within two minutes after a vaccination; however, about 25 per cent of children did not,” said Ilana Shiff, first author and master’s student in Pillai Riddell’s lab. “We wanted to determine what parents were saying before or during the vaccination appointment that could be leading to these children feeling distressed during and after a vaccination.”

Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that in first minute after a vaccine parents should not start encouraging coping right away, but rather keep children calm by using physical strategies such as hugging, cuddling or hand-holding. This should be done instead of trying to give a child verbal direction on how to cope when they are in peak distress. Once children get over that initial minute of high distress, Pillai Riddell says, they think children are more able to benefit from parents’ coping-promoting statements. The findings also provide insight for health-care providers and caregivers on how to support children during immunization appointments. 

Researchers say that because preschool children show the prior pain “domino effect,” it is critical for health-care providers to try to vaccinate calm preschoolers. Routinely adopting techniques that allow the child to be approached without distressing them prior to the needle (e.g. allowing a child to stay close to their caregiver while viewing a video on a smartphone as a distraction) will help minimize the pain domino effect these findings suggest. Moreover, for both groups, supporting caregivers to avoid distress-promoting behaviours before and during the vaccination will be critical.

“This type of data has never been found in preschoolers before,” said Pillai Riddell. “It’s important to understand post-needle reactions at this age because needle phobia and phobias in general start coming on at five to 10 years of age, so understanding how children can be coached and how parents can have a really powerful role in reducing stress post a vaccination is key.”

York professor inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering

Bergeron Centre
Marin Litoiu
Marin Litoiu

Marin Litoiu, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Lassonde School of Engineering and the School of Information Technology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, has been inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Litoiu joins exclusive and prestigious company with this honour. He was recognized for his outstanding achievements and service to the engineering profession in Canada and around the world.

Litoiu leads the Centre for Research in Adaptive Software at Lassonde, which focuses on the development of adaptive and self-managing systems. He is considered one of the pioneers of the field of self-adaptive software (SAS), which actively modifies its own behaviour and structure as conditions or user requirements change. His contributions to the design, architecture and implementation of self-managing software systems have been adopted widely by both public and private sectors. Litoiu has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers, with one receiving over 2,000 academic citations. He is the recipient of two most influential paper awards, three best paper awards and was recently honoured as the 2020 IBM Faculty Fellow of the Year.

With strong ties to the software industry, Litoiu has been recognized with the IBM Outstanding Achievement Award for top innovators and the Leo Derikx NSERC Synergy Award for Innovation, awarded together with the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies. He patented 11 different technologies and systems with industrial partners and founded a burgeoning startup company in 2016, Bitnobi Inc., which was ranked among the top 20 cybersecurity innovators for 2019 by Technology Innovators.

Litoiu has secured more than $16 million in external research funding, including a recent $1.65-million Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council CREATE grant to start the Dependable Internet of Things Applications program at York University.

As a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, he will contribute to the mission of the academy, providing leadership in engineering and social responsibility that is in step with the evolving needs of our society.

Newly elected Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering were inducted virtually on June 14, during the academy’s 2021 Annual General Meeting. The Canadian Academy of Engineering is a founding member of the Council of Canadian Academies, along with the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Rare artifacts find their way home to the Philippines thanks to a York professor

FEATURED image Patrick Alcedo_new_AMPD

A museum in the northern Philippines has received a treasure trove of local artifacts, all thanks to a connection made during the Sustainable and Inclusive Internationalization Virtual Conference organized by York University and partners in January 2021.

Patrick Alcedo
Patrick Alcedo

Patrick Alcedo, associate professor of dance in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), was one of the conference speakers. He gave a presentation about using dance as a pedagogical tool. Alcedo is a dancer, dance ethnographer and documentary filmmaker who specializes in the folk dances of the Philippines.

In the audience for Alcedo’s talk was Faye Snodgress, an American education consultant and granddaughter of a man who taught English in the northern Philippines in the late 1800s.

Following the conference, Snodgress wrote to Alcedo to explain her family connection to the Philippines. She sent along photos of some cultural artifacts that her grandfather had brought home as mementos of his stay in the rural Philippines. Snodgress expressed a desire to donate them to a museum or an appreciative audience. She asked Alcedo if he had any ideas about a good home or any connections to someone who could assist her with the donation.

A rare bag from the Philippines
This embroidered bag is among the artifacts sent to the Museo Kordilyera. Photograph courtesy of Patrick Alcedo

Alcedo, who hails from the central Philippines, immediately thought of a colleague at OCAD University, Lynne B. Milgram, who conducts research in the northern part of the Philippines. He got in touch with Milgram and she told him that a new museum, the Museo Kordilyera, had opened in 2019 at the University of the Philippines. Milgram contacted the director of Museo Kordilyera and received an enthusiastic response: the museum would be delighted to add the artifacts to its collection.

“The artifacts are amazing,” said Alcedo. “There are wooden spoons with carvings of humans on the handle, for example, and a very rare bag that is used in a particular Philippine dance. Material objects are inextricably linked with Philippine dance; they are used as props. I used a similar bag when I was a dancer. These traditions still exist. The dance movements are specific, but they alone can’t signify the culture; the dances are so object-driven.”

Carved spoons
Included in the artifacts are two rare carved spoons and a vessel. Photograph courtesy of Patrick Alcedo

The artifacts are now in Baguio, the city that houses the Museo Kordilyera.

Alcedo, who often travels to the area to conduct research on regional dances, is planning a visit to the collection once it is safe to travel again.

“Imagine, these artifacts came to North America 120 years ago,” he said. “It is such a generous thing to do to return them to a place where they will be treasured.

“In addition, it is fitting that these artifacts are being returned home during the Philippines’ quincentennial year so that the entire country can enjoy them,” added Alcedo, who was named by the Philippine Consulate as a recipient of a 2021 Quincentennial Award.

By Elaine Smith, special contributor

Professor Susan Dion appointed inaugural associate vice-president Indigenous initiatives

Artwork by Métis (Otipemisiwak) artist Christi Belcourt

York University Vice-President Equity, People and Culture Sheila Cote-Meek issues the following announcement to the community:

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Boozhoo, kwe kwe, bonjour and warm greetings,

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Susan D. Dion to the inaugural role of associate vice-president Indigenous initiatives, effective Sept. 1.

Susan Dion
Susan Dion

Professor Dion is a Lenape and Potawatomi scholar with mixed Irish and French ancestry and was the first Indigenous tenure-track faculty member to be hired in the Faculty of Education at York. Professor Dion joined York in 2001 and was appointed to the rank of full professor this year (2021).

Early in her time at York, Professor Dion demonstrated her commitment to supporting Indigenous initiatives. She worked with Indigenous students and the University administration to address student-identified needs and interests through her advocacy for and support of the establishment of Aboriginal Student Services and the Centre for Indigenous Students at York. She was a founding member of York’s Aboriginal Education Council (presently York’s Indigenous Council) and served as co-Chair for three terms between 2004 and 2015. In 2014, Professor Dion served as the first academic director for the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services.

In the Faculty of Education, Professor Dion has led development of the Wuleelham: Indigenous Education Initiatives including the Urban Indigenous Education MEd Cohort, an Indigenous PhD Cohort and the Waaban Indigenous Teacher Education Program. With a focus on Urban Indigenous Education, decolonizing systems of education, and most recently education sovereignty, her teaching, research and service deepens understanding of Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies; addresses gaps in educators’ knowledge of Indigenous peoples, histories, and cultures; and identifies and examines Indigenous students’ experiences, perspectives and hopes for education. Professor Dion has led numerous research projects including nIshnabek de’bwe wIn // telling our truths, (SSHRC, 2017) and inVISIBILITY INDIGENOUS IN THE CITY (SSHRC, 2013). She has followed up her successful book Braiding Histories: Learning from Aboriginal People’s Experiences and Perspectives (2009) with Braided Learning: Illuminating Indigenous Presence through Art and Story, expected out in January 2022. Professor Dion has expertise in the skillful cultivation of equitable and respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Professor Dion holds a PhD, MEd and BEd from the University of Toronto, and a BA from the University of Waterloo. She is an internationally respected scholar and researcher in Indigenous relationships and education.

This is an important time for York as it works to decolonize and address issues of racism, including anti-Indigenous racism, and strengthen the community to be more welcoming, equitable and inclusive. In the role of associate vice-president Indigenous initiatives, Professor Dion will draw on her expertise, experience and energy to drive the further implementation of York University’s Indigenous Framework, support the implementation of the Decolonization of Research Administration Report recommendations, and several other Indigenous Initiatives across our campuses.

Please join me in welcoming Professor Dion to her new role. I look forward to working with her over the coming years as she works to advance Indigenous Initiatives across York and with our community partners.

Miigwech, merci and thank you.

Sheila Cote-Meek
Vice-President Equity, People and Culture

Nomination de Susan D. Dion, toute première vice-présidente associée aux initiatives autochtones

Boozhoo, kwe kwe, Bonjour, Warm Greetings,

J’ai le plaisir d’annoncer la nomination de Susan D. Dion (PhD) au poste nouvellement créé de vice-présidente associée aux initiatives autochtones à compter du 1er septembre 2021.

Susan Dion
Susan Dion

Susan Dion est une universitaire lenape et potawatomi d’ascendance mixte irlandaise et française. Elle a été la première Autochtone du corps professoral à être embauchée pour un poste menant à la permanence à la Faculté de l’éducation de l’Université York. Madame Dion a rejoint les rangs de York en 2001 et a obtenu le titre de professeure titulaire cette année (2021).

Dès son arrivée à York, Susan Dion a démontré son engagement à appuyer les initiatives autochtones. Elle a travaillé avec les étudiants autochtones et l’administration de l’Université pour répondre aux besoins et aux intérêts des étudiants par son plaidoyer et son appui en faveur de l’établissement à l’Université York des Services de soutien aux étudiants autochtones et du Centre pour les étudiants autochtones. Elle a été membre fondatrice du Conseil autochtone de l’enseignement de York (aujourd’hui Conseil autochtone de York), dont elle a également été la coprésidente pour trois mandats entre 2004 et 2015. En 2014, Susan Dion a été la première directrice aux études du Centre de services aux étudiants autochtones.

À la Faculté de l’Éducation, Susan Dion a dirigé la mise en place du cheminement Wüléelham : Initiatives autochtones en enseignement, notamment la cohorte de maîtrise en Enseignement autochtone urbain, une cohorte de doctorants autochtones, et le Programme Waaban de formation des enseignants autochtones. Ciblant l’enseignement autochtone urbain, la décolonisation des systèmes d’enseignement et, plus récemment, la souveraineté en matière de formation, son enseignement, ses travaux de recherche et ses services permettent d’approfondir la compréhension des épistémologies et des ontologies autochtones, comblent les lacunes des éducateurs relativement aux peuples, aux histoires et aux cultures autochtones, et déterminent, en les analysant, les expériences, les perspectives et les espoirs des étudiants autochtones en matière de formation. Susan Dion a dirigé de nombreux projets de recherche, parmi lesquels nIshnabek de’bwe wIn // telling our truths (CRSH, 2017) et inVISIBILITY INDIGENOUS IN THE CITY (CRSH, 2013). Après la publication de son livre à succès Braiding Histories: Learning from Aboriginal People’s Experiences and Perspectives (2009), elle a poursuivi avec Braided Learning: Illuminating Indigenous Presence through Art and Story, dont la publication est attendue pour janvier 2022. Susan Dion est une experte en culture maîtrisée des relations respectueuses et équitables entre les Autochtones et les personnes non autochtones.

Madame Dion détient un baccalauréat, une maîtrise et un doctorat en éducation de l’Université de Toronto, ainsi qu’un baccalauréat ès arts de l’Université de Waterloo. Elle est une universitaire et une chercheuse internationalement respectée dans le domaine des relations et de la formation autochtones.

Cette nomination constitue un moment crucial pour l’Université York, qui travaille à la décolonisation et à la résolution des problèmes relatifs au racisme, notamment au racisme anti-Autochtones, ainsi qu’à un renforcement de la communauté afin que celle-ci soit plus accueillante, équitable et inclusive. Au poste de vice-présidente associée aux initiatives autochtones, Susan Dion s’appuiera sur son expertise, son expérience et son énergie afin de poursuivre plus avant la mise en œuvre du Cadre autochtone de l’Université York, d’appuyer la mise en œuvre de la décolonisation des recommandations du Rapport d’administration des travaux de recherche, et de soutenir plusieurs autres initiatives autochtones sur l’ensemble de nos campus.

Veuillez vous joindre à moi pour accueillir Susan Dion à son nouveau poste. J’ai hâte de collaborer avec elle au cours des années à venir dans le cadre de ses travaux pour faire progresser les initiatives autochtones sur l’ensemble de l’Université York et avec nos partenaires communautaires.

Miigwech, merci et thank you.

Sheila Cote-Meek
Vice-présidente de l’équité, des personnes et de la culture

How do we know where things are? New study examines visual stabilization

VISTA will propel Canada as a global leader in the vision sciences

Our eyes move three times per second. Every time we move our eyes, the world in front of us flies across the retina at the back of our eyes, dramatically shifting the image the eyes send to the brain; yet, as far as we can tell, nothing appears to move.

A new study out of York University and Dartmouth College provides new insight into this process known as “visual stabilization.” The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Patrick Cavanaugh
Patrick Cavanagh

“Our results show that a framing strategy is at work behind the scenes all the time, which helps stabilize our visual experience,” says senior author Patrick Cavanagh, a senior research fellow in psychology at both Glendon Campus and the Centre for Vision Research at York University and a research professor in psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College. “The brain has its own type of steadycam, which uses all sorts of cues to stabilize what we see relative to available frames, so that we don’t see a shaky image like we do in handheld movies taken with a smartphone. The visual world around us is the ultimate stable frame but our research shows that even small frames work: the locations of a test within the frame will be perceived relative to the frame as if it were stationary. The frame acts to stabilize your perception.”

One such example is when someone waves goodbye to you from the window of a moving bus. Their hand will appear as if it’s moving up and down relative to the window rather following the snake-like path that it actually traces out from the moving bus. The bus window acts like a frame through which the motion of the hand waving good-bye is seen relative to that frame.

The study consisted of two experiments that tested how a small square frame moving on a computer monitor affected participants’ judgments of location. The experiments were conducted in-person with eight individuals including two of the authors; and also online due to the COVID-19 pandemic with 274 participants recruited from York University of which 141 had complete data. The data were very similar for both types of participants.

In Experiment 1, a white, square frame moves left and right, back and forth, across a grey screen and the left and right edges of the square flash when the square reaches the end of its path: the right edge flashes blue at one end of the travel and the left edge flashes red at the other (see Movie 1), as shown in the figure below. Participants were asked to adjust a pair of markers at the top of the screen to indicate the distance they saw between the flashed edges.

In Experiment 1, the frame moves left and right but instead of seeing the locations of the blue and red edges where they are when they flash, they always appear with the blue flash on the left and separated by the width of the frame, as if the frame were not moving. When the frame moves more than its width as shown here, the red edge is physically to the left of the blue when they flash at the end of the frame’s motion, and yet the blue still appears to the left of red, separated again by almost the width of the frame

Experiment 1 had two conditions: The first condition evaluated how far apart the outer left and right edges of the square frame appeared; the second condition assessed the travel of the frame’s physical edge.

The data from both conditions of Experiment 1 demonstrated that participants perceived the flashed edges of the frame as if it were stable even though it was clearly moving, illustrating what the researchers call the “paradoxical stabilization” produced by a moving frame.

Experiment 2 again demonstrated the stabilizing power of a moving frame by flashing a red disc and a blue disc at the same location within a moving frame (see Movie 2). The square frame moves back and forth from left to right while the disc flashes red and blue in alternation. As in Experiment 1, participants were asked to indicate the perceived separation between the red and blue discs. Even though there is no physical separation between the discs, the moving frame creates the appearance that the two discs are located to the left and right of their true locations, relative to the frame where they flashed. In other words, participants perceived the location of the discs relative to the frame, as if it were stationary and this was true across a wide range of frame speeds, sizes, and path lengths.

“By using flashes inside a moving frame, our experiments triggered a paradoxical form of visual stabilization, which made the flashes appear in positions where they were never presented,” says Cavanagh. “Our results demonstrate a 100 per cent stabilization effect triggered by the moving frames – the motion of the frame has been fully discounted.”

These data, he says, are the first to show a frame effect that matches our everyday experience where, each time our eyes move, the motion of the scene across our retinas has been fully discounted making the world appear stable.

“In the real-world, the scene in front of us acts as the anchor to stabilize our surroundings,” Cavanagh says. Discounting the motion of the world as our eye move makes a lot of sense, as most scenes (i.e. house, workplace, school, outdoor environment) are not moving, unless an earthquake is occurring.

“Every time our eyes move, there’s a process that blanks out the massive blur caused by the eye movement. Our brain stitches this gap together so that we don’t notice the blank, but it also uses the motion to stabilize the scene. The motion is both suppressed and discounted so that we can keep track of the location of objects in the world,” says Cavanagh.

Based on the study’s results, the research team plans to explore visual stabilization further using brain imaging at York Dartmouth.

Mert Özkan, a graduate student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth; Stuart Anstis, professor emeritus in psychology at the University of California San Diego; Bernard M. ’t Hart, a postdoc at the Centre for Vision Research at York University; and Mark Wexler, Chargé de Recherche at the Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition Center at the Université de Paris, also served as co-authors of the study.

York professor expands global understanding of Karl Marx and Marxism with seven books in three years

Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Marcello Musto
Marcello Musto

Marcello Musto, professor of sociology at York University is recognized as a leading global authority on the work of the German philosopher Karl Marx and on Marxism. An accomplished scholar, Musto has devoted his academic career to reviving the understanding of Marx’s ideas and their applications to the contemporary world.

Driven and passionate about the significance of Marx’s contributions in politics, sociology, the critique of political economy and philosophy, Musto has delivered seven books within the last three years. Each book focuses on a different aspect of Marx’s work and highlights his relevance for finding alternative solutions to the most pressing current issues of capitalism.

A Rethinking Alternatives with Marx final cover
Rethinking Alternatives with Marx

Musto’s newest book, titled Rethinking Alternatives with Marx: Economy, Ecology and Migration (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), presents a Marx that is in many ways different from the one popularized by the dominant currents of 20th-century socialism. This volume aims to generate a new critical discussion of some of the classical themes of Marx’s thought and to develop a deeper analysis of certain questions to which relatively little attention has been paid until recently. Among them there are Marx’s points of view about ecology, migration, gender, labour movement, globalization, social relations and the contours of a possible alternative to liberalism. The chapters assembled in this book suggest that today Marx’s analyses are arguably resonating even more strongly than they did in his own time.

Karl Marx's Writings on Alienation
Karl Marx’s Writings on Alienation

The anthology Karl Marx’s Writings on Alienation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) offers an innovative reading of the theory of alienation, which occupied a significant place in the work of Marx and has long been considered one of his main contributions to the critique of capitalist mode of production. In this volume, Musto has concentrated his selection on Marx’s later economic works, where his thoughts on alienation were far more extensive and detailed than those of his earlier philosophical writings. Additionally, the materials contained in this new book offer valuable insights about Marx’s conception of communist society and the fundamental role of individual freedom. The anthology includes an extensive introduction written by Musto dedicated to the birth and the development of the concepts of alienation, commodity fetishism and reification.

Cover of The Last Years of Karl Marx
The Last Years of Karl Marx

Musto’s most recent monograph, The Last Years of Karl Marx: An Intellectual Biography (Stanford University Press, 2020), investigates Marx’s theoretical insights from the final, mostly unexplored years of his life. In what many describe as a definitive work on the last phase of Marx’s intellectual development, there are clear indications that not only he had not ceased to write, as it has been wrongly assumed for a long time, but, on the contrary, that he extended the range of his research into new disciplines and directions. Based on unfinished manuscripts that remain unavailable in English, on excerpts from his readings, and on letters of the period 1881-83, Musto lays rest the myth that Marx was a Eurocentric and an economic thinker fixated on class conflict alone. In his final years, the revolutionary who lived most of his life exiled in London, dedicated his attention on anthropological discoveries, analyzed communal forms of ownership in pre-capitalist societies, strongly opposed to colonial oppression in India, Algeria and Egypt, and considered the possibility of revolution in non-capitalist countries. Musto argues that all this allows an interesting reassessment of some of Marx’s key concepts. Originally published in Italian, in 2016, this book has already been translated into 14 languages.

Cover of The Marx Revival
The Marx Revival

For those interested in gaining new insight into Marx’s renaissance around the world, The Marx Revival: Key Concepts and New Interpretations (Cambridge University Press, 2020) is a collection of 22 essays penned by international experts on Marx that have been compiled and edited by Musto. The book offers a comprehensive guide to the importance of the author of the Communist Manifesto in understanding the major economic and political issues of our times. The contributors argue that Marx, freed from the association with Soviet Union and updated considering the changes since the late 19th century, has still a lot to teach us. Written in a clear form and accessible to a wider public, this volume brings together the liveliest and most thought-provoking contemporary interpretations of Marx and explains the reasons why his work is so relevant in today’s world.

Cover of Marx's Capital After 150 Years
Marx’s Capital After 150 Years

The collective volume Marx’s Capital after 150 Years: Critique and Alternative to Capitalism (Routledge, 2019) arises from the largest international conference held in the world to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Capital’s publication in 1867. The book is divided into three parts: I) “Capitalism, Past and Present”; II) “Extending the Critique of Capital“; III) “The Politics of Capital” and contains the contributions of globally renowned scholars who offer diverse perspectives and critical insights into the interpretation of such a seminal text and of the principal contradictions of capitalism. While pointing to alternative economic and social models, the authors of this volume reconsider the most influential debates on Capital and provide new interpretations of Marx’s magnum opus considering themes rarely associated with it, such as gender, ecology, and non-European societies.

Karl Marx’s Life Ideas and Influences

The edited book Karl Marx’s Life, Ideas, Influences: A Critical Examination on the Bicentenary (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019) is a collection which showcases a lot of the latest global scholarship on Marx and his legacy.  It contains 16 chapters from multiple academic disciplines and is divided into two parts: I) “On the Critique of Politics”; II) “On the Critique of Political Economy.” The volume represents a source of great appeal for both expert scholars of Marx as well as students and general readers who are approaching his theories for the first time.

Another Marx Cover NEW
Another Marx: Early Manuscripts to the International

Finally, the monograph Another Marx: Early Manuscripts to the International (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018) reconstructs the intellectual trajectory behind Marx’s main sociological and political ideas from his youth to the militancy in the International working Men’s Association. Built on the most recent textual acquisitions of the MEGA² – the historical-critical edition of the complete works of Marx and Friedrich Engels that has resumed publication in 1998 – this book offers an innovative examination of Marx’s ideas on post-Hegelian philosophy, alienated labour, the materialist conception of history, research methods, the theory of surplus-value, working-class self-emancipation and class political organization. From this emerges “another Marx,” a thinker very different from the one depicted by so many of his critics and ostensible disciples.

More about Marcello Musto

In addition to his focus and extensive writings on Marx and Marxism, Musto’s research explores alternative socio-economic ideas, socialist thought, the history of the labour movement, and contemporary European politics. His writings – available at www.marcellomusto.org – have been published worldwide in 25 languages. Musto’s forthcoming books include Travels with Marx: Destinations, Encounters, and Reflections (Europa Editions) and The Routledge Handbook of Marx’s ‘Capital’: A Global History of Translation, Dissemination and Reception (Ed. with Babak Amini, Routledge), both scheduled for 2022. Stay tuned. Follow Musto on Twitter @MarMusto.

All book covers reproduced with permission of the author and publishers.