Dahdaleh grad students showcase global health research

Global health

Four accomplished graduate scholars from York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research (DIGHR) will share details of their research projects, as well as insights on the progress of their research journeys, at the fourth annual Global Health Graduate Scholars Symposium on Dec. 13.

Taking place at the Keele Campus, Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholarship students Eyram Agbe, Caroline Duncan, Alexandra Scott and Nawang Yanga will offer an overview of the groundbreaking research they are undertaking in line with DIGHR’s three themes: planetary health, global health and humanitarianism, and global health foresighting.

The Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholarship was created to attract exceptional incoming and continuing domestic and international graduate research students to DIGHR. The scholarship is granted annually to graduate students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement in global health research.

This year’s presentations are:

Digital Deprivation: COVID-19, Education, and Teacher Health in Ghana – Eyram Agbe
Agbe is a master’s student in the Development Studies program. Her research seeks to understand the diverse psychosocial impacts of COVID-19 on basic school teachers in Accra, Ghana, and how these factors affect their ability to support new curriculum implementation as schools have returned to in-person classes. This study seeks to centre the critical role that social vulnerability plays in education; specifically, how teachers’ health outcomes are situated within contentions over technopolitical visions by stakeholders.

Drinking Water Provision in the Canadian Arctic: Current and Future Challenges and Emerging Opportunities – Caroline Duncan
Duncan is a PhD candidate at the Lassonde School of Engineering. Her research seeks to understand the complex factors that affect the quality and accessibility of drinking water in the Arctic using an interdisciplinary and participatory approach. Duncan works closely with the Municipality of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, collaborating with community members, government and non-governmental organization stakeholders involved with drinking water from source to tap to develop a model to test treatment, as well as work towards policy interventions to optimize drinking water safety.

The Myth of “Good Enough”: Law, Engineering, and Autonomous Weapons Systems – Alexandra Scott
Scott is a PhD student, Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholar and Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellow at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Her work explores the development and deployment of autonomous weapon systems (also known as “killer robots”) under international law and the role that engineers play in both.

TB in Tibetan Refugee Settlements in India: What We Know and What Is Missing – Nawang Yanga
Yanga is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health. Her dissertation focuses on the lived experiences of Tibetan refugees with tuberculosis (TB) in Indian settlements. This is greatly motivated by her own experiences with TB and by the sheer lack of literature in this community, despite having some of the highest TB incidence rates globally. The aim of her project is to introduce a social perspective to TB discourse by highlighting the connections between social conditions and TB that are unique to Tibetan refugees in India.

Visit the event page to register and attend: yorku.ca/dighr/events/4th-annual-global-health-graduate-scholars-symposium.

The graduate students’ research is funded by the Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholarship. The 2024 competition is currently accepting applications. To learn more about the eligibility criteria and application process, visit the scholarships page: yorku.ca/dighr/scholarship.

Anucha family creates new award to support Black entrepreneurs

Young Black man working at a desk

A new award created and funded by the Anucha family is the first of its kind to support Black entrepreneurs at YSpace, York University’s entrepreneurship and innovation hub.

The award commemorates the family’s son and brother Alfred Anucha, a visionary, young entrepreneur who passed away at the age of 26. A former York student, Alfred was also the founder of Stay Ulo, a network of properties that offers flexible apartment rentals with a hotel experience.


Alfred’s passion for entrepreneurship and his unwavering belief in the potential of young people to create were the cornerstones of his life, shared family members at a recent event to announce the award. “ ’Bet on yourself. Bet on the future.’ This was Alfred’s mantra and encapsulates the vision of the Alfred Anucha Award,” said Adanna Anucha, Alfred’s sister. “Our family is excited to support young, Black entrepreneurs to ‘bet on yourself’ just as Alfred did. We hope this award will serve as a living tribute and memorial to honour Alfred’s legacy as a true innovator and dreamer.”

The award will support aspiring Black entrepreneurs in partnership with YSpace and the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance. Self-identifying Black individuals (Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected refugees) are eligible for this award, with a preference given to Black male entrepreneurs under the age of 30, in recognition of the historical underrepresentation by Black male entrepreneurs in this space.

Each year, a maximum of four entrepreneurs will receive $2,500 each in recognition of their commitment to their craft. Additionally, recipients can take advantage of YSpace’s specialized programming free of charge to nurture their ventures. Current and past program participants are eligible and encouraged to apply for this award, which will be available annually for the next five years.

The award is also a testament to the deep connection the Anucha family shares with York University. Alfred’s mother, Uzo Anucha, is an associate professor at the School of Social Work in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. She is also the York Research Chair in Youth and Contexts of Inequity. Alfred’s four siblings have also attended York University.

David Kwok, director of entrepreneurship and innovation at YSpace, said, “YSpace is honoured to have this partnership and support of the Anucha family. This award will be a catalyst for many young, Black entrepreneurs to receive the funding and support necessary to continue their impactful work in the community. Our collaborative efforts will create greater access and growth for these Black-led businesses.”

Applications for the first round of awards are open from Nov. 20 to Dec. 15. More information about the application processes will be available on the YSpace website.

AMS Healthcare awards fund York research on history of medicine

Crop close up Indian woman doctor in white uniform with stethoscope taking notes, using laptop, writing in medical journal

Earlier this month, Canadian charitable organization AMS Healthcare announced two York University scholars as recipients of its 2023 History of Healthcare Awards Program: Jody Hodgins, a PhD candidate in the Department of History; and Kenton Kroker, an associate professor in the Department of Social Science, both in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

The AMS History of Healthcare Awards Program promotes scholarship, teaching and public interest in the history of health care, disease and medicine. Health-care professionals, students and researchers can apply for three types of awards: postdoctoral fellowships of $45,000, doctoral research awards of $25,000 and project grants of up to $10,000. The program aspires to convene networks, develop leaders and fund crucial activities in medical history, health-care research, education and clinical practice.

Hodgins and Kroker are two of the eleven 2023 award recipients selected by an expert review panel. These outstanding scholars will act as leaders to enhance the impact and value of history of health-care research in Canada and beyond and help shape the future of Canadian health care.

Jody Hodgins

Jody Hodgins
Jody Hodgins

Hodgins received the AMS History of Healthcare Doctoral Research Award, worth $25,000, for her project titled “Meeting Demands for Animal Healthcare: Veterinary Medicine in Rural Southern Ontario, 1862-1939,” which will explore the interdependence between animal, human and environmental health to show advancements in public health and the role veterinary medicine had in shaping our current understanding of modern medicine and health-care practices. 

“I am grateful to AMS Healthcare for their support of the history of medicine community and honoured to receive this award alongside such company,” she said.

Hodgins will examine four key developments that occurred between 1862, marking the establishment of the Ontario Veterinary College, and 1939: the production of animal health knowledge in popular sources; the need for veterinary intervention with unrecognizable diseases that could transfer from animals to humans; the popularity of quack medicine; and the technological advancements available with the rise of professionalization.

“I am thankful for this opportunity and the support of my supervisor, Sean Kheraj, and committee members Jennifer Bonnell and Colin Coates, whose invaluable guidance will help me to contribute a history of veterinary medicine that offers a better understanding of how people living in rural communities managed health before professional veterinarians were quickly available and affordable in rural environments,” she said.

Kenton Kroker

Kenton Kroker
Kenton Kroker

Kroker received the AMS History of Healthcare Project Grant, worth $20,000, for his historical study titled “Innovation, Expertise, and Equity: Creating Sleep Medicine within Canada’s Universal Health Care System, 1970 – 2000.” Kroker asks what effects Canada’s evolving system of universal health care had on sleep medicine since 1970.

“I’m thrilled to use this grant money to hire a Science and Technology Studies doctoral student (Hana Holubec) to help me examine the evolution of sleep medicine in Canada,” he said.

Drawing inspiration for his study from his late colleague Professor Gina Feldberg, who called for more comparative studies to better understand how health care has unfolded differently in Canada and the U.S., Kroker has been fascinated by the delicate balance Canadians try to execute in creating an accessible health-care system that also facilitates innovation.

“Medical interest in sleep appeared – almost out of nowhere – simultaneous with the development of Canada’s universal health-care system,” he explained, “so I started to wonder whether a close historical study of this field might reveal the ways in which the Canadian model of health-care provision affected the development of this new medical sub-specialty.”

To execute his project, Kroker will combine personal interviews of Canadian sleep medicine researchers and practitioners with a historical analysis of published biomedical literature to help reveal the ways Canada’s universal health-care system impacted technological innovation, patient care, and professional status and structure in an emerging field of medical expertise.

“The results,” he said, “will illustrate the complex ways that equitable access and biomedical innovation have interacted in the recent past. It might also help us better understand the benefits and drawbacks of our current system of health-care provision – and perhaps even improve it.”

Applications for the 2024 AMS History of Healthcare Awards will open on Jan. 8, 2024, with over $250,000 in funding available. For more information, visit the program website

Professor wins prestigious prize for nonfiction

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Last week, York University Professor Christina Sharpe was awarded the 2023 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for her book Ordinary Notes (Knopf Canada, Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan Publishers, Daunt Books, 2023). The prize, worth $75,000, is given annually for excellence in literary nonfiction, to a work that demonstrates a distinctive voice and a compelling command of language.

Christina Sharpe close-up portrait
Christina Sharpe

“I was thrilled that Ordinary Notes was recognized and received the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction,” said Sharpe. “It was an honour to be on the shortlist with the other authors and hopefully it means that the life of the work is extended and that the book will reach more people.”

It has been quite a year for Sharpe, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York. A profile in the New York Times accompanied the launch of her book in April and dubbed her “the woman shaping a generation of Black thought.” Ordinary Notes has since received extensive praise – from the Guardian, The Yale Review, the Boston Globe, Bookforum and Publisher’s Weekly, to name a few – for its literary innovation and careful examination of questions about loss and the shapes of Black life that emerge in the wake. It was also a finalist for the 2023 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

In Sharpe’s winning book, a series of 248 notes are used to weave artifacts from the past – public ones alongside others that are personal – with present realities and possible futures, constructing an immersive portrait of everyday Black existence. The notes gather meaning as they’re read.

The Writers’ Trust Prize jury said, “With tenderness, bravery and razor-sharp poetic language, Christina Sharpe invites the reader to witness the ordinary joys and sorrows of Black lives and how they are transformed within the everyday reality of systems of racial supremacy. In doing so, she creates a new narrative space at once intimate, deeply informed and uncompromising.”

When asked about the book’s unique format, Sharpe shared that this was a carefully considered choice. “I wanted to write a book in which form does something,” she explained. “There are four books in particular that greatly informed the form and approach of my book: Adrienne Kennedy’s People Who Led to My Plays, Dionne Brand’s A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging and The Blue Clerk, and John Keene’s Annotations.”

The result is a book that the jury said, “calls upon the reader to witness and wrestle with the notes and stories that Sharpe, a scholar and poet, so generously shares with us.”

In addition to Ordinary Notes, Sharpe has authored two other books of nonfiction, Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects and In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, the second of which was named by the Guardian and The Walrus as one of the best books of 2016 and nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Since 2011, the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction has been sponsored by businesswoman and writer Hilary M. Weston, the 26th lieutenant Governor of Ontario. This year, it is funded by the Hilary and Galen Weston Foundation, and the prize purse has increased from $60,000 to $75,000.

For more information about the awards, visit Awards | Writers’ Trust of Canada (writerstrust.com).

From practising law to innovating health care: York prof harnesses potential of genomic medicine 

Collage showing DNA, medicine and more

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile editor 

York University Assistant Professor Ian Stedman says the diagnosis of his first-born daughter’s rare disease likely saved his life – and now, he’s focusing his work on helping to do the same for others across Canada.

Ian Stedman
Ian Stedman

The Osgoode Hall Law School alum and lawyer – appointed as assistant professor in the School of Public Policy & Administration in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, with graduate appointments at Osgoode, in Science and Technology Studies and in Socio-Legal Studies – is a co-applicant on a $15-million project that aims to disrupt the current health-care model through the development of a first-of-its-kind national genomics database. 

The Pan-Canadian Human Genome Library (PCHGL), funded through a five-year grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, will bring together human genome sequencing initiatives across the nation to enhance the collective well-being of people in Canada. 

It will have huge implications for health care, says Stedman, especially for those living with rare diseases and struggling to find a diagnosis – an experience he’s lived through. 

Beginning at a young age, Stedman suffered from a host of symptoms that grew in severity as he got older – frequent rashes, periodic fevers, headaches, bloodshot eyes, arthritis and eventually hearing loss – that had doctors and specialists stumped for more than 30 years. 

Looking back over his health records from the first 18 years of his life, Stedman noted 190 separate visits to his family doctor, walk-in clinics and specialists – not to mention the many visits to emergency departments when his pain became unbearable – that had him seeking answers to his ongoing progressive illness. 

“So, my story is 30 years undiagnosed, having no idea what was going on, and then just giving up,” says Stedman. 

That was, until his daughter Lia began exhibiting similar symptoms during her first year of life. When her health declined a few months before her first birthday, she was brought to the SickKids emergency room, which marked the beginning of their diagnostic journey together.

Ian Stedman's daughters Ivy, Ainsley and Lia.
Lia (right) with sisters Ivy (left) and Ainsley (middle).
Lia Stedman
Ian Stedman’s daughter Lia.

In 2014, both father and daughter were diagnosed with a one-in-a-million genetic disorder called Muckle-Wells syndrome (MWS), a member of the family of genetic disorders known as cryopyrin associated periodic syndromes. Thought to be the 12th and 13th in Canada to receive the diagnosis – with the confirmation of Lia’s MWS leading to his same diagnosis – Stedman learned that if left untreated, the syndrome results in premature death before the age of 36 for one in three people.  

He was 32. 

After diagnosis, and with the realization that his daughter had potentially saved his life, Stedman began his advocacy work through the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, where he forged connections with those in the health-care space. He met computer scientist Michael Brudno from the University of Toronto, who, at the time, was the scientific director for SickKids’ Centre for Computational Medicine and co-founder of PhenoTips, a Toronto-based team that provides software and services to genetic health-care providers. 

PhenoTips takes your genetic information and your list of symptoms and uses machine learning to search for other individuals with the same symptoms (phenotype) to then compare whether there are similarities in the related genomes (genotypes). The goal is to offer a potential differential diagnosis or to reveal a possible genetic marker for future research. 

After hearing Stedman’s story at a conference, Brudno approached him and asked if he could digitize his medical records. 

“He wanted to run my information through PhenoTips to see whether the software would be able to suggest a diagnosis,” says Stedman. “It took the software eight visits to figure out what was wrong with me … because he had a dataset of genomes that he could run it against, and so that was the moment where I thought, ‘OK, I’m not just doing law, I’m doing law and health policy now.’ ” 

This experience inspired Stedman to pivot his professional focus and learn how to actualize this type of groundbreaking health-care tool for all Canadians.

Ian Stedman with daughter Lia. Both father and daughter are in good health with the right treatment for their diagnosis of a one-in-a-million genetic disorder called Muckle-Wells syndrome.
Ian Stedman with daughter Lia. Both father and daughter are in good health with the right treatment for their diagnosis of a one-in-a-million genetic disorder called Muckle-Wells syndrome.

“It took me 32 years to get a diagnosis, and it doesn’t seem like it has to be like that anymore. If I could enter the health-care system now, and if that system was allowed to learn from everyone’s health data, I could be diagnosed in one visit,” he says. “It’s actually my mission in life to figure out how that could be possible so that people like me – those coming up behind me – don’t have to tell a story like the one I tell.” 

Drawn to the possibility of creating positive change in the health-care landscape, Stedman became more involved in advocacy work, learned more about health research, joined several boards related to rare diseases and genetics in medicine, and advanced his learnings as a social scientist in a new discipline. 

Now, Stedman will lead a team responsible for patient partnership, participant engagement, training and outreach for the national genome database PCHGL.  

Stedman emphasizes the significance of involving patients in scientific research and highlights the need for patient involvement, and education, in the PCGL initiative. This approach challenges the traditional health-care model and aims to enhance the role of patient partners. 

The project provides an opportunity to empower patient partners in various aspects of the initiative and seeks to ensure their voices are heard in matters including technical decisions, ethics and policymaking.  

Stedman will also contribute to a working group overseeing ethical and regulatory compliance for the library to meet its goal to collect, store and improve access to Canadian genomic data in a way that is equitable, secure and sustainable. 

One of the key questions of the project is “How do we build a more inclusive genomic infrastructure in Canada?” says Stedman. 

“Part of our project is to look at who is represented and who is not represented in the genomes we’ve sequenced in this country. With this library, we can start to take control over improving our representation within the data.” 

Dr. Guillaume Bourque, director of the bioinformatics department at the McGill Genome Centre, will lead this initiative, collaborating with researchers from various partnering institutions. The database project is an extension of the Government of Canada’s Drugs for Rare Diseases Strategy. Its aim is to create a centralized genome library that reflects Canada’s diverse population and empowers researchers and health-care professionals with invaluable insights. 

“The real vision of this library is that it’s going to break down all the silos, so when someone gets diagnosed in Ontario, their doctor can say, ‘Let me go to the library and see what’s out there. Let me see who I can find, and whether they’ve consented to be contacted. Let me see if I can find other physicians who are affiliated with those genomes,’ ” says Stedman. “And it’s a lot easier, because it’s one massive registry.” 

The library will be behind a secure infrastructure that allows researchers and medical professionals to access information, but not remove it. There are interdisciplinary experts in data infrastructure, ethics and governance, patient partnership and operating principles teaming up to realize this shared vision for this life-changing resource. 

The team already has commitments from a few groups willing to share, with patient consent, genomic data. The hope is that within two years, PGCL will be close to launching. 

“When you realize the power genomic data holds to help improve people’s health – and when you’ve lived that realization – it’s a lot easier to buy into the big idea,” says Stedman. “It’s visceral, it’s real. That’s what makes this project so powerful and that’s what I think will ultimately make this library successful.” 

Stedman also serves on the executive of both the Centre for AI & Society and Connected Minds (CFREF) at York University. 

York alum earns Governor General’s Literary Award

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Award-winning author and York alum Kyo Maclear is the 2023 recipient of the Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction for her memoir Unearthing: A Story of Tangled Love and Family Secrets.

Kyo Maclear (image by David Wall)
Kyo Maclear (image by David Wall)

The book recounts the story of a family secret revealed by a DNA test, the lessons learned in its aftermath, and the indelible power of love, according to publisher Penguin Random House Canada.

Maclear is a scholar, essayist, novelist and children’s author. A few of her well-known and well-loved books are Bloom (2018), Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation (2017), The Liszts (2016), The Wish Tree (2016), Virginia Wolf (2012) and Spork (2010).

Maclear’s works boast a global reach, with translations in 18 languages and availability in over 25 countries, often accompanied by illustrations from notable artists like Isabelle Arsenault. These literary creations have garnered nominations across a spectrum of esteemed awards, including the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Trillium Book Award, among others, showcasing her work’s diverse appeal and recognition.

The peer assessment committee of the Governor General’s Literary Awards commended Unearthing for its “recursive, often incantatory prose,” highlighting how it blurs the distinction between memoir and philosophy. It acknowledged Maclear’s use of this distinct prose to delve into the “porous grounds of self, culture and belonging.”

Established in 1936, the Governor General’s Literary Awards aim to honour Canada’s finest literary works, acknowledging outstanding contributions in seven categories across both official languages. These prestigious awards are overseen by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Maclear holds a doctorate in education (language, culture and teaching) from York University. An editor-at-large with Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada, she has taught creative writing with the Humber School for Writers and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and is currently an instructor with the University of Guelph’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.

In 2018, she won the prestigious Trillium Book Award in the English-language prose category for her non-fiction memoir Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation.

Winners of the Governor General’s Literary Award receive $25,000 each, as well as a $3,000 grant to their publisher to help promote the book. Recipients from 2020 to 2023 will be honoured at a gathering in Ottawa next spring.

Meet York U’s 2023 Royal Society of Canada Fellows 

Joshua Fogel, Sara Horowitz, Ali Kazimi and Debra Pepler

Four York University faculty members are part of this year’s new list of Fellows named to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), one of the country’s highest honours in the arts, social sciences and sciences.  

The 2023 Fellows will be inducted at RSC’s Celebration of Excellence & Engagement from Nov. 15 to 18 at the University of Waterloo.  

In the videos below, the four York Fellows – Joshua Fogel, Sara Horowitz, Ali Kazimi and Debra Pepler – talk about their impactful research, their motivations and why their work is important to Canadians. 

York historian Joshua Fogel elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada 2023

Joshua Fogel, a professor in the Department of History in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, is a leading scholar in Asian studies. Fogel’s research focuses on the cultural, political and economic interactions between China and Japan, the importance of Japan in China’s modern development and the changing attitudes both countries have towards one another from the 14th to 19th centuries.

York literary scholar Sara Horowitz elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada 2023

Sara Horowitz, a professor in the Department of Humanities and the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, is one of the world’s foremost experts in Jewish studies. Horowitz’s research and published works focus on Holocaust literature, women survivors, Jewish American fiction and Israeli cinema.

York filmmaker Ali Kazimi elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada 2023

Ali Kazimi, a professor in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, is among Canada’s most acclaimed artists. His work explores issues of race, social justice, migration, history and memory, including documentaries that explore the diasporic South Asian relationship with indigeneity.

York psychologist Debra Pepler elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada 2023

Debra Pepler, a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Health, has received international attention for her influential research on bullying, aggression and other forms of violence, particularly among marginalized youth. She is the co-founder of PREVNet, a national research and knowledge mobilization hub focused on youth interpersonal violence prevention.

Prof recognized for pioneering Black studies in Canada

Andrea Davis

At its Fall 2023 Convocation ceremonies, British Columbia’s Royal Roads University awarded York University Professor Andrea Davis an honorary doctor of laws degree in recognition of her pioneering work bringing Black studies programming to Canadian academia.

Andrea Davis at Royal Roads University’s Fall 2023 Convocation.

A professor in York’s Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Davis teaches courses in Black Cultures of the Americas and is the founder and program co-ordinator of the University’s Black Canadian Studies Certificate. Introduced in 2018, it was one of only two university programs of its kind in Canada at the time.

“Black students at York in 2016 were asking for programs that reflected their histories and experiences,” said Davis in a recent interview with Royal Roads University. “They were not really interested in a program about anti-Black racism per se, because those programs are not for Black students; they’re educating someone else. Black students wanted something that could speak deeply to them, about not just their experiences but their thoughts and their ideas.”

Davis took that request and ran with it, and is now continuing her transformative work by developing a Black studies major.

In her 20-year academic career, Davis has worked to advance equity, access and justice in post-secondary education, and has been a fierce advocate for students. An accomplished teacher, she has won teaching awards at the Faculty, university and national levels, including a 2021 3M National Teaching Fellowship. A former Canadian Commonwealth scholar, her research focuses on the literary productions of Black women in the Americas, with a particular interest in the intersections of the literatures of the Caribbean, the United States and Canada. Her work encourages an intertextual cross-cultural dialogue about Black women’s experiences in diaspora.

The doctor of laws, honoris causa, is Royal Roads University’s highest honour, awarded to people who reflect its vision and values and have achieved a significant record of success and community service.

LA&PS writer-in-residence hosts award-winning filmmaker Deepa Mehta


The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) and the Department of English invite the York University community to an evening with Writer-in-Residence Shyam Selvadurai and internationally revered filmmaker Deepa Mehta.

Shyam Selvadurai
Shyam Selvadurai

On Dec. 7, Selvadurai will host Mehta for a screening and discussion of her latest collaboration, the documentary film I Am Sirat. The film follows Sirat Taneja, a trans woman in India, as she navigates living a dual life.

In 2020, Mehta collaborated with Selvadurai, adapting his bestselling book Funny Boy into a feature film. The two won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Deepa Mehta

Mehta holds an honorary degree from York University and is widely recognized for her daring films that push industry and cultural boundaries. She has been at the forefront of numerous television series and has directed and produced many critically acclaimed documentaries and feature films, like her celebrated Elements Trilogy: Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Water (2005).

She has received both a Genie Award and an Oscar nomination. In 2012, she received Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.

Selvadurai is the author of Funny BoyCinnamon GardensSwimming in the Monsoon Sea and The Hungry Ghosts. His work has won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Lambda Literary Award and the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award, and has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. He is also the editor of Story-Wallah: A Celebration of South Asian Fiction and a comprehensive anthology of Sri Lankan literature called Many Roads Through Paradise.

The Writer-in-Residence Program connects faculty, staff and students with a professional writer for feedback, critiques and support. Four meetings per week are available by appointment through Calendly

The event occurs at the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7. Registration is now open.

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

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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 tl.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=16573.

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.