Artist-researchers at Congress shed light on research harassment

Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts

Sarah Hancock, an artist-researcher and undergraduate student at York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD), is using data to bring awareness to the harassment experienced by scholars when sharing their work in online spaces. Her work is part of an exhibit running through Congress 2023.

When conceiving her artistic vision, Hancock was inspired by a York University Libraries-led co-curricular workshop she attended that was part of a series on data literacy, research computing, digital methods, research skills and media creation.

Taught by librarians Alexandra Wong and Priscilla Carmini, the workshop “Crochet Your Way to Data Fundamentals,” combined maker and data literacies through experiential learning. With crocheting, it brought data to life through the act of data physicalization, aiming to help students explore, understand and communicate data using physical representations while introducing participants to a research creation modality.

The goal was to not only teach students to crochet and create a physical item visualizing temperature data change in Toronto, but to also purposely foster diversity and inclusivity, and build confidence to engage with data. Student participants interacted with local temperature data, reflected, and chose how the use of different yarn colours could best encode the data to communicate data creatively. The workshop offers an introduction to the Maker Literacy programming that will extend to Markham Campus Library’s Data Visualization, Makerspace, Media Creation and Extended Reality (XR) and Gaming spaces.

Using this data visualization skill, a team of researchers has collected stories from graduate students, known as “storytellers,” on their experiences facing harassment due to their research. The team and resulting exhibit, both titled “Bearing Witness: Hate, Harassment and Online Public Scholarship,” are led by Alex Borkowski and Marion Grant, both PhD candidates in the Department of Communication and Culture in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, supported by Associate Professor Natalie Coulter, director, Institute for Research on Digital Literacies. The project will be displayed as part of a larger exhibit during Congress 2023.

Exhibit by Sarah Hancock on research harassment
Exhibit by Sarah Hancock on research harassment

The exhibit invites three artist-researchers to interpret the interviews and create artistic pieces that allow viewers to experience first-hand research harassment. It is part of an ongoing effort by the Bearing Witness team to establish a research community focused on addressing scholar harassment by providing a safe space for students to voice their experiences, and to highlight the need for institutional change and support.

“My installation is meant to be a space of confrontation. I wanted to highlight the ambiguity of the media’s usefulness in our society,” says Hancock.

She explains that she views data physicalization as a bridge between data and comprehension.

“The first reason I decided to use data physicalization is that I wanted a relevant medium and an art form that could highlight their identity as a researcher, yet humanize their work,” says Hancock.

Wong and Carmini led a consultation with Hancock to discover and understand the existing data for online researcher harassment. Although the topic is under-researched, the Libraries were able to support Hancock in finding an academic survey with data the artist could isolate to compare the victimization of researchers with a monthly online presence versus researchers without a monthly online presence.

“I settled on this data because it demonstrates how removing one’s online presence is not a solution, it promotes erasure and demonstrates that online harassment is independent of the researcher’s online usage,” says Hancock.

Leveraging the expertise of Wong and Carmini, Hancock chose to create her data physicalization as two stacks of cease-and-desist letters to represent the victimization of researchers with and without an online presence. Blending mediums, Hancock crafted a physical “online troll” with a QR code linking to a video simulating the threat of online harassment.

“We are really excited that a small spark of inspiration from our data physicalization workshop could snowball into an ongoing discussion on data and research skills, and finally to being part of an exhibit bringing light to an important topic like researcher harassment,” says Wong. “It really shows the potential of creative teaching pedagogies and the strengths of the Libraries’ support throughout the research lifecycle. Through our participatory workshop, we were able engage Sarah to see data in a new light, which led her to her art exhibit project where we could help her to continue to build her research skills; it was very rewarding to assist Sarah’s learning to critically read academic articles, understand how to read complex statistical analyses to retrieve the data she desired, and then to transform that data into a physicalization.”

Borkowski says the current guidance when encountering harassment online is insufficient.

“Researchers are told to respond to harassment by making themselves smaller, like to use a pseudonym, or to not share on Twitter, which is very detrimental, because so much about being a graduate student is about building a public profile and building a network. It also has the result of limiting what research is allowed to take place, which perspectives are silenced, and which are permitted to be shared. We’re really trying to highlight the stakes of the issue, not only for individuals, but for academia more broadly,” says Borkowski.

The Bearing Witness exhibit will be on display from May 27 to June 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in the Special Projects Gallery in the main lobby of the Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts at York University (86 Fine Arts Rd., North York).

More information for this project, exhibit and related Congress panels can be found here.

For more information on York University Library workshops, visit To learn more about the data physicalization workshop, visit

C4 team receives teaching innovation award

Award stock image banner from pexels

Members of York University’s Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4) team were awarded the 2023 D2L Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), which recognizes post-secondary collaborative teams for their innovative approaches to promoting student-centered teaching and learning.

C4, launched in 2019, emphasizes student work with real-world challenges with social impact, promoting team-based collaboration, advanced research and design, critical and strategic thinking, and more.

The award was bestowed on those associated with C4’s innovative approach to pan-university interdisciplinary experiential education, including:

  • Danielle Robinson, co-founder and executive director of C4, as well as associate professor in the Department of Dance;
  • Franz Newland, co-founder and co-curriculum lead of C4, as well as assistant professor and undergraduate program director for Space Engineering;
  • Rachelle Campigotto, classroom coordinator assistant for C4 and contract faculty in the Faculty of Education;
  • Dana Craig, Libraries liaison of C4 and director of student learning and academic success;
  • Danielle Dobney, associate director of C4 and assistant professor in Kinesiology and the Athletic Therapy Certificate program;
  • Andrea Kalmin, York Capstone Network professor liaison and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Social Science;
  • Alice Kim, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research lead and instructor; and
  • Natasha May, Teaching Commons liaison for C4 and educational developer in York’s Teaching Commons.

The D2L Innovation Award is an international recognition, open to applicants from all countries. It evaluates and rewards innovations in pedagogical approaches, teaching methods, course design, curriculum development, assessment methods, and more. It is named after D2L, a cloud-based learning analytics platform.

Award recipients are invited to a retreat held the day of the pre-conference at STLHE’s Annual Conference. This retreat includes a facilitated session, lunch, and a social and learning excursion focused on innovation. At the conference they will be recognized at the Conference Awards Ceremony and receive a certificate in recognition of their work.

York library exhibits to reflect on Congress theme Reckonings and Re-Imaginings

Scott Library

Congress 2023 at York University will involve more than academic presentations and panel discussions, as York University Libraries is set to showcase its unique archival holdings built through five decades of preserving cultural heritage.

Michael Moir, University archivist, and his team have been working for many months to create thought-provoking, interesting exhibits for the event. Three exhibits will be on display on the second floor of the library between May 27 and June 2 reflecting on the event theme, Reckonings and Re-imaginings.

At Congress in 2006, “John Lennox, the former dean of Graduate Studies approached the archives about having exhibits of interest to various learned societies,” said Moir, who is also head, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections. “When Congress’ return to York was announced, the Libraries began to plan for participation in the celebration, building upon our first experience.”

The first exhibit, Reckoning and Reimagining: Deborah Barndt’s Engaged Use of Photography, showcases images taken by the retired professor, who is also curating the display. The exhibit will focus a contemporary lens on photos of migrants to Peru in the 1970s; posters from ESL classes in Toronto between 1977 and 1984; literacy teachers in Nicaragua learning to be photojournalists during the Sandinista regime in the 1990s; and urgent social issues of the early 1990s.

Celebrating Black Emancipation Through Carnival focuses on the work of the late Kenneth Shah, a native of Trinidad and Tobago who immigrated to Toronto and was a major force for years in the city’s Caribana, an annual celebration of the emancipation of the Caribbean’s Black population. His costume designs were featured in the parade year after year and the colours and styles will be on display for viewers.

Ben Wicks, the late cartoonist, and his work are the focus of the third exhibit, Cartoons as Commentary and Agents of Change.

“Wicks was known for his cartoons and his work with CBC-TV,” said Moir. “Fewer people are aware of his humanitarian work and his campaigns against poverty and malnutrition in Canada and Africa, and to promote children’s literacy. We seldom think of cartoons as agents of change, but he used them to draw attention to causes dear to his heart.”

The Wicks family donated many of his drawings, scrapbooks and episodes of his television show to York and a selection of these aims to give the viewer more insight into his work as a changemaker.

All three exhibits will be open to the public during regular library hours, except if a Congress 2023 reception is taking place in the space.

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

Dean’s Changemaker Placements offer unique experience 

Eco campus bridge

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

Kaitlin Pal
Kaitlin Pal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thereza Eric
Thereza Eric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samantha Navalta
Samantha Navalta

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

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

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

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

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

Dana Craig
Dana Craig

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

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

“Changemakers is definitely a successful program.” 

Survey finds high adoption rate of open educational resources among York faculty

Life in the University series

A recent faculty survey that looked at the use of open educational resources (OER) at York University has found the majority of faculty respondents are highly engaged with OER.

Open educational resources are free to use and openly licensed teaching and learning materials. These can include textbooks, course reading lists, assignments, case studies, lectures and other forms of learning materials that have been produced by experts and educators in the field. Educational resources can also include scholarly outputs that are in the public domain and therefore also free to use as part of a course.

The objective of the survey, developed and analyzed by working groups of the Open Education Steering Committee (OESC), (OESC’s Communications, Guidelines and Policy Working Group), was to inform the OESC’s development of programs and resources to support faculty with OER implementation while reducing financial barriers for students, and improving the overall academic experience.

It was also designed to inform pathways to advance innovative open education supports and teaching practices, including an inventory of campus activities in this space, as well as professional development opportunities. 

Results from the survey showed that 68 per cent of respondents (from a total of 121 respondents) reported using OER in their classes and faculty were much more likely to select Google and YouTube as paths to find OER. Despite the high adoption numbers among respondents, the survey found a lack of awareness around best practices for searching for and finding OER. Nearly all respondents indicated they would find OER through Google and YouTube searches, despite the existence of curated OER repositories like eCampus Ontario’s Open Library and OER Commons.

“The findings are very instructive,” says Joy Kirchner, dean of Libraries and co-chair of the Open Education Steering Committee (OESC). “It confirmed what we instinctually already knew: that our instructors are creating open educational resources but are not categorizing these resources as OER. The survey will help us direct the next phase of the OESC’s work to targeted areas of OER education and awareness building, including award and recognition structures at York.”

Will Gage, associate vice-president, teaching and learning and co-chair of the OESC, said that survey respondents recognize the financial burden textbook purchasing has on students and they see OERs as an accessible and flexible alternative.

“OER offer York instructors an avenue to make learning more affordable for students, helping to remove some barriers to access to education. At the same time, the flexibility of OER allows for customization so that instructors can ensure that course materials meet the varied and evolving needs of all of our students,” said Gage. “Our next steps will be to work on developing pathways for faculty to find, use, license openly, and share OER that they have created or adapted.”

Awareness about OER among faculty

“There is a lack of faculty awareness that they are actually creating and using OER in their teaching,” said Mojgan Jadidi, associate professor, Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering and OER committee member. “With a closer look, we noted that faculty may not realize that they do not need to use an OER to create OER. For some of our instructors, it may be helpful for them to note that the creation of repositories and pathfinders documenting OER and licensing these under a Creative Commons license are also OER in their own right and should be recognized.”

The OESC says this finding shows that more needs to be done to provide faculty with ways to find OER. The team has identified a series of strategies such as developing a York open education common language document, promoting usage and creation of OER by running an OER mini-course for faculty and exploring how OER usage and creation can be recognized in the tenure and promotion process.

OER creation and the UN SDGs

The survey results showed a clear correlation between OER and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) where approximately 30 per cent of respondents were creating OER aligned with UN SDGs.

“Our hypothesis was that very few faculty would go beyond UN SDG 4, quality education, but we were pleasantly surprised that instructors were already seeing the connection between OER and many of the other UN SDGs,” said Jadidi. “We observed that those who are heavily involved in OER see the connection across multiple UN SDGs. Also, we noted that faculty responded very positively to the affordability, accessibility, and flexibility of OER when compared to commercial textbooks. However, there was some concern about reliability and lack of peer review.”

The findings showed 75 per cent of respondents were familiar with Creative Commons licenses (CC) but only 40 per cent applied CC licensing to their own work due to lack of time and familiarity with the process.

OER and evidence of teaching contribution

The survey showed 55 per cent of respondents were unsure if OER were recognized in the tenure and promotion policies of their department or Faculty, but 15 per cent said OER could count toward “evidence of teaching contribution.” “Recognition as teaching contribution towards T&P (tenure and promotion)” was also the most selected incentive to use OER, followed by “Access to expert staff” and “Grant funding.”

“This finding calls into question the utility of putting the time needed to adapt or create these resources. Devising clear policy around recognition is an important next step that would likely further encourage more people to explore OER in their teaching,” said Jodi Martin, associate undergraduate program director, psychology.

Importance of findings and next steps

The survey provided a better sense of the baseline familiarity and adoption of OER at York and helped to identify that more awareness is needed around how OER can be useful for instructors and provide positive benefits for students.

“Costs of commercial textbooks and educational resources are not going to decrease any time soon, and OER offer an opportunity to reduce the financial burden that many of our students face,” said Martin. “They can also make course development easier for new (or not so new) instructors, by offering a range of already tested out approaches that could be adapted for use in courses across the university.”

The York Open Education Steering Committee will now focus efforts on examining existing campus awards across York’s Faculties to determine if OER questions could be added where applicable. This would include adding questions which ask faculty to reflect on how their work advances the UN SDGs potentially through open education. The Committee will also engage in a University-wide consultation process to share more about opportunities and barriers.

“We believe creating opportunities for faculty to showcase their advancement of open education (OE) and UN SDGs in our funding and awards structure in the University allows a pathway for recognizing OE and UN SDGs indirectly in tenure and promotion files,” said Jadidi. “This can hopefully lead to greater recognition of advancing OE amongst tenure committees overall, with the potential of more formalized integration into the teaching process more broadly across campus.”

For the full report click here. 

To find out more about this work or how to get involved, visit or

Join members of the Open Education Steering Committee (OESC) on Thursday, March 30 from 1 to 2 p.m. for a virtual event about the survey, analysis and next steps.

Event participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Hear a presentation from Tsvetanka Karagyozova, assistant professor, Department of Economics, on her open textbook project and how she connected open educational resources to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • Learn more about the results from the OESC’s 2021 OER Faculty Survey.
  • Participate in a guided discussion about the OER Faculty Survey results and discuss next steps for how the OESC can support OER and open education initiatives at York University.

Register now for the Open Chat for Open Education Event.

Announcement of interim dean, York University Libraries

Libraries atrium

The following message to the University community is from Rhonda Lenton, president and vice-chancellor.

La version française suit la version anglaise. 

Dear colleagues, 

I am pleased to inform members of the York University community of the appointment of Andrea Kosavic as interim dean, York University Libraries (YUL), effective July 1, 2023 for a period of one year. Joy Kirchner, current YUL dean, will be retiring from her role following an administrative leave which will commence June 30, 2023. I am grateful to Ms. Kosavic for stepping into this critical position while a comprehensive search is undertaken for the next permanent dean.

Andrea Kosavic
Andrea Kosavic

Andrea Kosavic is presently associate dean, digital engagement and strategy in York University Libraries, a position she has held since 2016, and prior to which she served the University for 10 years as digital initiatives librarian. Over the course of her term as associate dean, she has concurrently served as interim associate dean of research and interim associate dean teaching and learning. Ms. Kosavic recently completed her term as co-chair of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries’ (CARL) Open Repositories Working Group and is a member of the Ontario Council of University Libraries Scholars Portal Committee, the ORCID Canada Advisory Committee, and the Jane Finch Community Research Partnership Steering Committee. She has served on the Public Knowledge Project Members Committee, the Public Knowledge Project Education Group, the OCUL Library Research Cloud Committee, the Synergies Canada National Technical Committee, and as an Ontario Library Information Technology Association Councillor (2010-12). She was also co-founder of the Ontario Council of University Libraries Publishing/Hosting Community.

In 2014, she was honoured with the CARL Research in Librarianship Award for her work as co-investigator for “What’s in a name? Self-identification practices of academic libraries supporting journal publishing activities,” an area of her ongoing research practice. Her research interests include scholarly communication, publishing, copyright, gift economies, social capital and interoperability, and she has published extensively and delivered numerous lectures and conference papers in the domains of scholarly publishing and digital scholarship.

Ms. Kosavic holds a master’s of information studies from University of Toronto and is a doctoral candidate in the Communication & Culture program at York University. During her time with York University Libraries, she has focused on scholarly communications initiatives including actively serving on the Open Access Open Data Steering Committee and the Open Education Steering Committee, where she contributed to advancing the institutional Research Data Management Strategy and the institutional Open Access Policy. She founded both the York Digital Journals publishing program and the YorkSpace institutional repository.

Please join me in welcoming Ms. Kosavic to the role of interim dean for the Libraries. We are looking forward to working with her and benefitting from her leadership and experience.


Rhonda L. Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor 

Annonce du doyen par intérim des bibliothèques de l’Université York

La présidente et vice-chancelière Rhonda Lenton adresse le message suivant aux membres de la communauté de l’Université York :

Chers collègues, chères collègues, 

J’ai le plaisir d’informer les membres de la communauté de l’Université York de la nomination d’Andrea Kosavic au poste de doyenne intérimaire des bibliothèques de l’Université York, pour une période d’un an à compter du 1er juillet 2023. Joy Kirchner, l’actuelle doyenne, prendra sa retraite à la suite d’un congé administratif qui débutera le 30 juin 2023. Je suis reconnaissante à Mme Kosavic d’avoir accepté d’occuper ce poste critique pendant que nous entreprenons une recherche exhaustive pour trouver la prochaine personne.

Andrea Kosavic
Andrea Kosavic

Andrea Kosavic est actuellement doyenne associée, engagement numérique et stratégie, aux bibliothèques de l’Université York, un poste qu’elle occupe depuis 2016. Avant, elle a servi l’Université pendant dix ans en tant que bibliothécaire des initiatives numériques. Au cours de son mandat de doyenne associée, elle a occupé simultanément les fonctions de doyenne associée intérimaire pour la recherche et de doyenne associée intérimaire pour l’enseignement et l’apprentissage. Mme Kosavic a récemment terminé son mandat de coprésidente du groupe de travail sur les dépôts ouverts de l’Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada (ABRC) et elle est membre du comité du portail des chercheurs du Conseil des bibliothèques universitaires de l’Ontario, du comité consultatif d’ORCID Canada et du comité directeur du Jane Finch Community Research Partnership. Elle a siégé à de nombreux comités : Public Knowledge Project Members Committee, Public Knowledge Project Education Group, Library Research Cloud Committee du Conseil des bibliothèques universitaires de l’Ontario (CBUO), Synergies Canada National Technical Committee. Elle a été conseillère (de 2010 à 2012) de l’Ontario Library Information Technology Association. Elle a également été cofondatrice de la Publishing/Hosting Community du CBUO.

En 2014, elle a reçu le prix de la recherche en bibliothéconomie de l’ABRC pour son travail de cochercheuse dans le cadre du projet « What’s in a name?  Self-identification practices of academic libraries supporting journal publishing activities », un domaine de recherche pratique continue. Ses recherches portent sur la communication savante, l’édition, les droits d’auteur, les économies de la gratuité, le capital social et l’interopérabilité. Elle a publié de nombreux articles et a donné plusieurs conférences dans les domaines de l’édition savante et de l’érudition numérique.

Mme Kosavic est titulaire d’une maîtrise en études de l’information de l’Université de Toronto et est candidate au doctorat dans le programme Communication et culture de l’Université York. Au cours de son affectation aux bibliothèques de l’Université York, elle s’est concentrée sur les initiatives de communication savante, notamment en siégeant activement au comité directeur sur l’accès ouvert aux données et au comité directeur sur l’éducation ouverte, où elle a contribué à faire progresser la stratégie institutionnelle de gestion des données de recherche et la politique institutionnelle d’accès ouvert. Elle a fondé le programme de publication York Digital Journals et le dépôt institutionnel YorkSpace.

Veuillez vous joindre à moi pour souhaiter la bienvenue à Mme Kosavic au poste de doyenne intérimaire des bibliothèques. Nous avons hâte de travailler avec elle et de profiter de son leadership et de son expérience.

Veuillez agréer mes sincères salutations,

Rhonda L. Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Experiential education shines in Faculty celebration

Students and mentor gathered around a table

By Elaine Smith

York University’s annual Experiential Education (EE) Faculty Celebration is a showcase of the creativity faculty employ to provide their students with multi-faceted learning opportunities, as well as a reminder of the University Academic Plan’s commitment to attaining its “goal of providing every student with an experiential learning opportunity, regardless of program.” 

This year’s celebration took place virtually Feb. 9, organized by a committee headed by Lisa Endersby, an educational developer with the Teaching Commons, and Melanie Belore, associate director of experiential education for the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). “We are thrilled to showcase great work in EE across the campus community,” said Endersby.

Lisa Phillips, provost and vice-president, academic, acknowledged the work done to grow EE at York.

“We currently have 16,000 types of EE opportunities at York,” she said. “It’s meaningful for students to have this type of pathway into their futures.”

Media Creation Lab
The Media Creation Lab in the Libraries is one way York students are engaging in experiential education

Faculty members highlighted specific EE projects that they had undertaken, demonstrating that EE can occur in many settings and forms.

In the Communication & Media Studies program, Andrew Monti oversaw the expansion of the flagship six-credit community field experience course for fourth-year students, COMN 4140. The course now provides 50 students with the opportunity to complete a 144-hour work experience in one of 50-plus partner organizations in the private and public sectors. Once students are hired following the standard competitive process, they work in a variety of fields, such as political communication, public relations and social media content creation, among others.

“Students have been unanimous in their appreciation for the experience,” Monti said. “From applying for the job to using their skills in hands-on projects, students also contextualized their knowledge with targeted readings and critically reflected on their working experience.

“In 2022, 94 per cent of our students received recommendation letters from our partners, and we’re on track to reach our goal of 100 per cent by the spring term of 2024.”

Also at LA&PS, Jennifer Bonnell, an associate professor of history, offers a six-credit honours course in public history that provides students with a 12-week placement; it is capped at 18 students and is the capstone course for a cross-disciplinary certificate in public history.

“The first term focuses on skills development and the second term features the placement,” Bonnell said. “Students can test out career paths and apply their knowledge.”

Professor Andrew Maxwell, Bergeron Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship at the Lassonde School of Engineering, organizes two annual EE three-day events for students – UNHack and the Startup Experience – through Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST). Both events, said Maxwell, “allow the students to work in teams, find their passion and solve problems meaningful to them. The events convince the participants that they can contribute to the world and change it.”

United Nations SDGs
Educators are linking experiential education opportunities to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

During the UNHack, first- and second-year students from across the University work together in teams to address a local sustainability challenge linked to one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). During the structured experience, they choose an important problem they care about, create a viable solution and develop a roll out plan that they hope will be implemented. The Startup Weekend Experience allows senior undergraduate and graduate students to collaborate on the development of a business idea which they pitch to a panel of judges.

“We encourage people to come back each year and get more creative at solving important problems,” said Maxwell. “I hope to see more of these projects become prototypes in York’s Living Lab.”

At the Faculty of Education, Celia Popovic, an associate professor (teaching stream), created a capstone course for students in the BA Education Studies program. It requires students work together on a website that features interviews with professionals working in various education-related positions, including teaching, and to work on a practical project for a partner organization. It’s an opportunity for students to widen their horizons, Popovic said, as they look toward career possibilities, and to allow them to use their theoretical knowledge and reflect on their experiences.

The event also featured a talk by executives from York’s partners from Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL); a roundtable discussion of their EE partnerships with students; and presentations by faculty members who successfully incorporate EE into their classes.

The roundtable featured Dana Craig, director of students learning and academic success with York University Libraries; Geneviève Maheux-Pelletier, director of the Teaching Commons; and Yvette Munro, assistant vice-provost, student success. Each spoke about what their areas offer with respect to EE, including:

• EE courses and the Media Creation Lab in the Libraries;
• support for faculty interested in incorporating EE into their courses through the Teaching Commons; and
• support from the Division of Students through initiatives such as Becoming YU.

Charlene Marion, executive director of CEWIL, and Sean Elliott, associate director for the central region, followed the panel, talking about their organization’s support for work-integrated learning (WIL), offering examples. They noted that York has been a longstanding CEWIL partner and has received $2.2 million in funding for 31 WIL projects since Winter 2021, including a project focused on Black student psychology and health and a senior dance project.

Will Gage, associate vice-president, teaching and learning, said, “EE is a cornerstone of what York tries to provide in terms of excellence and students’ readiness to graduate and hit the ground running in the workplace. … It is pivotal to the success of our students.”

To learn more about incorporating EE into your courses, contact the Teaching Commons.

York Libraries hosts edit-a-thon to improve digital coverage of Black excellence

Three people looking at a laptop screen

A joint campaign that seeks to address gaps in Black content on Wikipedia and Wikidata will run throughout February and will feature an in-person edit-a-thon session at York University Libraries on Feb. 15.

The Black Histories Wikipedia and Wikidata Edit-a-thon is a collaboration between York University, University of Toronto, Toronto Metropolitan University and the Toronto Public Library, and brings together a group of interdisciplinary scholars and students to improve the coverage and quality of Black content online through weekly synchronous sessions.

Scott Library Black Histories Wikipedia & Wikidata Edit-a-thon, Feb. 15, 2023 - Join us to enrich Black histories

To build an understanding of care for the editing sessions, the month started with a kickoff panel event discussing Black community archives. This event featured Debbie Ebanks Schlums (York PhD student and Vanier Scholar in Cinema and Media Studies) as a panelist, alongside Jonsaba Jabbi (co-founder of Building a Black Archive) and with Funké Aladejebi (York University alumni and assistant professor at the University of Toronto) as moderator.

The campaign invites the public to participate, and those interested will receive editing training through documentation and during the synchronous editing sessions which will primarily be led by trained student facilitators.

The edit-a-thon will teach critical information and data literacy skills while diversifying online content. It aims to foster open scholarship and intentionally provides programming to engage with Black and racialized students. The campaign is built upon partnerships across multiple institutions to provide experiential education for students (both event facilitators and participants) on current technologies.

“For us at York U libraries, our librarians and archivists are able to provide a deep knowledge of our collections and resources that we can provide to our students and communities,” says Alexandra Wong, data visualization and analytics librarian, York University Libraries. “We also bring our vast experience with working with primary, secondary and tertiary sources, and how to use those sources to structure knowledge, metadata and citations in Wikipedia and Wikidata to create a better system where the sum of all knowledge is well-sourced and well-structured.:

On Feb. 15, Black History Wikipedia and Wikidata Edit-a-Thon: York University Libraries Edit-a-thon invites community members to drop into York’s Scott Library anytime between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The event is a beginner-friendly editing session to improve representation in the information and data online and will focus on improving online content around the theme of “Black Love and Joy.”

This year, the Black History Edit-a-thon team has expanded with the addition of two public history placement students, from the HIST4840 class. The two students placed at York U Libraries – Leena Hussein and Alanna Brown – are involved in public outreach, co-leading the task lists of what is to be edited during the event, learning Wikidata and Wikipedia themselves to teach it to others, and facilitating in-person event and online events.

“Growing up in Canada our education system for Black history stops at the Underground Railroad and there’s so much more to Black history than that, it includes stories of Black excellence, Black agency, and Black joy, so I find that joining this placement is very important in the sense that I’m helping to bring more information to Black history that’s outside of Black struggle and enslavement,” says Brown.

Hussein, partly inspired by her experience in the program, has just applied for a master’s in information science.

“We’re seeing a lack of Black spaces and if we look at platforms like Wikipedia where we have editors and people helping and corresponding daily, we see less than a percent of those people aiding in these edits who are Black,” says Hussein. “As a result of this, we see biases on these platforms where Black voices, Black events and organizations are just not seeing any visibility.”

Through this experiential education initiative, the students will gain familiarity and appreciation for open knowledge and metadata, learn how they influence the public’s interaction with history, and understand the slow and careful labour involved with producing open knowledge on important subjects.

“What I’ve learned through this program has much to do with the tangible skills I’ve learned, such as editing, and understanding how software in these databases are run,” says Hussein. “I’ve also gained intangible skills such as just understanding how biases are created in media and in these platforms. I found that in having this knowledge, I’m better able to understand why things are the way they are and how I as an individual can help to make things better.”

This edit-a-thon builds off the success of the previous 2020, 2021 and 2022 Black History Edit-a-thons, annual Ada Lovelace Day Edit-a-thons and 2019’s International Women’s Day Edit-a-thon.

“We hope to make Wikipedia and Wikidata editing accessible for our students, as we feel that all voices should be able to meaningfully contribute to and see themselves represented in public history platforms,” says Priscilla Carmini, scholarly communications librarian, York University Libraries.

The in-person York University Libraries Edit-a-thon session:

During Black History Month, join us for a drop-in, beginner-friendly editing session to learn more and to help improve coverage of Black histories in Wikipedia and Wikidata. No experience necessary. 

Date and time: Feb. 15, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Scott Library Atrium (2nd floor, at the top of the escalators)

Weekly synchronous online sessions:

Every Friday in February, participants can join facilitated editing sessions on Zoom and can learn the basics or get a refresher on editing Wikipedia and Wikidata, then learn and write alongside others who are passionate about improving digital coverage of Black histories and experiences. Participants can also join the event and edit at their own pace throughout the month.,

Dates: Every Friday in February
Register for a session online.

Announcement of retirement of the dean of York University Libraries

Libraries atrium

La version française suit la version anglaise. 

The following is a message to the York University community from President & Vice-Chancellor, Rhonda Lenton.

It is with mixed emotions that I announce the upcoming retirement of Joy Kirchner, dean of York University Libraries following an administrative leave.

Joy Kirchner
Joy Kirchner

Ms. Kirchner joined York University as dean in 2015 and was renewed for a second term in 2020. She has been a tireless advocate for York University Libraries throughout her time at the University. Joy has remained committed to aligning the Library’s expertise and services with the teaching, learning and research needs of students, faculty and researchers, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and campus closures.

As a champion in providing innovative support to York’s new Markham Campus and an instrumental member of the President’s Advisory Council on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), she has served on a committee dedicated to creating a comprehensive DEDI framework for the University. She was asked to serve on the University’s Affirmative Action committee where all faculty appointments are reviewed from an equity and affirmative action lens.

Dean Kirchner has also been at the forefront of advancing recognition of the Libraries’ primacy in providing accessible content to students with disabilities. She supported an Ontario Council of University Libraries’ (OCUL) sponsored Accessibility Symposium and a special Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) national leadership meeting on the York campus, to advance leadership training and capacity building for open education initiatives throughout Canada.

Joy has significantly advanced the Libraries’ contribution to York’s research intensification priority and institutional aims to advance global recognition, which resulted in an increase of 12 per cent in the discoverability of York scholarship, an equivalent to three year’s worth of campus publishing outputs. She initiated and co-chairs a joint Provost/VP Research Open Access Open Data Steering Committee that engages the campus on issues concerning authors’ rights, publication agreements, sustainable publishing practices and research data management planning. This work led to a Senate-approved institutional open access policy in 2019 with the aim of providing greater supports for authors to engage in open-access publishing and infrastructure to enhance the visibility of their scholarship, a singular policy development in North America.

In the past year, she helped the committee advance a campus engagement process that uniquely identifies the Libraries’ responsibility to conceptualize an inclusive research data management framework and support system that values the diversity and complexity of our research community. The work supports York’s institutional Tri-council requirement to develop a research data management strategy by Spring 2023.

Her international leadership in scholarly communications led York to host the renowned international OpenCon conference at York University in 2018 – the first time the conference was hosted in Canada. Her own research and professional collaborations with colleagues in the U.S. and Canada have led to several exceptional collaborations, including the development of a 14-institution collaboration for a major shared library system, investigating new models of digital scholarship and initiating a robust slate of scholarly communications as well as open access campus outreach programs for institutions across North America.

Her work has contributed to broader explorations of these issues in both countries, where she was elected to serve on the prestigious international Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition advocacy body and invited to chair the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) flagship Advancing Research Committee.  She was also elected chair of the Ontario Council of University Libraries, where she advanced a major governance review of the Council and is a North American leader in open scholarship, maintaining research and professional collaborations with colleagues across Canada and the United States.

On a personal note, I want to thank Dean Kirchner for her support and good humour. She will be missed. She will remain in her role until June 30, 2023 and a search for her successor has commenced.


Rhonda L. Lenton
President & Vice Chancellor

Annonce du départ à la retraite du doyen des bibliothèques de l’Université York

La présidente et vice-chancelière Rhonda L. Lenton adresse le message suivant aux membres de la communauté de l’Université York :

C’est avec des sentiments mitigés que j’annonce le départ à la retraite de Joy Kirchner, doyenne des bibliothèques de l’Université York, à la suite d’un congé administratif.

Joy Kirchner
Joy Kirchner

Mme Kirchner a rejoint l’Université York en tant que doyenne en 2015 et son mandat a été renouvelé en 2020. Elle a été une porte-parole infatigable des bibliothèques de York tout au long de son séjour à l’Université. Joy a maintenu sa détermination à aligner l’expertise et les services des bibliothèques sur les besoins d’enseignement, d’apprentissage et de recherche des membres de la communauté étudiante, du corps professoral et de la recherche, en particulier pendant la pandémie de COVID-19 et la fermeture des campus.

En tant que championne du soutien innovant au nouveau campus Markham de York et membre clé du Conseil consultatif de la présidente sur l’équité, la diversité et l’inclusion (EDI), elle a fait partie d’un comité chargé de créer un cadre DEDI complet pour l’Université. On lui a demandé de faire partie du comité d’action positive de l’Université qui examine toutes les nominations de professeurs dans une optique d’équité et d’action positive.

La doyenne Kirchner a également été à l’avant-garde pour faire reconnaître la primauté des bibliothèques dans la production de contenus accessibles aux membres de la communauté étudiante en situation de handicap. Elle a soutenu un symposium sur l’accessibilité parrainé par le Conseil des bibliothèques universitaires de l’Ontario (CBUO) et une réunion nationale spéciale de l’Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada (ABRC) à York afin de promouvoir la formation au leadership et le renforcement des capacités pour les initiatives d’éducation ouverte dans tout le Canada.

Joy a fait progresser de manière significative la contribution des bibliothèques à la priorité d’intensification de la recherche de York et aux objectifs institutionnels de reconnaissance mondiale, ce qui a entraîné une augmentation de 12 % de la découvrabilité des bourses de York, soit l’équivalent de trois années de production de publications sur les campus. Elle a lancé et copréside un comité directeur mixte de la rectrice/du vice-président de la recherche sur le libre accès et les données ouvertes qui mobilise les parties prenantes sur des questions concernant les droits d’auteurs, les accords de publication, les pratiques de publication durables et la planification de la gestion des données de recherche. Ce travail a débouché sur une politique institutionnelle de libre accès approuvée par le Sénat en 2019 dans le but de fournir aux auteurs et autrices plus de soutien pour s’engager dans la publication en libre accès et des infrastructures pour améliorer la visibilité de leurs travaux d’érudition, un développement politique unique en Amérique du Nord.

Au cours de la dernière année, elle a aidé le comité à faire progresser un processus d’engagement du campus qui identifie de manière unique la responsabilité des bibliothèques dans la conceptualisation d’un cadre de gestion des données de recherche inclusif et d’un système de soutien qui valorise la diversité et la complexité de notre communauté de recherche. Ce travail s’inscrit dans le cadre de l’exigence institutionnelle des trois Conseils de développer une stratégie de gestion des données de recherche à York d’ici le printemps 2023.

Son leadership international en matière de communications savantes a permis à l’Université d’accueillir la célèbre conférence internationale OpenCon en 2018, une première au Canada. Ses propres recherches et ses partenariats professionnels avec des collègues aux États-Unis et au Canada ont donné lieu à plusieurs collaborations exceptionnelles, notamment le développement d’une entente entre 14 établissements pour un important système de partage entre bibliothèques, l’étude de nouveaux modèles d’érudition numérique et le lancement d’une solide série de communications savantes ainsi que de programmes de sensibilisation aux campus en libre accès pour les établissements d’Amérique du Nord.

Ses travaux ont contribué à des explorations plus larges de ces questions dans les deux pays; elle a d’ailleurs été élue pour faire partie de la Coalition de l’édition savante et des ressources académiques, prestigieux organisme international de revendication. Elle a aussi été invitée à présider le comité phare sur l’avancement de la recherche de l’Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada (ABRC). Enfin, elle a été élue présidente du Conseil des bibliothèques universitaires de l’Ontario, où elle a poursuivi une importante révision de la gouvernance du Conseil. Elle est une leader nord-américaine en matière de bourses d’études ouvertes, entretenant des collaborations de recherche et professionnelles avec des collègues du Canada et des États-Unis.

Sur le plan personnel, je tiens à remercier la doyenne Kirchner pour son soutien et sa bonne humeur. Elle nous manquera. Elle restera en fonction jusqu’au 30 juin 2023 et la recherche de la personne qui lui succédera a commencé.

Sincères salutations, 

Rhonda L. Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Reading for teaching offers new perspectives and connections  

open book with glasses and pen

By Elaine Smith 

The new Reading for Teaching program offers an informal, collegial space to engage with colleagues from across York University and it is the result of an inspired collaboration between an educational developer and a teaching and learning librarian.

When Teaching Commons educational developer Lisa Endersby and Scott McLaren, teaching and learning librarian, came up with the idea of a Reading for Teaching program, Endersby was looking for ways to continue collaborating with York University Libraries on teaching and learning, while McLaren, who had earned his PhD in the history of the book, was interested in reading communities and their practices and saw an opportunity to see how such a group functioned. The Reading for Teaching program met those goals and many more. 

Reading for Teaching is “an informal, collegial opportunity to engage with colleagues from across campus interested in reading and talking about teaching.” Endersby and McLaren brought it to life pre-pandemic and opened it up to York faculty and staff. Originally, the group met in person, but during the pandemic, the group met online. They hope to return to in-person gatherings soon. 

York librarian Scott McLaren
Scott McLaren

“We draw people from all over the University and every discipline,” McLaren said. “We have faculty from both teaching and research streams, graduate students, post-docs, CLAs and librarians and they all come from different backgrounds. You wouldn’t necessarily think that someone from biology could shed new light on teaching to someone from the humanities, but they do.” 

The group reads books about teaching and meets to discuss them, although the approach has changed over time. 

“We tried to organize around themes and tried to have participants vote on books from a curated shortlist, but we’ve found that reading a common text is the best way to foster engagement,” said McLaren.  

Added Endersby, “The group suggests a topic; Scott can curate suggestions and the two of us pick a book. As a group, we discuss how we want to explore the book together; since they are generally non-fiction, we might look at individual chapters.” 

Lisa Endersby
Lisa Endersby

The program meets four times each term; this winter, the group is discussing How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories Behind Effective College Teaching by Joshua R. Eyler, a hold-over from last term, given its popularity with the group and the amount of relevant material to discuss. The program’s group generally has 10 people or a few more each term, a size that both facilitators find is conducive to participation and good discussion. Members read the books in varied formats: print, online or as audiobooks. 

“People read as much as they can and come as often as possible,” Endersby said. “If they attend two of the four sessions, we consider that they’ve successfully completed the program.” 

What draws people to Reading for Teaching? There are a variety of reasons, said McLaren. 

“People join to improve their teaching and explore different teaching practices, to experience a sense of community around a common concern and to have a support system,” he said. “It’s a great way to share success and failures in a safe environment.” 

Endersby finds that Reading for Teaching offers people an opportunity to read for professional development with some accountability and to reflect on teaching and take part in reflective conversations.  

“We’re all so busy, we don’t often get to pause and think about what we’re doing,” she said. “I know that personally, I talk about reflection a lot in my work on pedagogy, but I don’t get to do it myself, so this is a learning opportunity for me. I also enjoy hearing various different perspectives; it’s really good learning.” 

McLaren agrees and notes another personal benefit. “I’ve discovered an incredibly rich literature around pedagogy, both fiction and non-fiction; it was quite surprising to me and it’s hard to narrow the selection down to shortlists,” he said.

Other books the group has read include The Slow Professor by Professors Maggie Berg (Queen’s University) and Barbara K. Seeber (Brock University) and the memoir From the Ashes: My Story of Being Homeless, Metis and Finding My Way by York University Assistant Professor Jesse Thistle.

Anyone who would like to join the Reading for Teaching program in exploring their current read is welcome to register. For questions or suggestions about books to read, Endersby and McLaren invite you to contact them.