Welcome to YFile’s 2023 New Faces feature issue

apple on teachers desk

In this special issue, YFile introduces new faculty members joining the York University community and highlights those with new appointments.

This fall, York welcomes new faculty members in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design; the Faculty of Education; the Faculty of Health; the Lassonde School of Engineering; the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; the Faculty of Science; the Schulich School of Business; and Glendon College.

Liberal Arts & Professional Studies welcomes 34 new faculty members

Faculty of Health professors bring new perspectives on well-being

New Faculty of Science members to further York’s scientific innovation, impact

AMPD professors to shape the future of art

Schulich welcomes four new faculty members

New Lassonde faculty to advance cybersecurity, artificial intelligence

Faculty of Education’s new faces to shape future of teaching, learning

Glendon welcomes faculty member focused on translation studies

Welcome to the March 2023 issue of ‘Innovatus’

Header banner for INNOVATUS

Welcome to our March issue of Innovatus. This month, our newsletter shines the spotlight on the Lassonde School of Engineering as it celebrates its 10th anniversary and continues to find innovative ways to fulfil the promise of engineer Pierre Lassonde’s gift to the University.  

“My gifts,” he said at the time, “are about helping the next generation of Canadians to fulfil their dreams and continue to make Canada one of the best places to live in the world.” 

With its experiential, entrepreneurial approach to engineering, Lassonde is making a name for itself in the engineering community, the world of innovators and places where STEM wasn’t previously a byword. The School is well on its way toward fulfilling its vision, as articulated in the Lassonde Strategic Academic Plan, 2021-2026: To be recognized among the world’s best interdisciplinary engineering schools, a home where engineers and scientists collaborate to improve the world for everyone. 

This issue of Innovatus offers you a peek at a number of the innovative approaches, programs and courses the School offers its students and the wider community. Our first story demonstrates Lassonde’s dedication to the availability of clean water, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This focus on clean water reflects the University Academic Plan’s commitment to the UN SDGs and is reflected in research and programs undertaken by civil, electrical and mechanical engineering faculty and students.

Lassonde’s innovation is also evident in the tools available to its students, and faculty take an active interest in those tools. Professor Mojgan Jadidi in the Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering has taken it upon herself to upgrade a tool for topographic visualization so her students gain a better understanding of the implications of their work. This open-source VR Sandbox is being used in the classroom by Jadidi and her colleagues. 

Tools, broadly speaking, are something Lassonde provides to youth from kindergarten through their undergraduate years, allowing them to indulge their curiosity about the world around them through STEM and embrace the opportunities STEM careers provide. Our third story introduces the reader to this wide range of support programs that surmount barriers toward equity and inclusion. 

Finally, our fourth story speaks to partnerships, one of the UAP’s priorities for action. At Lassonde, partnerships can bring together academics and students from around the globe or they can connect researchers with community partners seeking practical solutions to current problems, such as cybersecurity, as you’ll see for yourself. 

We hope you enjoy learning more about the journey Lassonde has created to ensure a better future for all of us. 

Will Gage
Associate Vice President, Teaching & Learning

Faculty, course directors and staff are invited to share their experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the “Innovatus” story form, which is available at tl.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=16573.

Lassonde trailblazing new education strategies in pursuit of positive change
Lassonde School of Engineering Dean Jane Goodyer invites community members to learn more about the School’s work to dismantle barriers to education through innovative approaches to 21st century learning.

Lassonde faculty leading innovative solutions for cleaner water, more sustainable world
Microplastics are contaminants of emerging concern, but detecting these microplastics to achieve cleaner water is no easy feat. York University faculty at the Lassonde School of Engineering are up to the challenge.

Using a virtual reality sandbox as a teaching tool
By the time students enter York’s Lassonde School of Engineering, they’re long past the age of playing in sandboxes – or so they believe; however, faculty member Mojgan Jadidi and her colleagues have turned that assumption on its head.

Lassonde’s STEM programs reflect changing world
Lassonde is changing the face of STEM education to ensure it aligns with the world of the future by breaking down systemic barriers and offering opportunities for inclusion.

Lassonde partnerships spell success
York’s academic plan calls “Working in Partnership” one of the University’s six priorities and Lassonde’s partnerships with Scotiabank and other universities speak to that commitment.

Welcome to the February 2023 issue of ‘Innovatus’

Header banner for INNOVATUS
Will Gage
Will Gage

Welcome to the February 2023 issue of “Innovatus,” a special issue of YFile dedicated to teaching and learning innovation at York University. This month, we take an in-depth look at the experiential education opportunities available in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS).

Following its commitment to student-centred and accessible education, the Faculty is creating groundbreaking initiatives. A new LA&PS co-op program offers students valuable work experiences before they graduate, while the Learning Design Lab (LDL) explores a variety of ways to incorporate work-integrated learning (WIL) into different teaching contexts. Real-world impact is also a key theme in the stories presented in “Innovatus,” as students discover new skills in research and workplace settings, expanding career possibilities in the liberal arts field.  

I know that you’ll find all of the “Innovatus” stories this month informative and inspiring. 


Will Gage
Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning 

Faculty, course directors and staff are invited to share their experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the “Innovatus” story form, which is available at tl.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=16573.

Collaboration, innovation key to enriched experiential education
In his message to the community, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Dean J.J. McMurtry invites community members to learn more about the Faculty’s focus on experiential education through new and important initiatives and faculty-student collaborations.

New LA&PS co-op program to start in Fall 2024 
“Get to work” will take on new meaning for LA&PS students when a new co-op option launches in Fall 2024.

LA&PS Learning Design Lab a resource for WIL
Work-integrated learning (WIL) continues to evolve in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies thanks to the Learning Design Lab.

DARE to innovate: LA&PS student’s research brought to life by humanities class 
Research by student Kayla Saunders, a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence, is publicly available thanks to her fellow students.

Advancing YU: connection, community and career pathways for Black and women students
Advancing YU is a unique mentorship program that creates opportunities for third- and fourth-year Black and women students in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

DARE to innovate: LA&PS student’s research brought to life by humanities class 

Black woman typing on a laptop

By Elaine Smith 

“Never underestimate the power of undergraduate researchers and supervisors,” said Carolyn Steele, an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities. “They can create change.”

Carolyn Steele
Carolyn Steele

Steele knows this from experience, because she and her Digital Culture in the Humanities (HUMA 3140) students have supported the change by ensuring that information from the research done by Kayla Saunders, a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence (DARE), is publicly available.  

The DARE program is an opportunity provided by the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS) for undergraduate students to do paid summer research with the supervision and mentorship of a faculty member. It is a means for students to bring together liberal arts and a professional education, applying their knowledge in order to develop new skills and gain a richer learning experience. The third-year Digital Culture in the Humanities course, meanwhile, explores the influence of digital technologies on particular aspects of the arts, popular culture and the internet, as well as places where culture is archived. 

DARE and HUMA 3140 came together this fall to add to the online knowledge available about Indigenous arts. The journey began earlier in 2022, when Saunders, who plans to pursue a career in library science, approached Gail Vanstone, an associate professor in the Department of Humanities and co-ordinator of its humanities program, about doing DARE research under her supervision. Saunders, like Vanstone, has an interest in Indigenous rights and self-determination through the arts, so she combined the two with her passion for research. The result is an annotated bibliography of recent films and published works (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) created by Indigenous artists in Canada from 2000 to 2022. The collection invites interrogation into, said Vanstone, “how to better appreciate Indigenous resistance, engendering resilience and a hope of resurgence in Indigenous communities in their own terms,” a powerful strategy to undo the slow violence of colonization. 

Slow violence is a term coined by author Rob Nixon, referring to “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all.” The 1960s relocation of Indigenous British Columbia residents from Yuquot to Ahaminaquus Indian Reserve 12, land adjacent to a pulp mill generating noise and pollution, furnishes an example; the company also built a road over Indigenous gravesites.  

“Kayla did a fabulous job with the bibliography,” said Vanstone. “She created as comprehensive a list as possible, with more than 220 entries, and made it searchable by category. It is an open-ended resource, so new entries can be added to keep it up to date.” 

Kayla Saunders
Kayla Saunders

Saunders’ research was featured at a DARE Research Day at the end of the summer of 2022. At the time, Steele was updating the curriculum for HUMA 3140 to incorporate current technology. She was impressed to learn about Saunders’ work, recognizing it as “a particularly fertile piece of research,” and decided it needed to have a life beyond the page. She conferred with Vanstone and with Alexandra Wong, data visualization and data analytics librarian, and Cora Coady, Indigenous teaching and learning librarian, both from York University Libraries, and an exercise in creating Wiki-data and digital visualizations was born. 

Wong and Coady, in collaboration with Steele, created a four-week workshop series for the HUMA 3140 students. The sessions taught the students how to turn the bibliographical entries into Wikidata items – the free and open online knowledge base powering Wikipedia and linking internet items in a searchable fashion – and use that data to create visualizations to explain at a glance an aspect of the data, such as the age of the creators or the proportion of entries that are film versus those that are print. 

“Cora and I taught the students about the importance of using data from reputable sources and how to contribute to open knowledge with proper care, especially around sensitive subjects or those that aren’t familiar,” Wong said. 

“Wikidata, which is used by Wikipedia and provides structured data for widely used technology like search engines, still shows many gaps and biases, both in the knowledge that is included and the people who are editors. There is a lack of articles on marginalized people and related topics, including a lack of articles on women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. BIPOC editors are also heavily underrepresented in Wikipedia,” Wong said. “We hope to teach students that they have the power to edit online knowledge and share their own stories and information to the public record.

“Visualizations, meanwhile, help you understand your own data better and helps you tell stories with impact. You also learn that it’s necessary to view data and data visualizations critically, because it’s so easy to mislead people or misread data.” 

Steele said she was delighted by her students’ enthusiasm to work on a project with real-world impact. 

“This is a great example of how DARE fosters allyship and creates deeper understanding,” she said. “People tend to put these research projects away, but this is an example of how to give them legs.” 

Advancing YU: connection, community and career pathways for Black and women students 

Students and mentor gathered around a table

By Angela Ward 

Michele Johnson, associate dean, students, in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), says that Advancing YU, a unique mentorship program, creates amazing opportunities for third- and fourth-year Black and women students in LA&PS.

Michele Johnson
Michele Johnson

“This program gives these students the opportunity to access mentorship and support, along with connection and networking,” Johnson says. “We have two streams: one for Black students and one for women students. Given long-standing and deep-seated prejudices and barriers, many Black and women students often face great challenges beyond acquiring their degree – creating networks, getting into their preferred field of study and even obtaining relevant and helpful letters of reference. This program allows students to connect with mentors, who are also former York students and who therefore understand our University’s community.”  

Like the mentees, many mentors (who are also Black and/or women) were first-generation students facing similar barriers. Matching mentors with mentees based on shared experiences and career ambitions is a key part of the pairing process, which forges meaningful connections.

Karlene Case
Karlene Case

Karlene Case, manager, student engagement, LA&PS Colleges, expands on this approach. “Advancing YU takes into consideration the intersectionality of race and gender and celebrates our identities. Mentors and students are matched with people who often look like them or have shared lived experiences, providing students with access to explore educational, industry and career pathways. It is important for equity-deserving students to connect with alumni who have successfully overcome challenges and barriers, both in academia and in the working world, that they may not meet otherwise. This program also provides financial rewards that both recognize students’ accomplishments and support them.”  

Students are organized into quartets of one mentor to three students, meaning that students learn from their peers as much as their mentors. Johnson explains, “We organized it this way so the students would also have the potential for a friendship cohort and not feel so isolated. This was especially relevant during the pandemic.”  

This year, Advancing YU is pairing quartets together, so that “students’ networking goes one degree beyond themselves, into another quartet with another mentor,” Johnson says. “We are committed to learning from and tweaking the program each year as we respond to the experiences and feedback from the program’s participants.”   

Along with mentorship, students also gain valuable experiential education. Students develop their networking, time management and communication skills, and adaptability. 

“The mentors are also role models,” Johnson notes. “The program allows students to think beyond the expected. The mentors have gone through their meandering journeys and tell their mentees to be open to the many paths to success. For example, through the discussions that they have with their mentors and peers, students might consider working for a not-for-profit organization instead of a big firm, or volunteer in areas they never considered before.”  

Students often have limited professional connections and experience in networking, Case explains. She says, “This program builds their confidence, especially when communicating with their mentors, many of whom are in senior management positions, providing them with an opportunity to take initiative with a curious, open mindset.”  

For mentors, the program is also a very rewarding experience, says Tom McLagan, director of development, LA&PS. “Mentors enjoy contributing to the program because they can see students’ growth as they provide informed career advice. The feedback from mentors has been great and many have returned after the first year.”  

Case adds, “Interactions with students encourage mentors to reflect on their journey, growth and accomplishments. There’s knowledge gained on both sides and as they share their insights, it informs the mentors’ work in their fields.”  

Following this approach of continuous learning, Advancing YU has added student leaders to the program. These peer coordinators have gone through the program and now support incoming students. They provide a student-centred perspective, coordinate events and equip students with important resources.

Xamida Hudson
Xamida Hudson

Xamida Hudson, a York University student leader in her final year of a commerce program with a specialization in management, heads the Black Students Stream in Advancing YU.  

“Student leaders provide key insights to the Advancing YU team from the student perspective,” says Hudson. “This creates a more relatable and beneficial program for all students. 

“I feel that I’m making a difference at York because I’m providing academic resources to students like me so they can have a better university experience. It’s an equal give and take for me and the students I’m helping. Connecting with my peers and being inspired by them is also great. I believe that besides our studies, one of the most beneficial outcomes we can get from a university experience is that connection with others.” 

Hudson says that the student engagement coordinators are invested in student leaders’ experience too. “We’re given a lot of freedom to develop our personal and professional goals. For example, if I wanted to enhance my Excel or email-writing skills, I’m able to incorporate that into my job and receive honest feedback, which is beneficial to my growth as a business student.”  

Advancing YU hosts key events, too. “We hold monthly workshops, each with a specific topic. The first event was about ‘imposter syndrome,’ where Black mentors spoke to Black students about their experiences with imposter syndrome and how to combat it,” explains Hudson. The students in the cohort of women students also had an opportunity to discuss concerns with and responses to “imposter syndrome” with their mentors.

Amelia Wassay
Amelia Wassay

For Amelia Wassay, a student in her fourth year at York studying social work and public administration, being mentored in the program last year has given her the confidence to navigate the challenges women face in professional fields. “My mentor was phenomenal, building up my confidence and my interview skills. Now that I’m a peer coordinator for Advancing YU in the Women Students stream, I’ve learned so much more. It’s also been a time of critical self-reflection, examining the stigmas and discrimination women face. 

“On top of that, this role has helped me analyze my future and think about what I want to pursue. Through it, I discovered that I want to go into the communications field. I love sharing resources and liaising with people.”  

In looking towards the future of Advancing YU, Wassay says, “This is only the beginning. It has so much potential and space to grow, especially for women and people of colour. It has a bright future.”  

Although this Advancing YU stream will be finished in March, students interested in applying for 2023-24 can visit Student Information, starting in September.   

Welcome to YFile’s New Faces feature issue


Welcome to YFile’s New Faces Feature Issue 2022. In this special issue, YFile introduces new faculty members joining the York University community and highlights those with new appointments.

In this issue, YFile welcomes new faculty members in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design; the Faculty of Education; the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change; the Faculty of Health; the Lassonde School of Engineering; the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; Osgoode Hall Law School; and the Faculty of Science.

Six new faces join the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design

Faculty of Education welcomes two new faculty

Environmental and Urban Change introduces three faculty members this fall

Four professors join the Faculty of Health

Lassonde School of Engineering welcomes cohort of 19 faculty members

Liberal Arts & Professional Studies welcomes 28 new faculty members

Two new faces join Osgoode Hall Law School

Six professors join Faculty of Science ranks

New Faces was conceived and edited by Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile deputy editor and Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor

Welcome to the May 2022 issue of Innovatus

Innovatus featured image
Will Gage
Will Gage

Welcome to our final issue of “Innovatus” for the 2021-22 academic year. Throughout the year, we’ve brought you informative stories from across the Faculties which all have something important in common – they continue to innovate and strive to provide students with the best possible learning experience.

In this issue, we do the same, although we aren’t focusing on an individual Faculty. Instead, we’re presenting an eclectic mix of opportunities that faculty members are providing so that, ultimately, their students can have a richer course experience. We’ll be taking a look at the new Master of Science in Management Practice where the course directors bring data analysts and others with relevant career experience to their class; at a simulation that gives students a first-hand understanding of risk management in insurance; at a globally networked learning project that linked stage design classes in Canada and Australia; and at a professor who created her own virtual simulation games to provide clinical experience to nursing students whose placements were cancelled due to the pandemic. In addition, we have a feature story on hyflex classes and the people behind the scenes who are bringing the hyflex option to life at York University.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s journey through the innovative world of teaching and learning. Perhaps the “Innovatus” stories this year have inspired you to try new ideas or approaches in your own courses.

If you’re innovating in your courses, I’d love to hear from you. “Innovatus” is all about spreading the word about exciting new ideas in the field.

Meanwhile, wishing you a productive, yet relaxing summer. “Innovatus” will be back this fall with more food for thought.

Best regards,

Will Gage
Associate Vice-President Teaching and Learning

Faculty, course directors and staff are invited to share their experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the “Innovatus” story form, which is available at tl.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=16573.

In this issue

New graduate program uses experiential education as fuel to drive learning
In today’s data-driven world, there’s no need for students in the accounting stream of the new Master of Science in Management Practice program to sit and wonder what impact the degree will have on their careers.

Ensuring an understanding of insurance risk management
An innovative simulation requiring nine York business and economics student teams run their own insurance companies over four condensed quarters provided real-world experiential learning and taught students the value of putting theory into action.

Designing across hemispheres – sustainably
Is sustainable design done differently down under? A York professor’s Ecological Design students had a chance to find out this year, thanks to a globally networked learning (GNL) collaboration with two Australian universities.

Nursing professor turns director during pandemic
A York University assistant professor of nursing merges her knowledge of nursing with directing the development of video simulation games to provide students with the critical practical skills they were not able to get in person during the pandemic.

Success of hyflex pilot is a collaborative effort
Beginning in the Fall 2022 term, faculty members will be able to code their courses with “HYFX” to indicate hyflex mode, meaning that students can take the course either in person or remotely – or both, depending on the day’s demands on their schedules.

Welcome to the April 2022 issue of Innovatus

Innovatus featured image

‘Innovatus’ is a special edition of YFile devoted to teaching and learning innovation at York University.

Will Gage
Will Gage

Hello and welcome back to a new issue of ‘Innovatus.’

During April, the world marks a month of reflection that culminates with Earth Day on April 22 and so it is very appropriate that this issue of ‘Innovatus’ examines the emphasis on excellence in teaching and learning, the student experience and internationalism woven into every part of York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC).

From the Faculty-wide approach to experiential learning to embracing the international experience offered by York University’s EcoCampus in the Las Nubes Rainforest in Costa Rica and the approach by faculty to teaching by example, there are a myriad of wonderful stories about the inspirational work underway within EUC.

In her letter introducing this issue, EUC Dean Alice Hovorka encourages us to embrace the idea that addressing the climate crisis is not a matter of “now or never” but rather “now and forever.” It’s something I hope you will keep in mind as you read the stories offered in this issue of ‘Innovatus.’

Please let me know your thoughts on the stories presented in this special issue. And, if you have an interesting story to suggest, please send it to my office. 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.

As always, thank you. I look forward to receiving your comments and to seeing you on campus.


Will Gage
Associate Vice-President Teaching and Learning

In this issue:

EUC Capstone experiences foster environmental literacy and action
In her message to the community, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) Dean, Alice Hovorka writes that addressing the climate crisis is not a matter of “now or never” but rather “now and forever.” It is within this context that York University’s EUC has been established as a call to action to respond to the pressing challenges facing people and the planet.

Understanding climate justice focus of EUC field course
Over the summer, undergraduate student changemakers in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) will hone their knowledge of climate justice issues through a unique experiential education opportunity with Professor P.E. Perkins, an internationally renowned climate justice thought leader.

Ontario’s iconic Bruce Peninsula beckons as a living laboratory for EUC students
Designated as an UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the Bruce Peninsula offers an unprecedented experience in biodiversity for students in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC).

EUC taps into C4 opportunities for capstone experience
Students in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) speak about their Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4) experience and how they contributed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

York University’s EcoCampus in Costa Rica offers students exceptional learning experience
Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, courses at York University’s unique Eco-Campus in Costa Rica are welcoming students back to the rainforest.

Greetings from the Faculty of Education at York University

Faculty of Education Decanal Message Innovatus Banner

Spring is in the air – and with that, comes a feeling of renewal and optimism which is visible in the work that is being done within our Faculty.

Dr. Robert Savage
Rob Savage

The last two years have been atypical due to the extraordinary hardships happening around the world, but the many challenges that we have faced together have taught us many lessons about resiliency, hope and new ways of moving forward. The ways in which we collectively approach teaching and learning have adapted to meet an ever-changing educational landscape both locally and internationally.

In this issue of ‘Innovatus,’ we share stories of projects, initiatives and activities that showcase experiential education and the many ways we are working to solve pedagogical problems and address many of the societal inequities happening in the world today. These stories also provide a snapshot of how teaching and learning in our Faculty is advancing student success in creative and meaningful ways to equip students with the knowledge and skills to create positive change in their schools and communities.

Rob Savage
Dean, Faculty of Education

Using research to assist Black youth

Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

Oyemolade Osibodu, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at York University, conducted a pilot study to help her understand the mathematics experiences of Black youth in Greater Toronto Area (GTA) high schools and the results confirmed a lack of diversity in mathematics educators.

By Elaine Smith

Oyemolade Osibodu

Growing up Black in Nigeria, race was never an issue at school for Oyemolade Osibodu, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education. If she had to prove herself occasionally, it was likely because of gender. However, her experience teaching in North America has shown her that Black youth have a very different experience, particularly in mathematics.

This year, Osibodu, whose specialty is math education, conducted a pilot study to help her understand the mathematics experiences of Black youth in GTA high schools.

“Math is not a neutral enterprise,” Osibodu said, “and it’s not just about these Black students learning math. I focused on the sociocultural and sociopolitical experience, looking at the extra layer it adds to the enterprise and what effect that has.

“The Black community in the GTA is very heterogeneous and many of the students are first-generation Canadians. I looked to see what research existed in the Canadian context unlike the United States, but I found no qualitative studies about Black youth as related to mathematics. It needs to be done and it mattered to me.”

Osibodu selected eight high school students from schools in Toronto, Durham Region and York Region for her qualitative study and explored their high school math experiences. More than half of them loved math and were successful with it, but Osibodu wanted to see what other factors were at play.

“Many of them felt that other students were surprised to see them in academic math classes and succeeding with the work,” she said. “I don’t know how we fix this.”

Even in the diverse Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the student was one of the few Black or mixed-race students on the academic track at her school and felt the pressure to prove she belonged.

“One other thing was clear,” said Osibodu. “Of the eight students, none had ever had a Black math teacher and only the TDSB student had had Black teachers in any subject.”

To understand the Black experience more thoroughly, Osibodu has applied for a three-year grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to do a larger longitudinal study following students in Grades 9, 10 and 11 to try to understand the impact of race and power on Black learners and how different experiences shape their math identities.

“My work will combine math with social justice,” she said. “I want to use math as an avenue to talk about social issues, though the students I spoke with weren’t sure it was possible. Many math classes are still very quiet; the teacher asks questions and the students answer. But they were all keen to see what it could look like.”

Osibodu knows there is a way to insert context into math – in looking at housing prices, the inequity in loan approvals and the financial impacts of gentrification, for example.

The project is designed to run throughout the year and would include “interesting math activities” in the summer, giving the students “a space where we talk, rather than do worksheets” and one that will allow them to “make sense of the world through a math lens.”

Osibodu is the winner of the EdCan Network’s 2021 Pat Clifford Award, an honour that recognizes Canada’s emerging education researchers. She’s holding her breath while waiting to see if SSHRC recognizes the importance of her research by approving her grant.