Call for nominations: President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards

Photo by Singkham from Pexels

Photo by Singkham from PexelsYork University President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards recognize students, faculty and staff who are contributing to making York a leading university in sustainability. The purpose of the awards are to raise awareness on the important work that sustainability champions are doing at York, to provide much deserved recognition of their work, and to encourage others to get involved in sustainability initiatives on the University’s campuses. Up to five (5) awards will be given out each year.

Eligibility Criteria: Anyone from the York University community can nominate any other individual or group for consideration. For the purposes of the award, the York University community is defined as students, faculty, and staff members. The geographic focus of the nominees sustainability work should be on one of York’s campuses or in the surrounding community.

Nomination Process: The nomination period for 2019-20 is now open. 
Please complete and submit the online Sustainability Leadership Award Form.

Deadline to submit a nomination: Friday, March 13.

Review Period: Applications will be reviewed at the beginning of March with final decisions on awards to be made by or before June 2020.

Review Committee: Applications will be reviewed by a committee of five, including two  students, one faculty member and two staff members.

Evaluation Criteria: Nominees will be considered for the Sustainability Leadership Awards based on their demonstrated leadership in sustainability, specifically through the following criteria:

  • The overall impact of the nominee’s contributions to sustainability, including the depth (how significant the contribution is) and breadth (how widespread, collaborative and/or replicable the contribution is).
  • The degree of innovation and originality and/or degree of enhancement (to existing initiatives).
  • How the individual or group went “over and above the call of duty” (additional time and resources committed that were not part of their job description or academic program).

Announcement of Awards: Award winners will be announced by or before June 2020.

Questions: If you have any questions or concerns, contact Nicole Arsenault, program director, Sustainability narsenau@yorku.ca or 416-736-5866.

Activists to discuss how alternative economic models can help achieve food, racial and climate justice

Organizer, educator and writer Kali Akuno will participate in a York University panel titled “Food Sovereignty, Climate Justice and Racial Justice: Making the Links” on Feb. 25. The free event, open to the public, will explore challenges and opportunities associated with alternative economic models that support food sovereignty, climate justice and racial justice. The panel will take place beginning at 2:30 p.m. in room 305 Founders College at the Keele Campus.

Kali Akuno
Kali Akuno

Akuno is a co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, an emerging network of worker cooperatives and supporting institutions in Jackson, Mississippi. He has also served as the co-director of the US Human Rights Network, as the executive director of the Peoples’ Hurricane Relief Fund after Hurricane Katrina and co-founded the School of Social Justice and Community Development, a public school serving the academic needs of low-income African American and Latino communities in Oakland, California.

In his panel presentation, Akuno will share his experiences leading Cooperation Jackson as the organization works to advance the development of economic democracy by building a solidarity economy anchored by a network of cooperatives and other types of worker-owned and democratically self-managed enterprises. Akuno’s presentation will be followed by conversations with local voices including Leticia Deawuo of Black Creek Community Farm and Adabu Brownhill Jefwa with the National Farmers Union.

Many argue that while the industrial model of growing and consuming food is contributing to both climate change and social inequity, alternative economies – including alternative food networks – continue to benefit white, middle-class populations while further marginalizing lower-income groups and communities of colour. This panel will explore to what extent alternative economic can models work for everyone, what models can be pointed to and how they can more meaningfully prioritize racially and economically marginalized communities.

Students, faculty, staff and members of the public interested in attending the panel are asked to RSVP on the event’s website.

New Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change created to address world’s most pressing issues

Image shows a hand holding a pine cone against a lush backdrop of greenery
Image shows a hand holding a pine cone against a lush backdrop of greenery

Environmental change and urbanization represent two of the most critical challenges facing people and the planet. The world’s awareness of the need to develop sustainable solutions is vividly illustrated by the massive global Climate Day of Action protests that took place in September 2019 ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit. The climate action saw youth take to the streets to raise their concerns about environmental degradation, the injustices facing humanity, and the uncertainty of their future.

Universities are uniquely positioned to advance knowledge of and solutions to the issues posed by the climate crisis, degradation of nature and the rapid growth of cities. In response, York University is taking a leadership role to advance teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and multisectoral engagement in environmental and urban realms by bringing together the expertise housed in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) and the Geography program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies to create a new Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.

Envisioned to be an international leader in critical and innovative urban, environmental and geographical knowledges and skills, the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change will focus on advancing sustainability and justice. In 2019, both the Board of Governors and the Senate of York University approved the proposal for the new faculty, which will formally come into existence on Sept. 1, 2020 with new curricular offerings planned for Sept. 1, 2021.

Rhonda L. Lenton

“Students today are simultaneously faced with a competitive and dynamic global knowledge economy and a series of existential social and environmental challenges. The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change combines the historical excellence of our environmental studies and geography programs with a renewed commitment to innovative teaching, scholarship and experiential learning. This interdisciplinary and collaborative approach will help society tackle its most complex challenges while training the leaders who will put solutions into practice,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton.

Current and future students will have unprecedented opportunities to explore and learn from global thought leaders in geography, urban and environmental studies within a new faculty that fosters interdisciplinary approaches spanning and connecting biophysical sciences, social sciences, and the arts

Alice Hovorka

“The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change will champion interdisciplinarity through curricular programs and scholarship,” said its inaugural Dean Alice Hovorka. “The new faculty will draw together scholars from geography and environmental studies as well as from across York University, building on existing synergies and encouraging collaboration in teaching, research and engagement activities.”

Field-based and experiential learning opportunities will further enhance students’ understanding of biophysical processes and social issues. Undergraduate students will have opportunities to pursue majors and minors in new programs that include bachelor’s degrees in global geography, urban studies, environmental science, sustainable environmental management, and environmental arts and justice. Masters and PhD programs in Geography and Environmental Studies will offer advanced study and application in these topical areas. Programs will feature hands-on, community-engaged learning locally, for example at York’s Maloca Garden and woodlot sites, regionally through field courses at Bruce Peninsula and within the Greater Toronto Area, and internationally at the York University Las Nubes EcoCampus in Costa Rica. Programs will also highlight work- and research-based placements connecting students with non-governmental organizations, industry, and government partner to help guide their career paths.

Demand for career professionals in environmental and urban realms has outpaced that of the rest of the workforce. Governments around the world are now placing an emphasis on regulation and public policies focused on sustainability and smart cities, requiring that organizations rethink their practices. New positions for environmental, urban planning and sustainability experts are needed, and the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change will be uniquely positioned to meet this increased global demand for trained professionals. According to a 2018 Eco Canada Job Posting Trends Report, anticipated job growth leading into 2025 will be seen in careers in natural resource management (15 per cent increase), waste management (15 per cent increase), urban planning and development (13 per cent increase), energy management (12 per cent increase) and environmental health & safety and water quality (seven per cent increase).

Some of the potential career positions available to the inaugural graduating class of 2025 include chief sustainability officers, regulators and analysts; energy entrepreneurs, auditors and consultants; environmental lawyers, advocates and diversity educators; environmental scientists, geoscientists, technicians and specialists; and, urban planners, social service administrators and infrastructure directors.

To learn more, visit https://newfaculty.info.yorku.ca/.

Watch wildfires and wading waiters at Planetary Health Film Lab premiere

Mark Terry

From raging wildfires devastating the Australian wilderness to Venetian waiters in rubber boots serving customers packed into flooding restaurants, the real-time impacts of climate change, told by the people living through them, will be on display at the public screening of documentaries produced as part of the Planetary Health Film Lab at York University.

The free event will take place at 5 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the Global Strategy Lab, room 2120 Dahdaleh Building at the Keele Campus, and will showcase the work of six young, emerging international filmmakers completing an intensive, five-day pilot documentary film course at York University. The screening will include an open discussion with the filmmakers and organizers.

The Planetary Health Film Lab course, taught by York Postdoctoral Fellow in Documentary Film and Global Health Mark Terry, will empower students to effectively tell stories that communicate data, research and life experiences related to global and planetary health through specific theories, techniques and modes of social issue filmmaking, providing hands-on experience with new digital technologies and platforms. This first iteration of the course, taught during winter reading week, will include students from Ecuador, Colombia, Italy, India and Australia. Each student will be tasked with producing a three-minute film that tells a story about the impacts of climate change in their respective countries and communities, which will be premiered at the public screening and included in the United Nations’ Youth Climate Report.

Mark Terry
Mark Terry

Terry has personally witnessed how much short documentary films have influenced climate policy creation on a global scale, having launched the Youth Climate Report, a series of nearly 300 videos on global climate research produced by young people situated on an interactive digital map, at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2017. He helped to conceive the project after having been invited to produce yearly hour-long compilations of short youth-produced films for COPs beginning in 2011. The United Nations now holds an annual Global Youth Video Challenge for young people around the world to document climate change and their actions to combat it, with winning entries being showcased on the Youth Climate Report map.

Not just a form of entertainment, short documentary film has become an effective visual medium for delivering information to COP delegates and policy makers inundated with complex scientific research. “I’ve seen them with their laptops at a negotiation session and we talk about Tanzania and they’ll open up the map and watch the video from Tanzania to get this visual context,” Terry explains. “It’s very exciting.”

Equally exciting for Terry are the prospects for knowledge mobilization with projects like the film lab, with students enabled to take their skills and theories back to their respective countries and share them with their peers. Committed to giving a voice to young people, he notes a mobilization of youth activists like Greta Thunberg around the world leading the charge against climate change as an influence in his teaching and film making work. “They’re the next generation that’s not only going to be affected by the impacts of climate change, but they’re the ones who are going to be in power,” says Terry.

Although young people are speaking louder and in greater numbers about climate change, Terry admits that while those in power today might be starting to listen, they are yet to begin changing their behaviour. “When the new generation of young people who were brought up with this activism and this desire and desperation to do something about climate change, added to the frustration of our generation not doing anything about it, I think we’re going to get a more idealistic politician,” said Terry.

Terry’s latest book, The Geo-Doc: Geomedia, Documentary Film, and Social Change, was released on Feb. 4. His upcoming documentary, The Changing Face of Iceland, will complete a film trilogy comprised of his works on the impacts of climate change along with The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning and The Polar Explorer.

Partners for the Planetary Health Film Lab include the Young Lives Research Lab in the Faculty of Education and the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University, as well as the Youth Climate Report. The project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Feds seek Osgoode Environmental Justice & Sustainability Clinic’s help in Ring of Fire

In what is being described as “a stunning success,” Osgoode Hall Law School’s Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic has received word from the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change that its request for a regional impact assessment for proposed mining and road infrastructure in Ontario’s Ring of Fire has been accepted.

Dayna Nadine Scott
Dayna Scott

Minister Jonathan Wilkinson granted the clinic’s request, with reasons, in a Feb. 10 letter addressed to clinic co-director, Professor Dayna Scott. He stated that the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada has been instructed to meet with the clinic in order to shape the terms of reference for the regional assessment.

The Ring of Fire is a large deposit of minerals, including nickel, copper, zinc, gold and most notably chromite, that has been discovered in the Far North of Ontario. It is in a remote part of the province, inhabited almost exclusively by Indigenous peoples.

The regional impact assessment will look at the mining and road proposals for the area and assess their cumulative impacts on Indigenous way of life, harvesting practices and jurisdiction, as well as climate change mitigation and fragmentation of the boreal forest.

“Building roads to the mine site could potentially threaten the integrity of one of the largest intact boreal forests remaining in the world, a globally significant wetland, and a massive carbon storehouse,” Scott said.  “It also could threaten the ways of life of Indigenous peoples who have been the stewards of those lands since time immemorial.”

Scott, who is the York Research Chair in Environmental Law & Justice in the Green Economy, described the government decision to conduct the Ring of Fire regional impact assessment as “a major accomplishment” for the Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic.

The clinic works to advance environmental justice and sustainability in Canada by carrying out a variety of legal work on a pro bono basis for a number of clients (individuals, communities, NGOs, municipalities, First Nations, social enterprises, etc.), often in cooperation with external public interest-oriented lawyers and legal service organizations. Students in the clinical program perform legal work supervised by experts in the field.

“One of the clinic’s projects for the year was to assist one of the remote First Nations in the region with work on the ongoing project-level environmental assessment,” Scott said. “In the course of that work, it became obvious that the interests at stake would be better protected through a regional assessment. Since the process for requesting a regional assessment is a novel part of the new federal legislation (the Impact Assessment Act), we weren’t sure how the request would be handled by the Minister.”

Scott said two students in clinic co-director Professor Estair Van Wagner’s Natural Resource class – Christie McLeod and Isaac Twinn – and three Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic students – Madhavi Gupta, Edith Barabash and Patrick McCaugherty – worked on research related to the file. McLeod, a clinic alumna from 2017-2018 and a JD/MES student, and Twinn also participated in the actual drafting of the request.

“What is most exciting for me in this stunning success for the clinic is the prospects for the federal Impact Assessment Agency to meaningfully partner with the Indigenous Governing Authorities in the region, so that they can resume the work of deliberating on the relative merits of competing visions for the future of their homelands,” Scott said.  “When that process broke down, and the process was reduced to those First Nations being merely ‘consulted on’ the proponents’ proposals, the prospects of a lasting resolution of the conflict had begun to fade.”

Sustainability Seminar Series explores relationships and Indigenous peoples

In her talk titled “It is all about the relationships,” York professor Ruth Koleszar-Green, will discuss building relationships with Indigenous peoples. Koleszar-Green’s talk is the fourth instalment in the 2019-20 Sustainability Seminar Series.

Ruth Koleszar-Green

Koleszar-Green is co-chair of the Indigenous Council at York University, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at York University and the special adviser to the president on Indigenous Initiatives.

An activist turned accidental academic. Koleszar-Green identifies as an urban Indigenous person and is a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. She is from the Mohawk Nation and is a member of the Turtle Clan. She was born a Canadian but was one-half disenfranchised when she was 10 years old. By the time she was 34.5 years old she was completely disenfranchised. Koleszar-Green acknowledges the privileges she gets in a world of identity politics to be governed by legislation that is 100 years older than she is! She also acknowledges her paternal Celtic heritage. Koleszar-Green likes to think about Indigenous education and social issues that impact Indigenous communities. She has a PhD from OISE in Adult Education and Community Development, an MSW and a BSW from Ryerson.

Koleszar-Green’s talk will take place on Feb. 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room 140, HNES Building, Keele Campus.

The Sustainability Seminar Series was launched in October 2018 by York University’s President’s Sustainability Council, an advisory body to the president, responsible for providing input and recommendations on how to advance the University’s sustainability initiatives, projects and practices. For more information about the seminar series, visit sustainability.info.yorku.ca/sustainability-seminar-series.

Call for nominations: President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards

Photo by Tobias Weinhold on Unsplash

The York University President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards recognize students, faculty and staff who are contributing to making York a leading university in sustainability. The purpose of the awards are to raise awareness on the important work that sustainability champions are doing at York, to provide much deserved recognition of their work, and to encourage others to get involved in sustainability initiatives on the University’s campuses. Up to five (5) awards will be given out each year.

Eligibility Criteria: Anyone from the York University community can nominate any other individual or group for consideration. For the purposes of the award, the York University community is defined as students, faculty, and staff members. The geographic focus of the nominees sustainability work should be on one of York’s campuses or in the surrounding community.

Nomination Process: The nomination period for 2019-20 is now open. 
Please complete and submit the online Sustainability Leadership Award Form.

Deadline to submit a nomination: Friday, March 13.

Review Period: Applications will be reviewed at the beginning of March with final decisions on awards to be made by or before June 2020.

Review Committee: Applications will be reviewed by a committee of five, including two  students, one faculty member and two staff members.

Evaluation Criteria: Nominees will be considered for the Sustainability Leadership Awards based on their demonstrated leadership in sustainability, specifically through the following criteria:

  • The overall impact of the nominee’s contributions to sustainability, including the depth (how significant the contribution is) and breadth (how widespread, collaborative and/or replicable the contribution is).
  • The degree of innovation and originality and/or degree of enhancement (to existing initiatives).
  • How the individual or group went “over and above the call of duty” (additional time and resources committed that were not part of their job description or academic program).

Announcement of Awards: Award winners will be announced by or before June 2020.

Questions: If you have any questions or concerns, contact Nicole Arsenault, program director, Sustainability narsenau@yorku.ca or 416-736-5866.

Aquatic Research Group Seminar to explore the factors shaping urban ecosystem services

ARG Feb 24 FEATURED
Carly Ziter
Carly Ziter

Editor’s note: Today, the room number for this event was changed to 140 HNES Building.

The next event in the 2019-20 Aquatic Research Group (ARG) Seminar Series features Concordia University Assistant Professor Carly Ziter presenting a talk titled “Thinking beyond the park: landscape structure, land-use history and biodiversity shape urban ecosystem services.” It takes place on Monday, Feb. 24, at 12:30 p.m. in room 140 HNES Building, Keele Campus. The seminar will be followed by a free lunch at 1:30 p.m. All members of the York community are welcome to attend.

The pan-Faculty ARG Seminar Series, organized by biology Professor Sapna Sharma in York University’s Faculty of Science, brings top ecologists from across the province to York to talk about their research in aquatic ecology and what’s causing stress in our waterways.

Professor Ziter grew up in southern Ontario, in a house surrounded by fields (usually corn, sometimes soy), punctuated by small woodlots. In her mind, this mix of farmland, housing and forest wasn’t an “ecosystem,” it was just where she walked the dog. Now, she realizes that these human-dominated landscapes are hard at work providing a multitude of ecosystem services we rely on, and she’s fascinated by how we can manage these areas better. When she’s not busy researching the intersection of landscape structure, biodiversity and ecosystem services, she can be found enjoying the great outdoors, knitting or at the pottery studio.

​Ziter has a PhD (2018) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MSc (2013) from McGill University and a BSc (2011) from the University of Guelph.

Here’s a look at the rest of the ARG Seminar Series lineup:

March 11: Professor Karen Kidd (McMaster University), “Local through global influences of human activities on mercury in aquatic ecosystems.”

The ARG includes researchers who focus on aquatic science from the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Environmental Studies, and Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. The seminar series is designed to engage this multidisciplinary scientific community at all levels, including graduate and undergraduate students, both at York University and in the wider aquatic science community.

Call for nominations: President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards

Photo by Tobias Weinhold on Unsplash

The York University President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards recognize students, faculty and staff who are contributing to making York a leading university in sustainability. The purpose of the awards are to raise awareness on the important work that sustainability champions are doing at York, to provide much deserved recognition of their work, and to encourage others to get involved in sustainability initiatives on the University’s campuses. Up to five (5) awards will be given out each year.

Eligibility Criteria: Anyone from the York University community can nominate any other individual or group for consideration. For the purposes of the award, the York University community is defined as students, faculty, and staff members. The geographic focus of the nominees sustainability work should be on one of York’s campuses or in the surrounding community.

Nomination Process: The nomination period for 2019-20 is now open. 
Please complete and submit the online Sustainability Leadership Award Form.

Deadline to submit a nomination: Friday, March 13.

Review Period: Applications will be reviewed at the beginning of March with final decisions on awards to be made by or before June 2020.

Review Committee: Applications will be reviewed by a committee of five, including two  students, one faculty member and two staff members.

Evaluation Criteria: Nominees will be considered for the Sustainability Leadership Awards based on their demonstrated leadership in sustainability, specifically through the following criteria:

  • The overall impact of the nominee’s contributions to sustainability, including the depth (how significant the contribution is) and breadth (how widespread, collaborative and/or replicable the contribution is).
  • The degree of innovation and originality and/or degree of enhancement (to existing initiatives).
  • How the individual or group went “over and above the call of duty” (additional time and resources committed that were not part of their job description or academic program).

Announcement of Awards: Award winners will be announced by or before June 2020.

Questions: If you have any questions or concerns, contact Nicole Arsenault, program director, Sustainability narsenau@yorku.ca or 416-736-5866.

Aquatic Research Group Seminar looks at the impacts of road salt inputs on GTA streams

Road salt
Claire Oswald
Claire Oswald

The next event in the 2019-20 Aquatic Research Group (ARG) Seminar Series features Ryerson University Professor Claire Oswald presenting a talk titled “Impacts of road salt inputs on GTA streams.” It takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 12:30 p.m. in 140 Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building (HNES). The seminar will be followed by a free lunch at 1:30 p.m. All members of the York community are welcome to attend.

The pan-Faculty ARG Seminar Series, organized by biology Professor Sapna Sharma in York University’s Faculty of Science, brings top ecologists from across the province to York to talk about their research in aquatic ecology and what’s causing stress in our waterways.

Professor Oswald, of Ryerson’s Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, is a broadly-trained physical geographer with research interests in catchment hydrology, biogeochemistry, pollutant fate and transport, and dissolved organic matter quantity and quality. These interests span both natural and human-dominated landscapes, from the boreal forests of northwestern Ontario to constructed wetlands in the Alberta oil sands region to urban and urbanizing watersheds in south-central Ontario.

She holds a PhD (2011) in physical geography from the University of Toronto, an MSc (2002) in physical geography from McMaster University and a BSc (1999) in physics from McMaster University.

Here’s a look at the rest of the ARG Seminar Series lineup:

Feb. 24: Assistant Professor Carly Ziter (Concordia University), “Thinking beyond the park: landscape structure, land-use history and biodiversity shape urban ecosystem services”

March 11: Professor Karen Kidd (McMaster University), “Local through global influences of human activities on mercury in aquatic ecosystems”

Each seminar will start at 12:30 p.m., followed by a free lunch at 1:30 p.m. The seminars will all take place in HNES 140 except for the talk on Feb. 24, which will be in 306 Lumbers Building.

The ARG includes researchers who focus on aquatic science from the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Environmental Studies, and Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. The seminar series is designed to engage this multidisciplinary scientific community at all levels, including graduate and undergraduate students, both at York University and in the wider aquatic science community.