New video series highlights Faculty of Education’s impact

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York University’s Faculty of Education has unveiled a four-part series, called “Leaders Supporting Future Leaders in Education,” which showcases its efforts to innovate in education and create positive change through bold leadership and more just communities.

In particular, the four videos – which consider the Faculty’s impact and philosophy around students and alumni, community partners, as well as research and scholarship – highlight how the Faculty’s new Five-Year Strategic Plan (2023-2027), launched earlier this year, builds upon its long-running commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization. The new strategic plan also aims to sharpen how the Faculty continues to deeply consider and respond to ways in which inequities play out in the 2020s.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners appear in the series to reflect on the positive change that the Faculty has, and continues to, drive. The series is also a part of the Faculty’s efforts to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

“Meaningful education is ever-changing, engaging as it does, as it must, with society. As a Faculty, we are thinking holistically about this dynamism across all of the ideas, innovations, partnerships, sectors, and fields with whom we engage, to continue to provide transformative research, teaching and experiential learning experiences and environments for all our diverse students as they go on to become future leaders in all our communities,” says Dean of the Faculty of Education Robert Savage, who appears in the video series.

The videos can be watched individually below, or as a playlist here.

SDGs-in-the-Classroom Curricular Innovation Hub to present at national conference

Female conference lecture teacher professor

York University’s SDGs-in-the-Classroom Curricular Innovation Hub will share its strategies for integrating United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into classroom curriculum development at Together|Ensemble, Canada’s national conference devoted to tracking progress on the SDGs.

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Funding Program, the online programming put together by the conference will run from June 7 to 9 and feature more than a dozen lectures, workshops and more.

The theme of Together|Ensemble this year – in keeping with its approach to addressing Canada’s toughest sustainable development challenges in collaboration with the private sector, academia, government and civil society – is a focus on accelerating Canada’s SDGs progress as Canada currently ranks 29th in the world on SDGs implementation.

Banner for 2023 Together|Ensemble conference

The presentation by SDGs-in-the-Classroom’ Curricular Innovation Hub, at 10 a.m. on June 9, will provide an overview of how the program – supported by the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) and overseen by Sandra (Skerratt) Peniston, an assistant professor of nursing – has enabled the pan-University interdisciplinary infusion of the SDGs into classrooms at York University through faculty engagement and support, as well as enabling innovative ways to include the SDGs in meaningful manners in their classrooms – including experiential education (EE) initiatives, e-learning strategies, and strengthening SDG-focused globally networked learning (GNL) projects.

Those interested in registering for SDGs-in-the-Classroom’ Curricular Innovation Hub presentation, or the conference, can do so here.

Students team with UNESCO for educational videos on sustainability

Featured image for stories related to sustainability

York University Bachelor of Arts (BA) Educational Studies students teamed up with the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability to create educational videos covering current global education themes.

Students in their final year of the BA Educational Studies degree program are required to take a capstone course (EDST4999). In keeping with the program’s goal to look at all aspects of education, including policy, the psychology of education, teaching and adult education, seven students from the program met with the UNESCO team to understand the organization’s role within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and learn about the efforts in achieving quality education, in particular through the UNESCO Associated Schools Network of more than 12,500 schools worldwide.

Charles Hopkins
Charles Hopkins

The students worked in collaboration with York UNESCO Chair, Professor Charles Hopkins, and Executive Co-ordinator Katrin Kohl, as well as UNESCO Project Officer Katja Anger during the 2022/2023 York U Capstone Course in Educational Studies led by Celia Popovic, course director and Faculty of Education professor. They explored how to best explain sustainability, the SDGs, education for sustainable development (ESD) or global citizenship education (GCED) in video segments and created three educational videos – from conceptualizing, scripting, performing, shooting, editing and finalizing the video product.

“Participating students had been passionate about sustainable development, climate action and social justice before. Yet, with their new knowledge and an opportunity to have an impact beyond the classroom, they saw that their voice was important and felt empowered to make a difference now and in the future,” said Popovic, undergraduate program director, academic programs in the Faculty of Education.

The student videos will now be shared with UNESCO Associated Schools in Canada and beyond, and other young people will have the opportunity to engage with the perspectives and perceptions of their peers.

One of several videos created by the students and featured on UNESCO Chair at York University Toronto YouTube channel

“The videos present young voices to the discussion of our global challenges today and tomorrow,” said Hopkins. “This project is one example of York University’s Faculty of Education seeking ways to respond to the pressing challenge inherent in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Learn more about York’s Community Engagement Community of Practice

York's Community of Practice meeting

Members of York’s Community Engagement CoP (CE CoP) steering committee will present on the value and benefits realized by the University’s CoP at C2U Expo this June.

C2U Expo is Community Based Research Canada’s international conference providing leadership and space for both academics and communities to showcase community-campus partnerships that address local and global societal problems.

York’s CE CoP welcomes anyone across its campuses who work with external communities in their scholarship, teaching or professional role, or anyone with an interest in community engagement. The CE CoP provides opportunities for members to interact with colleagues from across the University that: are involved in community engagement; support capacity building and skill development for deeper engagement; facilitate peer learning; and create opportunities for collaboration.

Despite many institutions across Canada participating in community engaged work, few have incorporated a CoP model,” says Shawna Teper, assistant director, Community and Government Relations in the Office of the President. “Many are reaching out to learn more about York’s CE CoP as they contemplate what might strengthen community engagement within their own institutions.”

Presenting at C2U Expo is an opportunity for York to showcase its leadership in this area and share how, within a large and decentralized university, a CoP can serve an important convening and coordination role to support members that incorporate community engagement into their work or are interested in learning more about it.

Those interested in learning more about this presentation at C2U Expo, or would like to engage with others that are involved in community engagement work at York, are invited to the next meeting, which will be held virtually on Tuesday, June 27 from 10  to 11:30 a.m. The invitation link is enclosed here.

York takes academic leadership role at Congress 2023 

Female conference lecture teacher professor

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, editor, YFile

Upwards of 250 York University faculty members and scholars are among the presenters during the 2023 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, where they take an academic leadership role in sharing their research with colleagues from across the nation. 

The flagship event of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences – taking place May 27 to June 2 at York University’s Keele Campus – returns to an in-person format this year, following a hiatus in 2020 and the subsequent virtual format in 2021 and 2022. Congress is the largest academic gathering in Canada, with at least 10,000 participants attending this year. The event was last hosted at York University in 2006. 

Congress 2023 provides a platform for critical conversations, including diverse voices and perspectives to create collaborations that help drive the future of post-secondary education. This year’s theme “Reckonings and Re-Imaginings” will guide the direction of discussions and knowledge sharing in presentations, panels, workshops and more.

Andrea Davis
Andrea Davis

“I am excited by this theme because it’s a call to reflection on where we (as scholars, activists, artists and thinkers) are and how we got here,” said York University Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Professor Andrea Davis, who is serving as academic convenor for Congress 2023, when the theme was announced. “Rather than simply centering the problems, this theme insists that we imagine otherwise – that we consider what a different set of possibilities might look like and that we come together collectively to create the kind of world we want to live in.” 

York faculty and scholars will contribute their humanities and social sciences research and expertise through more than 250 different events scheduled in a variety of programming streams, such as the Big Thinking Lecture Series, Career Corner, Black and racialized programming, Indigenous programming, scholarly presentations and more. 

Contributions come from all 11 York Faculties, three Organized Research Units, two divisions and other units, such as the Teaching Commons and York International. 

“We took the opportunity to apply York’s strengths as an institution that is known for supporting social justice and social responsibility. At Congress 2023, the University is playing an active role in igniting and sustaining positive change through scholarship, creative practice and conversations that generate new perspectives,” said Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic.

Philipps is also a member of the Scholarly Planning Committee for Congress, which is comprised of York faculty, staff, graduate students and senior leadership, who together have helped to guide and shape the themes and programming for this year’s event through broad consultation with the York community. Learn more about the Scholarly Planning Committee here

York programming at Congress 2023 

The School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design will feature work from faculty and graduate students with topics exploring culturally relevant pedagogy, accessible tech for Canadian artists, film screenings and more. 

Diverse programming from the Faculty of Education – which contributes to more than 60 events – includes re-imagining teacher education, book launch events, the risks of queer lives during the pandemic, findings from a Black feminist qualitative study and more from faculty and graduate students. 

Both faculty and graduate students from the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change will participate and explore topics such as the intersectional feminist approach to gathering and analyzing stories that reconsider risk, and a look at ceremonies of mourning, remembrance and care in the context of violence and more.

Glendon College faculty members will consider the ascent of right-wing populism in Canada, the politics of refusal in the Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette novel Suzanne, and more. 

Research by graduate students will be the focus of contributions from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, with a variety of presentations on diverse topics, including the impact of the pandemic on intimate partner violence in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, a focus on mental health and the suicide of Black men, female activists and their relationships with their mothers, and more. 

From the Faculty of Health, faculty members will explore how academic nursing leaders addressed the complexities of sustaining quality nursing education programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, participate in a roundtable on transnational Black communities and overcoming epidemics and a panel on promising practices that support aging with equity. Faculty will also present research on Indian immigrant fatherhood in the perinatal period, the experiences of immigrant Pakistani youths, and Asian Canadian exclusionary experiences in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to research contributions, a graduate program assistant will perform at the Swag Stage.

Lassonde School of Engineering will have contributions from faculty and an undergraduate student that focuses on designing a more equitable science curricula and York’s Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4), which will be presented in partnership with a student from the Schulich School of Business.

Knowledge sharing from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies will come from undergraduate students, graduate students, teaching and research assistants and faculty, with participation in upwards of 80 different events at Congress. Some of the research will cover racial profiling among Canadian university professors of Chinese descent, re-imagining criminal justice, activism and inclusion, decolonizing transnational human rights engagements and partnerships in Africa, queer rural teacher activists and more. 

Osgoode Hall Law School faculty members and a visiting Fellow will present their research on girls and Young Women before the Cour du bienêtre social of Montréal, conflicting interpretations of women in Canada’s thalidomide tragedy and Indigenous laws and jurisdiction for addressing harm. 

Faculty members representing the Faculty of Science will share their research on geological fantasies, the stark effect, and offer perspectives during a roundtable on overcoming epidemics and the transnational Black communities’ response. 

Find more information about open programming events at Congress here:  

Congress 2023 celebrates Indigenous education initiative Wüléelham


By Elaine Smith

Join the Faculty of Education for “Presenting Wüléelham: The Gifts of Our People,” a May 31 celebration of the Faculty’s Indigenous education initiatives and the visionary behind them – Professor Susan Dion, York University’s inaugural associate vice-president, Indigenous initiatives and a Lenape and Potawatomi scholar, with mixed Irish and French ancestry.

Susan Dion
Professor Susan Dion, York University’s inaugural associate vice-president, Indigenous initiatives

Wüléelham translates from Lenape as “Making Good Tracks,” and the program has led many Indigenous students on a journey to becoming educators and academics themselves. Its options – the Waaban Indigenous teacher education program and the master’s and PhD cohorts – were developed to highlight the specific strengths of urban Indigenous communities. They are not intended to be taken in a linear sequence; instead, students make their own tracks, choosing to participate based on their timelines and interests. 

“Susan [Dion] saw the opportunities to develop these programs and made it happen,” said Pamela Toulouse, a visiting scholar at the Faculty and the emcee for the day’s events. “We want to celebrate these programs and honour her for seeing the possibilities.”

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the McEwen Auditorium, Room 141 in the Seymour Schulich Building and is open to Congress 2023 attendees and the local community. It features a traditional opening and closing by Elder Pauline Shirt, three panel discussions and a Circle on the Gifts of Our People, where Dion will be awarded with a Star blanket at 2 p.m.

“The Star is about being visionary and it is a reminder of the possibilities Susan gave us,” said Toulouse. “When we wrap her in it, it is letting her know that the community will always hold and take care of her and that we are okay, too.”

Students in the Wuleelham program
Participants in the Wuleelham program

The three panels will demonstrate the benefits of the Wüléelham programs. A Waaban panel happening at 10:30 a.m. will feature alumni from the teacher education program discussing what they learned and the gifts gained and carried into the workplace. A second panel at 11:45 a.m. will include graduate students from the Master of Education (Med) Urban Indigenous Cohort, focusing on the opportunities they have had. Finally, a faculty-staff panel will start at 1:15 p.m. and this group will share their stories about working with the students who have come through Wüléelham.

Shirt, who will open and close the program, is one of the driving forces behind the Wandering Spirit School, a learning environment that is culturally safe and nurtured their child’s Indigenous identity.

“There is a special relationship between Elder Pauline, Susan and Wüléelham,” Toulouse said. “Wandering Spirit School is the place where many of the Wabaan students go to do their teaching placements; it’s a downtown school. Pauline is a main reason that the school came into being and a leader in Indigenous education.”

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

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, enables students to work on 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 academic co-lead of C4, as well as associate professor in the Department of Dance;
  • Franz Newland, co-founder and co-lead of C4, as well as associate professor of Space Engineering;
  • Rachelle Campigotto, classroom coordinator assistant for C4 and contract faculty in the Faculty of Education;
  • Dana Craig, Libraries liaison for C4 and director of student learning and academic success in the Libraries;
  • Danielle Dobney, team culture strategist of C4 and assistant professor in Kinesiology and the Athletic Therapy Certificate program;
  • Andrea Kalmin, curriculum lead, classroom coordinator for C4 and adjunct faculty in the Department of Social Science;
  • Alice Kim, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research lead for C4 and interim assistant program head for Psychology at the University of Guelph-Humber; 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.

Welcome to the May 2023 issue of ‘Innovatus’

Header banner for INNOVATUS

Welcome to the final issue of Innovatus for the 2022-23 academic year. As we move toward 2023-24, it’s fitting that we end the year with a focus on education, a field that promotes growth and change.

Will Gage
Will Gage

Change is also afoot for Innovatus with my term as associate vice-president, teaching and learning, coming to a close. It has been a pleasure serving as publisher of Innovatus, because it has continually reminded me how prevalent creativity and dedication to innovation in teaching and learning are here at York. Each year, I am delighted as wave after wave of interesting, challenging programs and projects emerge from our Faculties. An enjoyment of learning is something we educators hope to inspire in our students, and from this vantage point, the myriad efforts are reaping rewards with no end in sight. I am proud that the team in this office has helped to disseminate the insights and efforts of so many of York’s excellent minds. 

In this issue, our spotlight shines on the Faculty of Education, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. A number of professors have collaborated in turning their research and experiences into books that can be used to teach others. Working in partnership is one of the University Academic Plan’s priorities, and Carl Everton James, the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora, and alumna Leanne Taylor, PhD, examine the experiences of first-generation university students. The inaugural chair holder, Nombuso Dlamini, serves as co-editor of a collection of scholarly essays she and her colleagues wrote during her five-year term. Meanwhile, Gillian Parekh assembled a team of colleagues at York and elsewhere to create an educator’s guide to equity and human rights in special education and a corresponding website.  

Our final story this month isn’t about a book, but about adding new technological education courses to the breadth of York’s offerings so teachers can instruct students who are looking toward jobs in the skilled trades. Tradespeople are in demand across the country, and educators can make those career pathways more inviting and accessible. 

I know you will find these stories illuminating, given that education is our business – and our passion, something that is reinforced as I review the Innovatus stories each month. 

As I leave my role as publisher, I thank you all for your interest in and support for Innovatus. I have no doubt that the team will continue to provide you with a stellar mix of interesting, informative stories each month. 

Best wishes,

Will Gage
AVP, 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

Groundbreaking work in Faculty of Education will foster positive change
Faculty of Education Dean Rob Savage shares how teaching and learning reflects a focus on innovation and improvement to shape and respond to the complexities of education in the 21st century.

Faculty of Education responding to need for careers in skilled trades
Professional Learning in the Faculty of Education has introduced four new courses to address the shortage of high school teachers with qualifications to teach skilled trades.

Book highlights the importance of supports for university students
A book co-authored by Professor Carl James, York University Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora, profiles York alumni as first-generation students.

Human rights and equity in special education
It’s time to rethink our approach to special education, says Gillian Parekh, and she and a group of fellow educators and scholars have put their energies into creating change with a guide on equity and human rights in special education.

Collaboration continues to be modus operandi for inaugural Jean Augustine Chair
Inaugural Jean Augustine Chair Nombuso Dlamini reflects on collaboration that led to collection of published essays.

Groundbreaking work in Faculty of Education will foster positive change

Image shows a group of students working with a professor

Teaching and learning in the Faculty of Education reflects a focus on innovation and improvement in order to both shape and respond to the complexities of education in the 21st century in a principled and informed way.

Dr. Robert Savage
Rob Savage

In this issue of Innovatus, you will read stories about the groundbreaking work that our Faculty is undertaking to challenge the status quo to uncover new possibilities in the advancement of education. This work is grounded in our commitment to the values of social justice, equity, diversity and decolonization with a focus on sustained action for positive change as represented in our new Five-Year Strategic Plan (2023-2027).  

The featured stories are a snippet of our collective successes and achievements as a Faculty and are examples of the ways in which we are infusing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into our collective work. 

Education is ever-changing, and as a Faculty we are thinking holistically about this dynamism across all of the ideas, innovations, partnerships, sectors and fields we are engaged with, to provide transformative research and teaching and learning experiences for our students as they go on to become future leaders in their communities. 

Rob Savage
Dean, Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education responding to need for careers in skilled trades 

One participant got support from his teachers and this greatly encouraged him to be himself

By Angela Ward

Professional Learning in the Faculty of Education has introduced four new Technological Education Additional Qualification (AQ) courses and is merging classroom learning with on-site sector experience to address the shortage of high school teachers with these qualifications. 

Technological Education encompasses 10 broad-based technologies with four of these in-demand courses being offered by York University as Additional Basic Qualifications (ABQs). Ontario teachers can now earn a new “Tech Ed” qualification in the following areas with more planned for the near future: green industries; health care; hospitality and tourism; and hairstyling and aesthetics. These new Tech Ed AQ courses allow teachers to expand and extend their knowledge, so they can design and deliver programs to the next generation of talent for in-demand careers.

Anna Jupp
Anna Jupp

“If technological education teachers have trade or sector experience, such as nursing, these Additional Basic Qualification courses support them in translating their specialized knowledge and experience to classroom teaching and learning,” says Anna Jupp, director, professional learning, Faculty of Education. “Our courses are designed to help educators create student programs that not only meet Ontario curriculum expectations but inspire students to pursue careers in the skilled trades.”  

The creation of the new courses results from a shortage of teachers who have the training and qualifications to teach these subjects, which has been a growing issue for years. Areas such as hospitality and tourism require specialized sites such as kitchen facilities, which can be a logistical and costly challenge for course providers. Accessing the latest technology is also a challenge, as teachers need to have access to tools and equipment in these areas to be trained in safely using the tools of the trade, so that students can also be taught.   

Typically, 125-hour AQ courses are structured in a fully online format, where candidates sign in at various times to complete their coursework. In contrast, these Tech Ed AQs offered Jupp and her team a new way to restructure the way educators learn in their chosen broad-based technology. While those enrolled may or may not have sector experience in their chosen field, the Tech Ed AQs are structured to account for 60 hours of traditional learning and 65 hours of experiential learning.   

“There have been challenges in the last several years when it comes to technological education in high schools,” Jupp explains. “We’ve seen a lot of technological education classrooms being dismantled. High schools had carpentry or mechanic shops and kitchens but because of low enrollment among students and a shortage of qualified teachers to teach these subjects, these classrooms were shut down.”  

Both education and the government are preparing teachers and students for future jobs in the skilled trades, highlighting experiential education and technical skills. Jupp notes that the Ministry of Education recently announced that to obtain a secondary school diploma, students will require at least one technological education course to graduate, starting in September 2024.   

“It’s important that teachers be trained, so that students get excited about the trades and get the opportunity to explore them at the high school level,” Jupp says. “This way, students with an interest or talent in the trades can start thinking about this option for their post-secondary path.  

“In thinking about equity and different pathways, it’s important to provide not only options but opportunities for those who are university-bound and those considering a future in the skilled trades. In education, we’ve been looking at ways to offer possibilities for both routes.”  

The technological education additional qualification courses help to build the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise of teachers and feature a custom Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) platform. This offers users a balance of both flexibility and structure as the courses are a blend of online (both synchronous and asynchronous) and in-person learning. The 65-hour sector experience component is unique to York and to all technological education courses across Ontario.   

“We’re proud of our design,” Jupp says. “We included subject matter experts, such as teachers who hold both experience teaching these courses and experience working in their tech sector. The course developer for the health care course, for example, is both a health-care teacher and a former nurse, bringing with her a wealth of sector and teaching experience.”   

Their Moodle LMS design “allows for the initial development of a course,” Jupp notes, “but also provides instructors with the opportunity to customize the course they’re teaching based on the needs of their students. We’ve designed a course where instructors and candidates meet online synchronously once a week for five weeks. Online is preferred since candidates are participating from all over Ontario and attend these classes in the evenings. While facilitated by an instructor, these AQs allow for a highly collaborative environment.”  

After the class, candidates complete Moodle assignments or activities which reflect the topic of the evening and connect back to the classroom. Within their chosen sector, candidates job shadow to earn their 65 hours of sector experience in a placement through the approval of their instructional leader.  

Jupp sees the hands-on learning element in technological education courses as key. “Some providers in the province offer similar courses but went the fully online route, which I think leaves a gap,” Jupp says. “Educators need hands-on experience of knowing how to use the tools and equipment such as properly sanitizing hairdressing tools. They need to know how to effectively transfer this knowledge in a classroom setting.”   

The Office of Professional Learning in the Faculty of Education has been offering AQ courses to Ontario educators since the mid-’90s and are proud to now offer over 100 additional qualifications. These technological education courses and their innovative format are their latest development. Jupp and her team say they are looking forward to always finding new ways to offer their high-quality, in-demand courses in ways that bring the best learning experience to educators possible.