York announces launch of Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages

Artwork by Métis (Otipemisiwak) artist Christi Belcourt

York University has launched a new organized research unit (ORU) that is the first at the University to focus on Indigenous and decolonizing scholarship.

The Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages (CIKL) is led by inaugural Director Deborah McGregor, an associate professor at York and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice at Osgoode Hall Law School. The new ORU will host Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and students engaged in these areas of scholarship, and aims to facilitate knowledge production and dissemination that re-centres Indigenous knowledges, languages, practices and ways of being. Moreover, CIKL will support research involving both traditional and contemporary knowledges, as care-taken, shared and created by Indigenous scholars at the University and from Indigenous knowledge holders in the community.

Deborah McGregor
Deborah McGregor

Cross-appointed between Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, McGregor is Anishinaabe from Whitefish River First Nation, Birch Island, Ont. She has an extensive research background focusing on Indigenous knowledge systems and their applications in water and environmental governance, environmental and climate justice, and sustainable self-determined futures.

McGregor notes that “the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages offers a generative space within and beyond York University to advance Indigenous scholarship, research theories, methodologies and practices that supports a keen understanding of the goals and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples. CIKL will foster collaborations and partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and others that create ethical space for dialogue on how research relationships can be envisioned, negotiated, practised in support of Indigenous futurities. Creating this ethical space in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and our colleagues across the University also creates opportunities for critical dialogue, reflection and change to take place in addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Joining McGregor as a research leader is York University Professor Sean Hillier, who will become CIKL’s associate director. Hillier has recently been appointed a York Research Chair in Indigenous Health Policy & One Health. He is a queer Mi’kmaw scholar from the Qalipu First Nation, and an assistant professor at the School of Health Policy & Management. His collaborative research program spans themes of aging, living with HIV and other infectious diseases, and antimicrobial resistance, all with a focus on policy affecting health-care access for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

“Having dedicated Indigenous research resources and space, as offered by the new CIKL, which is run by and for Indigenous Peoples on campus, is a critical first step,” says Hillier. “This centre will assist York in becoming a research-intensive institution and serves the principals of the Indigenous Framework and University Academic Plan.”

Amir Asif, York’s vice-president of research and innovation, says, “The establishment of CIKL creates a vital space for Indigenous researchers and all those engaged in decolonizing scholarship at York and beyond. The centre will play an important role in invigorating and disseminating groundbreaking, Indigenous-centred research taking place at and beyond York University.”

Stay tuned for upcoming events and initiatives at CIKL.

Recipients of the Provostial Fellowships announced

A drone image of Vari Hall on the Keele campus

Professors Burkard Eberlein (Schulich), Sapna Sharma (science), Cheryl van Daalen-Smith (health, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies) and Qiang Zha (education) have been appointed York University Provostial Fellows.

Appointed for one year, each of the recipients will work to enhance collegial capacity at an institutional level to advance the priorities of the University Academic Plan (UAP) in demonstrable ways. The Provostial Fellowships also provide an opportunity for a diverse group of tenured faculty to gain hands-on experience in university leadership.

“I am thrilled to have these four faculty members dedicating some of their time and energy to help lead the implementation of our UAP. The University will benefit from their expertise and ideas, and I hope they too will find this a valuable opportunity to grow and develop as leaders and institution builders,” said Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps. “The launch of Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 established six exciting and important priorities for York University. As a community, we now look to work together in advancing these.”

Fellows will work with the provost and relevant members of the senior leadership on a project or initiative intended to advance one of the UAP priority areas at an institutional level. Each project also seeks to enhance and intersect with the University-wide challenge to elevate institutional contributions to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Burkhard Eberlein
Burkard Eberlein

Burkard Eberlein
Professor, Public Policy and Strategic Management
Schulich School of Business

Professor Eberlein’s project, “York’s Journey toward Carbon Neutrality,” seeks to identify and advance specific and impactful initiatives that the University can take to reduce its carbon emissions.

Sapna Sharma
Sapna Sharma

Sapna Sharma
Associate Professor, Department of Biology
Faculty of Science

Professor Sharma’s project, “Working Towards Equitable Access to Clean Water,” looks to address the billions of people worldwide, including in Canada, who do not have access to clean freshwater. This project will seek student, faculty and staff collaborations across the University with a goal of raising awareness and identifying solutions to this critical issue, and will culminate with an event celebrating UN World Water Day.

Cheryl van Daalen-Smith
Cheryl van Daalen-Smith

Cheryl van Daalen-Smith
Associate Professor, School of Nursing
Faculty of Health
Associate Professor, School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies/Children, Childhood & Youth Studies Program.
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

Professor van Daalen-Smith’s project, “More than Bees and Trees: Seeing the SDGs in our Curriculum – A Pan-University Community Development Initiative,” seeks to track, weave, inspire and amplify curricular SDG initiatives and advance York University’s commitment to interdisciplinarity.

Qiang Zha
Qiang Zha

Qiang Zha
Associate Professor
Faculty of Education

Professor Zha’s project, “Reimagining and Transforming Liberal Arts Education with a Trans-Continental Partnership,” looks to explore a new model for practising liberal arts education in the current contexts of mass higher education, knowledge societies and globalization, including the prospects for infusing the concepts derived from the SDGs and promoting global competence.

New employee learning experiences will transform York’s workplace and talent

YFile Featured image VARI hall

This fall, York University will take the employee learning experience to the next level with the launch of new programs, series, elective courses and YU Learn, York’s first employee learning management system, complemented by a continuing commitment to LinkedIn Learning.

“York has become a global magnet for talented people drawn by our academic excellence, cosmopolitan character, and commitment to making a positive difference.” (Source: University Academic Plan, 2020-25)

Inspired and led by the 2020-25 University Academic Plan’s focus on “Living Well Together” and “21st Century Learning,” York employees and managers will have access to accelerated and modern learning experiences that already differentiate York University as a teaching, learning and research institution, and now as an employer as well.  

“We know that our employees continue to seek greater opportunities for connection, learning and career navigation,” said Assistant Vice-President of Human Resources (HR) Mary Catherine Masciangelo. “As York continues to move through challenge and change, a modern and agile employee learning experience is critical to York’s future-readiness and the ability to co-create positive change for our University and for the students we serve.”

Featured image shows the words Career Navigation & Skills Development and then on a separate line Employee Learning and Development. The image shows a hand holding a compass. The word New is also present in the image.

The learning content lined up for York’s 2021-22 employee learning and development programming emphasizes career navigation, skills and leadership development, and building learning capacity. York’s employee learning lead, Jennifer Sipos, director of talent acquisition and development, shares some of the highlights: “York employees want personalized, 21st-century learning that enables them to self-direct positive work experiences and navigate distinct careers. Our offerings recognize and reflect the diverse employee learners we serve and the curricula they need and desire. Specifically, our employees want to build people leadership, digital collaboration and decision-making skills, and new programs like Emerging Leaders U and the Digital Workplace Series respond directly to that feedback.”

Virtual employee learning continues

During the early phase of remote work in 2020, more than 150 instructor-led employee learning courses were transformed into virtually delivered courses, and employee participation in learning increased by more than 200 per cent. Employee learning and development opportunities will continue to be offered virtually in 2021-22, and employee feedback will continue to drive and shape future learning experiences, whether in virtual, in-person or blended modes.

YU Learn: York’s first employee learning management system

Featured image. Shows a man standing on a mountain top with the words Employee Learning & Development.

This fall, York University will accelerate and modernize the employee experience with 21st-century learning practices and technologies already benefiting York students. The project began as an innovative partnership between key members of the HR and University Information Technology teams designed to technologically transform the employee experience. Employees and managers can now more purposefully and easily navigate careers, develop skills and build performance. They will benefit from a more user-friendly system of engagement, with the ability to register for, track and recommend learning opportunities while working towards digital credentials and program certificates. 

“The system was designed to facilitate an employee experience that aligns and reflects York’s commitment to service excellence, designed with local learning administrators and employees, with their input from concept to implementation – a hallmark of agile, user-driven design,” said Vanessa Capogreco, York’s technical learning lead and YU Learn project co-lead. 

A continuing commitment to LinkedIn Learning

An exciting commitment providing continuing access to LinkedIn Learning benefits all members of the York University community. York students, faculty, instructors and staff alike can continue to leverage LinkedIn courses, videos and learning paths to help customize their personal learning experiences and lifelong learning goals with self-paced, device-friendly accessibility. More information on accessing LinkedIn Learning can be found at yorku.ca/linkedinlearn.

“LinkedIn Learning has become a tool that thousands of people in our York University community use every day,” said Will Gage, associate vice-president, teaching and learning. “We are really excited to be able to continue providing access to LinkedIn Learning for all of our students, staff and faculty. I want to encourage everyone to check it out and give thought to how the platform can support your own continuing education and development.”

Register now

York employees can now access and register for programs, series, and elective courses and are encouraged to become familiar with the exciting opportunities available by visiting the Employee Learning, Development and Career Navigation page. For more information about employee learning and development, contact hrlearn@yorku.ca

New partnership to advance fight against global financial crime and support equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM

YFile Featured image Lassonde School of Engineering

The funding from Scotiabank provides $980,000 to support critical research into global financial crimes and security. It will be named the Scotiabank Lassonde Financial Crimes Research Initiative.

At a time when financial markets, technologies and products have become more complex and financial crimes are increasing, Canadian universities can play a critical role in addressing the global shortage of trained experts equipped to tackle these crimes – many of which can impact the most vulnerable such as children, newcomers and elderly.

On Sept. 13, York University announced a contribution from Scotiabank that will provide $980,000 to support a variety of initiatives at the Lassonde School of Engineering.

The funding will support research into global financial crimes and computer security, while also providing support for programs that advance equity, diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“York University is profoundly grateful to Scotiabank for their generous investment of $980,000 in support of the Lassonde School of Engineering. This contribution reflects the shared commitment of York and Scotiabank to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and math fields and to advancing the groundbreaking work of our researchers in the field of financial crime prevention,” said Rhonda L. Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of York University. “In recognition of this substantial investment, the fund that supports critical research in global financial crimes will be named the Scotiabank Lassonde Financial Crimes Research Initiative.”

Top row: From left, Lisa Cole, director of programming K21 Academy; Lassonde School of Engineering Dean Jane Goodyer; and Stuart Davis, executive vice president, Financial Crimes Risk Management, Scotiabank. Middle row: From left, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, Lassonde School of Engineering third-year student Deinabo Richard-Koko; Uyen Nguyen, associate professor, Lassonde. Bottom row: From left, Charles Achampong, director, Community Partnerships, Scotiabank; E. Louise Spencer, acting vice-president advancement, York University; Josephine Morgenroth, PhD candidate, Lassonde School of Engineering and Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University.
Top row, from left: Lisa Cole, director of programming K21 Academy; Lassonde School of Engineering Dean Jane Goodyer; and Stuart Davis, executive vice-president, financial crimes risk management, Scotiabank. Middle row, from left: York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton; Lassonde School of Engineering third-year student Deinabo Richard-Koko; Uyen Nguyen, associate professor, Lassonde. Bottom row, from left: Charles Achampong, director, community partnerships, Scotiabank; E. Louise Spencer, acting vice-president advancement, York University; Josephine Morgenroth, PhD candidate, Lassonde School of Engineering and Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University

This innovative research initiative will support the essential work of talented graduate students and advance research areas related to global financial crimes, which include Ponzi schemes, money laundering efforts and cryptocurrency-based crimes, along with other serious areas of crime such as human trafficking, wildlife trafficking, sexual exploitation and drug trafficking. 

“There is a significant shortage of people with the specialized skills and knowledge to do this work,” says Uyen T. Nguyen, associate professor at the Lassonde School of Engineering. “This research program will also prepare students and emerging scholars for jobs. We are also helping to further promote Toronto as a global financial hub, and providing professionals and expert specialists to the industry locally.”

This work has already shown promise in the real world, says Nguyen.

“This initiative with the Lassonde School of Engineering builds on a long history of collaboration between Scotiabank and York University, spanning five decades,” says Stuart Davis, executive vice-president of financial crimes risk management at Scotiabank. “We are thrilled to be working with Lassonde’s students and faculty on leading-edge research to inform techniques used to combat financial crimes risk, while promoting a shared purpose to advance social sustainability goals.”

As part of Scotiabank’s generous investment in activities that advance equity, diversity and inclusion, the Lassonde School of Engineering’s Helen Carswell STEAM Program for Women will also receive support to encourage participation from Grade 10 and 11 students from marginalized neighbourhoods in a unique eight-week program of paid research in the school’s lab, which conducts work related to the United Nations Sustainabile Development Goals. High-school students in the program will work on research projects related to engineering and science under the guidance of undergraduate research assistant mentors, high-school teachers and Lassonde faculty.

As well, Scotiabank will support Lassonde’s Kindergarten to Industry Academy – expanding the K2I Academy to three Greater Toronto Area school boards to further enhance Grade 9 to 12 science and mathematics programs. Lassonde’s K2I Academy is an innovative ecosystem of STEM educators, thought leaders and partners focused on bringing STEM experiences to youth, educators and communities. K2I Academy is working with partners from Kindergarten to industry to dismantle systemic barriers and build sustainable programs that diversify representation in STEM professions.

“These programs are not just about STEM education. It’s social justice work,” says Lisa Cole, director of programming at K2I Academy. “We want to make sure that every student has a chance to explore the subjects before they make a decision about their path of studies. We want them to see the possibilities for their futures and the social impact they can make.”

Deinabo Richard-Koko, a third-year Lassonde student and mentor with the K2I Academy, says the program is unique in that it shows students how to apply their learnings in real time. “Most people say: ‘What does this add to my life? I’m never going to use this again outside the classroom,’ ” says Richard-Koko. “But with the K2I Academy, students can see the real-time application of what they learned. They can actually use it.”

The support from Scotiabank is already having a huge impact on Lassonde’s programs.

“This funding allowed us to make critical enhancements. We were able to purchase materials and resources, like small electronic devices for engineering learning, to help engage students in hands-on learning,” says Cole. “Without this gift, we wouldn’t have the creative space that we need to innovate and develop outreach materials for our students.”

The goal of these initiatives is to remove systemic barriers to access for underrepresented students in STEM and increase student achievement and enrolment in the prerequisite courses needed to enter post-secondary studies in engineering.

“At Lassonde, we know how important it is to support students of all backgrounds,” says Jane Goodyer, dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering. “That’s why I am pleased we are collaborating with Scotiabank through a shared sense of purpose, determined to equip every student with the skills and values needed to succeed in STEM fields as they work toward a better future.”