York researchers invited to share, collaborate at global health workshop

FEATURED Global Health

Call for presenters: The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research invites the York University community to join the ongoing discussion on critical social science perspectives in global health research.

Critical research often involves the use of critical theory with social justice aims. Critical social science perspectives in global health (CPGH) are transdisciplinary, participatory, experimental or experiential analyses that seek greater effectiveness, equity and excellence in global health. This means engaging directly with global public health actors, structures and systems to transform global public health while remaining committed to social science theory and methodology. For more information, visit the CPGH project page.

There is an open call to York researchers to consider presenting at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research’s fourth annual, Workshop on Critical Social Science Perspectives in Global Health Research on March 29. The registration deadline for new research ideas presentations is March 20. Participants will engage with the research community at York University from a variety of disciplines to create new insights, foster collaboration and discuss research opportunities. The workshop will be an in-person event at the Dahdaleh Institute with continental breakfast and lunch. All are welcome to attend.

Critical Perspectives in Global Health Research Workshop Wednesday, March 29

Who can present?
York faculty and researchers (with the support of a York faculty member) are invited to deliver presentations.

What is the format of the presentations?
Interested participants are asked to prepare a brief five-minute, two-slide presentation on any research project, current or planned, which takes a critical social science approach to global health.

Seed grants
Following the workshop, the Dahdaleh Institute will launch the 2023 Critical Perspectives in Global Health Seed Grant program and award five research seed grants of up to $5,000 each. The seed grants will support critical global health research that contributes to the themes of the Dahdaleh Institute, which are planetary health, global health and humanitarianism, as well as global health foresighting.

For more information on these research themes, visit the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research website. For the event’s full agenda, visit the event page.

New and renewed Canada Research Chairs at forefront of important, future-defining research

Hand holding light bulb with illustration on blurred background

York University has gained four new and three renewed Canada Research Chairs (CRC). Professors Antony Chum, Arash Habibi Lashkari, Kohitij Kar and Liya Ma received new CRC appointments and Professors Christopher Caputo, Raymond W.M. Kwong and Regina Rini had their CRCs renewed.

Antony Chum is assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology in the Faculty of Health and CRC Tier II in Population Health Data Science. Deaths and diseases of despair are those that are preventable, and they include substance-use disorders, suicides and overdose deaths. In 2019, they accounted for approximately 30 per cent of deaths for Canadians aged 15 to 49 years. Research into the causes of despair and strategies to reduce it may lead to substantial improvements in quality of life and life expectancy.

Chum is establishing a national hub that will use population health data science to study the causes of – and solutions for – deaths and diseases of despair. He and his research team are investigating the epidemiology of deaths and diseases of despair as a unified phenomenon. They are also examining the role of follow-up care in preventing suicides, overdoses and substance-use disorders as well as evaluating how public policies can reduce these self-inflicted deaths and diseases.

Arash Habibi Lashkari is CRC Tier II in Cybersecurity and an associate professor in the School of Information Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving and hackers are discovering new ways to disguise themselves. Detecting these threats requires new tools that can capture behavioural patterns and alert developers. Lashkari, aims to develop the tools that can do this.

Working with his research team, they are creating an anomaly detection model for cybersecurity. The model is based on the analysis of benign users’ common behavioural patterns, which are then contrasted with those of known threats. The team is also developing a platform to increase awareness and general knowledge of cybersecurity. Ultimately, by providing the technical solutions needed to detect anomalous behaviours and encourage better cybersecurity practices, their research will improve the security of our computer systems.

Kohitij Kar is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science and CRC Tier II in Visual Neuroscience. His research lab is a core part of the Vision: Science to Technology Application (VISTA) Program and the Centre for Vision Research at York University. As humans, we can seamlessly interact with the world around us thanks to our remarkably sophisticated visual system. These interactions depend on our brain’s ability to translate the images we see. But understanding the brain’s sophisticated computations has been a challenge. As Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience, Kar is uncovering the inner workings of the primate visual system.

Kar and his research team are performing detailed circuit-level neural measurements in non-human primates and relating them to specific visual behaviours. They are using their findings to develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems that mimic the primate brain in hopes of coming up with treatment strategies for mental health disorders that could improve cognitive behavioral therapies. Ultimately, Kar’s research could help millions of individuals suffering from neurological disorders by providing new knowledge about brain function.

Liya Ma is CRC Tier II in Cognitive Neurophysiology and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Health. Human brains are generally flexible enough to adapt to changes in the world around us. But, reduced flexibility in thinking and behaviour is common among patients who suffer from certain neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia or autism.

Ma and her research team are investigating how neurons in the brain enable flexibility in decision-making. The research team is exploring how neural communications can support cognitive flexibility in non-human primates. To do this, they are monitoring primates’ neuronal activities during tasks and manipulating the neurons’ activities to identify the roles that specific brain regions play in terms of cognitive and behavioural flexibility. Ma and her team are also using experimental data to design mathematical models for cognitive flexibility and identifying the pathological changes that lead to brain damage. Their research could shed light on new ways to treat neuropsychiatric disorders.

Renewed Canada Research Chairs

Christopher Caputo is CRC Tier II (renewed) in Main-Group Catalysis and Sustainable Chemistry and an assistant professor of chemistry in the Faculty of Science. Chemicals provide the building blocks of many of the products we rely on every day, from pharmaceuticals to agrochemicals for growing food to dyes for cosmetics. But producing chemicals is an energy-intensive and polluting process, so it is critical that we discover far more sustainable approaches. Caputo is tackling this problem using a two-pronged approach.

First, he and his research team are developing greener catalysts to create chemicals (a catalyst lowers the barriers to a chemical reaction). These catalysts are produced using less energy and without the need for precious metals, which are rare, expensive and unsustainable. Secondly, the team is working on an innovative platform technology from renewable feedstocks with the goal of revolutionizing personal care by producing ultra-long lasting sun protection.

Raymond (Wai Man) Kwong is CRC Tier II (renewed) in Environmental Toxicology and an associate professor in the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science. Human activities such as overfishing, plastic dumping, oils and gas spills, and the production of agricultural and industrial waste, lead to the deaths of trillions of aquatic animals every year. Kwong is advancing our understanding of how these environmental stressors affect the function of aquatic animals’ nervous systems.

Kwong and his research team are using molecular neurophysiology and functional genetics tools to study the toxicity of metals and bisphenol compounds in the early stages of aquatic animals’ lives. Their aim is to identify the mechanisms behind their toxic response or tolerance and to shed light on the relationship between environmental toxins and geno- and phenotypes. Ultimately, their findings will support the development of better strategies to regulate water quality and protect aquatic life and biodiversity.

Regina Rini is assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy, LA&PS and CRC Tier II (renewed) in Social Reasoning. In today’s political climate, social media is intensifying divisions and artificial intelligence is being used to target political messaging in new and effective ways. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have undermined our existing social norms around sharing information. (A social norm is a widely shared expectation about how members of a society should conduct themselves.) Rini’s research seeks to understand how best to manage the social disruptions caused by rapid technological changes while also protecting the ability of individuals to make moral decisions.

Rini and her research team are using moral philosophy and social science tools to examine how modern, diverse societies, like Canada’s, can manage disagreement and create shared social space. They are focusing on the social norms that are affected by shifts in technology and determining how new norms around truth and sincerity might protect democracies from the harms caused by these shifts.

The announcement of the Canada Research Chair appointments was made by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, during his announcement Nov. 22 of an investment of more than $139 million to support 176 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs across 46 institutions in Canada.

Students can submit abstract for World Water Day research celebration

Water droplets

One WATER, a York University Organized Research Unit, invites artistic and scientific presentations in recognition of World Water Day (March 22). Abstract submission is now open to all graduate and undergraduate students at York University for an event on March 20.

The presentation topics should be water-related, including those related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs): good health and well-being (UN SDG 3); clean water and sanitation (UN SDG 6); industry, innovation and infrastructure (UN SDG 9); sustainable cities and communities (UN SDG 11); climate action (UN SDG 13); and life below water (UN SDG 14). Presentation topics may also focus on climate change, human rights, artificial intelligence, and resource management.

Presentations should be in an artistic form, from visual (posters, infographics, pictures, films) to other forms including literary and performance art. Submissions are accepted from individuals as well as groups. Undergraduate students wishing to participate must identify a faculty mentor when submitting an abstract.

Please note that the content of each presentation must be accessible to the general public. Students will be provided with coaching to ensure that scientific research can be understood by high school students and University students and those with basic scientific knowledge. Presenters (and/or co-presenters) are expected to attend the March 20 event. Presentations will be displayed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on that day. Presentation will be set up between 8:30 and 9 a.m. on the day of the event.

Abstracts must be limited to 200 words and must include information on art form (poster, painting, performance, etc.). The deadline for submissions is Feb. 24. Download the abstract submission form or email onewater@yorku.ca for more information.

York University maps courses that teach about Sustainable Development Goals

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

York University is internationally recognized for its contributions to addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) through teaching, research, stewardship, and partnerships. York’s annual SDG report is a snapshot of some of the work the University is doing in collaboration with Canadian and international partners to advance the Global Goals.

“The University is making determined and substantial strides towards the goals, through the power of higher education,” says York University’s Provost and VP Academic Lisa Philipps.  

As the world rapidly approaches 2030, youth have been mobilizing to compel global leaders to take urgent action on the SDGs. “As a global SDG leader, York University and its students are already playing an integral role in this movement,” adds Philipps.

To continuously improve the support offered to students and graduates who are tackling these challenges, York University has embarked on a process of understanding how its courses address or are linked to the SDGs. This initiative maps York courses with one or more of the SDGs, as appropriate, and the University is making this information available to the community on its SDG website.

The goal is to better inform students about learning opportunities related to the SDGs, to understand York’s strengths and curricular assets across the disciplines, and to increase awareness and deepen SDG-related conversations at the University and beyond.

Teaching the SDGs: the number of York courses related to each Global Goal

The above graphic shows the number of courses that relate to each of the United Nations 17 SDGs

Lessons learned from mapping courses

In consultation with OSDG, an open access tool developed by the United Nations Development Program’s SDG AI Lab and the EU-based thinktank PPMI, York analysts were able to undertake this process. They looked at both undergraduate and graduate courses offered in both English or French across all Faculties and all courses offered at the time of this analysis.

This approach looked at the use of more than 20,000 keywords and with the help of machine learning identified courses that are related to one or more of the SDGs through course titles and official descriptions. The University learned about the OSDG tool from University College London.

York University is the OSDG’s first official North American partner, as the organization works with a range of global partners such as the University of Hong Kong. York analysts consulted other universities in Ontario, British Columbia, California, England and New Zealand, organizations like York that are recognized for their global leadership on SDGs. Those consultations focused on learning about best practices for mapping and sharing SDG-relevant courses with their respective communities.

In total, analysts identified 1,635 courses (38 per cent of all courses), that are related to at least one SDG. Mapping for SDG 17 is still in development. All Faculties were represented among the mapped courses and the above table shows the number of courses that were identified as being related to each SDG.

The OSDG’s machine learning-enabled course mapping functionality flagged SDG-related courses when they specifically referenced the SDGs in the curriculum or where the curriculum empowered students to independently tackle an SDG theme within or outside of the classroom.

Many courses also mapped to more than one SDG – in fact, 285 courses were simultaneously mapped to two SDGs and 43 courses mapped to three SDGs. The process of mapping courses to the SDGs is iterative and analysts recognize that it is reliant upon the use of specific keywords and phrases found in current courses descriptions. As course descriptions continue to evolve, the analysis will be updated.

This approach will continue to improve over time, as new keywords are contributed to the OSDG’s bank. The full list of mapped courses will be published by Spring 2023 on York’s SDG website for the benefit of prospective and current students. The University will invite feedback in the lead up to publishing these courses and will continue to welcome ongoing feedback thereafter to ensure the mapped list of courses are kept up to date, and remain helpful for the York community.

The current analysis will serve as a starting point to improve the process of capturing SDG-related courses and advancing SDG education, and research on the SDGs, as outlined in the University Academic Plan.

Feedback from former Provostial Fellow and Professor Cheryl van Daalen-Smith, associate dean, academic; the Sustainability Office; the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education Towards Sustainability; and the Vice-Provost Students team has also been invaluable during this initial mapping endeavor. This Provostial initiative was supported by the Associate Vice-President Teaching & Learning, the University Registrar, the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis and York International.

Workshop series brings SDGs to forefront of teaching and learning

Featured image for stories related to sustainability

A series of one-hour workshops at York University will launch in the new year and share ways in which educators can infuse the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SGDs) into teaching and learning.

Co-developed by York’s Teaching Commons and SDGs-in-the-Classroom Curricular Innovation Hub, The Sustainable Development Goals in Teaching and Learning series launches Jan. 25, 2023 and presents five online workshops.

UN SDG wheel with the 17 SDGs

The series explores how educators might speak to the SDGs through curriculum, teaching practices, course design and assessments. The outcomes are developed to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable development and prepare students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.

The workshops, which run from 10 to 11 a.m., are:

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-in-the-Classroom Curricular Innovation Hub is part of the SDG Teach In, a campaign to put the SDGs at the centre of all stages of education, and across all disciplines. The SDG Teach In, hosted by Students Organizing for Sustainability United Kingdom (SOS-UK), is a student-led education charity focusing on sustainability with a belief that change is urgently needed to tackle the injustices and unsustainability in our world.

The 2023 campaign will run from March 1 to 31, 2023, and encourages educators to pledge to include the SDGs within their teaching, learning and assessment during the campaign and beyond. Educators can pledge to take part now via the SDG Teach in pledge form

Lassonde team developing new tool for detection of microplastics in water

Close-up of micro plastic particles on the fingers under a magnifying glass. Concept for water pollution and global warming. Macro shot on a bunch of microplastics that cannot be recycled

Researchers at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University are working to develop innovative methods for the detection of microplastics in bodies of water. Recently, a group of researchers successfully designed and prototyped an affordable and simple device for the detection of microplastics.

Water sources often contain pollutants due to the breakdown of large plastics and commercial product development, some of these pollutants are undetectable to the naked eye. One example of such pollutants are micro-and nano-plastics, which are harmful both to the environment and living organisms, including humans. That’s why researchers at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University are working to develop innovative methods for the detection of microplastics in bodies of water. Although there are some standard laboratory-based methods to detect microplastics, they often have significant drawbacks, including both time and cost, which prevent their use in detailed investigations of aquatic environments.

Recently, a group of researchers from Lassonde Professor Pouya Rezai’s lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering have designed and prototyped an affordable and simple microfluidic device for the on-site detection of microplastics. The team of researchers includes two postdoctoral fellows and former Lassonde PhD candidates Alireza Zabihihesari and Arezoo Khalili and one MSc student Mohammad-Javad Farshchi-Heydari. They fabricated the device with replica molding of two polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) layers onto 3D-printed master molds.

The microfluidic device consists of a straight microchannel in which the water sample enters from one end and leaves from the other. Simultaneously, a DC sweep current is applied to two microwires crossing the microchannel. Applying an electrical current to microwires induces an attractive electrophoretic force, which leads to microplastics accumulating on the positive or negative electrode (microwires), thereby changing the electrical resistance.

The proposed microfluidic method for DC electrical microplastic extraction and detection. (A) The experimental setup consisting of the microfluidic sensor, a syringe pump, a DC SourceMeter, and a computer. (B) Close up schematic of the dashed rectangular region of interest in (a) demonstrating microplastics accumulation around the anode during an electrical current sweep. Image courtesy Lassonde School of Engineering

This approach was tested using sparked microplastics in water at different concentrations. In the future, this sensor can be integrated into a hand-held device, enabling on-site detection of microplastics in aquatic environments. Currently, Rezai’s research group is working to expand the application of their sensor for detecting microplastics of different shapes, types and sizes in real samples collected from lakes, seas and oceans with various concentrations of salt.

Their manuscript is now available online and for the past few weeks it has been listed on Social Science Research Network’s (SSRN) Top Ten download list for: Analytical Chemistry eJournal and ChemRN: Fluidics.

The manuscript is available online: Simple Microfluidic Device for Simultaneous Extraction and Detection of Microplastics in Water Using Dc Electrical Signal.

York professors explore histories of animals in new book

Traces of the Animal Past book cover

Elephants, horses, dolphins and bears have stories to tell about the past. Their lives and actions shape history and influence the lives of people in innumerable ways. How can these histories that animals make be studied and understood?

Jennifer Bonnell
Jennifer Bonnell
Sean Kheraj
Sean Kheraj

Professors Jennifer Bonnell and Sean Kheraj from York’s Department of History in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies recently published a new open access book exploring the ways that historians study and analyze the histories of animals.

Bringing together 17 original essays by a leading group of international scholars, Traces of the Animal Past: Methodological Challenges in Animal History showcases the innovative methods historians use to unearth and explain how animals fit into our collective histories. Situating the historian within the narrative, bringing transparency to methodological processes, and reflecting on the processes and procedures of current research, this book presents new approaches and new directions for a maturing field of historical inquiry.

“To understand our collective past, historians must engage with the more-than-human world and use new methods and approaches,” said Kheraj.

Traces of the Animal Past is available free online from University of Calgary Press here.

The Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies and the Department of History at York University will sponsor a book launch on Thursday, Nov. 24 at 12:30 p.m. in Vari Hall, room 2183. All are welcome.

Applications for Glendon’s Research Apprenticeship Program and G21 courses are open  

Glendon students

Glendon Campus will be recruiting more than 30 undergraduate students to partake in the Research Apprenticeship Program (RAP) and the new G21 course during the 2022-23 school year.  

With funding from the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) and support from other on-campus partners, the Glendon Research and Innovation Office has created opportunities for students to pursue their diverse interests and passions by providing them with an impressive range of research experiences on campus. These initiatives aim to encourage students to participate in enriching, experiential learning opportunities. 

Glendon students have the option to engage in two unique opportunities to conduct hands-on research. Students in RAP work as research assistants on the projects of faculty members, while students participating in the G21 courses pursue their own independent passion project under the supervision of a faculty member. In both areas of interest, Glendon professors serve as invaluable mentors to all participating students. 

All students are welcome to submit an application RAP. Glendon’s incoming cohort of first year Top Scholar students, a group of high school students entering Glendon with an average of 90 per cent or higher, are given priority to participate in the first year of the program. 

As part of the application process, students will be asked to answer questions based on their research interests and engagement both inside and outside of the classroom. Students will also be asked to indicate their top three choices of faculty members with whom they wish to work in a research assistant capacity. Student researchers in the program are expected to complete five hours of apprentice-related work per week. Each student will be granted a bursary of $1,500 for their work. 

Students interested in pursuing an independent research passion project in the G21 courses must ensure that their project aligns with one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Participation in the G21 is limited to upper-level Glendon students, who will enroll in the course entitled “G21 Passion Project / Projet passion G21” on the Glendon course website page, which is coded 4669 and can be found under the course listings for History, Linguistics, Drama and Creative Arts, Canadian Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, and International Studies. 

Students majoring in other programs may enroll in the social science version of the course. As part of the application process for the G21 course, students will be asked to submit a short proposal detailing the independent research project that they wish to pursue, and they will identify a faculty supervisor.

At this year’s Glendon Research Festival, a number of talented students presented their research findings and engaged in a stimulating question period at the end of the session. One student centered their research on SDG 11 by analyzing the critical role of public art in creating sustainable cities and communities, while another student focused their research on SDG 4 through their insightful analysis on the integration of students with down syndrome and dyslexia in an L2 classroom (a setting where their dominant language is not spoken). 

In the G21 courses, students will receive a course credit and have access to research funds for their projects. 

Both programs equip students with an invaluable skill set to conduct intense research, which includes enhancing their critical thinking, editing, presentation and writing talents. Students are also encouraged to cultivate networking skills through their participation in various research-oriented workshops that are organized throughout the academic year. It is through their engagement in RAP and G21 courses that many Glendon students can explore their research interests and develop a passion for conducting research.  

Undergraduate opportunities like the RA program and G21 courses demonstrate the benefits that come from engaging students in research projects beyond traditional, formal classroom settings. The skills and knowledge the students acquire will help them prepare for future academic and work endeavours. 

To learn more, visit the Glendon Campus research webpage.  

4REAL experiential learning opportunity to focus on local climate solutions 

glass planet in a forest with sunshine

The Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada) is supporting York University’s 4REAL (4th Renewable Energy & Agricultural Learning) project.

Students building a compost at the experiential learning partner farm, Native Plants in Claremont as part of a previous CEWIL-funded REAL project

CEWIL partners with post-secondary institutions, community members, employers, government and students to champion work-integrated learning. The 4REAL experiential learning opportunity will focus on local climate change solutions through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically regenerative agriculture and gardening, value-added food production, sustainable building construction, renewable energies, electric mobility, Indigenous knowledge and environmental education, including arts-based learning. 

This innovative project will enable 224 post-secondary students from across the country to receive a $1,200 scholarship. In addition, it will cover the costs of trainers, safety equipment, transportation and more.  

The project lead is Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) Associate Professor Jose Etcheverry, who is also the Co-Chair of Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) and director of the International Renewable Energy Academy (IREA). Project coordination will be led by master’s of environmental studies graduate Dale Colleen Hamilton, and administration by York University master’s of environmental studies student Codrina Ibanescu.  

“Our goal with this grant is to provide practical and memorable experiences, and to allow people from all different walks of life to participate in seeing and creating the world that they would like to see,” said Etcheverry. 

4REAL is linked to York University’s renewable energy course to offer undergraduate and graduate credits. Participants may also receive a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals certification based on their level of achievement, issued by the International Renewable Energy Academy and the Rural Urban Learning Association. 

4REAL will begin July 18 and conclude Sept. 30. The timing of the project is flexible, with options available for all interested students and partners to remain involved as a team for subsequent initiatives. Interested students can sign up through the Eventbrite link

The Beausoleil First Nations and Six Nations alongside REAL team members who built design elements of the Climate Solutions Park, an ongoing project that began during previous REAL rounds in Penetanguishene, Ontario

The project aims to provide practical training in renewable energies and regenerative agriculture as pivotal climate change solutions. The project offers opportunities to select and train a group of student leaders to undertake SDG-focused projects and work collaboratively with community partners to develop practical deliverables in areas such as: regenerative agriculture, scientifically proven climate change solutions, renewable energies for farm and general use, arts for environmental education, ethical entrepreneurship, and Indigenous reconciliation.   

“We must make peace with our own actions if we would like to speed up change for the climate. We all have to come to peace with our own responsibility for our community, and collectively open our consciousness to create something different if we are to contribute to the well-being of future generations and climate solutions. It starts with us. We are all one ecosystem, and we need to manifest our natural abilities for greatness,” said Jacqueline Dwyer, 4REAL community partner and founder of the Toronto Black Farmers and Growers Collective. 

This opportunity will ensure students obtain the practical skills needed by diverse employment sectors, represented by 4REAL’s numerous community partners. Students will explore their professional and personal development needs, positioning them for employment in high-demand local sectors such as food production, energy, transportation, housing, and environmental education. 

A solar installation training offered with Relay Education in February 2020 as part of a previous REAL project. Each of the three cohorts welcomed more than 50 students

4REAL participation can be entirely online, but with a strong preference for some in-person experiential learning at our various farm and green industry sites in the Guelph, Toronto and Georgian Bay areas. Students will work in groups informed by mentors and collaborating with strategic partners and other local community stakeholders to design and implement practical strategies to tackle selected SDGs; and will curate their experiences for online knowledge mobilization. 

“Each student which enters this training has the opportunity to empower themselves towards their greatest potential, and importantly, their own self-actualization. Education, to me, has always been a liberatory practice aimed to awaken and free my mind, and I believe this training offers just that. We must allow seeds of hope and inspiration to plant trees that will water future generations for many years to come. Everyone has a purpose, and it is up to all of us to discover what that is. I’ve learned that when we join together with like-minded individuals, anything becomes possible,” said Ibanescu. 

For further details about how to participate in 4REAL, email csp@123mail.org.  

Apply now to be an Agent of Change  

two people holding a globe

The Agents of Change Program is accepting project proposal applications until Sunday, July 3 at 11:59 p.m. It offers students the opportunity to gain beneficial entrepreneurial experience and make impactful changes in their local communities.  

The program aims to support innovative student-led community initiatives that uniquely address the social determinants of health (SDH) and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). It offers students start-up funding, one-on-one coaching, mentorship, training and networking opportunities. 

The Agents of Change Program was established by an alumni donor in 2013, driven by the goal to promote applied learning opportunities and develop students’ transferable skills. A project-based learning approach is adapted by the program to foster student engagement to real-world problems through their personal, community-oriented and health-related initiatives. 

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to run their projects in a year-long timeline that begins in August 2022 and ends in May 2023. Calumet and Stong Colleges will be reviewing the project proposals.  

Eligibility to apply for Agents of Change:  

  • A York University undergraduate/graduate student returning for the academic year of 2022-23; 
  • Good academic standing with York University; and  
  • If applying as a group:  
    – maximum number of group members is five.  
    – majority of the team (over 50 per cent) must be from the Faculty of Health. 

The proposed Agents of Change Initiative ideas must address the following:  

  • Project vision: Your vision should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely (S.M.A.R.T.); 
  • Goals, deliverables, and timeframe: How will you implement your vision in the months to follow? What projects do you aim to complete during your timeframe?;  
  • Target population of the project: Who is the intended demographic for your project? Please justify the need for your initiative with research;  
  • Uniqueness: What makes your project innovative and unique? Ensure your project does not replicate services on campus. If services are duplicated, does your project complement or expand already existing initiatives?;  
  • Adaptability: Does your project demonstrate the flexibility required during this time of COVID-19? How will you work around these limitations (delivering services online)?; and 
  • Existing resources and required budget. 

A detailed proposal guideline is available for reference.  

For the past nine years, the program has achieved noteworthy outcomes and impact through more than 25 student-led initiatives focused on meeting the health-related needs of vulnerable or marginalized community members. 

Past Agents of Change initiatives have covered a broad range of categories, including supporting physical and mental health, gender inequity in health leadership and homelessness. The current Agents of Change projects are innovative in addressing SDH and are actively participating in achieving the UN SDGs. Learn about past projects on the Calumet College webpage.