Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation hosts garden party for World Bee Day

Macro photo of green metallic sweat bee perched on a yellow flower

The Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (BEEc) will once again mark the annual United Nations World Bee Day with new events designed to promote the health of local pollinators.

This year, for the first time, BEEc and the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) welcome all members of the University community to the EUC Native Plant Garden party on May 16 from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

World Bee Day, led internationally by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is dedicated to acknowledging and spreading awareness of the plethora of vital environmental processes that depend on the often underappreciated work of Earth’s busy bees.

“Bees are one of the most important groups of pollinators in the world, yet most people are unaware that we have at least 350 species in the GTA alone,” explains BEEc Coordinator Victoria MacPhail. “The EUC Native Plant Garden is an oasis for them on a campus full of concrete and buildings, providing food, shelter and nesting sites throughout the year.”

Observed around the world on Saturday, May 20, this year World Bee Day will arrive early at York in order to allow for the participation of as many interested community members as possible.

“We’re excited to celebrate World Bee Day a few days early with the whole York University community, to take this opportunity to share our love and knowledge of bees with others,” MacPhail says. “We have a wealth of free resources and are happy to chat with people about what they can do to help pollinators, from planting native flowers to advocating for increased protections.”

A lush planter box full of a variety of species of wild flowers
One of the EUC native species planter boxes to be maintained for World Bee Day

The featured garden party event is sponsored in part by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada and is open to all staff, students and faculty, as well as members of the public from outside of the University. Attendees will learn from York’s expert mellitologists, as well as free handouts, pinned insect displays, example bee nests and more, about the highly diverse bee species indigenous to Toronto and Southern Ontario at large, as well as the local flora that they depend on for sustenance. As a part of this hands-on learning experience, guests will be able to contribute to the University’s floral biodiversity by planting new native species in the EUC garden and removing invasive species that are less conducive to the health of local pollinators.

“We’re so thrilled to invigorate our relationship and stewardship of this wonderful garden started by [Professors] Gerde Werkerle and Leesa Fawcett, among others, with the partnership of BEEc. Hundreds of students pass by or attend summer classes in this rooftop garden sitting atop lecture halls and we want them to come to know this lively oasis of over 40 species – some of them edible. May 16 will be a great start to what we anticipate will be an amazing season,” says Phyllis Novak, director of the EUC Maloca Community and Native Plant Gardens.

York community members who intend to join in the gardening are asked to RSVP here by Friday, May 12. Members of the public are encouraged to drop in to this event and are not required to register. No prior experience or personal equipment is required to join in the gardening. Participants are encouraged to dress for the elements as this event will run rain or shine.

MacPhail says gardening volunteers can expect to “see examples of bee species – from tiny, smooth, black solitary bees that are only a few millimeters long and can be mistaken for flies or ants, to the large, fuzzy bumblebees that can be up to a couple centimeters in size, and whose queens are easily seen this time of year.

“Toronto’s official bee, the green metallic sweat bee – or Agapostemon virescens – has already been seen nesting in the garden, and we are confident that the upcoming garden party will help to improve the habitat for it and many other wildlife species,” she adds.

Additional BEEc-hosted events will run following the garden party and in the lead up to the official World Bee Day, including a cocktail fundraiser to help endow a fund for EUC graduate students studying bees on May 17 in Markham, as well as a Scholars’ Hub virtual seminar on May 18 detailing the leading-edge research on bees being carried out at York.

For more information on these supplemental Bee Day events, contact beec@yorku.ca or see the BEEc news and social media page.

Schulich professor’s web tool detects corporate ‘greenwashing’

social media smart phone

Divinus Oppong-Tawiah, a researcher from York University’s Schulich School of Business, has developed a linguistic-based tool to detect “greenwashing” – the growing practice of companies using social media to communicate exaggerated, misleading or outright false claims about their environmental performance.

Divinus Oppong-Tawiah close-up portrait
Divinus Oppong-Tawiah

The findings are contained in an article published recently in the journal Sustainability. The article, titled “Corporate Communication as ‘Fake News’: Firms’ Greenwashing on Twitter,” was co-authored by Oppong-Tawiah, who is an assistant professor of operations management and information systems at the Schulich School of Business, together with Jane Webster, professor emeritus and E. Marie Shantz Chair of Digital Technology at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.

The researchers examined Twitter messages posted by companies in two industries with significant environmental footprints, namely, the oil and gas and automotive industries. Based on their findings, the researchers developed a new automatic deviation-based linguistic tool that is able to detect organizational greenwashing.

Researchers also showed that greenwashing is significantly associated with financial market performance because of its potential to erode shareholder value and damage the firm’s long-term financial health.

Firms are increasingly adopting social media for broadcasting their corporate social responsibility and green initiatives, the study notes. For stakeholders, this can be a positive development in that it exposes firms to greater scrutiny. However, firms suffer significant reputational damage and adverse market reaction in the event they are wrongly accused of faking green claims. Thus, until stakeholders can reliably detect greenwashing, firms remain hesitant to disclose all or part of their environmental performance on social media for fear of wrong accusation, notes Oppong-Tawiah.

“Fake news on social media has engulfed the world of politics in recent years and is now posing the same threat in other areas, such as corporate social responsibility communications,” says Oppong-Tawiah. “Our research work addresses an urgent need to identify greenwashing and measure its effects.”

CIFAL York hosts two-part symposium on Turkiye, Syria earthquake aid

Person sitting in chair amid debris from damaged buildings in Antakya, Hatay, Turkiye.

A two-part virtual symposium will examine the responses of Canada and other cooperating countries to the recent crises in Turkiye and Syria resulting from the Feb. 6 earthquake. The symposium will strive to create better understanding of barriers to deploying humanitarian resources internationally on May 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hosted by CIFAL York and Y-EMERGE, the “Canada’s Response to Earthquake in Turkiye and Syria” symposium features a range of confirmed guest speakers from agencies such as International Development and Relief Foundation Canada (IDRF) and Samaritan’s Purse International Disaster Relief, as well as potential appearances by featured guests from Care Canada, Canadian Red Cross, Islamic Relief Canada and Global Medic.

The February earthquake was among the deadliest natural disasters of the century, spanning multiple countries and resulting in the deaths of nearly 60,000 people, with over two million more being injured or displaced. To mitigate the effects of this catastrophe, 105 countries, including Canada, pledged to support those in need and contribute to humanitarian aid efforts.

Designed to engage academics, students, policymakers, first-responders and the general public, the symposium will analyze and critique Canada’s ongoing response to the earthquake in order to better understand and surmount emergency response obstacles in the future.

The first instalment of this series, titled “Canadian NGOs Response to the Earthquake in Turkiye & Syria” focuses on the role of Canada’s non-governmental organizations and highlights opportunities for collaboration between public and private sector actors. Speakers Rebecca Tjon-Aloi and Hanan Maolim, of the Programs and Operations Office at the IDRF, will explain how their foundation responded to the earthquake and share lessons learned for future emergency responses. Melanie Wubs, technical specialist in the International Health Unit at Samaritan’s Purse, will also explore cross- and multi-sectoral cooperation in humanitarian responses.

The second instalment of the symposium, titled “Canadian Government Response to the Earthquake in Turkiye & Syria” takes place on June 14, with guest speakers to be announced at a later date.

Free registration for these online events is required. For more information on the symposium and featured guest speakers, click here.

About CIFAL:

CIFAL York is part of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) global network of training centres for knowledge-sharing, training and capacity-building for public and private leaders, local authorities and civil society. CIFAL Centres are local and regional hubs for innovative, participatory and co-creative knowledge exchange opportunities to support decision-making processes, build capacity and accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. Established in 2020, CIFAL York started its operation in June 2021 as the first CIFAL Centre in Canada. Health and development training and knowledge sharing is among the key focusing areas of CIFAL York.

Lassonde professors working toward healthier planet

View of the Earth from space

Researchers from across Lassonde departments are demonstrating collective research efforts aimed towards creating a healthier planet across areas including smart materials, renewable energy, climate change, and water and sustainability.

Kamelia Atefi-Monfared, assistant professor – Department of Civil Engineering

Focusing on geomechanics, Atefi-Monfared is working to improve understanding of coupled processes in porous media, such as soils and geological reservoirs, including geothermal reservoirs. Her research establishes fundamental knowledge used to tackle global challenges involving energy, water and climate change through various projects.

Kamelia Atefi-Monfared

Specifically, Atefi-Monfared is applying her research to the advanced development and design of models for environmentally friendly ground improvement techniques, resilient infrastructure and sustainable production/storage of energy and water. One of her current projects involves the development of a novel framework to stabilize mine tailings and gravel roads using microbial-induced carbonate precipitation (MICP) – an eco-friendly technique for ground improvement that uses bacteria to produce bio-cement.

This work helps solve the problem of chemical and cement-based grouting materials that emit carbon dioxide and contaminate soil and groundwater.

Paul O’Brien, associate professor – Department of Mechanical Engineering

O’Brien leads research on the design, fabrication and application of materials that control, absorb and harvest electromagnetic radiation. These materials are used to develop and advance sustainable technologies, such as solar energy storage systems for the electrification of buildings.

Paul O’Brien

Through the development and improvement of sustainable technologies, O’Brien aims to contribute to the decarbonization of the building sector, which accounts for one-third of global energy consumption and almost 40 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. Through assessment and evaluation, his work also explores how energy systems and processes can be used to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

O’Brien’s research team is currently working on numerous projects, including the development of optical cavities to improve the performance of thermophotovoltaic systems, which convert radiant energy from heat sources to electric power.

Hany E. F. Farag, associate professor – Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

As a visionary leader in smart and sustainable energy, Farag has worked on countless projects that address Canada’s urgent need for clean and sustainable energy and transportation systems. Specifically, Farag develops modelling and control techniques to support the integration of low-carbon solutions into energy and transportation sectors.

Hany E. F. Farag

These low-carbon solutions include the production of renewable hydrogen, electrification of transportation and improvement of distributed energy resource (DER) capacity.

In a notable partnership with Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), Alectra inc., Metrolinx and the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CURTIC), Farag was the first researcher to investigate the integration of electrified bus fleets into power grids in Canada, resulting in research findings that influenced company policies and provided planning tools.

Mark Gordon, associate professor – Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering

Gordon focuses his research on understanding what happens to pollutants after they are released into the atmosphere from different emission sources. This research produces information about the activity of pollutants, which can be used in climate and air quality models to improve the representation of real-world environments.

Mark Gordon

These models help stakeholder companies make informed decisions about the environment, such as implementing design strategies to reduce air pollution from a newly built highway.

Examples of Gordon’s research include the investigation and measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from traffic in urban areas, as well as the deposition rate of pollutants from oil sands and production facilities to the Boreal Forest in Northern Alberta.

York’s Ecological Footprint Initiative to host national footprint, biocapacity data launch

Glass planet in the sunshine

Canada’s ecological footprint declined during COVID-19, but is it back to pre-pandemic levels? York University’s Ecological Footprint Initiative (EFI) will release data showing changes up to 2022.

What is the size of Canada’s ecological footprint, and that of the rest of the world, and how did that change during the global pandemic?

Viewers from across the University community and beyond are invited to join the online launch Thursday, April 20, from 1 to 2 p.m, when researchers at York will release the Ecological Footprint of Canada, and 200 other countries, from 1961 to 2022.

Popularized roughly 30 years ago, the term “ecological footprint” was a way of measuring humanity’s appropriation of Earth’s carrying capacity. Since then, it has evolved to include a comprehensive system of national and international accounts. These accounts provide valuable insights about humanity’s use of lands and waters. The accounts help countries and communities to engage with sustainability and to make informed decisions about the future.

In practice, ecological footprints track the area of land and water used to grow food and renewable materials, plus the area occupied by settlements and infrastructure, as well as the area of forests needed to soak up carbon emissions.

In the last few years, York has become a global hub for producing ecological footprint accounts, and for researching ways to make them even more comprehensive.

Eric Miller
Eric Miller

“Canada reports on GDP with a lag of just a few months, yet its environmental data lags by years. We filled in gaps and lags to make it easier to assess environmental performance in Canada and around the world,” says EFI Director Eric Miller, from the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change. “Time is ticking. Each year of action or inaction matters for the future of humanity. For this reason, our data reports on Ecological Footprint up to the end of 2022.”

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, humanity’s ecological footprint has been in overshoot of the planet’s capacity to sustain it. Since 1961 humanity’s footprint has tripled.

“For each country we calculate the footprint of what was produced and what was consumed. The difference comes from the footprint embodied within the goods imported to the country, and the footprint of the goods exported by the country,” says Miller.

“Canada, for example, produces more wood products than it consumes, with the difference as exports,” he adds. “We generate this data for all countries, to reveal the ecological dimensions of global supply chains and the extent to which countries effectively offload their ecological requirements onto others.”

Miller says that to continue advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, University researchers depend on data that can be scaled nationally, as well as locally and globally – EFI provides this crucial data so that it remains timely, scalable and accessible.

This is the fifth anniversary of York producing data about ecological footprint and biocapacity, and supplying that data on an open-source basis to researchers around the world.

This year’s data will also include a more robust look at the footprint of fish harvests, including unreported catch. “In Canada, fish harvests were significantly underreported up to the point of the cod collapse. By including underreports, we can help researchers see these trends much more easily,” says Katie Kish, EFI research associate.

Mike Layton
Mike Layton

York’s new Chief Sustainability Officer Mike Layton will kick off the event, followed by updates to the 2023 accounts from Miller, along with EFI data analysts Sila Basturk Agiroglu and Peri Dworatzek.

Kish will talk about research futures and the growing international research network for the global footprint family, with a direct focus on better public-facing data and data for communities.

Mathis Wackernagel, co-founder and president of the Global Footprint Network, will discuss the state of the footprint and a look towards the future. One example he will draw on is the Kunming/Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework with 23 targets agreed upon at the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. These targets include the ecological footprint as a measurement tool.

Learn more at News @ York.

Research calls for governance of wildlife trade in pandemic treaty

Black woman typing on a laptop

Researchers from York University’s Faculty of Health have co-authored a study investigating the governance of pandemic prevention in the context of wildlife trade.

Published in The Lancet Planetary Health, the research considers the current institutional landscape for pandemic prevention and how prevention of zoonotic spillovers from the wildlife trade for human consumption should be incorporated into a pandemic treaty.

Raphael Aguiar
Raphael Aguiar
Adrian Viens
Adrian Viens
Mary Wiktorowicz

Professors Mary Wiktorowicz and A.M. Viens, along with doctoral candidate Raphael Aguiar, collaborated on the research with colleagues from the University of Washington. The researchers argue that a pandemic treaty should be “explicit about zoonotic spillover prevention and focus on improving coordination across four policy domains, namely public health, biodiversity conservation, food security, and trade.”

A pandemic treaty, they say, should include four interacting goals in relation to prevention of zoonotic spillovers from the wildlife trade for human consumption: risk understanding; risk assessment; risk reduction; and enabling funding.

Ideas about preventative actions for pandemics have been advanced during COVID-19, but researchers say more consideration on how these actions can be operationalized, with respect to wildlife trade for human consumption, is needed.

“To date, pandemic governance has mostly focused on outbreak surveillance, containment, and response rather than on avoiding zoonotic spillovers in the first place,” the study states. “However, given the acceleration of globalization, a paradigm shift towards prevention of zoonotic spillovers is warranted as containment of outbreaks becomes unfeasible.”

According to Raphael, “A risk-based approach to wildlife trade and its interconnected threats can be used to situate the governance of pandemic prevention in relation to their shared causal pathways. This approach enables more efficient coordination of responses.”

Trade-offs must be carefully balanced to meet multiple objectives, says Wiktorowicz. For instance, while bans on all wildlife trade could reduce health risks, they may undermine access to food for some local and indigenous populations around the world and alter incentives for sustainable land use.

“Pandemic prevention at source needs to be based on a better understanding of how interaction with wildlife increases health risks to humans along the entire trade chain, so that overregulation does not occur,” says Wiktorowicz.

The researchers note that containment of zoonotic outbreaks and prevention of spillovers into pandemics could become more difficult to manage with increased globalization and urbanization, and this calls for an international institutional arrangement that accounts specifically for these possibilities.

“The current pandemic treaty negotiations present an opportunity for a multilateral approach, to address deep prevention,” adds Viens.

Read the full study “Global governance for pandemic prevention and the wildlife trade.”

Wiktorowicz and co-author Eduardo Gallo Cajiao (University of Washington) will present the paper in a seminar at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research on April 26 at 1 p.m. See the event listing online for more information and details on how to attend.

Professor Laurence Packer spotlights bees of the world

Bee flying near yellow flowers

One of the world’s most renowned bee experts, Distinguished Research Professor Laurence Packer, has released a comprehensive guide to the world’s bees.

Laurence Packer
Laurence Packer

Bees of the World, published by Princeton University Press, is a 240-page celebration of the diverse types of bees living across the globe. The book features more than 100 genera of bees, accompanied by detailed descriptions of their anatomy, behaviours, life cycle, habitats, nest structure, social organization and more.

Beautiful photos compliment the text, including rare shots of bees in their natural environments foraging, nesting and raising their young. It highlights what Packer has always loved about the small creatures. “Their beauty is the main thing. That’s what got me interested in them in the first place,” Packer says.

When he was approached with the idea for the book, Packer agreed to write it because of the growing public awareness of bees’ importance to our ecosystems, but also awareness of the wide range of types of bees that call Earth home. “When I first started doing this work 40 years ago, when you talked about bees, people wouldn’t think of anything except honey bees,” says Packer. “Now, the proportion of people that understand that bees aren’t just honey bees is reaching critical mass.”

Female Callistochlora chloris bee
Female Callistochlora chloris bee

There are few people in the world as well suited as Packer to write a comprehensive guide like Bees of the World. Since he began collecting bees over 45 years ago, his collection at York has grown to represent more than 90 per cent of the world’s known bee genera, including specimens from more than 100 countries. He has become an international leader in bee taxonomy and systematics, biogeography, biodiversity, conservation biology and behaviour.

Packer also spearheads the Bee Barcode of Life project, a major international effort to develop genetic barcodes for all of the bees on Earth and created the first online image bank of the bee genera of the world.

He has authored over 160 research papers, and his bestselling book, Keeping the bees: why all bees are at risk and what we can do to save them, won the prestigious Canadian Science Writers’ Association General Audience Book Award, and was a finalist for the Rachael Carson Award of the Society of Environmental Journalists, as well as the Lane-Anderson Science Book Prize. In 2019, he won the a prestigious Nature Inspiration Award and in 2016, York gave him the title Distinguished Research Professor, which recognized his outstanding, sustained scholarly contributions to the University through research.

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.

Distinguished Professor of Indigenous design and planning to visit York

Indigenous peoples playing music drums

York University welcomes Regents’ and Distinguished Professor Theodore (Ted) Jojola, creator and director of the Indigenous Design and Community Planning Institute at the University of New Mexico, to Toronto for a knowledge sharing trip. He hopes to learn from the conversations taking place at York around Indigenous community planning, share his unique research and experiences, and visit the Six Nations of the Grand River territory.

As part of his visit to the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) and the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages, Jojola will host a discussion on Jan. 19, to which the York community is invited and encouraged to attend.

Theodore (Ted) Jojola close-up portrait
Theodore (Ted) Jojola

Jojola, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta, has connected with Indigenous communities around the world in New Zealand, Australia, across Africa and North America to explore how they represent themselves.

Through his research career, Jojola has published on Indigenous community development, education, planning and architecture, building an approach that unites place-based cultures and Indigenous agency towards a better understanding of the significance of life in community planning.

Jojola champions the “Seven Generation Model” as a tool to understand reciprocal learning to shape meaningful dialogue and better outcomes for our collective futures. The model challenges contemporary norms in planning, which often focus on time-based targets, and instead prioritizes a framework that values the continuity of life. This allows for ancestral learning to inform the present to build a collective vision for the future.

At home in New Mexico, Jojola and the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute are working on exciting local and international initiatives, and currently creating an online certification in Indigenous Community Planning.

PlaceKnowing and Rematriation: Indigenous Design and Planning

Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. – Join Jojola in conversation at the Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies building, room 140 (HNES 140).

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.