YUeats introduces value menu to address food insecurity
York University’s campus food services provider, YUeats, has created a new $6.99 value meal meant to provide the York community with access to meals that are filling, nutritious and affordable.
The new on-campus value meal program will launch in Central Square in Summer 2023, Winters and Stong Colleges in Fall 2023, and be available throughout the year at the University’s Glendon Campus.
Menus will rotate daily and offer a wide range of options that cater to different dietary requirements and preferences. “This initiative was launched to increase the availability of nutritious, culturally diverse and well-balanced hot meals to our York community,” says Dahlia Abou El Hassan, York’s in-house dietitian.
“Many students identified food insecurity in York’s recent 2022 Canadian Campus Well-being Survey as a significant challenge, and this concerns all of us. I’m delighted the Food Services team worked quickly to provide students and the community with a selection of cost-effective and nutritious meal options. It’s progress towards supporting our community,” said Nona Robinson, vice-provost, students. “We are continuing to work with partners across the University to provide additional food supports for students.”
York researchers invited to share, collaborate at global health workshop
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.
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.
York University maps courses that teach about Sustainable Development Goals
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
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
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.
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 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.
Woburn, an immigrant-rich Toronto neighbourhood located in southeast Scarborough, now has its own community garden and seed library thanks to the helping hands of York University students in the Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4).
C4 provides students with an opportunity to work effectively in interdisciplinary teams on real-world challenges with social impact. It runs as a two-semester course during the academic year or as a six-week summer course. Professors Danielle Robinson (School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design) and Franz Newland (Lassonde School of Engineering) founded the program in 2019.
In summer 2022, the focus of C4’s evening class was food sustainability and security, and two groups of York students – Team Maintainers and Team Knitters – were among those that worked with the Woburn neighbourhood.
“York students built relationships with the local schools, libraries and activists, and then created pathways between institutions and organizations so the community members can work together to feed themselves in ways that are co-operative and cost-effective,” said Robinson.
Leah Yuyitung, former chair of the parents’ council at Woburn Collegiate Institute (WCI) and spokesperson for the grassroots-led community group Woburn Local Planning Table, was the students’ main contact.
“A lot of the student ideas were about building apps or creating brochures, but I told them that community engagement projects need to be hands-on,” said Yuyitung. “They need to build relationships and be on the ground.”
For the garden group, Yuyitung helped locate a plot of land at Woburn Collegiate Institute and drew on connections with the local schools to collaborate with the C4 students.
“As part of the preparation for the York students’ building the garden, I found teachers who were interested in establishing a garden and growing seedlings from seeds, and Danielle purchased the grow lights and soil,” said Yuyitung. “The student landscaping and STEP eco-club of WCI, 10 classes at Woburn Junior School, and two at St. Thomas More, grew plants indoors for the shared community garden.”
The Team Maintainers students created the garden space, tilling it by hand in conjunction with WCI students adding the necessary compost.
“We had about 30 people working on the garden, and it was a great event,” said Yuyitung. “The students brought pizza and samosas and made it a celebration.”
Talha Rashidi, a recent York kinesiology graduate, managed Team Maintainers.
“I am deeply invested in food security,” said Rashidi, who is committed to social justice and is on the board of the not-for-profit organization, Road to Zero Waste. “This project was right in my wheelhouse. The C4 space can be whatever you make it, and it was a starting point to impact the world. It’s really empowering.”
Rashidi said that he and his team had a steep learning curve, since they weren’t gardeners themselves, but “Yuyitung and her community resources helped us determine the size of the plot, the type of topsoil and compost we needed and the ideal space needed between plants.
“We also gained more sensitivity to the needs of the community – things such as safety protocols and dietary constraints within a diverse community – which were our blind spots before.”
Shyamaly Vasuthevan, a York alumna now working toward a second degree (BSc in psychology) at York, managed Team Knitters, the seed library team.
“There were a lot of ideas about what we could do, and we met with community partners to see what was appropriate,” she said. “We decided to create a seed library, along with a website that would tie all the Woburn C4 projects together. The website became our portfolio – we all learned to use WordPress.”
A seed library may sound mysterious, but Vasuthevan explained that it is actually a set of cabinets that contains a wide variety of seed packets that people can take to grow their own food. In return, the students request that once the plants produce fruit, vegetables, or spices, the growers save the seeds to return to the library so others can benefit.
One of the students on the team belonged to Many Green Hands at York, a student environmental organization, and had connections to seeds; in addition, the team had some C4 funding and scoured wholesale sites to obtain what they needed. They bought seeds in bulk, but, as Vasuthevan said, “No one needs 5,000 spinach seeds,” so the group found themselves becoming experts in working on an assembly line, measuring seeds into envelopes, taping, packaging and labelling.
Using a label printer, the students put a QR code onto each label that leads to their website and information about how to grow seeds. They also have seed cards on file for each type of plant that offers basic information about the food item and how to grow it.
The library is housed in portable cabinets so that it can be taken to community events to give the seeds a wide distribution. It was housed in the Cedarbrae Public Library as a pilot project, and the team is currently working toward finding a permanent home for it. In fact, they are so dedicated to the project that they have remained involved for an additional six months in order to ensure a smooth transition, apply for more funding, and promote the seed library in the community.
“We would prefer to have someone in the Woburn community take it over,” said Vasuthevan. “We also want people to bring in their own seeds. We tried to find seeds that were relevant to the foods eaten in the local community. For instance, okra is popular with the Tamil community in the area.”
She called working on the seed library “an amazing experience.” Personally, she discovered that she was a good public speaker and organizer and “really learned how to be sensitive and efficient.”
“We learned a lot about the community, and it made the summer go faster – we could just see the program growing in front of us.”
Osgoode professor address calls for stronger UN anti-racism convention
Osgoode Hall Law School Assistant Professor Rabiat Akande was invited to address the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards on July 20 where she asked the committee to consider changes to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
Akande urged the Ad Hoc Committee to strengthen ICERD to specifically prohibit the persecution of racialized religious minorities. Akande argued that international human rights law does not offer these groups adequate protection.
The Ad Hoc Committee was initially formed in 2007 to consider a convention or additional protocols to update the ICERD. The committee has met most years since 2008 and is attended by member states, regional groups, national institutions, specialized agencies, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
The committee has engaged with numerous experts in the fields of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and contemporary issues of racism in different contexts. The resumed 11th and 12th sessions of the committee took place from July 18 to 29 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Akande told the committee that a current draft of the additional ICERD protocol, which was drawn up during the 10th session, mistakenly construes all forms of contemporary religious discrimination as racial discrimination and “fails to acknowledge the every day struggle of persons who suffer intersectional discrimination along the axis of race and religion.”
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which helped shape subsequent international human rights law, was fatally flawed because its concept of religious liberty continues to exclude members of disfavored and racialized religious groups, she said.
Akande argued the international law draws a false dichotomy between freedom of conscience (or internal beliefs) and outward forms of religious faith.
“The most obvious casualty has been the covered Muslim woman,” she stated to the committee, “with a string of decisions handed down by the European Court of Human Rights consistently upholding state restrictions and even proscriptions on the hijab – the Muslim headscarf or veil –as being a proportional and reasonable restriction of the manifestation of religion.”
Muslim minorities face the debilitating impact of Islamophobia, said Akande, but are unable to access meaningful legal remedy under the law. At times, she added, the same has been true for other religious minorities, including Jews, Sikhs and even some Christian groups.
Akande said the draft protocol to ICERD “will not offer the legal remedy needed by those whose experience of religious and racial marginalization is compounded by the intersection of those two forms of discrimination.”
She told the committee that the legacy of colonization lives on in the racial and religious subordination of certain peoples – “marginalization that is not only denied recognition and remedy under international law but is in many ways even compounded by the current international legal regime.”
“As we confront new forms of oppression such as lethal Islamophobia masquerading as national and international security policy,” she said, “and indeed, the persistent denigration of the religions of Indigenous peoples globally, I hope member states will seize this opportunity to take bold action by offering robust legal protections for communities at the margins.”
Akande joined Osgoode last year, and works in the fields of legal history, law and religion, constitutional and comparative constitutional law, Islamic law, international law and post-colonial African law and society. She is an Academy Scholar at the Harvard University Academy for International and Area Studies, where she was in residence from 2019-21. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 2019. At Harvard, she also served as an editor of the Harvard International Law Journal and taught at the law school and in the Department for African and African American Studies.
Applications for Glendon’s Research Apprenticeship Program and G21 courses are open
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.
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 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.
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 email@example.com.
Emerging themes in social determinants of health theory and research highlighted in commentary
In an invited commentary to the International Journal of Health Services, Professor Dennis Raphael of York University together with Ontario Tech University Associate Professor Toba Bryant outlined seven emerging themes in social determinants of health theory and research.
These themes go beyond traditional notions that carrying out high-quality research and presenting them to policymakers will lead to health-promoting public policy. Instead, the authors identify significant barriers to having this research put into practice by governmental authorities increasingly under the sway of corporate and business influence. The corporate and business sector commonly calls for reduced government spending, lack of regulation of the workplace, and reduced taxes on the corporate and business sector, positions at odds with the findings of this research.
The seven themes are:
Models of Public Policy Change (traditional models of public policy change do not represent how public policies actually come about);
The Political Economy of Health (public policy is increasingly under the sway of political and economic interests whose desires are not aligned with the needs of most Canadians);
Unionization and Collective Agreement Bargaining (these processes are key to promoting health but neglected in health promotion research and action);
Corporate Domination of the Base and Superstructure of Society (it is increasingly apparent that the corporate and business sector are shaping both economic and political processes as well as all aspects of civil society);
Neoliberalism, Redistribution and Service Delivery (increasing acceptance of neoliberal approaches to governance are leading to greater inequities in the distribution of resources necessary for health as well as degrading of health and social services);
Communication and Polemic (it is necessary to raise the volume on these issues as traditional communication approaches are not working); and
Social Welfare States or Socialist States (it is becoming apparent that many of the barriers to having the social determinants of health addressed are rooted in Canada’s form of capitalism. The environmental crisis is leading to questioning whether a climate catastrophe can be avoided under our present economic system.)
In the conclusion of their commentary, Raphael and Bryant state: “The apparent inability of government authorities to control the power and influence of the corporate sector is yet another reason for a reconsideration of the current economic system and whether capitalism is capable of maintaining, much less improving, the quality and equitable distribution of the social determinants of health.”
Finally, Raphael points out that most of the work cited in the paper was conducted with graduate students in York University’s Graduate Program in Health Policy and Equity. The paper “Emerging Themes in Social Determinants of Health Theory and Research” is available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00207314221109515.
Apply now to be an Agent of Change
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 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
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.