York students recognized for impactful leadership

Three students walking on York's Keele Campus

Eleven York University students were recently honoured with the Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award, which recognizes students whose leadership has contributed to the growth, development and vitality of the University. 

“We are impressed with the calibre of student leaders we have and the many ways they make contributions to the York community throughout their years with us,” says Yvette Munro, assistant vice-provost, student success. “Whether their leadership role supports students across the University, in their Faculty or with a community of students with whom they share common interests or backgrounds, their contributions make York a better place.” 

Now in its 12th year, the award was created in honour of Robert J. Tiffin, who served as York University’s vice-president, students, for nine years. University community members nominate individuals who demonstrate leadership and make valuable contributions to York. 

“It cannot be overstated that the recipients of this award have played a vital role in shaping the student experience at York,” says Tiffin. “Their active engagement in so many aspects of student life has served to unlock their own leadership potential and empower their fellow students to create more engagement opportunities for future students.” 

The winners were celebrated at an on-campus event on May 15. 

This year’s Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award recipients with Robert J. Tiffin at the awards ceremony. Top row, from left to right: Dulce Martinez, Ginelle Aziz, Luca Filippelli, Robert J. Tiffin, Meaghan Landry and Taline Apelian-Sutor. Bottom row, from left to right: Madison Hartley, Nicole Dimitrova and Clifton Grant. Not pictured: April Cole, Ali Bashar and Jennifer Bromberg.

This year’s Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award winners:

Taline Apelian-Sutor, bachelor of science (honours) in biology 
Apelian-Sutor has been actively engaged in York’s student life. As a member of the York University Alumni Board, she works with staff and alumni to enhance York’s reputation, encourage philanthropy and increase community engagement. As a President’s Ambassador, Student Alumni Ambassador and Science Student Ambassador, Apelian-Sutor has collaborated with others to promote the University and voice the student perspective. She has also contributed to York’s legacy project that helps address food insecurity on campus. 

Ginelle Aziz, master of applied science in civil engineering
Aziz has left her mark on the Lassonde community through her involvement with various organizations, including as the president of Engineering Without Borders and by helping thousands of students during Lassonde’s Social Orientation Weeks between 2017 and 2022. Aziz says her most impactful and empowering contribution at York was as a graduate representative for the National Day of Remembrance on Violence Against Women in 2022, where she discussed the importance of representation of BIPOC women in education and engineering. 

Ali Bashar, bachelor of science in biology
While at York, Bashar has raised more than $20,000 during his tenure as the event chair for York’s Canadian Cancer Society chapter. He also serves as the vice-president, finance, of the Bethune College Council and as an elected member of the Science Student Caucus. As a caucus member, Bashar advocated for positive change and student needs during the COVID-19 pandemic by co-authoring a letter to the dean’s office. Some of the considerations were incorporated into the Faculty of Science 2021-25 strategic plan. 

Jennifer Bromberg, bachelor of arts (honours) in psychology
Bromberg’s commitment to positively impacting the York community is apparent through her work as the creator and facilitator of the workshop Taking Care of Your Brain: Study Strategies that Work, which she now runs monthly. She has actively pursued leadership roles and has been active in Calumet and Stong colleges, working as a course representative for five courses to date. Bromberg is also an active member of the Faculty of Health Student Caucus and supports numerous college events. 

April Cole, bachelor of science (specialized honours) in kinesiology and health science
Throughout her degree, Cole has been giving back to the York community as an orientation leader, where she created a welcoming experience for incoming students throughout six Orientation Weeks. As the orientation director for Stong College Student Government (SCSG), she volunteered at student panels, chaired social committees, trained council members and facilitated Orientation Week, Frost Week and Mental Health Week. Cole’s role as an outreach director with SCSG also involved planning multiple charity events, including the Cross-College Food Drive to address food insecurity. 

Nicole Dimitrova, bachelor of arts (specialized honours) in psychology 
As a student leader, Dimitrova continuously advocates for accessibility across campus. She has served as the co-president of the Undergraduate Psychology Student Association (UPSA), where she ensured their services were accessible to all students. Dimitrova also played a pivotal role in the mentoring department of UPSA and has contributed to new student success initiatives. She is also the co-creator of Disability Allyship Training, which focuses on equipping peer leaders with skills and knowledge to better support those with disabilities.  

Luca Filippelli, bachelor of engineering (specialized honours) in computer engineering
Filippelli has been actively involved in academic committees and councils for the Lassonde School of Engineering and has served as the president of the Lassonde Engineering Society since May 2023. During his time as president, he has increased student engagement and leads a team of 50 volunteers in organizing events and initiatives. Filippelli also represents Lassonde’s student body on three Faculty committees, where he helps to amplify Lassonde’s student voice in decision-making processes. 

Clifton Grant, bachelor of arts (honours) in law and society
During his time at York, Grant has served on multiple committees, campus groups and organizations. He has been a peer mentor with the Atkinson Centre for Mature & Part-time Students and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). He is also the president of the York University Mature Students Organization and a member of the LA&PS Black Inclusion & Advocacy Committee. Grant consistently advocates for students across campus and contributes to building a community where they can grow and succeed. 

Madison Hartley, bachelor of engineering in software engineering 
Hartley helped create safe and inclusive spaces for students through the foundation of York’s EngiQueers chapter, which helps to promote awareness, education and advocacy for the Lassonde School of Engineering’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Hartley has also made an impact as the chair of Lassonde’s Orientation Week and as a member of the Undergraduate Student Advisory Council, where she contributed to discussions about campus life, academics, and decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion issues on campus. 

Meaghan Landry, bachelor of arts (bilingual specialized honours) in psychology
Landry is a champion of 2SLGBTQIA+ student rights and a strong advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion at York. They served as the co-coordinator and treasurer of the Glendon Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer + Organization, where they worked to strengthen the queer community and advocated for the needs of queer students. Landry also raised awareness about food access on campus while serving as the vice-president, finance, and co-president of the Glendon Cooking Club. 

Dulce Martinez, bachelor of fine arts (honours) in music
Martinez has been an active leader in the Music Department, where she advocated for diversity in York’s curriculum by successfully petitioning to create the course MUSI 1056 – Private Lessons in Gospel Voice. She has also made many contributions to the York community while serving on the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee, the Chair’s Leadership Council and the Creative Arts Students Association. Through these roles, Martinez has advocated for improvements in student study spaces, communicated student concerns and drawn attention to accessibility challenges.

For more information about the award and how to nominate a student, visit the Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award web page.

York University nursing professor wins teaching excellence award

hand holding heart near stethoscope BANNER

By Lindsay MacAdam, communications officer, YFile

When Archana Paul arrived in Canada in 2010 – with her husband, two children, a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing, and 10 years of experience as a nurse educator and frontline registered nurse under her belt – she was shocked to discover that she couldn’t get a job. Even entry-level positions at places like McDonald’s and Tim Hortons wouldn’t hire her without prior Canadian work experience.

Fast forward to 14 years later and Paul is now a highly regarded professor in York University’s School of Nursing who has recently been recognized by the Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing (COUPN) Awards for excellence in teaching – one of the first internationally educated nurses to receive this honour.

Archana Paul
Archana Paul

“I held a certain degree of skepticism regarding my decision to settle in a new country and practise in a different environment,” admitted Paul during her COUPN Awards acceptance speech. “My initial experiences were marked by hardships and challenges, including the loss of my professional identity, as I felt I was ‘nobody’ even though I had more than 10 years of experience in nursing.”

Having to adapt to new ways of living, acquire clinical competency, deal with cultural displacement and perfect her language skills made the transition to Canadian life more difficult than she had ever imagined. However, with an unwavering determination, Paul went on countless interviews and gradually learned how to advocate for herself until she secured her first Canadian job a year and a half later, as a nurse in the emergency department at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction & Mental Health. Four years after that, she was hired as a nurse educator at Humber River Health, and then shortly thereafter she joined the faculty of York’s School of Nursing, which was seeking educators like Paul with clinical expertise in mental health nursing.

Today, while teaching full-time at York, Paul maintains her position as a frontline nurse in Humber River Health’s mental health crisis unit. She feels it is important to her teaching to remain a practising nurse, allowing her to bring that real-world perspective into the classroom. And that perspective is a big part of why Paul has been recognized by her peers, students and COUPN for her teaching excellence.

Paul is known for using creative teaching strategies to bridge the gap between classroom theory and real-life experiences, like engaging users of mental health services as guest speakers in her courses to help critically examine the power divide between patients and health-care providers.

Viewing herself as an instructor and her students as “co-creators” in knowledge, Paul seeks to shift traditional, hierarchical approaches to teaching.

“After years of practising as a nurse and nurse educator in Canada, I have confidently redefined power dynamics in education,” explained Paul in her speech. “I now see myself as a facilitator, mentor, guide and advisor who empowers students to achieve their full potential.”

Paul is committed to continuing to serve her community through support and mentorship, especially for international students and internationally educated nurses like herself who are facing challenges similar to those she faced upon arrival to Canada.

Quoting famed British nurse Florence Nightingale in her speech, saying, “‘Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses…. We must be learning all of our lives,’” Paul is a firm believer in lifelong learning. In fact, she plans to continue her learning journey by pursing her PhD in the coming years. And despite being a teaching-stream professor at York, she has involved herself in small-scale research focusing on student well-being, as well as teaching and learning.

“I am convinced that by being open to change, building knowledge and developing relationships, we can create innovative approaches to teaching effectiveness, optimize student learning outcomes and ultimately improve client care,” she said.

Despite her many career accomplishments over the past 14 years, having her teaching recognized with a COUPN Award – requiring nomination and support from colleagues, peers and students – has made Paul finally accept that she has achieved success in Canada.

“I now believe that I am ‘somebody’ in this country,” she concluded. And she’s right.

Research Impact Challenge helps boost self-promotion, visibility

Open book with glasses and a pen sitting on top

York University faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students are invited to participate in the York University Libraries’ Research Impact Challenge to learn how to increase the visibility and reach of their scholarly works.

From May 27 to 31, the Libraries will run five fully asynchronous challenges to help teach York researchers tips, strategies and methods to curate their online presence and make their research more discoverable to academic communities in their disciplines. Each challenge will take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

“Researchers at all stages of their career benefit from leveraging research visibility best practices for their publishing and self-promotion strategies,” says Andrea Kosavic, interim dean, York University Libraries. “By completing the five challenges in this event, researchers will have a number of strategies at their fingertips to improve the discoverability of their research.”

Each day, participants will be asked to learn about a specific research visibility topic and complete a short research task to support them in making their scholarly outputs easier to discover. For example, participants will learn about curating their online presence using researcher profiles such as ORCID iD, a tool that makes it easier to identify authors and contributors of scholarly communication. Additionally, participants will explore the value of open-access publishing, scholarly research repositories and how to leverage existing Libraries supports such as YorkSpace to make their research more discoverable.

“Studies show that publishing your research open access is an effective research visibility strategy,” says Kosavic, “as access to subscriptions privileges those who can afford to pay. Publishing open access ensures the global community has access to your research and can build upon your discoveries, which translates into citation and social media uptake advantages.”

The challenges will also cover traditional and alternative research metrics and will highlight the Libraries’ subscription databases that can help researchers gather specific types of metrics.

To participate in the challenge, researchers are asked to do the following:

  • Step 1: sign-up for the challenge.
  • Step 2: during the week of the challenge, keep an eye out for the daily email with information on the day’s task.
  • Step 3: after completing each daily challenge, fill out the associated MS Form to be entered into a draw for a chance to win a set of Belkin wireless headphones or a prize of equivalent value.

“I’m thrilled about this engaging initiative that will allow our researchers to learn about strategies to help increase their research visibility, while also learning about specific tools and resources that can raise their profiles externally,” says Jennifer Steeves, associate vice-president research. “This will help increase awareness of the outstanding research being done by our colleagues at York.”

Grad student research recognized with thesis, dissertation prizes

a man holding a trophy

York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) has awarded six graduands with 2024 Thesis and Dissertation Prizes for their outstanding contributions to the local and global community. The prizes, valued at $2,000 for doctoral dissertations and $1,000 for master’s theses, are given out every spring to honour theses defended in the previous calendar year. The award-winning work among the early-career scholars ranged from high-risk data collection to an award-winning film.

Doctoral Dissertation Prizes

Alison Humphrey (PhD, cinema and media studies) for “The Shadowpox Storyworld as Citizen Science Fiction: Building Co-Immunity through Participatory Mixed-Reality Storytelling”

Alison Humphrey
Alison Humphrey

Humphrey’s dissertation involves a mixed-reality storyworld – a fully immersive, interactive storytelling experience – co-created with young people on three continents, imagining immunization through a superhero metaphor.

The research-creation dissertation recounts the design and testing of three experiments in a single science fiction storyworld, titled “Shadowpox.” Humphrey’s first experiment was a full-body video game exhibited at the UNAIDS 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, and at Galleri KiT in Trondheim, Norway. The second was a networked narrative – a story created by a network of interconnected authors – which was workshopped and presented at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and with the Debajehmujig Storytellers, a multidisciplinary arts organization in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Reserve in northern Ontario. The third component, an online video game necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, was available worldwide, and was included in the United Nations COVID-19 Response Creative Content Hub in 2020.

The examining committee praised the project and described it as “careful theory-building through sound methodological praxis” and “a new standard for research-creation dissertations in Canada.”

Inbar Peled (PhD, law) for “Professionalizing Discrimination:  Legal Actors and the Struggle Against Racialized Policing in Multicultural Societies”

Inbar Peled
Inbar Peled

Through her project, Peled examines the role of lawyers in perpetuating racialized police violence in multicultural societies. While much of the work on racialized police killing and police violence focuses on the police themselves, the role of lawyers in enabling these incidents is often ignored. To unpack the ways lawyers and judges support, resist and confront racism in their practices, Peled interviewed prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges in Israel. Her groundbreaking work argues that the solution to the problem of racialized policing will have to include transformation within the legal profession.

Her defense committee unanimously commended the work, saying, “the real genius of Peled’s project is that it merges theories of identity (self and others) with professionalized role competence. This combination demonstrates not just that lawyers are – like all people – influenced by race and racism in their decision making but also that legal norms and rules also play a role in the failure to address racialized police violence.”

Jennifer Porat (PhD, biology) for “RNA methyltransferases Influence Noncoding RNA Biogenesis and Function Through Catalytic-Independent Activities”

Jennifer Porat
Jennifer Porat

Porat’s innovative study encompasses various aspects of ribonucleic acid (RNA) biology – a molecule essential for most biological functions – while focusing on the lesser-studied functions of a set of eukaryotic RNA modification enzymes. The dissertation provides evidence supporting the multifaceted nature of these enzymes and underscores their importance in many fundamental biological processes. The pinnacle recognition of Porat’s scholarly excellence is exemplified by her recent Scaringe Award that acknowledges outstanding achievement of young scientists engaged in RNA research presented by the RNA Society, an international scientific society with more than 1,800 members dedicated to fostering research and education in the field of RNA science.

The examination committee Chair, Professor Emanuel Rosonina, stated that Porat’s work “fundamentally changes how we think about RNA-modifying enzymes.” He continued, “It is not common that a student forges new ground and concepts like this. Hers is among the most impressive PhD theses and defenses that I have seen at York and beyond.”

Master’s Thesis Prizes

Pooya Badkoobeh (master’s, film) for “Based on a True Story”

Pooya Badkoobeh
Pooya Badkoobeh

Badkoobeh’s thesis film, Inn, is a 20-minute minimalist short film set in Tehran, Iran, inspired by the real-life story of an old couple who planned to commit suicide together. The film’s central theme revolves around the core meaning of life in the face of planned and seemingly certain death. Employing minimalist storytelling and a hybrid of fiction and documentary style, the film uses long takes and distant camera placements for a distinctive effect. The script features very little dialogue and long silences, illustrating the characters’ inner lives and allowing the viewer to fill in their background. The same year of his defense, Badkoobeh’s thesis film was named North America’s Best Film by CILECT, the International Association of Film & Television Schools.

“His film embraces the core value of what it means to be human in the cinematic form,” shared Manfred Becker, Pooya’s supervisor. “It is an exceptionally sensitive and disciplined work of art, executed in a minimalist style, which matches the complexity of its subject matter.”

Nina Garrett (master’s, biology) for “Measuring neotropical bat diversity using airborne eDNA”

Nina Garrett
Nina Garrett

Garrett’s thesis develops the novel technique of capturing airborne environmental DNA (eDNA) for the detection of tropical bat species. Garrett successfully demonstrates that airborne eDNA can accurately characterize a mixed-species community with varying abundances and that the type of sampler does not impact DNA concentration or read count. This study was extremely high-risk science because no one had ever attempted this type of work under field conditions with wild animals. At the time she started, there were only three published scientific works in existence demonstrating that airborne eDNA collection was even possible and all had been conducted under extremely controlled and artificial conditions (i.e. in a zoo).

Garrett’s two data chapters were published in PeerJ and Environmental DNA journals. Additionally, she has been acknowledged for her advanced academic and research leadership, having received prestigious awards for her master’s studies, including the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada’s master’s graduate scholarship and recognitions for her research presentations at provincial and national conferences.

Haider Shoaib (master’s, electrical engineering and computer science) for “Performance Modeling and Optimization of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles With Reliable Wireless Connectivity”

Haider Shoaib
Haider Shoaib

Shoaib’s cutting-edge project tackles vehicular network connectivity challenges, which are expected to be of increasing concern with the rise of electric vehicles. The project explores the fundamental question of how to maximize vehicle traffic flow while maintaining a minimum network connectivity requirement. Specifically, Shoaib’s thesis develops innovative network performance models for 5G- and 6G-enabled vehicle communications that consider critical parameters such as traffic flow, wireless channel impediments and network density.

This type of optimization has not been considered to date in either the telecommunications or transportation domains, and it includes several important constraints to ensure quality of service and to avoid collisions.

Additional prize

In addition to the above Thesis and Dissertation Prizes, FGS nominated Humphrey and Porat for a dissertation prize presented by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS). The CAGS-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes Canadian doctoral dissertations that make significant and original contributions to their academic field. Winners receive a $1,500 cash prize, a certificate of recognition and an invitation to attend the Annual CAGS Conference.

For more information about the prizes and how they are awarded, visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

Robarts Centre celebrates 40 years of Canadian Studies

Many books standing upright, pictured from above.

Established in 1984, the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies is a long-standing Organized Research Unit of York University that supports specialized research on key dimensions of a critical, collaborative and interdisciplinary study of Canada. As evidence of its far-reaching impact, it has a membership of over 300 faculty and research associates from all of York’s 11 Faculties.

Lorna Marsden
Lorna Marsden

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Robarts Centre has released a special issue of its flagship publication, Canada Watch, edited by York University President Emerita Lorna Marsden, a Distinguished Fellow at the Robarts Centre. In it, a carefully selected group of thought leaders recount the history of the centre and its key evolutions in the study of Canada, as well as the establishment of the York’s research infrastructure over the past four decades.

“In this issue, you will find first-hand accounts of key milestones in the history of the Robarts Centre and of research at York University, including from President Emeritus Ian Macdonald and first Vice-President Research and Innovation Stan Shapson,” said Marsden. “It also shows how the study of Canada has evolved since 1984, and the central role the Robarts Centre has played in creating relationships among disciplines, students and faculty to make this possible.”

This special issue is the first of the centre’s many celebratory activities for this milestone year. To help make its important work available to all, the Robarts Centre is working with the York University Libraries (YUL) to release the online archives of Canada Watch, which has been regularly published since 1992. These public archives, hosted through YUL’s York Digital Journals (YDJ) program, will make accessible many issues that were previously only available in print.

“YDJ’s mission is to facilitate free and open access to the work of members of the York University community,” said Tomasz Mrozewski, YUL digital publishing librarian “The release of the Canada Watch archives on this platform gives our community access to significant contributions in the study of Canada over the past 30 years, with new features, including the ability to search back issues by author and theme.”

Other anniversary celebrations include hosting the 2024 International Canadian Studies Summit, being held online from June 10 to 14, in collaboration with the International Council for Canadian Studies and the Avie Bennett Historica Canada Chair in Canadian History.

Jean Michel Montsion

“In recent years, the Robarts Centre has paid particular attention to the lack of support to our colleagues who study Canada from outside of the country,” explained Jean Michel Montsion, director of the Robarts Centre, “and we see it as our responsibility to connect them to some of our experts and specialists.”

With that mission in mind, the free summit, which is open for registration now, will be an opportunity for emerging and established scholars to learn about, discuss and help draft recommendations for better support of the study of Canada abroad. The event will include a Summer School component, which will be attended by 17 graduate students selected from 13 different countries, with many sessions led by York faculty members.

For more information about 40th anniversary celebrations and how to take part, visit the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies website.

York hosts website preserving Canadian broadcasting history

Vintage, Retro, Ancient old tv wooden cabinet stands on the floor with yellow concrete wall background.

Following an agreement signed with the Canadian Communications Foundation (CCF), York University now hosts a one-of-a-kind website that documents information on a diverse variety of small, local radio stations and television stations in Canada from 1922 to the present.

Anne-F.-MacLennan
Anne MacLennan

Over the past four years, former CCF member and communication and media studies Professor Anne MacLennan has been diligently working with the CCF to transfer archival materials from the organization’s History of Canadian Broadcasting website to its new home at York.

The archives are an invaluable cultural resource due to broadcasting stations not typically documenting their own histories thoroughly, and other existing research in the field being dominated by literature on broadcasting regulation and the building of the CBC.

The website – the only archive of its kind in Canada – has built up a careful history of all the broadcast media in Canada, chronicling and documenting the development of radio and television broadcasting in Canada since 1922. It also features biographies of prominent media personalities who have made significant and innovative contributions to the growth and development of Canadian broadcasting, but whose vision, ingenuity, dedication and venturesome undertakings had not been otherwise recognized.

The website has achieved a great deal over the years in developing a definitive history of broadcasting in Canada, and York made the decision to take it over when the CCF began winding down operations in 2020. In the process, the archive will help the school fulfill its commitment to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that look to encourage the protection and safeguarding of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

With the transfer of ownership from CCF to York now complete, the website will serve as more of an archive than an active site. It aims to provide a valuable resource to students in communications, media, and history programs at York University and other universities, as well as high-school students and any member of the public who is curious about the rich historical development of Canadian broadcasting.

Schulich ExecEd partnership strengthens Nunavut’s project management capacity

Brown rock formation near sea during daytime, Unsplash

Recognizing the pivotal role of adept project management in propelling strategic initiatives forward, in Fall 2021 the government of Nunavut set out to empower its workforce by partnering with York University’s Schulich Executive Education (Schulich ExecEd) to offer specialized professional development through the Masters Certificate in Project Management program.

To help meet the territory’s demand for skilled project managers within the public sector, the Schulich ExecEd program – which recently saw its third cohort of students graduate – allows participants to delve into various facets of project management, gaining the insights, tools and techniques essential for navigating complex projects successfully. From project planning and risk management to stakeholder engagement and resource allocation, participants emerge from the program equipped with a comprehensive skill set tailored to the unique challenges faced within the public sector.

“Our students in the third cohort of the program came from far and wide across this massive territory to learn how to manage projects of all types, spanning government policy, health care, technology, construction, engineering and more,” says David Barrett, national program director of the Masters Certificate in Project Management program. “It is a delight to work with our graduates at the end of our program, as they embrace a new set of tools, a new language and a new method of approaching all of their projects – regardless of size.”

The third cohort of the Schulich ExecEd Masters Certificate in Project Management program in partnership with the government of Nunavut.

With over 100 employees from the government of Nunavut and affiliated organizations participating in the program since its inception, the initiative has had a profound impact on the territory’s workforce. From urban centres to remote communities, public servants have seized the opportunity to enhance their project management acumen, driven by a collective dedication to professional growth and service excellence.

“We are immensely proud of our enduring partnership with the government of Nunavut,” says Rami Mayer, executive director of Schulich ExecEd. “This collaboration stands as a testament to our shared commitment to empowering public servants with the essential tools and knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of project management within the public sector.”

Beyond mere skill development, Mayer says this partnership is about fostering a culture of innovation in the territory and planting the seeds for a new generation of professionals.

“We recognize the profound impact of efficient project management on the lives of the Indigenous peoples of Nunavut,” says Mayer. “Enhanced project management skills enable the government of Nunavut to execute initiatives that directly benefit the Indigenous community – from infrastructure projects to health-care initiatives and cultural preservation efforts.”

In providing these professional development opportunities, Schulich ExecEd and the government of Nunavut are not only building a more efficient public sector but also fostering a stronger, more resilient Indigenous community. And they are committed to continuing to do so – together.

York to host, lead graduate supervision conference

Glendon graduate students on laptops

One of the foundational relationships of the graduate student experience is the one between student and supervisor. As part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) is hosting an online graduate supervision conference geared specifically toward supervisors.

Held in partnership with Memorial University of Newfoundland, the conference – called Collaborative, Constructive, Considerate: Fostering Dialogue on Best Practices in Graduate Supervision in Canada – will be held virtually on Friday, May 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The conference will bring together graduate supervisors from universities across Canada, with the aim to lead and foster dialogue about best practices in supervisory pedagogy.

Cheryl van Daalen-Smith
Cheryl van Daalen-Smith

“We need to continue talking about principles and best practices,” says Cheryl van Daalen-Smith, conference Chair and associate dean, academic of FGS

The conference is intended to fill a need for schools of graduate studies, which understand that more conversations have to happen about supervision.

“There’s an assumption that one learns to be a supervisor by being supervised themselves,” she says, “when there’s so much more to it.”

A cornerstone of the academic environment, graduate education and the graduate supervisory experience play a pivotal role in shaping students’ academic and professional journeys. This relationship has a profound effect on the quality of research produced, development of academic skills and overall academic experience.

The conference will include a keynote address delivered by Bruce Shore, author of The Graduate Advisor Handbook: A Student-Centred Approach, titled “Connections to Quagmires: Setting Up for Successful Supervision.” A second keynote speech, by Supervising Conflict author Heather McGhee Peggs, will offer practical advice to help faculty manage the most common grad school concerns.

Experts in the pragmatics of supervision, mediating conflict and the requisite principles guiding Ontario universities will participate in a panel discussion to follow, examining the Principles for Graduate Supervision at Ontario Universities, which were developed last year by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies.

A closing discussion moderated by van Daalen-Smith will end the day, with a focus on the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Working Group Initiative and its mission to establish a set of national graduate supervision principles.

“We need to celebrate great supervision and foster discussions that identify exactly what it is that makes this pivotal educative role in graduate studies so influential,” says van Daalen-Smith.

The conference is free to attend, and registration is now open via the online form. For more information, visit the event web page.

Prof’s work advancing nursing makes impact

Photo by Patty Brito on Unsplash

A review advancing knowledge of nursing care for persons with developmental disabilities (DDs) was published in the impactful journal Nursing Open by York University School of Nursing Professor Nazilla Khanlou and went on to be among the top 10 per cent most downloaded papers during its first 12 months of publication.

An image of Nazilla Khanlou
Nazilla Khanlou

The paper, titled “Nursing care for persons with developmental disabilities: Review of literature on barriers and facilitators faced by nurses to provide care,” explores better understanding of notable gaps in knowledge and practice in order to have an impact on caregivers and receivers.

According to the review, individuals with developmental disabilities often contend with health-care systems and services that lack accessibility or better support. As a result, nurses have often reported notable gaps in receiving proper training to better care for people with DDs. There are few opportunities to discover best practice guidelines for those looking to provide care for this demographic.

With the intention of advancing the enhancement and standardization of nursing care for persons with developmental disabilities, the research team looked to identify research evidence, nursing strategies, knowledge gaps, and barriers and facilitators. In doing so, the paper moves towards providing “recommendations addressing access, education, collaboration, communication, use of standardized tools and creating a safe environment” to better help nurses care for people with DDs.

The findings of the review have clearly resonated, given the degree to which it has been accessed and downloaded, which speaks to its efforts to fill a notable knowledge gap in care for an underserved population. Khanlou believes that nursing education in Canada must address that gap.

“We must provide introductory level education and training for all nursing students at the undergraduate level in addressing the complex needs of persons and families with developmental disabilities,” she says. “At the graduate level, more advanced knowledge and specialization should be available for nurses interested in pursuing practice of health promotion and care in the developmental disabilities field.  We can learn from the experiences of nursing in the United Kingdom, where the designation of Learning Disability Nurse exists, and specialized education is provided at the university level.”

The accomplishment of being among the top 10 per cent most downloaded articles in Nursing Open – which is published by influential research publisher Wiley Online Library – builds upon the impact that Khanlou’s extensive career and body of work has already had.

Appointed the inaugural holder of the Ontario Women’s Health Council Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research at York in 2008, Khanlou has used her clinical background in psychiatric nursing to advance research and understanding of many under-represented groups.

Her published articles, book, reports and research – some of which has been funded by organizations like the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council – have explored the well-being and mental health needs of specific populations. Youth and women in multicultural and immigrant-receiving settings have been a particular focus, as she has written about gender-based violence, patient-centred care for women, identity-related factors affecting the mental health of immigrants and refugees, and more.

Memorial scholarship advances refugee studies

refugee with suitcase BANNER

For several years now, the Anthony H. Richmond Scholarship, named after the late distinguished professor emeritus at York University, has provided a path for promising graduate student researchers to advance important research in refugee studies.

Richmond, who died in 2017, was an academic known for his commitment to scholarly life, sense of fairness and unwavering advocacy for marginalized communities. A lifelong Quaker, he played a pivotal role in shaping York University’s Department of Sociology and was a founding member of the York Centre for Refugee Studies.

Anthony H. Richmond
Anthony H. Richmond

The scholarship – established in memory of Richmond by his wife, Freda Richmond, a fellow academic – honours his work by awarding $2,000 annually to graduate-level students conducting research at the intersections of forced migration, immigration, resettlement and environmental changes.

Since its inception in 2020, its funded students have been exploring climate justice education and tree planting campaigns near refugee camps. Its recipients have included students like Mara Mahmud, a master of arts candidate in environmental studies, who investigated the impact of climate change on urban development in Dhaka, Bangladesh, exemplifying the scholarship’s global reach and interdisciplinary nature; and Michael De Santi, a master’s student in civil engineering, who utilized artificial neural networks to enhance water quality in refugee settlements, demonstrating the scholarship’s commitment to tangible solutions for displaced populations.

The latest recipient of the Anthony H. Richmond Scholarship, announced in the fall of 2023, is Dheman Abdi, who is currently pursuing a master of arts in political science. Abdi is dedicated to unravelling the complex dynamics between political migration and anthropogenic climate change in the Horn of Africa, underscoring the scholarship’s relevance in addressing pressing global challenges and advancing knowledge in the region.

The recipients follow in the footsteps of Richmond’s career, which spanned decades and continents, and was marked by a relentless pursuit of social justice and scholarly excellence.

Born in England, Richmond was a student at the London School of Economics and later the University of Liverpool, where he began his pioneering research on race relations and immigration. His first job was as a lecturer in social theory in the Department of Social Study at the University of Edinburgh, during which time he published his first book, The Colour Problem (1955). The second edition of this book, published in 1961, included a new chapter on apartheid in South Africa and brought him his first international recognition, stirring considerable controversy. His book was banned in South Africa until the country’s first free elections in 1994.

He relocated to Canada with his family in 1965, where his impact extended beyond academia, influencing Canadian immigration policy and advocating for racial equality.

Richmond’s published work, including his final book, Global Apartheid: Refugees, Racism and the New World Order (1994), continues to resonate with scholars and activists worldwide, and maintains the relevance of his research in today’s increasingly interconnected world. The Anthony H. Richmond Scholarship continues to do that, too.