OsgoodePD expands construction, infrastructure offerings with two new programs

A modern bridge lit up at night with a cityscape behind it

In response to a growing demand for construction-related legal education, Osgoode Professional Development (OsgoodePD) is launching a new Certificate in Public-Private Partnership (P3) Law and Practice in Canada next month, with a new Professional LLM program in Construction Law set to launch in September 2024.

For more than a decade, OsgoodePD’s popular Certificate in Construction Law has offered professionals in the industry intensive, practical education on the legal issues impacting construction. Meanwhile, elective courses in construction law have been available to Professional LLM students in Osgoode’s Energy & Infrastructure Law and Business Law programs. Andrea Lee, a co-founding program director of the new Professional LLM in Construction Law alongside Osgoode Professor and Chartered Arbitrator Janet Walker, has witnessed an increased demand for legal expertise in her construction niche, in both her private practice and her role as an OsgoodePD instructor. She says the new LLM program will help relieve some of that pressure.

“There is certainly an appetite for more construction law courses, so it’s great that Osgoode is taking things to the next level,” Lee says. While lawyers who deal regularly with construction law issues or advise industry professionals are obvious candidates for the new program, Lee says it is also likely to appeal to lawyers looking to gain insight into construction law to complement their existing practice, or even transition into this area on a full-time basis.

Chris Bennett, one of three Chairs of OsgoodePD’s new Certificate in Public-Private Partnership (P3) Law and Practice in Canada, shares a similar sentiment regarding the new certificate program. The coming-of-age process for P3 projects has proven turbulent, he says, with many private-sector players struggling to get projects done within the rigid structure and risk-transfer profile of a traditional P3 model.

While traditional P3s continue to be used, the risk is too much for many, says Bennett, leaving public owners with a dwindling number of private-sector partners willing to bid on them. As a result, he says the public sector is increasingly open to new methods for delivering large and complex infrastructure projects, with innovative models emerging to reflect the changing market conditions.

“We’re entering a very evolutionary phase of P3, where different types of partnership are available, so we’re reassessing what risk allocation looks like, and testing new models,” Bennett says, adding that this makes the timing perfect for the launch of Osgoode’s new certificate.

“It’s all about keeping Canada on the leading edge of infrastructure globally,” says Bennett.

OsgoodePD’s Certificate in Public-Private Partnership (P3) Law and Practice in Canada is an open-enrolment course, accepting registrations now. Applications for Osgoode’s LLM in Construction Law open Oct. 1. Fill out this form to receive program updates.

To view additional construction and infrastructure offerings, visit the OsgoodePD website.

New this fall: cross-disciplinary certificate in children’s literature

Two people exchanging a stack of books

A new certificate program launching this fall through York University’s Department of Humanities answers a request from students to have their coursework in children’s literature recognized.

Students in the program, offered by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LAPS), will have the opportunity to complete a cross-disciplinary certificate in children’s literature while completing a major or minor degree in children, childhood and youth studies; humanities; or English.

Alison Halsall
Alison Halsall
Cheryl Cowdy
Cheryl Cowdy

“We offer a breadth of courses in children’s literature few other departments at York University or in Canada can match,” explains Alison Halsall, a professor in the Department of Humanities, who together with Professor Cheryl Cowdy led the development of this certificate. “Many students in the Children, Childhood & Youth (CCY) Program also complete courses in children’s literature administered by the departments of English at the Keele and Glendon campuses. All these courses have high student demand and enrolment.”

The undergraduate certificate will recognize and value the importance of children’s literature in the study of constructions of children, childhood and youth, says Cowdy. It will review many of the methodological approaches that have governed and continue to govern the literature intended for young people.

This cross-disciplinary certificate in children’s literature is designed to allow students to engage with texts in the field to examine how modes of representation shape perceptions of children and youth in the contemporary world.  

Students will take a total of 24 credits in courses reflecting the certificate’s specific humanities approach. Two of the core courses for this certificate ensure that students have the opportunity to work with materials that are part of the Children’s Literature collection housed in the Clara Thomas & Special Collections Archive in Scott Library.

In 2020, the CCY program launched a unique 3000-level research methods course in children’s literature scholarship, CCY 3998: The Child and the Book: Research Methods, and a 4000-level honours research project, CCY 4998, that makes use of the Scott Library collection while providing students with valuable experiential education opportunities and training in the distinctive methods of children’s literature research.

The certificate will be housed in the LA&PS faculty’s department of Humanities, administered by the CCY program, and offered as a concurrent option.

“This certificate will be particularly useful for students entering into the communication or media industries, education, advertising and the arts, as well as those interested in careers in children’s book publishing and library studies,” says Cowdy.

Those interested should contact Elena Selevko at lapsccy@yorku.ca and/or Alison Halsall at ahalsall@yorku.ca for more information.

New online workshop supports Black graduate student success

Woman laptop computer FEATURED

York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) is hosting its inaugural Fostering Black Scholars Scholarship Success Workshop for incoming and current graduate students on Monday, Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon. This online event aims to create a welcoming space to share experiences and resources and build peer-to-peer connections.

One of the goals of the workshop is to share new funding opportunities that support Black scholars, including the Bennett Family Graduate Scholarship for Black and Indigenous Students, as well as many other scholarships and awards. Attendees will learn how to complete award applications and leverage all the resources available at York, both internally and externally. Additionally, the workshop will provide attendees with resources and guides for developing successful grant proposals, writing reference letters for scholarship applications and making their applications stand out.

Students will also learn about the self-identification forms and questionnaires implemented by FGS. The optional self-identification questions in award applications are important to determine eligibility for funding opportunities targeting specific equity-deserving groups and to implement funding equalization measures. Students can include relevant information in the Special Circumstances form on their applications to explain any personal circumstances (including gender, race, diversity, ability, sexuality, health disparities, educational access etc.) that have played a role in shaping their path, to allow for a fair assessment of their research productivity.

The workshop will feature talks from seasoned Black faculty members, including: Professor Andrea Davis, Department of Humanities; Professor Jude Dzevela Kong, Department of Mathematics & Statistics; and Professor Tokunbo Ojo, FGS associate dean of students.

Attendees will also hear from a panel of graduate scholars who hold prestigious awards, including: Joseph Agyapong, a PhD student in mechanical engineering and a 2023 Susan Mann Dissertation Awardee; Balikisu Osman, a PhD student in environmental studies and a 2020 Vanier Scholar; and Danielle Washington, a PhD student in nursing and a 2023 Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Program awardee. The panellists will answer questions and speak about their personal experiences, scholarship successes and how to make the most of available resources.

This online event is hosted by the FGS Scholarships & Awards team, led by Richolette Freckleton, associate director of research, scholarships and awards. York University faculty and staff are encouraged to share event details with their incoming and current graduate students. For more information and to register, visit: tinyurl.com/572pp67v.

Faculty of Science sees record growth in experiential education

Diverse students working together

Over 2022-23, the Faculty of Science’s experiential education (EE) program has seen record growth, with co-op applications increasing by 180 per cent and internship applications increasing nearly 140 per cent over the previous year. As well, this summer, 110 student opportunities were posted by 21 employers.

“Much of the growth has been due to the efforts of our EE staff and faculty members in establishing connections and proper channels for support and feedback, such as creating our EE Advisory Committee and connecting with the YU Experience Hub, Career Centre and YSpace. We also built a partnership with BioTalent,” said Michael Scheid, associate dean of students in the Faculty of Science.

EE opportunities through the Faculty allow students to deepen their learning and apply theories learned in the classroom to hands-on, paid work experiences. These opportunities consist of co-ops, which allow students to alternate between periods of work experiences and periods of study, and internships, which offer students, who have completed their third year, to start a work placement for four to 16 months before returning to school to finish their degree.

Three students share highlights of the program’s ability to provide a positive and excellent way to learn new technical and collaboration skills, to gain work experience and to expand professional networks.

Wania Khan

Wania Khan
Wania Khan

Biomedical science student Wania Khan is participating in a one-year internship at Sanofi, a health-care and pharmaceutical company, on the Bioprocess Research and Development team, where she is assisting with experiments as part of a vaccine research project.

“The most important learning skill I gained is dexterity, where I was able to take samples directly from fermenters using a syringe while also focusing on clamping and unclamping various tubes without contaminating the culture inside the fermenter promptly,” she said. “This experiential education opportunity has helped me gain new networks and friendships, i.e. working closely with scientists, technicians and other co-ops from different universities and educational backgrounds.”

Alexandria Nelson

Alexandria Nelson
Alexandria Nelson

Biomedical science student Alexandria Nelson is participating in a one-year co-op placement in the quality control stability department at Sanofi. Her responsibilities include handling and managing vaccine inventory and assisting with data analysis.

“So far, my placement has been helpful in understanding what the vaccine manufacturing process is like, which has been even more insightful considering the demand for vaccines throughout the pandemic,” said Nelson. “I’ve also enjoyed getting to know my co-workers and how their career paths have unfolded. I’ve learned that my journey may not be linear, but there will always be opportunities for growth in whatever I choose to pursue.”

Yibin Zheng

Yibin Zheng
Yibin Zheng

Statistics student Yibin Zheng is participating in a research internship in the Department of Applied Mathematics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. As a research intern, he is responsible for using the Bayesian statistics theory to work with R, a programming language, and help solve statistical problems.

“During this internship, I have enhanced my ability to collaborate with others as a team, such as organizing and distributing research chapters, and conducting discussions,” he said. “I believe this will be very helpful for my future career.”

Students can learn more about the Faculty of Science’s EE opportunities at yorku.ca/science/students/experiential-education.

Recognizing student influence: Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award winners

a man holding a trophy

Ariana Mah first knew she was going to attend York University’s Glendon College during a tour in high school. 

“I looked around and I decided, ‘This one is my first choice. This is what I’m going to do; this is where I’m going to be,’ ” says Mah, a fifth-year political science major. “It was that moment when I found out that I could have a community here. It’s like a second home.”  

Ariana Mah
Ariana Mah

Despite feeling apprehensive when starting at Glendon, Mah quickly became involved. She entered her first year as a Top Scholar and has since sat on several committees, including serving as the Chair of Glendon’s Student Caucus and as a member of the Faculty Council’s Committee on Academic Standards, Teaching and Learning, where she actively discusses policy planning and academic expectations with her professors and peers.

She has been an undergraduate representative for the Board of Governors since 2022, where she dedicates her time to a multitude of issues, including improving student well-being and advocating for increased diversity at York. Mah also progressed from a section editor of Glendon’s bilingual student newspaper, Pro Tem, to editor-in-chief. 

Her impact has not gone unnoticed. Mah, who also has a certificate in law and social thought, is one of 11 recipients of the Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award, which annually recognizes students whose leadership has contributed to the growth, development and vitality of the University. 

Now in its 11th year, the award was created in honour of Robert J. Tiffin, who served as York University’s vice-president, students, from 2005 to 2012. University members nominate individuals who demonstrate leadership and make valuable contributions to the York community. 

“I’m always impressed by the diversity of ways in which student leadership occurs at York,” says Tiffin. “The importance of active participation in the University, inside and outside the classroom, cannot be overstated. It is through this engagement that student leaders unlock their own potential and empower others to do the same, creating a ripple effect that extends beyond their time at York.” 

Mah is honoured by the nomination and recognition. 

“As a student leader, we don’t necessarily do the work we do for these awards, but it is always nice to be acknowledged for what we put forward,” she says. “Winning this award will encourage me in the coming year to continue to strive for the betterment of student life on campus and for better representation of students, especially undergraduate students.” 

This award recognizes students who have a wide impact on the York community. “We are all grateful for your pride in the institution and desire to be ambassadors for York,” says Yvette Munro, assistant vice-provost, student success. “Your work makes a difference and makes our institution – and, more importantly, the student experience – better.” 

Mah says her involvement at York has helped her find her voice and she is motivated to help other students find theirs as well. 

“The idea of the student voice inspires me and my work,” she says. “I know a lot of my peers are unsure about navigating student leadership or student governance – it’s kind of a scary thing to sit in rooms full of professors or University staff. I want to continue representing those that may not feel comfortable voicing their opinions, but also encourage others to try these things out, too.” 

When thinking ahead to the future, Mah has a few ideas. She says she is interested in eventually pursuing a master’s in journalism, focusing on learning more languages or working within legislature and policy. 

This year’s Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award recipients also include: 

Alita Gideon, master of science, kinesiology and health science: Gideon has served as a class representative and has mentored underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She has also served on the York Federation of Students, most recently as the vice-president, equity, commissioner, and her contributions as an undergraduate student mentor have had an impact on individual students, both within the Faculty of Health and across the University. 

Amireza Nikzadfar Goli, honours bachelor of science, kinesiology and health science: Goli was a founder of the Undergraduate Health Research Exploration Program (UHRE) and also helped to found and co-ordinate York University’s first-ever Conference of Undergraduate Health Research. He has also supported students as the Chair of the Student Advisory Committee and served as a student senator with the Faculty of Health. 

Ana Kraljević, bilingual honours bachelor of arts and bachelor of education: Kraljević has served as the president of Glendon’s Student Union. She has also represented the York community as a president’s ambassador and played a key role in the Glendon Tournament, a web-based initiative to help increase student engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Arman Sadr, bachelor of science, biomedical science: Sadr has been involved with Bethune College since his first year at York, most recently serving as the president of the Bethune College Council, where he represented and supported the growth of the community. Sadr has also served as the executive vice-president and vice-president, athletics, for the council. 

Christina Da Costa, honours specialized bachelor of arts, Indigenous studies: Da Costa has been actively involved with the Indigenous Student’s Association at York (ISAY). She has served as the president and has made various contributions to Indigenous life at York, including as an ISAY representative on the Indigenous Council of York and by planning and hosting the 20th and 21st All Nations Pow Wow.  

Kaye Trishia Canoy, honours bachelor of arts, psychology and linguistics: Canoy has served as both as the president of Calumet College Council and co-president of the Undergraduate Psychology Student Association. She is also the co-founder of Lingua Franca, an initiative that aims to support English as a second language students at York. 

Mohamed Elsayed Elghobashy, bachelor of science, kinesiology and health science: Elsayed Elghobashy has served as the president of the Kinesiology and Health Sciences Student Association and is a co-founder of the Undergraduate Health Research Exploration program. He has been involved in other leadership roles as a student senator, and has been equally active in supporting others in the community. 

Mustafa Abdulkadhim, honours bachelor of science, biomedical science: Abdulkadhim has served as a class representative for STEM courses and has been a member of the Science Student Caucus and volunteered as a research assistant for multiple labs. Abdulkadhim has also been a peer tutor with the Undergraduate Psychology Student Association and a member of the Committee on Examination and Academic Standards. 

Nathi Mbuso Zamisa, master of arts, social and political thought: Zamisa has served as the president of the York University Graduate Students’ Association. He has also served as the Chair of the York Community Housing Association and has been a representative on various committees, including the Advisory Council on Black Inclusion and the Student Representative Roundtable. 

Prabhjee Singh, honours bachelor of science, computer science: Singh has served as the Lassonde Student Government president, where he implemented new policies and organized multiple events. He has also actively participated in the Student Caucus and the Student Representative Roundtable, and has volunteered with York International. 

The recipients’ names will be added to the awards display wall in the Vari Hall Rotunda.

About the award

The Robert Tiffin Student Leadership Awards recognize students whose leadership has contributed to the growth, development and vitality of York University. Established in 2012, these awards are named after Robert Tiffin, who served as York University’s vice-president, students, for nine years. Through his strong leadership, dedication and integrity, Tiffin transformed his operation into one of the most professional student service organizations in the country, serving one of Canada’s largest student populations.

k2i receives $400K donation from 407 ETR

Two Female Students Building Machine In Science Robotics Or Engineering Class

York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering k2i (kindergarten to industry) academy will put a $400,000 donation from the 407 ETR towards programming that will help dismantle systemic barriers for underrepresented groups in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and prepare the next generation for careers in these fields.

The donation was announced at an on-campus event at the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, where leadership from Lassonde and 407 ETR were on hand to speak to the importance of the initiative and what this gift would mean for the programming offered through k2i.

“We launched the k2i academy three years ago with the idea of bringing STEM learning to life,” says Jane Goodyer, dean of Lassonde. “The k2i academy is a sandbox for innovation in STEM education, building a network of collaborative partners, committed to creating systemic change in our education system. With this gift, Lassonde will continue our work to increase equity, diversity and inclusion, and create a talent pipeline in STEM through job-ready training and innovative learning models.”

K2i academy Lisa Cole
Lisa Cole

The donation will be divided equally between two programs, administered by Lisa Cole, director of the k2i academy.

The first program, the 407 ETR Path2STEM Fund, will support a micro-credentialled Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program. SHSMs allow students to gain experiences and develop skills toward their high-school diploma in Ontario while focusing on a specific economic sector. The 407 ETR Path2STEM Fund will be used to create a series of innovative SHSM experiences in engineering and digital technologies. Geared toward diverse learners, the program will prepare students for innovative post-secondary programs and meaningful STEM careers.

407 ETR President and CEO Javier Tamargo says his organization is keen to invest in a highly skilled and diverse workforce that can meet the challenges of tomorrow.

“407 ETR is a company rooted in STEM. In fact, about half of our workforce is employed in a STEM-related position ranging from data analytics and IT to traffic and tolling. These professionals are integral to our business, and so is ensuring that our team is reflective of the vibrant communities we serve,” says Tamargo. “That starts with doing our part to help foster a diverse talent pool, which is why we’re so proud to support the Lassonde School and York University’s work to move more youth into the pipeline towards rewarding academic and professional careers in STEM.”

The second program, the 407 ETR Work Integrated Learning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Fund, will specifically be geared to help k2i expand its offerings to students underrepresented in STEM, including women, Black and Indigenous youth, and those from low-income communities. Since 2020, k2i has been offering paid summer work opportunities for students in grades 10, 11 and 12 while gaining school credit. The programming is done in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, York Region District School Board and Peel District School Board. Students receive 140 hours of paid work with an added opportunity to earn a high-school prerequisite credit for STEM pathways while learning skills in coding, design, electronics and more. This year’s on-campus program offered a unique Grade 12 English credit, rooting language and communication in hands-on science and engineering experiences.

Lassonde, 407 ETR, and k2i academy teams

Students are empowered to explore, question, wonder and discover through interactive learning experiences to strengthen skills in computational thinking, coding, electronics, engineering design, 3D modelling and creativity. Combining work and learning provides an innovative way for students to explore possibilities in STEM careers, connect with networks and mentors to launch their interests in post-secondary studies, gain experience in developing STEM skills, and strengthen professional skills in communication, collaboration and problem-solving.

“With this generous donation from 407 ETR, we will continue our journey of offering paid educational experiences to underrepresented students in environments that are dynamic, innovative and collaborative,” says Cole. “We’ve already reached 6,000-plus youth and offered more than 175,000 hours of learning, and we’re thrilled to be able to expand this work and hit our next milestones.”

407 ETR has been a supporter of the Lassonde School of Engineering and York for over a decade. In 2013, a donation was made to support the 407 ETR Learning Laboratory, home to pre-laboratory training, theory and application for a generation of civil engineering students.

Learn more at News @ York.

Professor’s book details care home labour exploitation

Exhausted nurse, doctor, medical practitioner sitting on care centre floor

By Joseph Burrell, communications officer, YFile

York University Distinguished Research Professor Emerita Pat Armstrong’s latest book, Unpaid Work in Nursing Homes: Flexible Boundaries (Policy Press, 2023), follows unpaid labourers in nursing homes across six wealthy countries, including Canada, and launches on July 18.

Pat Armstrong
Pat Armstrong

Armstrong, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, leads a team of international researchers who have, over a decade, produced a series of books identifying hazardous trends in health-care systems as well as “promising practices for making nursing home care as good as it can be.”

“You may assume that in nursing homes most of the labour is provided by staff paid and trained for the job. But you would be wrong, especially in Canada,” Armstrong says. “This book is about who does what kinds of unpaid work, under what conditions in nursing homes. By comparing the nature and conditions of this gendered work in different countries, the book shows that the boundaries between paid and unpaid work are flexible not only for families and volunteers, but also for paid staff and residents.”

This latest entry features the results of ethnographic studies carried out in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Norway, Sweden and Germany – each country among the most resource-rich in the world and employing an array of contrasting approaches to long-term care. The follow-up entry to Armstrong’s latest book, Care Homes in a Turbulent Era (2023), also launches in August.

For all of the cultural and practical differences in each country’s approach to delivering care, a common element throughout the team’s research was that many nursing homes were dependent on unpaid labour to varying degrees.

“One of the many things that stood out for us was the amount and range of labour undertaken without pay by families, volunteers, residents and even by staff otherwise paid for the work,” Armstrong explains. “However, the amounts and kinds of unpaid work varied significantly from country to country, indicating that such work is not inevitable.”

This breadth of unremitted work, particularly the work carried out by staff who were paid in some circumstances but not in others, gave rise to the “flexible boundaries” referred to in the book’s title. Although Armstrong emphasizes that these inequities have existed in nursing homes around the world for many years – a fact demonstrated throughout the nearly 30 books that she’s published on the topic since the 1980s – she also points to the COVID-19 pandemic as a recent force stressing the limits of the workforce and illuminating the severity of workers’ situations.

Unpaid Work In Nursing Homes: Flexible Boundaries by Pat Armstrong
Unpaid Work In Nursing Homes: Flexible Boundaries (2023) by Pat Armstrong

As homes were quarantined and family members barred from entering, the dependence on unpaid labour became apparent to the public. But even in light of COVID-19’s global repercussions, some countries proved better equipped to handle the health crisis in nursing homes than others.

“Staffing levels are much higher in Norway and Sweden,” she says. “The ownership of care homes also differs significantly. Norway especially has very few for-profit homes while in Ontario, nearly 60 per cent are for-profit. A poll in Sweden found that a majority would like to enter a nursing home if they needed help with two or more issues, while 90 per cent of those polled in Canada say they don’t want to go into a nursing home at all.”

Noting the similarities in age demographics as well as illness prevalence across all of the countries, Armstrong suggests that differences in health outcomes and perception of nursing homes are owed to “differences in both the quality of care and values.”

Despite their comparative successes, Armstrong cautions that countries like Norway and Sweden shouldn’t rest on their laurels. According to her research, each country shares the common issue of overworking majority-female labour forces and increasingly depending on immigrants from lower-income countries to fill jobs seen as undesirable, making the problem of exploitation one that intersects with sexism, racism and classism.

“Staff members talk about lying awake at night worrying about not having had the time to help Mrs. Jones eat her dinner, to help Mr. Banerjee walk down the hall, or to comfort a daughter when her mother died, even though these staff members came in early and stayed late,” Armstrong says.

A key takeaway throughout all of Armstrong’s work is the variety of solutions applicable to these problems. Such health-care crises are mitigated not just by training more medical professionals, but by educating citizens in effective policy, like increasing public investment in long-term care facilities.

“Long before the pandemic, research had shown that for-profit care homes had the lowest staffing levels, lowest pay and lowest quality of care,” she explains. “Attending to the conditions of work is essential to… responding to the individual needs of residents. The conditions of work are the conditions of care.”

Unpaid Work in Nursing Homes: Flexible Boundaries is available for purchase in paperback format, or for free download as an e-publication, through Policy Press.

Professor’s new book redefines girlhood during Medieval, Renaissance era

Black woman reading book

Author and Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Professor Deanne Williams investigates the overlooked roles of girls in theatre – and performing arts in general – from the 10th through 17th centuries in her new book Girl Culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Performance and Pedagogy (Bloomsbury, 2023).

Williams’ research cites eyewitness testimony, stage directions, paintings and even records of payment to explore girls’ appearance in dramatic performances, as well as their contributions to writing and translating plays, singing, dancing and performing music. While previous histories of the actress have begun with the Restoration in 1660, this book charts this history all the way back to the Middle Ages.

Deanne Williams
Deanne Williams

Through its close analysis of plays from this time frame, as well as the broader cultural environments that produced them, Girl Culture demonstrates that girls were active and influential participants in dramatic culture, rather than passive observers.

“Girls have occupied a marginal role in theatre and cultural history, because of the assumption that performance was largely restricted to boys and men,” Williams explains. “But Girl Culture shows that they played an important role in medieval religious drama, Tudor pageants and royal entries, Elizabethan entertainments, and the Stuart court and household masque.

“My research shows that girlhood was a time of comparatively greater freedom for girls. Performing parts at home or in the schoolroom was a significant part of their education and they participated also in religious as well as civic performances. This book reveals medieval and early modern girlhood as a time of tremendous creativity and intellectual development,” she adds, before girls were “restricted by the expectations placed upon married women to run households and bear children.”

For over twenty years, Williams has devoted herself to research and redefining medieval and early modern girlhood. Her work includes staging readings of Jane Lumley’s Iphigeneia, the first-ever translation of the Greek drama into English, as well as Elizabeth Cary’s Tragedy of Mariam, the first female-authored original play (published in 1613), with Tom Bishop of the University of Auckland. With John Edwards, artistic director of the Musicians in Ordinary, she produced a podcast recording of Milton’s Comus and they are currently working with noted stage director Paul Hopkins on a film production of Elizabeth Brackley and Jane Cavendish’s play, The Concealed Fancies. With her colleague Bernice Neal and research assistant Asra Khonsari, Williams is also putting the finishing touches on a database called the Girls on Early English Stages (GEES) Project.

Girl Culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Girl Culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Performance and Pedagogy (2023) by Deanne Williams

Williams has also explored how even Shakespeare, whose plays were performed on an all-male stage, was influenced by girl culture and the participation of girls in the public sphere. In her previous study, Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood (2014), Williams devotes “entire chapters to Ophelia and Juliet, as well as to lesser-known girl characters, such as the Queen in Richard II.

In [that] book, I argue that girl characters are key to Shakespeare’s plays, and that Shakespeare’s ideas about girlhood developed over the course of his career and shaped our own ideas about girlhood today,” Williams says. “My new book, Girl Culture, takes a very different approach. Rather than exploring the influence of Shakespeare on girlhood, it locates the influence of girls on Shakespeare, whose lived experience of the girl actor, and girls’ significant cultural presence, shaped his conceptualization of girl characters such as Juliet, Rosalind and Celia in As You Like It, Marina in Pericles, and Emilia and the Jailer’s daughter in Shakespeare and Fletcher’s Two Noble Kinsmen.”

Among many other examples Williams hopes readers will be pleasantly surprised by, she highlights Anne Boleyn – whose life was marred by tragedy – as being a far more literary person than sordid histories tend to let on.

“[Boleyn’s] reputation was tarnished by Henry VIII, but her girlhood was bookish, pious and extremely musical,” she says. “I also think readers will be astonished to learn about Hrotswitha of Gandersheim, who wrote six Latin plays to match those of Latin comic playwright, Terence, in order to educate the girls of Gandersheim Abbey. I think she was horrified by what she found in Terence and wanted to provide her girl readers – and actors – with better role models.”

In her graduate and undergraduate teaching, Williams always seizes the chance to share the updated history that’s uncovered in Girl Culture and bring to light the seldom discussed influence on the arts by girls of a bygone era.

York to collaborate with Commonwealth universities to address global inequalities

Students stand outside of Vari Hall on York's Keele Campus

York University will host a full day symposium on July 19 together with The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) to explore the important role of higher education in addressing global inequalities. 

ACU is a convenor of a community of higher education institutions from across the Commonwealth and provides opportunities for learning, collaboration and knowledge sharing. In addition, attendees will learn more about the ACU’s regional strategic priorities and its work and impact in Canada, and internationally. 

The 2023 symposium will bring together ACU members and prospective members to discuss distinct and shared challenges in addressing global inequalities, and learn how international collaboration can support these efforts. 

The day’s agenda of panel discussions, keynotes and a fireside chat will align with the symposium’s theme “Tackling inequality within – and through – higher education” and will feature York University faculty and senior leadership.  

The program will bring universities together to discuss topics of common relevance, such as access and inclusion, decolonization of higher education and social impact. 


10:45 to 11:45 a.m. – Panel 1: From rhetoric to reality: universities’ role in addressing systemic inequalities 
How can universities help to overcome deep-rooted structural inequalities in wider society? 
Chair: Joanna Newman (Secretary General and Chief Executive, The Association of Commonwealth Universities) 
Panellists: Mark Green (Queen’s University, Canada); Qui Alexander (University of Toronto, Canada); Jennifer Brennan (Mastercard Foundation); Andrea Davis (York University, Canada); James Orbinski (York University, Canada); and Mai Yasue (University of British Columbia, Canada) 

1 to 1:45 p.m. – Fireside Chat: What role does international collaboration in higher education play in helping to promote more equal universities and societies? 
International collaboration in higher education is key to meeting all 17 SDGs, but how can it help address inequality in particular? Is “inclusion” just an issue for individual institutions or does it have an international element? 
Chair: Cheryl de la Rey (vice-chancellor, University of Canterbury, New Zealand and ACU Chair of Council) 
In conversation with: Rhonda Lenton (York University president and ACU executive committee member) 

2 to 3 p.m. – Panel 2: Promoting equity in international partnerships and research 
Chair: David Phipps (assistant vice-president, research strategy and impact, York University; director, Research Impact Canada; ACU supporting research community Chair) 
Panellists: Sandeep Sancheti (vice-chancellor at Marwadi University, India); C Raj Kumar (vice-chancellor at O.P. Jindal Global University, India); and Barnabas Nawangwe (vice-chancellor at Makerere University, Uganda) 

Further information about the ACU symposium can be found here.

Schulich student wins Vector Institute AI scholarship


Darren Singh, a candidate for the Master of Management in Artificial Intelligence (MMAI) at York University’s Schulich School of Business, was named a winner of this year’s Vector Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence (VSAI).

Darren Singh
Darren Singh

Valued at $17,500, the merit-based VSAIs are bestowed upon top candidates pursuing studies in either Vector-recognized master’s programs, which provide students with the AI skills and competencies sought by employers, or individual AI study paths in Ontario.

“The Vector Scholarship allows me to have peace of mind while pursuing my MMAI and serves as a reminder that hard work does pay off,” said Singh. “The countless late nights that I had spent studying, working on assignments and programming during my undergraduate degree in astrophysics and computer science at York University played a large role in me receiving this award.”

Singh says the scholarship will allow him to focus more on his studies and less on funding his education. He is also looking forward to familiarizing himself with Vector Institute’s vast network which will accelerate his learning and education in AI.

“The MMAI, being a 12-month professional degree related to artificial intelligence, allows me to obtain a graduate degree without needing to remain entirely in academia,” says Singh. “The Artificial Intelligence Consulting Project (AICP) that is part of the degree will enable me to obtain relevant work experience before I graduate and enter the workforce.”

Scholarship recipients become part of the Vector Institute’s community of renowned researchers, major Canadian companies and AI startups solving high-impact problems. Recipients receive support for their education, and affiliation with Vector can open high-quality career options through Vector’s networking and career events, Digital Talent Hub and professional development programming.