York ranks among top universities making global impact for positive change 

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings banner

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile editor

York University continues to stand out as a global leader in building a more just and sustainable future by driving positive change through the shared vision and collective actions of its faculty, course directors, staff, students, alumni and community partners.

The University is positioned among the world’s top 40 universities for advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings which measure how more than 1,500 universities work to address the most complex and compelling societal issues of our time.

The results of the rankings – the only global report of its kind – recognize York’s interdisciplinary research and innovation strengths in sustainability, inclusivity and equity that have earned the University placing in the top three per cent of universities in the world overall.

Work to advance the SDGs is rooted in the University Academic Plan as reflected in York’s vision to provide a broad demographic of students with access to high-quality education at a research-intensive University that is committed to enhancing the well-being of the communities it serves.

“York University continues to be recognized worldwide for its leadership in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. York’s top 40 ranking is a testament to the ongoing commitment of our faculty, staff, students and instructors who have taken up the challenge outlined in our University Academic Plan to strengthen our impact,” says President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. “I am grateful to the entire York community for driving positive change and building a better future for everyone.”

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings considers factors such as research, stewardship, outreach and teaching to determine the rank for each institution. York’s position in the rankings speaks to its strong global standings in the SDGs, with nine of 17 ranked in the top 100. Learn more about the rankings here.

York’s commitment to answering the call to right the future reflects the dedication of faculty, instructors, staff, students and alumni to research, academic pursuits and campus initiatives that advance more inclusive, equitable and sustainable communities.

York community members are encouraged to update their email signatures with the latest rankings and see other ways to amplify this achievement by using this toolkit.

Dahdaleh Institute awards annual seed grants


Following its fourth annual Workshop on Critical Social Science Perspectives in Global Health Research, York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research awarded five researchers $5,000 seed grants to further develop grant proposals and research programs to carry out critical global health research.

All winners of the grants this year embody the critical social science perspectives in global health research that is representative of Dahdaleh’s three research themes: planetary health, global health and humanitarianism, as well as global health foresighting.

The recipients – largely representing the School of Global Health – and their projects are:

Syed Imran Ali, research Fellow in global health and humanitarianism, and Stephanie Gora, assistant professor in civil engineering, will explore community-based participatory water quality monitoring for safe water optimization in the Canadian North.

Chloe Clifford Astbury, postdoctoral researcher in the School of Global Health, will pursue mining, health and environmental change by using systems mapping to understand relationships in complex systems.

Godfred Boateng, assistant professor, director of the Global and Environmental Health Lab, and faculty Fellow at the Dahdaleh Institute, is studying Black anxiety with an exploratory and intervention look at Black families with children in and out of the criminal justice system in Canada.

Ahmad Firas Khalid, faculty Fellow in the Faculty of Health, will use experiential simulation-based learning to increase students’ ability to analyze increasingly complex global health challenges through a mixed methods study.

Gerson Luiz Scheidweiler Ferreira, a postdoctoral Fellow at Dahdaleh will examine how to break barriers to sexual and reproductive health by empowering Venezuelan refugee women in Brazil’s resettlement process.

2023 Critical Perspectives in Global Health Research banner

In keeping with the overall mission of Dahdaleh’s Critical Perspectives in Global Health’s (CPGH), these projects will seek to create greater effectiveness, equity and excellence in global health. The recipients of the seed grant share that in common with many of the projects presented at the Global Health Research Workshop earlier this year, which highlighted research looking at a broad range of issues.

Those included:

  • medical waste management practices in Accra, Ghana since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, presented by Jeffrey Squire, faculty member in the Department of Social Science;
  • the role of social media and how negative sentiments or misinformation contributes to vaccine hesitancy, presented by Blessing Ogbuokiri, postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics;
  • health-care inequity in post-slavery societies with a specific focus on Quilombolas populations, presented by Simone Bohn, associate professor in Department of Politics;
  • misoprostol and its use in providing reproductive health care during humanitarian emergencies, presented by Maggie MacDonald, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Anthropology; and
  • Indigenous Williche peoples acts of ecological repair and how it contributes to planetary health in the past, present and future, presented by Pablo Aránguiz, associate researcher with Young Lives Research Lab at York.

Watch a full recording of the workshop here.

For more information about CPGH, visit its project page.

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Next Generation Lecture Series focuses on Reckonings & Re-Imaginings

Scott Library Atrium

By Elaine Smith

A new lecture series that lines up with the Congress 2023 theme Reckonings & Re-Imaginings is set to feature four thought-provoking talks from early career, pre-tenure researchers at York.

Assistant Professors – Desirée de Jesus of communication & media studies; Kinnon MacKinnon of the School of Social Work; Yvonne Su of equity studies; and Cary Wu of sociology – will each spend four to six minutes showcasing their work on a digital kiosk in the Scott Library.

“These are snapshots,” said Ravi de Costa, LA&PS associate dean, research & graduate studies. “Each researcher’s video features one particular story from their work and offers a window into their larger research program, representing their field, and the methods and questions they ask.

“And when you take all four together, even though they are addressing different subjects, it shows what we mean when we say York is committed to social justice, to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

Research by de Jesus focuses on how Black Canadian girls develop a sense of cultural belonging; MacKinnon draws attention to the growing phenomenon of gender detransition and what that means in terms of our understanding of gender and care. Su explores the challenges, such as homophobia and gender violence, that LGBTQ+ asylum seekers experience in the Global South, while Wu considers how high inflation is a critical determinant of health and health inequality.

There will also be a visible QR code within the kiosk display that takes viewers to a website featuring more in-depth information about the faculty members’ individual research.

“York has such creative depth and expertise in the social sciences and humanities, so this is a moment of celebration and recognition,” de Costa said. “The call for community programming for Congress 2023 is a wonderful opportunity to make these strengths more visible.”

Victoria Stacey, LA&PS senior communications specialist, has been involved in producing the videos and is enthusiastic about the finished products.

“Each researcher makes a complex topic extremely accessible,” she said. “They have demonstrated how research can be explained well.”

De Costa noted that it’s essential to understand that the insights of scholarly research can be valuable not just to academics but to everyone. “We need to communicate our work in different ways, in the places and forms that people live and work and congregate.”

York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2Register here to attend, community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.

Congress 2023 screens Indigenous-focused films

film camera

By Elaine Smith

A group of female directors will bring their Indigenous-focused films to York’s Keele Campus during Congress 2023 in late May.

Both conference attendees and the general public will have the opportunity to see the works of Ange Loft, Martha Stiegman, Angele Alook and Paulette Moore free of charge as part of the conference’s community programming. They touch on a variety of issues and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including reduced inequalities, life on land and gender equality.

Loft, a multidisciplinary artist, and Stiegman, an associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), are part of Jumblies Theatre & Arts’ Talking Treaties project which is produced By These Presents: “Purchasing” Toronto and screens on May 28. The piece was created to explore the treaty negotiations between the colonizing British and the Mississaugas of the Credit, for the land the City of Toronto now occupies. Afterward, Amar Bhatia, co-director of Osgoode Hall’s Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments, will facilitate a discussion with members of the creative team.

“Using archival records and minutes of the treaty negotiations, we see the underhanded calculus and fraudulent means used to acquire Mississauga lands,” says Stiegman. “It [the film] uses sardonic humour as sugar on the medicine of truth to draw people in and engage them in a different way of learning about history so they don’t feel like they are doing homework.”

Alook, assistant professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies brings her work, pîkopayin (It Is Broken), to the screen on May 27. Part of the Just Powers project on energy transition and environmental and social justice, the film looks at the impacts of resource extraction on the community of Bigstone Cree Nation in Alberta, Alook’s home territory, which sits amidst the oil sands in the boreal forest. It documents traditional land users’ practices such as hunting, harvesting, and land-based teaching, while talking to the residents about their visions of the future on these lands.

The final films, VeRONAka and Rahyne, screen on June 1 and are followed by a panel discussion moderated by director Paulette Moore, an EUC PhD student, filmmaker and owner of The Aunties Dandelion media organization. VeRONAka is a 10-minute live-action fictional film, both humorous and serious, that explores the true story of how a Mohawk clan mother gave COVID-19 a Mohawk name, personifying the out-of-control virus. Once a person is in relationship with the virus, they can understand why it is here and ask it to leave. Rahyne is a short, animated film about an Afro-Indigenous non-binary teen whose identity is united through two water spirits. Moore will talk with Rahyne’s co-directors Queen Kukoyi and Nico Taylor about how film can help explore concepts of identity and naming. 

York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2. Register here to attend; community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.

Faculty of Health targets anxiety with support from Beneva

York researcher Lora Appel demonstrates a VR headset during a recent TO Health gathering

Four innovative and community-focused Faculty of Health studies will shed new light on anxiety, thanks to an investment in York University mental health researchers by Beneva, the largest mutual insurance company in Canada.

The $200,000 Anxiety Research Fund, powered by Beneva, aims to enhance assessment and treatment supports for individuals coping with anxiety – a debilitating and frequently hidden affliction experienced by one in five Canadians.

“Anxiety prevention is the main focus that guides Beneva’s social and philanthropic action nationwide,” notes Beneva President and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Francois Chalifoux. “We are proud to have teamed up with York University to create the Anxiety Research Fund, dedicated entirely to accelerating research which will have an immediate and positive impact on the community, bringing new insight and change around this important issue.”

“York’s partnership with Beneva will have lasting benefits, not only for individuals struggling with anxiety, but for society as a whole,” says Faculty of Health Dean David Peters. “Through strategic collaboration with their community partners on these projects, our researchers will ensure their findings are used to address one of the most critical mental health issues today: anxiety.”

Four projects were selected for funding through a competitive application process led by the Faculty of Health Research Office.

Exposure Therapy Using Virtual Reality
Lora Appel (image: Sophie Kirk)
Lora Appel (image: Sophie Kirk)

With her team in York’s PrescribingVRx lab, School of Health Policy & Management Professor Lora Appel is using virtual reality technology to pilot an Exposure Therapy program focused on anxiety experienced by people with epilepsy. Project participants have identified common anxiety-provoking themes, which will be recreated virtually into 360-degree videos.

After conducting randomized trials in a controlled environment at Toronto Western Hospital, the study will move into the community (recruiting through Epilepsy Toronto), where therapy can be administered in people’s homes. While the results are expected to have a direct impact on people with epilepsy, the researchers also envision applications to others who suffer from anxiety.

Retooling Black Youth Anxiety
Godfred Boateng

Headed by School of Global Health Professor Godfred Boateng, who is director, Global & Environmental Health Lab and Faculty Fellow, Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, this project will address anxiety and mental health issues of Black youth and their families, resulting from encounters with the criminal justice system and the child welfare system.

Partnerships with the Ghana Union of Canada (GUC) and Gashanti Unity (GU) will play a critical role in implementing this project to their communities. Researchers will recruit participants, identify key needs and work with clinical professionals to provide interventions. An online resource centre and sensitization programs aimed at improving the mental well-being of Black individuals and Black families will be created.

Reducing Anxiety About HPV Tests
Catriona Buick
Catriona Buick

A School of Nursing project led by Professor Catriona Buick focuses on anxiety that is anticipated in response to upcoming revisions to Ontario’s Cervical Screening Guidelines. In other countries, anxiety has been minimized by introducing evidence-based communications with patients around Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer.

The project will assess whether an infographic education intervention about primary HPV testing can decrease anxiety and increase understanding and acceptance of the upcoming changes to existing screening guidelines. The intent is to manage anxiety, dispel myths and misconceptions, normalize HPV, and improve acceptance of primary HPV testing for routine cervical cancer screening.

Decision-making in a Global Health Crisis
Shayna Rosenbaum
Shayna Rosenbaum

This project will investigate how mental health issues can interfere with people’s compliance with important public health measures – such as mask wearing and vaccination – during a global pandemic. The team, led by Department of Psychology Professor Shayna Rosenbaum, studies “delay discounting” (undervaluing or discounting future benefits when making health decisions).

The researchers will seek methods to reduce anxiety and optimize decision-making during global crises. Their findings will inform action by the Public Health Agency of Canada on the wider impact of COVID-19 and which sectors of society to target through technical briefing.

Thanks to Beneva, the Anxiety Research Fund in the Faculty of Health aims to support critical, community-focused projects to better identify, manage and help reduce the manifestations of anxiety.

Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion launches new REDDI series

Equity, diversity, inclusion

In view of the upcoming launch of York University’s Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Strategy, the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (REI) is offering a curated list of summer REDDI sessions, covering a wide range of topics to ensure University community members are prepared to address systemic inequities.

In furthering the goals of the York University Academic Plan and the DEDI Strategy, the Rights, Equity, Diversity, Decolonization & Inclusion (REDDI) certificate workshop sessions are designed to provide opportunities for community members to learn, reflect upon and discuss ways to contribute to an equitable academic environment. Each session will run for approximately 90 minutes and will be offered virtually, to facilitate the attendance of participants on and off campus.

All students, staff and faculty are invited to attend REDDI workshops running from the beginning of June to mid-August. The series will kick off Pride month with a session on building positive spaces on campus and in the workplace. Sessions on bias, microaggressions, organizational change and employment equity will be offered for those interested in completing a full-length certificate, and the popular mini-series workshops will also be offered, which cover topics including challenging ableism, addressing racism and dialogues across difference. The series also features a new French session on ableism called “Démanteler le capacitisme : Briser les barrières à l’accès et l’inclusion.”

Participants who complete three full-length workshops will receive a REDDI series certificate. The 2023 summer workshops are also an opportunity for participants to attend and add on to their requirements for the REDDI mini-series certificates.

REDDI mini-series workshops also offer certificates of completion. For certificates to be awarded following a mini-series, three mini-series workshops plus one full-length workshop must be attended.

Registration for these workshops is required and can be accessed through the YULearn Learning Opportunities website. To learn more about York’s new DEDI strategy, click here.

How non-native English accents undermine women at work

Group of women professionals posed boldly in office setting, stock image

New research from professors at York University’s Schulich School of Business shows that women with non-native accents often get pushed into traditionally feminine jobs with lower pay and prestige, even when sufficiently qualified.

The findings are contained in an article published recently in the Psychology of Women Quarterly. The article titled “Women With Mandarin Accent in the Canadian English-Speaking Hiring Context: Can Evaluations of Warmth Undermine Gender Equity?” was co-authored by Ivona Hideg, associate professor and Ann Brown Chair in Organization Studies, and Winny Shen, associate professor of organization studies, both at Schulich, together with Samantha Hancock, an assistant professor in the DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies at Western University.

Ivona Hideg and Winny Shen

Past research has broadly found that people with non-native accents are seen as less competent, but this research has generally been focused on men with non-native accents. Hideg, Hancock and Shen wanted to specifically examine whether women’s experiences in speaking with a non-native accent, and the bias they face, diverge from the prior documented experiences of men.

The team noted that a lack of consideration of women’s unique experiences at work mirrors broader trends in the natural and social sciences, where men are often perceived as the default or standard among research participants.

“Our findings indicate that women with a non-native accent associated with a more gender-traditional country face subtle biases that are difficult to recognize as bias and hence difficult to address,” says Hideg.

“Although on the surface it may seem that women with non-native accents experience advantages in hiring due to perceptions of warmth, our research shows that they are likely to be stereotyped and funneled into less prestigious positions,” she adds.

York professors lead Queer Comics Symposium

coloured pencils sketch cartoon

Building upon the work of the just-published and Lambda Literary Award nominated publication, The LGBTQ+ Comics Studies Reader: Critical Openings, Future Directions (University Press of Mississippi, 2022), York University Professors Alison Halsall and Jonathan Warren will host a Queer Comics Symposium on Friday, April 28.

This event, presented by York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the Departments of English and Humanities, will focus on transdisciplinary and international LGBTQ+ comics scholarship and creativity. Taking advantage of the appearance of the Reader as a field-defining publication, organizers say the symposium will mobilize the specific kinds of knowledge that it showcases: putting scholars in conversation with creators, providing a forum for the work of thinkers at different stages of their careers, and featuring a diversity of analytical approaches with the aim of generating further contributions to the field.

The day begins at noon, in Accolade Building East (room 005), with a plenary lecture given by Professor Michelle Ann Abate (Ohio State University), author of Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History (Temple University Press). She will discuss “Queering Conformity in Postwar America: The Li’l Tomboy Comic Book Series and Gender Rebellion in the 1950s.” Following this lecture will be a panel that features papers by Professor Lin Young (University of Calgary), Joti Bilkhu (York University), as well as Halsall and Warren.

The second session takes place at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St., Toronto) at 6 p.m. It will feature a public address given by Professor Justin Hall (California College of the Arts), cartoonist and editor of No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics (Fantagraphics). This lecture will be followed by the first Canadian screening of the award-winning documentary, No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics (Compadre Media, 2021), directed by Vivian Kleiman.

The Queer Comics Symposium will feature contributions from established and upcoming scholars in the field, as well as comics creators and students, at an event that is committed to inspiring and diversifying conversations about LGBTQ+ sequential art and its production around the world.

Via slideshow presentations and a book display, there will also be a presentation of a creative curation of queer comics art.

All are welcome to attend.

York innovation hub receives $3M to support women entrepreneurs

Group of diverse women entrepreneurs

ELLA, run by the University’s innovation hub, YSpace, has received $3 million from a federal government program called Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) to expand support for woman entrepreneurs across the country.

ELLA was created in 2019, with previous funding from WES, as an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs working in areas like tech, retail and food and beverage. It is Ontario’s first accelerator for women-led products and service-based businesses with programs designed to support women entrepreneurs in all stages of the business development process.

Since its creation, ELLA’s programming has supported 167 women, and its ventures have generated $15.9 million in revenue, raised $7.6 million in funding and created 121 jobs. It has also been a critical tool to boost women entrepreneurs during a difficult time. “According to the latest Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) report, service-based women-owned businesses were hit the hardest throughout the pandemic,” said David Kwok, associate director of entrepreneurship at YSpace, adding that ELLA was created to address such challenges.

Until now, ELLA’s focus has been provincial, but the new $3-million funding from WES – announced on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023 – will enable ELLA to expand its services across Canada. ELLA will now have three national programs supporting women across the country, which include:

  • ELLA Express: A self-paced program designed to equip participants with the knowledge and tools to launch or grow their business;
  • ELLA Ascend: Support early-stage businesses in establishing their business infrastructures and setting up to scale; and
  • ELLA Altitude: Support national and international scale-ups with access to mentorship and our proven fractional executive model to overcome major business challenges.

These programs and the funding initiative aim to provide access to women entrepreneurs in areas such as financing, resources, networks and more to support their businesses and help remove systemic barriers.

YSpace ELLA parcipants
ELLA program participants with YSpace staff

ELLA has a track record of supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs and those who may not traditionally have access to similar programming. 77 per cent of the women supported by ELLA are at the intersection of more than one underrepresented group, and 66 per cent of participants indicate that their involvement in ELLA was the first time they received support from an entrepreneurial program. This funding opportunity with WES enables ELLA to provide more opportunities for women-owned ventures that were previously not supported by existing programming to succeed in the economy.

“This funding from Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada and the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is not only a signal of confidence in the work we’ve done in the past three years, but the work that we can do to better support the community around us and create greater access,” said Assistant Vice-President of Innovation and Research Partnerships Jennifer MacLean.

“We are very excited to work with and create impact for women-identifying entrepreneurs across Canada over the next two years,” said Marlina Ramchandran, ELLA’s entrepreneurship manager. “We aim to exponentially increase the capacity of skills training by organizing topic specific workshops and foster an inclusive community of women-identifying startups by creating access to mentors and subject matter experts.”

Learn more about YSpace and ELLA here.

York alumnae earn recognition for leadership, innovation

Award stock image banner from pexels

Five York alumnae have been recognized for their leadership in driving impact, innovation and inspiration through their work and accomplishments in the Canadian tech industry and in the advancement of women as role models.

Included in the 2023 Top 25 Women of Influence, a list curated by the women advocacy and support organization Women of Influence+, are alumnae Kristin Beardsley (’00 BA) and Paulette Senior (’90 BA).

“York alumni are leaders in a wide array of fields, and are making a significant impact in Canada every single day,” says Susana Gajic-Bruyea, vice-president advancement. “We are very proud to count these remarkable women amongst our graduates, and applaud their dedication to creating positive change in their communities and across the country.”

The top 25 list “recognizes and celebrates the extraordinary accomplishments of self-identified women and gender-diverse role models” and acknowledges the work of women across diverse sectors and career stages.

Beardsley is the CEO of Food Banks Canada, and under her leadership more than 4,700 food banks and community agencies operate nationwide.

Senior is president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, where she works to build gender justice for women, girls and gender-diverse people. Senior recently delivered the prestigious Kitty Lundy Memorial Lecture at York.

DMZ’s 2023 Women of the Year, recognizing female trailblazers driving innovation in the Canadian tech industry, included three York alumnae: Hanna Zaidi (’12 BA), Kashmera Self (’99 BA); and Suzanne Knight (’11 MBA).

Zaidi is the chief compliance officer for payments at Wealthsimple, and under her leadership the company was one of the first securities dealers to get a membership to Payments Canada which allows access to infrastructure and tools for innovating financial services.

Self empowers Canadians with control of their finances and data in her role as vice-president, strategy and emerging solutions for Interac Corp. She continues to work to incorporate sustainability into the financial world and leverage Interac platforms to incentivise Ontarians with respect to climate change.

Knight is vice-president, transformation services at Walmart Canada, and in that role, drives innovative ways of thinking and working with respect to technology adoption and automation and improving the customer and employee experience.