Vaccination will be required for students living in York’s residences

Featured image shows students walking

As a return to York’s campuses is planned for this fall, the health and safety of the community continues to be top priority. With COVID-19 vaccines expected to be widely available over the summer months, members of the York community will be eligible to receive their first and second doses.

Vaccines play an important role in protecting people and those around them and as such, York University is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-22 academic year to be vaccinated. This requirement is supported by Toronto Public Health, as it is recognized that vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect those who come in contact with others, especially in shared spaces. Through this commitment to protecting health and safety, the goal is to help students return this Fall to the residence life experience they have come to know and expect.

This requirement is specific to students living in residence because of the close quarters shared and will not apply to students living off campus or in York University Apartments. Students who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or on grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code may request an exemption.

Students arriving from outside of Canada will be required to meet federal and provincial government quarantine requirements before moving into residence. The University will facilitate vaccines for all students who require them.

More details about this vaccine requirement are available in frequently asked questions on the Better Together website and will be shared directly with students who plan on living in residence this fall.

Please join the Town Hall on Thursday, June 17 at 3:15pm, for questions on this topic and the plans to safely return to York’s campuses this fall.

Wellness is top of mind for the Faculty of Graduate Studies

wellbeing at work
wellbeing at work
Harsh Doshi
Harsh Doshi

Harsh Doshi originally signed up for the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Certificate in Personal Wellness & Learning Skills as a way to meet people and stave off the gloom of winter in Toronto. He was surprised to discover how relevant it was to his life as a master’s degree student in human resources management.

“The stress of a graduate program can be real, although you don’t necessarily realize it,” Doshi said. “It’s only when you compare it to other times in your life that you become aware. We don’t discuss it in our classes, but when you see others who are experiencing the same thing, it makes you feel more normal.”

Alyssa Samuel
Alyssa Samuel

Alyssa Samuel, who is working toward her master’s degree in Canadian common law at Osgoode Hall Law School, has also become a champion of the certificate program. “I’ve always been a big advocate of personal wellness and self care,” said Samuel. “I know how stressful things can get. When I heard about the certificate in a newsletter, I wanted to get my mind back into those strategies, but I got way more than I expected.”

In a year filled with intense courses delivered online, Samuel really looked forward to the wellness sessions as a way to connect with others.

“It gave me a feeling of not being alone and it was wonderful to meet people going through the same struggles as I was,” she said. “It helped us validate ourselves and realize it was okay to feel like this; I am not judging myself as much as a result.”

The Certificate in Personal Wellness & Learning Skills is only one of a variety of wellness services offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS), where self-care is a decanal priority.

Thomas Loebel
Thomas Loebel

“The intense research focus of graduate school demands highly challenging, often rapid intellectual development, which can generate various pressures on students’ mental and physical well-being,” said Professor Thomas Loebel, dean of FGS and associate vice-president, graduate.

“In response, FGS has developed a suite of resources, accessible in individualized one-on-one and collaborative group formats, to help students alleviate those pressures. Our goal is hopefully yours, too: we want you to be able to enjoy this period of your self-development fully, to be energized and not enervated by it. Along the way, we seek to gather further recommendations from the community as we strive to develop a culture of care at York University.”

Sarah Irwin-Gardner, a registered psychotherapist, is the manager of graduate student wellness services for FGS and the co-developer of the wellness certificate. “FGS has recognized that mental health and well-being matter and affect academic pursuits,” Irwin-Gardner said. “It’s important and responsible for us to think about the particular needs of the graduate student community and help them thrive.”

Sarah Irwin-Gardner

The Faculty offers students a variety of resources and services designed to meet their needs. Many of them are health promotion- and prevention-oriented, such as the wellness webinars and workshops, and a resource hub that points students toward myriad services and resources, both on and off campus, that can assist with issues as diverse as accessibility and fitness. Students can also apply to a fund to help them create their own wellness initiatives.

“York is a large place, and offers great services,” Irwin-Gardner said. “Many areas contribute to overall student well-being.”

There are also intervention-focused services in the form of wellness consultations and short-term counselling. Irwin-Gardner is excited to be adding a full-time graduate student counsellor to the staff and welcoming a practicum student to help meet demand.

“Our team is growing,” she said.

Now that services are being delivered remotely, the FGS Certificate in Personal Wellness & Learning Skills may have the largest reach.

“When we ran the program in class, it was capped at 20 people to allow for sharing and group cohesion,” said Irwin-Gardner. “Now that we’re online, we have 100 participants. It speaks to the need for building connections during the pandemic, and it also removes scheduling barriers. We’ve had participants from around the world.”

Irwin-Gardner leads the program in partnership with Cathy Boyd-Withers, a learning skills specialist from Learning Skills Services who works with students at all levels to develop the learning skills needed for academic success in any discipline. These skills, such as time management and effective study strategies, help to alleviate academic stress and deadline pressure. The pair attended a 2017 presentation where they heard about a similar program for undergraduates at Ryerson University and decided to create a York FGS version that matched learning skills with well-being strategies.

Cathy Boyd-Withers
Cathy Boyd-Withers

“Wellness can impact learning and vice versa,” Irwin-Gardner said. “We wanted to provide a space to discuss these topics that are so important to graduate student life.”

They introduced the certificate in fall 2018. The learning skills portion of the program includes topics such as time management, procrastination, productivity and growth mindset. The wellness portion of the program looks at the dimensions of wellness and reminds students of tools and skills they may already have to help themselves. Irwin-Gardner also teaches relaxation skills, such as visualization, diaphragmatic breathing and mindfulness.

“We do a pre-survey so we can tailor the program to the group’s needs,” she said. “We encourage them to adopt or try out the things that sound interesting and abandon or leave those that don’t.

“The students receive the certificate based on attendance, not on performance. We want to keep it informal and provide students with an opportunity to meet people from other disciplines they might not encounter otherwise. The peer connections are foundational to this program.”

The enthusiasm of students such as Doshi and Samuel are evidence that the priority FGS places on wellness is valuable.

“It was something to look forward to,” said Samuel. “It gave me a feeling of not being alone and being able to talk about whatever was going on because we all had stress and struggles. And every session, I met someone new.”

Doshi agreed.

“I have only good things to say about the certificate,” he said. “It makes you feel that it’s OK not to be OK – that you need to accept that you’re human. I’m a little more mindful and accepting as a result.”

By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer, Innovatus

Libraries celebrate undergraduate changemakers at Research Fair and Art Walk

undergraduate research fair FEATURED
undergraduate research fair FEATURED

Nearly 40 posters and eight pieces of artwork from more than 60 students were highlighted at the ninth annual Undergraduate Research Fair and Art Walk, which took place online on March 10.

One of the most anticipated and uplifting events of the academic year, the Undergraduate Research Fair and Art Walk honours student researchers and provides them with an opportunity to share work that creates positive change. The annual celebration is co-sponsored by York University Libraries and the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

Remarks were also given by President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton and Vice President Research and Innovation Amir Asif, who joined organizers, participants, family, friends, members of the York University community and other attendees. The awards ceremony featured Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps, Faculty of Graduate Studies Dean Thomas Loebel and School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) Professor Norma Fisher-Stitt announcing winners.

The fair provides an experiential education opportunity for undergraduates to participate in the cycle of knowledge production and dissemination, and to advance work that tackles complex societal challenges. This year, students from the Keele and Glendon campuses, representing a diverse range of Faculties and disciplines, attended the virtual event and were eager to demonstrate their findings.

Joy Kirchner
Joy Kirchner

“We hope we’ve cultivated a space for multidisciplinary sharing, which is a hallmark of the Undergraduate Research Fair,” said Joy Kirchner, dean of Libraries, of the fair’s novel virtual format. “We wanted to provide experiential learning opportunities for all of our participants that were meaningful to the current context of remote learning.”

Fair participants received training on designing academic posters, as well as the opportunity to present and discuss key content, findings and research from their projects in five-minute presentations, followed by a Q-and-A, as part of interdisciplinary Zoom panels.

Students submitted projects advancing purposeful research in a range of topics, from politics, with Ayeda Khan’s “Western Medicine: Inroads for Colonialism and Neocolonial Suffocation of Indigenous Medicine,” to psychology, as demonstrated in “An Analysis of Extraversion, Competitiveness, and Humour” by Alexandra Markwell, Danika Wagner, Andreja Stajduhar and Lucas Norton, and geography, considered in Jonelle Waugh’s “Food Insecurity and Food Deserts in Toronto.”

Many students addressed social justice topics, such as Harmoni Watson, who submitted “The Consequences of Police Brutality on Psychological Well-Being and Collective Action,” and Moboluwajidide Joseph, whose project explored “Stolen People on Stolen Land.”

Some student researchers chose to focus on timely pandemic-related research, such as Dolunay Kocabag, who wrote about “Social Identity of Blindness and Its Impact on Well-being During the Pandemic,” and Promise Busulwa, whose paper was titled, “Coping During COVID: A Pilot Study on Social Support, Mental Health and the Internet.”

“It’s always so uplifting to hear your presentations,” Kirchner told this year’s participants. “York likes to teach our students to be global citizens. The fair is a clear demonstration of how this plays out in the classroom. So many of the presentations represented a global reach in one way or another. It really makes you feel proud to be part of the York community. I was thoroughly impressed.”

Awards were presented in seven different categories, with students taking home monetary prizes for Best Lower-Year and Upper-Year Project, Best Honours Thesis Project, Best Group Project, Art Walk Exhibit Award, Best Poster Presentation and the Libraries’ Information Literacy Award. Students voiced the importance of cash prizes, which were increased this year due to the unprecedented impact of the pandemic.

All presenters received an invitation to submit an article on their project, to be considered for publication in the refereed e-journal Review YOUR Review (York Online Undergraduate Research Review), published by York University Libraries and associated with the fair. The Art Walk award-winning submission will appear on the cover of the e-journal.

For more information on the Undergraduate Research Fair and Art Walk, visit the event’s website. Information about the next Undergraduate Research Fair will be available in December 2021.

This year’s award winners

Dr. James Wu Award for Best Lower-Year Project

  • 1st place: Dara Dillon – Anti-Black Racism is Endemic!
  • 2nd place: Meaghan Landry & Ryan Yacknovets – Hiring Discrimination Towards Transgender Nonbinary Job Applicants

Dr. James Wu Award for Best Upper-Year Project

  • 1st place: Catherine Morin-Mitchell – A Path Toward Mental Health Equity: Assessing Classic Literature as a Source of Racial Trauma in the Classroom
  • 2nd place: Manminder Singh – Information Diffusion, Environmental Degradation & Modernization: How COVID-19 Revealed Society’s Vulnerability to Disaster

Dr. James Wu Award for Best Honours Thesis Project

  • 1st place: Harmoni Watson – The Consequences of Police Brutality on Psychological Well-Being and Collective Action
  • 2nd place: Braxton Hartman – Atypical Brain Connectivity in Autism

Information Literacy Award

  • 1st place: Tiana Putric – Neuroweapons: The Future of Warfare
  • 2nd place: Claudia Dias Martins – Impact of Socioeconomic Status (SES) and Bilingualism on French Language Development in Early French Immersion

Best Group Project

  • 1st place: Vyjayanthi Janakiraman, Hailey Luong & Justin Chiu – Save-A-Bear
  • 2nd place: Yasmin Dini & Yanet Habtom – eHealth in the 21st Century: The Case of the Fitbit Versa 2

Art Walk Exhibit Award

  • 1st place: Asha Cabaca – Wild Apples (The Fruit of Labour)
  • 2nd place: Shifra Hetherington & Jaelyn Jones – Skinscape

Best Poster Presentation

  • 1st place: Hannah Santilli – Redesign the Ill-Defined: Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Implications of Low Socioeconomic Status
  • 2nd place: Ayeda Khan – Western Medicine: Inroads for Colonialism and Neocolonial Suffocation of Indigenous Medicine

Pandemic Relief Program for faculty and instructors opens the door to global learning

FEATURED image for faculty relief program

In February, the Provost’s Office announced new support for faculty members and contract course directors struggling with added pressures resulting from the pandemic in the Winter 2021 term. Funds from the Guest Lecturer Support Program were used to offer honoraria for visiting experts who shared new insights in classrooms as course directors were given a break.

Priority was given to tenure-stream faculty and contract course directors experiencing extraordinary challenges, as various lockdown and stay-at-home orders forced school closures, adding new demands on time for many educators.

The program was very well received overall, with some winter course instructors saying: “For me, this will greatly help ease the pressures of teaching with two small children during COVID.” Others expressed gratitude and thanks “for the University’s timely support. It helps me in a time of need while also providing students with a great learning opportunity.”

Others commented on how the program helped them meet the challenges of going remote, saying: “This program is so welcome and is definitely helping me with carrying the teaching load online.”

Overall, the program resulted in more than 100 guest lectureships across more than 35 programs in eight Faculties. Due to its success, there are plans to make it available again in the Summer 2021 Term and for those who are interested, more details and a request form can be accessed here.

Bringing the world to York virtually during the pandemic

In the Winter 2021 Term rollout, a wide range of guests were invited to engage with York undergraduate and graduate students. These included lecturers and visiting scholars from 20 universities in five different countries, including:

  • Scholars from: Harvard, SUNY, American University of Beirut, University of San Francisco, Duke, Western, Carleton, National University of Mexico, Indiana University, Seattle Pacific University, Columbia, University of Bergamo, Ottawa, OCAD, University of Toronto, Tufts, University of Texas, Memorial, University of Saskatchewan, Massey University, Ryerson, UTM and Oregon State.
  • Artists from: Sketch Working Arts, Randolph College for the Performing Arts, Activist Music, and Illumine Running Production, as well as independent artists.
  • Health professionals from: York Region Public Health, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Etobicoke General Hospital.
  • Lawyers from: Six Nations of the Grand River, Brian Weingarten Defence Law, Singer Katz LLP, Millard and Co, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the Community Justice Collective, Goldblatt Partners, and Semaganis Worme Lombard Barristers & Solicitors.
  • Private Sector professionals from: Power Technologies Group, Dana Incorporated, Unique Appliances, Bell, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment LaunchPad, Blueprint Nutrition and Valoroso Consulting.
  • Professional and research staff from: ACTRA, the Max Planck Institute, Blueprint for Free Speech, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, the Jane Finch Community Research Partnership, Justice for Migrant Workers, the Daymark Foundation, the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, the Native Education College, FCJ Refugee Centre, the Detroit Zoological Society, and the Shift.
  • Guests from: the Toronto and Peel District School boards.

With plans to continue during the summer, the Guest Lecturer Support Program is an  example of an initiative that aligns closely with York University Academic Plan (UAP) priorities to support 21st Century Learning and specifically to ensure that “our graduates are known for their global mindset, ethical judgement, and superior ability to integrate diverse ideas and worldviews.”

It illustrates what is possible when parameters shift and new approaches to education are explored. When the pandemic is over, initiatives like these could be explored, say organizers, to further understand where virtual opportunities can add value and contribute to the future of education.

New Provostial Fellows program launches at York University

Vari Hall
Vari Hall

The Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic is launching a new Provostial Fellows program to advance the priorities of the University Academic Plan (UAP) while giving tenured faculty a chance to gain more hands-on experience working with University leadership.

The University Academic Plan Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 has established six important priorities for York University. To support this mandate, tenured faculty members are invited to submit expressions of interest to become inaugural Provostial Fellows.

Fellows will have an opportunity to work directly with the Provost and relevant senior leadership on a project or initiative geared towards advancing one of the UAP priorities listed below, at either an institutional or Faculty level.

Anyone interested in applying or who may have a particular project in mind, should consider these details:

  • Projects do not need to target a Fellow’s home Faculty;
  • Projects that also seek to enhance and intersect with the University-wide challenge to elevate contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be of particular interest; and
  • Proposed projects should also seek to provide an opportunity for personal professional growth and learning, as well as the exploration of leadership at the Faculty or institutional level.
UAP Graphic
The University Academic Plan 2020-2025 identifies six academic priorities

The program is intended for tenured faculty who are interested in future university leadership. Indigenous faculty and those from equity deserving groups are encouraged to apply.  

The Provost’s Office welcomes all who are interested in advancing the priorities of the UAP while working to build a better future at York and beyond.

More details on the program, application process and relevant timelines can be found on the Provost & Vice-President Academic site.

York professor awarded prestigious 3-M National Teaching Fellowship

Andrea Davis
Andrea Davis

Central to Professor Andrea Davis’ transformational work as a teacher and academic is the belief that “racism is a refusal to really learn,” and the philosophy of “teaching as activism.” Her 20-year career embodies both and, now, she has been recognized with Canada’s most prestigious award for teaching, leadership and innovation.

Davis, an associate professor of humanities in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) and special advisor on LA&PS’ Anti-Black Racism Strategy, is one of the 10 recipients of a 2021 3M National Teaching Fellowship. The fellowships were created in 1986 by the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education to recognize “educators who show leadership in enhancing post-secondary education and a sustained dedication to undergraduate education.”

Andrea Davis
Andrea Davis

“I am deeply honoured by the award and the recognition it brings,” said Davis, who has received previous commendations, including the President’s University-wide Teaching Award. “I’m thrilled for York and my Faculty and encouraged that the kind of labour that often goes unseen has been acknowledged. This award is also a tremendous recognition for my students because it validates what is meaningful to them; they feel recognized and heard and it shows that the interventions I bring to the academy are meaningful. I believe that everything we do in the university—research, service or teaching—must positively impact the lives of students. I am pleased to see that when you pour love and care into your students, that can be rewarded.”

“Professor Davis’ devotion to education and critical thinking has, indeed, positively impacted and transformed the lives of thousands of LA&PS students,” said J.J. McMurtry, dean of LA&PS. “She inspires her students to challenge the status quo, to interrogate our histories and to recognize the inherent value of diversity.

“While this award recognizes Professor Davis’ outstanding teaching, it is amazing that she is also able to lead in every aspect of our work as a Faculty, including forthcoming publications and serving as special advisor on LA&PS’ Anti-Black Racism Strategy.”

Davis comes from a background in literature and literary studies, but her courses are interdisciplinary.

“I use diverse texts to help students think about the world and to use that knowledge to imagine a different kind of future,” said Davis, former chair of the Department of Humanities. “I encourage them to think about what different possibilities might exist.

“I think about how to use humanities to help bring Black ideas, thoughts and cultures into the centre of the academy so when we look at Black writers and ideas, we think of them the same way we would the work of Western European men. In my role as special advisor, too, I am working to move the university toward a more just version of itself.”

As part of her passion for justice and equity, Davis developed a Black Canadian Studies certificate at York and is working to create a pan-University Black Studies major. It is work that many other institutions are studying and seeking to emulate, looking to a professor and a university that seek positive change and a just future.

“It is terrific to see Dr. Davis recognized for her commitment and unique talent as a teacher,” said Provost Lisa Phillips. “From launching the Black Canadian Studies Certificate to her work on a pan-university interdisciplinary Black Studies Major, she extends her leadership in teaching across and far beyond the York community, in ways that value justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.”

Professor Andrea Davis and students Giovanni Samuel and Niloofar Abedzadeh
Professor Andrea Davis and students Giovanni Samuel and Niloofar Abedzadeh

Davis believes that her simple presence in the classroom is hopeful for many members of York’s racialized student body; it’s another way of leading.

“Just walking into a classroom and seeing a Black professor model a career that you didn’t think possible before might seem so small, but it is profound in ways I can’t even give voice to,” said Davis.

“Professor Davis teaches in a way that empowers and inspires her students,” said Ravi de Costa, associate dean with the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “She is a revered instructor, a leading academic in Black diasporic studies and a respected colleague. Her love of teaching and commitment to social justice is apparent in all her work, in and outside the classroom.”

Davis nurtures the students who have been told by others that “they have no future,” and “loves seeing them grow.” As she has grown in her academic career, Davis has also mentored graduate students and younger colleagues with the same care and attention.

“Not only is Professor Davis an outstanding educator; she is also a leader in creating pathways for students to nurture their academic talents, smoothing their way as they enter university and later consider post-graduate studies,” said Professor Will Gage, York’s associate vice-president, teaching and learning. “We value her contributions to teaching and learning at York and look forward to having her continued energy and creativity enhance our academic programs.”

University teachers are also scholars and Davis is no exception. Her most recent work is a book that will be published by Northwestern University Press this year. In Horizon, Sea, Sound: Caribbean and African Women’s Cultural Critiques of Nation, Davis uses the expressive cultures of Caribbean and African women in Canada to imagine new affiliations of community among Black, Indigenous, and other racialized women.

As the recipient of a 3M Fellowship, Davis hopes “this award will encourage another generation of teacher activists. I want them to see that you can teach from your own place of truth and academia can recognize and honour that.”

By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer, teaching and learning

Virtual Town Hall for students provides updates on 2021-22 plans

York University Vice-Provost, Students Lucy Fromowitz and a panel of York University’s senior leaders hosted a virtual Town Hall for all students on April 14 to provide an update on University-wide plans for 2021-22.

Lucy Fromowitz
Lucy Fromowitz

The Town Hall was an opportunity for students to ask questions, in advance or live during the event, about the University’s evolving response to COVID-19 on topics such as: plans for online and in-person learning for the Summer 2021 and the upcoming academic year; updates and information for international and graduate students; and overall health and safety information.

President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, and Provost & Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps joined the panel to answer student queries about the University’s plan for a safe return to campus sometime in the Fall (an exact return date has not yet been set) and addressed the overall COVID-19 health and safety procedures York is implementing ahead of the Summer 2021 and Fall/Winter 2021-22 sessions. Senior leadership applauded York Facilities Services for their hard work and continued dedication in ensuring the campus has and will remain safe for students, staff and Faculty.

University Registrar Darran Fernandez and Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Associate Vice-President Thomas Loebel addressed undergraduate and graduate student questions regarding in-person learning opportunities for the Summer 2021 session and how students can apply for various scholarships and bursaries to assist them with funding their studies.

Executive Director, York International, Vinitha Gengatharan, addressed many questions pertaining to international students on topics surrounding study permits, post-graduate work permits, and the COVID-19 quarantine plan for incoming international students.

The panel was moderated by Manager of Student Life, Office of Student Community & Leadership Development Jair Kallidumbil.

The full video of the town hall is now available and can be viewed at

Welcome to the April 2021 issue of ‘Innovatus’

The innovatus special issue header

Innovatus featured image

Welcome to the April 2021 issue of ‘Innovatus,’ a special issue of YFile devoted to teaching and learning at York University. This month, ‘Innovatus’ explores some of the exciting innovations happening in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.

Will Gage
Will Gage

It is my distinct pleasure to present this collection of stories to you. Here’s why. As we continue to navigate what is an epoch-defining pandemic, there’s much to be considered when we think about the future of our planet. The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) is taking a future-forward approach to educating and preparing the changemakers of tomorrow who will carry the responsibility of leading our world through the many challenges brought into focus by the pandemic. Future generations are facing unprecedented hurdles, including climate change and its associated forced migration of peoples, working in a warming world, food security, urbanization, environmental degradation, habitat loss, and so much more. And yet, I remain so hopeful and this is in large part due to the extraordinary work in teaching, learning and the student experience that’s happening within EUC and York University.

In her letter to the community, EUC Dean and Professor Alice Hovorka speaks to the Faculty’s focus on hands-on experiential learning in providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to be sustainability champions and global leaders. The saying “walk the talk” is fully evident in the wonderful stories presented in this issue of ‘Innovatus.’ The appreciation of diverse ways of knowing, the power of innovation, the importance of collaboration and creativity are all evident in the stories in the April issue of ‘Innovatus,’ which by no mere coincidence is being published in advance of Earth Week.

As you read these stories, take a moment to think about your personal role as a changemaker. How can you enhance your own approach to sustainability and using only what you need? How will you become a sustainability champion? I will leave you to consider those questions.

Thank you, as always, for the many suggestions and comments about the stories and concepts presented in ‘Innovatus.’ Please keep them coming.

Featured in the April 2021 issue of ‘Innovatus’

Dean’s letter to the community: Transformative change through hands-on learning
n her letter to the community, Dean Alice J. Hovorka writes about the inaugural year of the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) and its focused approach to hands-on learning aimed at empowering students to be champions of sustainability and justice. Read full story. Read full story.

Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change students are all about planning
Students in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change are working with the Climate Risk Institute, in partnership with Ontario Professional Planners Institute and Risk Sciences International, on climate change adaptation to extreme weather events and training for professional planners in a win-win experiential education endeavour. Read full story.

Student experiences benefit the planet
Environmental and Urban Change students are engaged in valuable experiential education opportunities designed to give students practical training on precision agriculture, climate change solutions and local sustainable development strategies, using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and the Earth Charter as guidelines. Read full story.

Unique course has students seeing the land blossom online
Since Black Creek Community Farm (BCCF) is within shouting distance of York University’s Keele Campus, it seemed odd for Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change Assistant Professor Sarah Rotz to be taking her Land and Food Politics class there virtually, but such is life during the pandemic. Rotz has embraced the challenge and the result is a meaningful experience for her students. Read full story.

From conversation to action: powerful collaboration yields impactful report
The Public Involvement in Planning: Engaging Black People and Power course, created and taught by Jay Pitter, an award-winning placemaker, author, and urban lecturer, provided students with the opportunity to collaborate with Black urbanists to create a collective book of case studies, policy analysis and recommendations for how to engage Black people and power. Read full story.

‘Innovatus’  is produced by the Office of the Associate Vice-President Teaching & Learning in partnership with Communications & Public Affairs.

I extend a personal invitation to you to share your experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the ‘Innovatus’ story form, which is available at

Will Gage
Associate Vice-President, Teaching & Learning

Travel guidance and impact on international outbound programs for summer and fall terms

airplane travel
airplane travel

The following is an important update for York University community members:

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear York Community,

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present many unknowns this year with respect to travel. With the emergency of variants of concern and the varying pace of global vaccination, at this time the University is recommending that all non-essential outbound travel should be limited or delayed where possible. If you do choose to travel, please do so safely, following the latest travel advisories and guidance from your insurance provider.

The following applies to all members of the York community, whether or not they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. While we do remain optimistic that we will see improvement later this year as vaccination continues, this guidance is intended to support the health and safety of the community and avoid unnecessary trip cancellation costs during in the Summer and Fall 2021 Terms, as travel advisories remain in place. Further details are available in the FAQs on YU Better Together:

  • Faculty, researchers, instructors and others: we continue to strongly advise against all non-essential travel, in accordance with the Government of Canada’s travel advisory. While recognizing that international research, fieldwork and conference participation are fundamental to research, scholarship and the advancement of knowledge, it is unclear when travel bans will be fully removed or lifted as vaccine roll-out progresses globally.
  • University business travel: all University-related business travel outside of Canada is cancelled or postponed until further notice.
  • Interprovincial travel: current guidance for inter-provincial travel strongly advises that individuals and families self-isolate for a period of 14 days when arriving in or returning to Ontario.
  • Students participating in international outbound programs: all international travel for University-sponsored or sanctioned international programs is cancelled or postponed until Dec. 31, 2021 and guidance for Winter 2022 programs will be reviewed at the end of August 2021.This direction applies to:
    • Academic exchange, faculty-led programs, internships, research placements, community-engaged learning, practicums, co-op or any other international travel that is approved by a York faculty member, department, staff member, Faculty or non-academic unit, subject to narrow exemptions described in the FAQs.
  • Graduate student research-related travel: research-related international travel and related activities for graduate students, and travel related to academic program completion will continue to be considered on a case-by-case basis, until Aug. 31, 2021. New guidance will be available for the Fall 2021 Term by July 1, 2021.
  • International students, faculty, staff and visitors (inbound to campus): for travelers arriving in Canada, a mandatory Government of Canada quarantine requirement is in place. The current requirement subjects all travelers to a mandatory quarantine for a period of 14 days, including a three-day stay in government approved accommodation. York University is providing an off-campus quarantine program for all international arrivals destined for York.
  • Visiting faculty, researchers and others: if there are essential reasons for inbound travel to Canada (as defined by the Government of Canada) for in-person and on-campus activity, any host who is either a faculty member/instructor/researcher/department or Faculty, must ensure that all health and safety protocols are adhered to, including a 14-day mandatory quarantine period, and notify the respective Decanal office, Organized Research Unit (ORU) or Vice-President Research & Innovation and York International.
  • Visiting graduate students: if there are essential reasons for inbound travel (as defined by the Government of Canada) for in-person and on-campus activity, any host who is either a faculty member/instructor/researcher/department or Faculty, must ensure that all health and safety protocols are adhered to and notify the respective Decanal office, Faculty of Graduate Studies and York International.

As travel advisories change and the roll-out of vaccinations progresses globally, we will continue to update you should this advice change. York International will also be available to provide support to assess and develop risk mitigation plans for international travel, where and when it is required. In the meantime, please continue to visit YU Better Together for regular updates.


Lisa Philipps
Provost & Vice-President Academic  

Amir Asif
Vice-President, Research & Innovation

Conseils relatifs aux voyages et impact sur les programmes internationaux pour les trimestres d’été et d’automne

Chers membres de la communauté de York,

Cette année, la pandémie de la COVID-19 continue d’engendrer de nombreuses incertitudes en ce qui concerne les voyages. En raison de l’émergence de variants préoccupants et du rythme irrégulier des campagnes de vaccination mondiales, l’Université recommande de limiter ou de retarder, dans la mesure du possible, tous les voyages à l’étranger non essentiels. Si vous décidez de voyager, veuillez le faire de façon sécuritaire en respectant les derniers conseils aux voyageurs et les recommandations de votre compagnie d’assurance.  

Ce qui suit s’applique à tous les membres de la communauté de York, qu’ils aient ou non été vaccinés contre la COVID-19. Nous gardons bon espoir de voir une amélioration dans le courant de l’année tandis que la vaccination se poursuit, mais ces conseils visent à favoriser la santé et la sécurité de notre communauté et à éviter des frais inutiles d’annulation de voyage pendant les trimestres d’été et d’automne 2021 aussi longtemps que les conseils aux voyageurs resteront en vigueur. Vous pouvez trouver plus de détails à ce sujet dans la section FAQ du site Web YU Better Together : 

  • Membres du corps professoral, des équipes de recherche et autres : nous continuons à suivre les avis aux voyageurs du gouvernement du Canada qui recommandent d’éviter les voyages non essentiels à l’extérieur du Canada. Tout en sachant que la recherche internationale, le travail sur le terrain et la participation à des conférences sont essentiels à la recherche, à l’érudition et à la progression des connaissances, il est difficile de prévoir quand les interdictions de voyage seront levées au fur et à mesure du déploiement de la vaccination dans le monde. 
  • Voyages d’affaires pour l’Université : tous les voyages d’affaires pour des activités universitaires à l’extérieur du Canada sont annulés ou reportés jusqu’à nouvel ordre.
  • Déplacements interprovinciaux : les directives actuelles concernant les voyages interprovinciaux recommandent vivement aux voyageurs et à leurs familles de s’isoler pendant une période de 14 jours lorsqu’ils arrivent en Ontario ou en reviennent. 
  • Étudiants et étudiantes participant à des programmes à l’étranger : tous les voyages internationaux pour des programmes internationaux organisés ou sanctionnés par l’Université sont annulés ou reportés jusqu’au 31 décembre 2021; les directives pour les programmes de l’hiver 2022 seront réexaminées à la fin août 2021. Ces directives s’appliquent : 
    • aux échanges universitaires, aux programmes dirigés par des professeurs, aux stages, aux placements de recherche, à l’apprentissage communautaire, aux travaux pratiques, aux programmes coopératifs ou à tout autre voyage international approuvé par un membre du corps professoral, par un département, par un membre du personnel, par une faculté ou par une unité non académique de York. Il existe quelques exemptions qui sont décrites dans la FAQ. 
  • Voyages de recherche d’étudiants et étudiantes de cycle supérieur : les voyages internationaux liés à la recherche et à des activités connexes pour les étudiants de cycle supérieur, ainsi que les voyages liés à l’achèvement d’un programme universitaire continueront d’être examinés au cas par cas jusqu’au 31 août 2021. De nouvelles directives seront fournies d’ici le 1er juillet 2021 pour la session d’automne 2021. 
  • Étudiants internationaux, membres du corps professoral, membres du personnel et visiteurs (venant sur le campus) : une quarantaine obligatoire du gouvernement du Canada est en place pour les voyageurs arrivant au Canada. La réglementation actuelle impose à tous les voyageurs une quarantaine obligatoire de 14 jours comprenant un séjour obligatoire de 3 jours dans un lieu autorisé par le gouvernement. L’Université York offre un programme de quarantaine hors campus pour les voyageurs arrivant de l’étranger à destination de York. 
  • Professeurs et chercheurs invités et autres visiteurs : s’il existe des raisons essentielles de venir au Canada (telles que définies par le gouvernement du Canada)pour des activités en personne et sur le campus, tout hôte étant un membre du corps professoral/enseignant/d’une équipe de recherche/d’un département ou d’une faculté doit s’assurer du respect de tous les protocoles de santé et de sécurité, y compris une période de quarantaine obligatoire de 14 jours, et en informer le Bureau décanal respectif, l’unité de recherche organisée (ORU) ou le vice-président de la recherche et de l’innovation et York International. 
  • Visites d’étudiants de cycle supérieur : s’il existe des raisons essentielles de voyager à l’étranger (telles que définies par le gouvernement du Canada) pour les activités en personne et sur le campus, tout hôte étant un membre du corps professoral/enseignant/équipe de recherche/d’un département ou d’une faculté doit s’assurer du respect de tous les protocoles de santé et de sécurité et en informer le Bureau décanal respectif, la Faculté des études supérieures et York International.   

Au fur et à mesure des changements des conseils aux voyageurs et des progrès de la vaccination dans le monde, nous continuerons à vous informer en cas de modification de ces conseils. York International offrira également un soutien afin d’évaluer et de développer des plans de mitigation des risques pour les voyages internationaux, en cas de besoin. Entre-temps, veuillez continuer à visiter le site YU Better Together pour les dernières nouvelles. 

Lisa Philipps
Rectrice et vice-présidente aux affaires académiques

Amir Asif
Vice-président de la recherche et de l’innovation