York hosts conference examining impact of AI on law

Leading legal thinkers from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and beyond will gather to assess the seismic impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the law during a special conference on March 13 sponsored by the Osgoode-based Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime & Security.

All York community members are welcome to attend the hybrid event, titled Artificial Intelligence and the Law: New Challenges and Possibilities for Fundamental Human Rights and Security, which will take place both online and in person in 014 Helliwell Centre on York’s Keele Campus from noon to 6:15 p.m.

Trevor Farrow
Trevor Farrow

“I am delighted that this incredibly important discussion is being hosted at Osgoode Hall Law School,” said Osgoode Dean Trevor Farrow.

“Academics, lawyers, policymakers and the public are already heavily influenced by and reliant upon AI,” he added. “Osgoode very much sees itself at the centre of these discussions and innovations.”

By bringing together researchers with AI expertise across various fields of practice, conference speakers and attendees can engage with larger questions about law’s role in the regulation of emerging technologies, legal neutrality, ethics and professional responsibility, said Carys Craig, associate dean of research and institutional relations, who will speak on AI and copyright.

Carys Craig
Carys Craig

“I’m very excited about this conference,” she said. “Osgoode is known for its thought leadership and critical, interdisciplinary thinking, which is exactly what is needed as Canada grapples with the rapid acceleration of AI across almost every facet of society.”

The featured speakers will also include Professor Barnali Choudhury, director of the Nathanson Centre.

“Although AI offers numerous opportunities to society, it also poses risks, particularly in relation to human rights and security,” Choudhury noted. “Lawyers should be well versed in these risks to ensure that AI use aligns with legal standards.”

 Barnali Choudhury
Barnali Choudhury

The conference’s comprehensive examination of artificial intelligence will include the growing use of generative AI, which powers tools like ChatGPT, said Professor Valerio De Stefano, a co-organizer of the event and a panellist who will address today’s challenging issues around AI and work. 

“The law will have to react to a lot of the challenges that arise from artificial intelligence in order for society to thrive on the opportunities that AI offers,” he noted.

De Stefano said that almost no area of the law will be left untouched, including criminal, copyright, labour and tax law. Conference speakers will also dig into the implications of AI for legal ethics, practice and education.

Valerio De Stefano
Valerio De Stefano

“It’s extremely important that lawyers, both academics and practitioners, start discussing how to react to all these new things that are coming out of the AI landscape – and this is the opportunity to do that,” he added. “There’s a lot of people at Osgoode that do top-notch, groundbreaking research on law and technology.”

Other speakers will include Professor Jonathon Penney, who will examine whether AI safety standards are really safe, and Professor Allan Hutchinson, who will discuss AI and law’s multiplicity. Rounding out the list of Osgoode experts are Professor Sean Rehaag, PhD student Alexandra Scott and Osgoode PhD alumnus Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, now a law professor at Toronto Metropolitan University.

In the afternoon, De Stefano will chair a roundtable discussion on AI, due process and legal ethics. Panellists will include: Dean Farrow; Professor Patricia McMahon; Professor Richard Haigh; Glenn Stuart, the executive director of professional regulation for the Law Society of Ontario; and Professor Amy Salyzyn of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

Registration is required. For more information about the event, email nathansoncentre@osgoode.yorku.ca and copy vdestefano@osgoode.yorku.ca.

Dancing without borders: workshop teaches Chilean dance

National Dance of Chile BANNER

By Elaine Smith

It’s likely that only a small percentage of Toronto residents could show you the steps to the cueca, the national dance of Chile that is performed at festivals and social gatherings, but a group of York University undergraduate students has swelled those ranks.

Department of Dance students in Professor Bridget Cauthery’s Big Dance Small Space course are now familiar with the cueca, thanks to a globally networked learning (GNL) workshop they attended along with students from SUNY Buffalo State in New York this past summer. GNL is an approach to teaching and learning that enables people from different locations worldwide to participate in and collaborate on knowledge-making processes and concrete research projects. It provides cross-cultural opportunities for students who might not have the opportunity to study abroad, a benefit in today’s global economy.

“The GNL exercise grew out of a connection I made with Joy Guarino, a dance professor at SUNY Buffalo State,” said Cauthery. “We both taught similar courses for non-majors that focused on the globalization of dance and the recognition of cultural dance practices within our own diasporic families and communities.”

Guarino was a proponent of GNL, and the pair discussed bringing their students together online. They had a few brainstorming meetings and decided to offer their students a workshop in cueca, since Cauthery had a teaching assistant from Chile, Sebastián Oreamuno, who was versed in in the dance.

The course was developed during the pandemic and has been taught online, so the workshop this past year brought the York students together in the studio on campus for the first time, along with Oreamuno, a PhD candidate in dance. The students from SUNY gathered in the Student Union on the Buffalo campus and participated via Zoom.

“There was a bit of a learning curve,” said Oreamuno, who simplified the steps for the workshop. “The dance is performed in 6/8 time, which isn’t a musical signature that’s prevalent in western dance.”

First, he had them listen to the rhythm of the dance and asked them to clap it. Next came the steps, done to a pulse rhythm. He worked with the students on a 30-second sequence of seven steps based on the rhythm. At the end of the 45-minute session, everyone performed it together.

“It was fun,” said Oreamuno. “The students in the York studio definitely enjoyed it; I felt the energy coming from them. The professor in Buffalo sent me a message saying her students enjoyed it, too.”

Cauthery said, “Folk dances lend themselves well to community engagement and connection, and this was a good first attempt, given our reliance on the technology. Next time Joy and I run our courses, we hope to make this a cross-border experiential learning opportunity. We could also have a reciprocal exchange between our programs.”

She is also further considering integrating the collaboration with Guarino and SUNY Buffalo State into something more long-term and with a larger scale; for example, collaborating together on choreography and sharing dance knowledge.

The GNL project also reflected one of York’s dance program’s larger goals: to globalize its offerings by teaching beyond the western canon.

“We want to focus on making connections through dance and dances that represent some aspect of heritage and identity,” Cauthery said. “By sharing that, we can build a bridge of understanding and respect, and create an equitable ecosystem of dance. These may be bold goals, but dance can be a way to bring people and ideas together.”

The GNL team will be hosting an information session for York faculty members on Monday, Feb. 26 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Register here.

Bergeron Market certified York’s first gluten-free facility

hands kneeding gluten free dough BANNER

Bergeron Market, located in the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, has received a certification endorsed by the National Celiac Association that recognizes it as York University’s only certified gluten-free dining facility.

The certification means that every product available at the market is carefully sourced, prepared and processed to avoid cross-contamination risks associated with gluten. This assurance plays a vital role in promoting healthy eating habits and overall well-being for those who need to follow a gluten-free diet, allowing them the confidence to dine safely.

Dahlia Abou El Hassan
Dahlia Abou El Hassan

“This marks a significant stride towards sustainable nutrition, addressing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Good Health and Well-being,” says Dahlia Abou El Hassan, York’s registered dietitian. “This certification of Bergeron not only embraces diversity but also caters to a range of dietary needs, demonstrating the YU Eats commitment to inclusivity and actively supporting the health of our community.”

The availability of gluten-free products at Bergeron Market has significantly expanded over the years, providing a wide range of options to meet diverse dietary needs. From fresh produce and snacks to baked goods and fresh meals, diners have access to a comprehensive selection of gluten-free products right on campus.

“To enhance accessibility to freshly made gluten-free options for the wider community, Bergeron’s team has started to prepare and package gluten-free foods as convenient grab-and-go items. These are now available for sale in cafeterias across the campus” says Tom Watt, director of Food & Vending Services.

Beth Gallagher, a community member with a gluten intolerance, says she is “delighted to have a certified gluten-free food provider on campus – it’s not just a meal, it’s peace of mind. Certification ensures I can enjoy every bite without worry, making campus dining a safer and happier experience. Recognizing the importance of diverse food options, especially for those with allergies, brings inclusivity to the table.”

Come try it for yourself. The market is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Faculty of Science students, profs awarded for excellence

At the Faculty of Science’s annual honours and awards ceremony, several faculty and students received awards – including an inaugural one – recognizing their contributions in teaching and educational leadership.

The ceremony is organized every year to celebrate students, instructors and researchers who received awards and scholarships between September 2022 and August 2023 – as well as giving the Faculty a chance to bestow a few awards of its own.

This year, around 400 postdoctoral fellows and undergraduate and graduate science students were recognized by being given a chance to come up to the event’s stage at the Second Student Centre, on York’s Keele Campus, to be congratulated and applauded by their peers, supporters and mentors.

The event’s masters of ceremonies were Associate Dean of Students Michael Scheid and Associate Dean of Research and Partnerships Vivian Saridakis, who also announced the recipients of the Faculty of Science Excellence in Educational Leadership Awards – an inaugural award category – as well as the Excellence in Teaching Awards and Excellence in Research Awards.

The recipients of these awards were:

Excellence in Educational Leadership Award, Faculty category
Associate Professor Amenda Chow, Department of Mathematics & Statistics; and Chair and Associate Professor Vera Pavri, Department of Science, Technology & Society.

Excellence in Educational Leadership Award, Graduate Student category
PhD students Laura Keane and Yohana Solomon, Department of Mathematics & Statistics.

Excellence in Teaching Award, Junior Tenure Stream Faculty category
Assistant Professor Stephanie Domenikos, Department of Science, Technology & Society.

Excellence in Teaching Award, Contract Faculty category
Sessional Assistant Professor Charlotte de Araujo, Department of Biology.

Richard Jarrell Award of Excellence for Teaching Assistants
Recent MSc graduate Amanvir Virdi, Department of Biology.

Early Career Research Award
Associate Professor Elizabeth Clare, Department of Biology.

Established Research Award
Professor Randy Lewis, Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Excellence in Graduate Mentorship Award
Associate Professor Iain Moyles, Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

For more details about the awards and a full list of recipients, view the ceremony program booklet.

Teaching Commons seeks presenters for upcoming TiF conference in May

Speaker giving a talk in conference hall at business event. Audience at the conference hall.

By Elaine Smith

With a new vice-provost teaching and learning and an interim director of the Teaching Commons in place, York University’s annual Teaching in Focus (TiF) conference this May will have a slightly different look and feel, and a theme reflective of the times.

Mandy Frake-Mistak, the Teaching Commons’ interim director, and her team are seeking presenters for the two-day conference, which will be held in person this year on May 8 and 9. The theme for this year’s conference is Engaged Teaching in Times of Crisis and proposals are due on Feb. 29.

In addition to crisis-related presentations, there are opportunities for presentations about Academic Innovation Fund projects and experiential education/work-integrated learning. Presenters may speak individually, in teams or as panel members, and all faculty and graduate students are encouraged to consider taking part.

“Based on feedback from the Task Force on the Future of Pedagogy, we know that faculty members want more opportunities to communicate about what they’re doing in the classroom, and TiF will continue to be a great place for that to happen,” says Chloë Brushwood Rose, vice-provost teaching learning. “However, we also want to offer opportunities for conversations around philosophical and critical issues in teaching and learning, not only about practices. We want to highlight people who are thinking in interesting ways and from a range of perspectives about teaching and learning, especially in complex times.”

People are grappling with conflicts in the classroom and conflicts in the world simultaneously, explains Brushwood Rose. The role of the University, she believes, should be to provide a space to talk about pedagogy more broadly.

Frake-Mistak shares that view.

“When we see crisis on a global scale, we can’t help but bring it home, and it shapes how we process information and our dealings with our peers,” she says. “We are trying to support people through this. It’s one thing to share resources, but what about what happens in the classroom?”

And that is where TiF comes in.

The conference will also feature TiF Reads, a panel reminiscent of the popular Canada Reads competition on CBC Radio. Presenters can champion a teaching- or learning-related book, journal article or other resource that inspired them during the past year and attendees will vote for a winner.

“TiF has been a mainstay on our calendar since 2013 and we want to champion it so it is continually growing and getting better,” says Frake-Mistak. “We want to recognize the community who have dedicated their livelihoods to teaching and learning; there are so many unsung heroes. It’s an opportunity to bring people together to champion teaching and learning and propel it forward.”

Brushwood Rose agrees.

“We look forward to TiF being as well attended and energizing as ever.”

Take this opportunity to fill out a presenter’s application form.

Yvonne Su

Yvonne Su

Professor Yvonne Su has been invited to the University of Oxford in England to give a presentation on climate migration

York U in the news: drug decriminalization, Great Lakes ice cover and more

Minor drug seizures by Vancouver Police increased after ‘decriminalization,’ data indicates
A story co-written by York University PhD candidate Liam Michaud was published in the Maple Feb. 14.

Winter businesses, environment on thin ice as Great Lakes ice coverage hits historic low
York University Professor Sapna Sharma was quoted on cbc.ca Feb. 16.

People commonly lose their job on maternity or parental leave. Critics say EI needs an overhaul
York University Adjunct Professor Andrew Monkhouse was quoted in CBC News Feb. 15.

MPs spending big sums on travel paid for by foreign groups
York University Professor Ian Stedman was quoted in the National Post Feb. 15.

York Region commits $1 million to support international, women entrepreneurs
York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton was quoted in BetaKit Feb. 16.

‘Something worth highlighting’: Mary Ann Shadd Cary – my chosen Black woman of the month!
York University Professor Natasha Henry-Dixon was quoted in Her Campus Feb. 15.

Winter businesses, environment on thin ice as Great Lakes ice coverage hits historic low
York University Professor Sapna Sharma was quoted in CBC News Feb. 16.

People commonly lose their job on maternity or parental leave. Critics say EI needs an overhaul
York University Professor Andrew Monkhouse was quoted on cbc.ca on Feb. 15.

MPs spending big sums on travel paid for by foreign groups
York University Professor Ian Stedman was quoted in the National Post on Feb. 15.

Great Lakes experience drastic reduction in ice cover
York University Professor Sapna Sharma was quoted in the Daily Climate Feb. 14.

Interview: Understanding Dolby Atmos with producer Paul Novotny
York University PhD candidate Paul Novotny was interviewed in Billboard Canada Feb. 14.

Mindfulness for stress reduction: helpful or harmful?
York University Professor Pat Armstrong was quoted in HR Reporter Canada Feb. 14.

‘Something worth highlighting’: Mary Ann Shadd Cary
York University Professor Natasha Henry-Dixon was quoted in hercampus.com Feb. 15.

New evidence suggests that some of the most persistent ideas about sex and relationships are wrong
York University Professor Amy Muise was quoted in the Madras Tribune Feb. 15.

There aren’t five love languages, despite claims on TikTok
York University Professor Amy Muise was quoted in NewScientist Feb. 14.

How did you reignite the romance in your relationship?
York University Professor Amy Muise was interviewed on “Ontario Today” Feb. 14.

Best schools for communication and media studies in Canada 2024
York University was mentioned in University Magazine Feb. 15.

Graduates from these Ontario universities more likely to become CEOs: survey
York University was mentioned in InSauga Feb. 15.

See more ways York University is making headlines at News @ York.

York entrepreneurs recognized by award, prime minister

BEA Demo Day image BANNER

York University alumni Yemi Ifegbuyi (BA ’10) and Zainab Williams (BA ’07) are among the top three Black entrepreneurs named the winners of a startup pitch competition hosted by the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance (BEA) founded by the Black Creek Community Health Centre in partnership with York University’s YSpace.

The competition, the inaugural BEA Investment Bootcamp Demo Day, is the final assignment of a four-month program run in partnership with YSpace for early-stage and capital-ready, Black-led startups.

The Investment Bootcamp program is aimed at supporting Black-led tech startups with training, mentorship and fundraising insights to secure early capital. With a community-driven approach, the program offers curated content and resources to support entrepreneurs through educational workshops, one-on-one coaching and peer founder circles, which provides a safe and open space for founders to connect and receive support.

The nine startup finalists in the BEA Investment Bootcamp program
The nine startup finalists in the BEA Investment Bootcamp program.

Applicants to the competition were narrowed down from the 17 Black entrepreneurs who participated in the program to nine finalists who pitched their businesses to a live audience at an event on Feb. 1 celebrating Black excellence.

The Demo Day event, which also marked the start of Black History Month, was attended by a number of government officials, including Filomena Tassi, the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Judy Sgro, member of Parliament for Humber River – Black Creek, was also in attendance and was impressed by the entrepreneurs. “Witnessing the dedication and leadership of these young entrepreneurs has not only inspired me, but it reaffirms my belief in the incredible potential of our community’s future leaders,” she says.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with first place winner Yemi Ifegbuyi
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who met finalists at a special event before the awards were announced, with first-place winner Yemi Ifegbuyi.

First-place winner Ifegbuyi will receive $5,000 toward his business, Cozii Technologies, an artificial intelligence-driven property management platform tailored to multi-unit landlords. Ifegbuyi immigrated from Nigeria about 15 years ago and received his degree in international development and urban studies at York as well as a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation. As a founder known for his entrepreneurial drive, Ifegbuyi is excited for the future as his business continues to grow.

“This fund will be channelled into our sales and marketing endeavours, with the goal of reaching and serving more small- and medium-scale rental property owners and managers,” he says. “It’s not just a cash prize. It’s an investment in Cozii Technologies’ vision to revolutionize the way we approach property management.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with second place winner Zainab Williams
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with second-place winner Zainab Williams.

Second-place winner Williams, the founder of Fundevolve Inc., a pioneering platform dedicated to empowering women in their financial journey, will receive $3,000 to further her company. Williams developed her passion for business while studying business administration and management at York. Born out of an investment gone wrong, Williams became an independent financial planner and was determined to empower individuals to make the right financial decisions. Her business is quickly building momentum as she works to further develop the web-based platform and equip women with the tools to take control of their financials.

“We plan to use the prize winnings for testing before launching our platform,” says Williams. “This investment in security ensures not only our project’s safety but also our users’ trust.”

Both Ifegbuyi and Williams cite the boot camp’s collaborative spirit as a contributor to their startup’s success. “Participating in the program has been a transformative journey,” says Ifegbuyi. “The unwavering support and mentorship we received are catalysts for long-term growth.”

Special guest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also attended a private event – where York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton was also present – held before the awards to meet the finalists and learn more about their businesses.

“Meeting Justin Trudeau was a great honour and opportunity,” says Ifegbuyi. “It symbolized the recognition of our hard work and the federal government commitment to supporting the Black entrepreneurial community. It’s a reminder that our efforts are making an impact, and it inspires us to continue pushing boundaries and striving for excellence in everything we do.”

Both BEA and YSpace offer several innovative programs and events for entrepreneurs at all stages, including curated programming dedicated to under-represented groups like Black entrepreneurs and women founders.

To learn more about this partnership, visit BEA’s website at YSpace.

Prof’s book translated, published in China

person reading a book on couch with pile of books nearby BANNER

A book, co-edited by York University Professor Thomas Klassen, about the aging populations and shifts in the labour market in South Korea has achieved a rare feat: being translated and published in China.

Korea’s Retirement Predicament: The Ageing Tiger, which Klassen co-edited with Professor Yunjeong Yang, a colleague in Korea, studies a defining feature of the 21st century in many countries: more older people, fewer younger people.

Thomas Klassen
Thomas Klassen

The book looks at how workers in South Korea have been contractually obligated to retire at younger ages (mid-50s) and then take on low-paying self-employment or contract work. The thinking behind the policy was to ensure the workforce remained young and highly productive. However, Klassen’s book explores how as the labour market shifts with a rapidly aging population, the existing arrangement may no longer be as functional.

Translations of social science books are rare, as they are fairly specialized, but The Ageing Tiger was translated and published in China – despite being primarily about Korea – because the two countries have similar demographic and labour market conditions. As a result, because it covers a similar policy landscape, the translation can provide Chinese political, administrative and community leaders with valuable lessons as they navigate the phenomenon in their own country.

The Chinese edition of Korea's Retirement Predicament
The Chinese edition of Korea’s Retirement Predicament: The Ageing Tiger.

Klassen notes that creative and new solutions will be needed from individuals, families, employers, and politicians addressing population aging and ensuring that retirement policies are as effective as possible. “By sharing knowledge, which is what the translated book does, the best policies and solutions will emerge” says Klassen, who co-wrote two chapters in the book.

Xuelian Liu, a professor from the Dalian University of Foreign Languages who translated the book, agrees. “I firmly believe that the Chinese version of the book will be of value to researchers, students and policymakers in China concerning how to cope with the problems caused by an aging population,” Liu says.

The book also builds upon Klassen’s body of work as an expert in South Korean politics and policy, which has included teaching a summer study abroad course that allowed York University undergraduate students to travel to Seoul, South Korea. He is teaching this course again in the summer of 2024.

Lecture explores complexities of institutionalized DEI

Rear view of four diverse women

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are intended to create environments where individuals of all backgrounds and abilities feels safe, welcome and valued. York University’s School of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies is examining the possibilities and limitations of institutionalized DEI at its annual lecture on Feb. 29, taking place from noon to 2 p.m. in 152 Founders College.

Titled Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): The Good, The Bad & The Performative, the event will touch on fields such as higher education, broadcasting, news organizations and politics. Through a roundtable discussion, it will explore the ways in which racialized and other marginalized people with progressive politics are often initially welcomed into spaces of power, becoming symbols of progress in achieving diversity and inclusion, only to then be gaslighted or vilified or face reprisals for espousing their views.

The event will be moderated and hosted by York University professors Bianca Beauchemin and Nadia Hasan of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. The featured speakers will include: Ginella Massa, a York alumna, broadcast journalist and media consultant; Desmond Cole, a journalist, activist and author of The Skin We’re In; Nadiya Ali, a professor of sociology at Trent University and Chair of the new Anti-Islamophobia Subcommittee of the Canadian Sociological Association; and Somar Abuaziza, York student, activist and president of the Palestine Solidarity Collective.

Register by Feb. 27 to join the fascinating discussion about an issue that impacts the entire community. For more information about the event, contact Melissa Falotico at gswsac@yorku.ca.