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Film festival features documentaries about oil, environment

The following appeared in the Monday, January 27th edition of YFile.

The upcoming third annual Focus on Sustainability Film Festival will feature domestic and foreign documentaries about oil, a display of York film Professor Brenda Longfellow’s interactive web documentary Offshore, a film by environmental studies Master’s degree student Bart Danko, as well as a panel discussion with filmmakers, activists and academics.

Brenda Longfellow

This year’s topic is timely considering the recent spate of rail, pipeline and climate disasters, which are all symptoms of fossil, fuel addiction.

The event will take place Friday, Jan. 31, from noon until 9pm, in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building, Keele campus. The cost of admission is $7 for all-day access; early bird price is $5. It is presented and organized by the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), the Osgoode Environmental Law Society and many other student clubs (see below), in collaboration with Planet in Focus.

Several films will be shown, followed by a panel discussion at 6pm and the final film at 7:30pm. In addition, Longfellow will be on hand to answer questions during all of the breaks in N120 Ross where Offshore will be on display.

The panel will include:

  • Dayna Nadine Scott, Osgoode Hall Law School and Faculty of Environmental Studies professor, as moderator;
  • Irene Henriques, IRIS core faculty and Schulich School of Business professor of sustainability and economics;
  • Greg Francis, director of the film Tar; and
  • Dawn Bazely, director of IRIS and a biology professor.

The films will include:

Screen shot from movie StandSTAND at 12pm
STAND is an environmental film that rallies against the potential harmful effects that business ventures evoke on natural habitats.Showcasing the west coast of BC and what’s at stake with the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – tanker route.  Taking place in Haida Gwaii, Great Bear Rainforest, Bella Bella and Vancouver Island; STAND takes the viewers on a journey through the coast showcasing the rich First Nations culture and the incredible terrestrial and oceanic environments of the coast.

Screen shot from film TarTar at 2pm
Featuring breathtaking imagery of Western Canada in the heart of winter and music from 2013 Polaris Prize winners, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tar offers a firsthand look at the pristine ecology put at risk by the Northern Gateway Project; a highly controversial project to transport Oilsands crude oil to Asian markets.

Screen shot from film OffshoreOffshore ( at 2:15pm
Offshore is a interactive documentary created by Brenda Longfellow, Glenn Richards and Helios Design Labs that explores the dark waters of the global offshore oil industry in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. Offshore offers a vision of what happens when need and greed push this industry past a level of competence into a new world inhabited by questions we might not want the answers to. How far is too far? How deep is too deep? How dangerous is too dangerous?

Bart DankoTerra Communis at 2:30pm
Terra Communis is a film by Master of Environmental Studies/Juris Doctor Bart Danko of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and Osgoode Hall Law School, which explores green roofs and green roof policy in the Greater Toronto Area. Through interviews with academics, green roof installers, green roof manufacturers, municipal policymakers, green roof owners, and others, this film explores green roofing as a tool to mitigate local and global environmental problems.

Poster for Bidder 70 filmBidder70 at 4pm
Bidder 70 centers on an extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience demanding government and industry accountability. In 2008, University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher committed an act which would redefine patriotism in our time, igniting a spirit of civil disobedience in the name of climate justice. Follow DeChristopher, Bidder 70, from college student to incarcerated felon. Redefine justice for yourself. Choose your side.

Poster from film RevolutionRevolution at 7:30pm
Revolution is a film about changing the world. It is the true-life adventure of Rob Stewart. In this follow-up to his acclaimed Sharkwater documentary, he continues his remarkable journey through 15 countries over four years. It is on this journey that he’ll discover that it’s not only sharks that are in grave danger – it’s humanity itself. In an effort to uncover the truth and find the secret to saving the ecosystems humans depend on for survival, Stewart embarks on a life-threatening adventure.

There will also be door prizes, including:

The film festival is sponsored by York’s Centre for Human Rights and the York University Bookstore. The following groups were partners in organizing the festival:

For more information, visit the Focus on Sustainability Film Festival: Oil website.


IRIS Senior Fellow Peter Victor inducted into the Club of Rome

Last month, YFile featured Faculty of Environmental Studies professor, and IRIS Senior Fellow, Peter Victor, in the article, "FES professor inducted into Club of Rome". Peter Victor is the former dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and is known as a leader in the field of environmental studies, specializing in ecological economics. He has recently become a member of the Club of Rome. The Club of Rome is a non-profit global think-tank that addresses a variety of international political issues, proposes practical solutions, and encourages public involvement. Members include scientists, economists, businessmen, and heads of state, all with the common concern for humanity and the environment, and represent more than 30 countries. Victor's most recognized achievements include the the publication of his 2008 book Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, not Disasterwhich focuses on alternatives to economic growth. 

The full article can be read on the YFile website here.

1 Year Postdoctoral Visitor in Policy, Sustainability & Education

 1 Year Postdoctoral Visitor in Policy, Sustainability & Education, 
York University, Toronto and Lakehead University, Thunder Bay

 A one-year cross-appointed SSHRC funded postdoctoral visitor (PDV) is now available in the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability at York University and the Centre for Place and Sustainability Studies at Lakehead University. 

The post-doctorate appointment will be joining the PEASE project (Policy Enactments and Sustainability Education). The focus of this project is a study of contemporary enactments of sustainability and policy in higher education and schooling in Ontario. The appointment will be joining an interdisciplinary faculty research team with a focus on sustainability and education. They will conduct primary interview and archival research on situated policy enactments in specified educational contexts, support and oversee a group of active researchers (masters and doctorate students), contribute to pan university sustainability discussions and educational initiatives, publish articles, update web-based resources and seek funds for allied projects and proposals. 

The successful applicant will have completed a Ph.D. within the last 4 years and have experience of academic leadership in areas associated with Environmental Sustainability, Education and Policy. This could include, but is not limited to, doctorates in environmental studies, educational studies, policy studies and Science and Technology Studies.

This is a one-year position, continuation of which is contingent upon funding. The PDV will be based at York University in Toronto. There is possibility of being based at Lakehead University, with travel between both institutions expected. The salary range is $35,000-48,000 per year plus benefits, depending on level of experience.

Applicants should provide the following materials: a current CV; a statement (no more than 500 words) outlining their current research projects, how they relate to issues of policy, sustainability and education, and the work that they would undertake as a postdoctoral fellow with PEASE. Both documents should be provided in PDF format. The name and contact details of two academic referees should also be supplied.

Deadline to apply is January 6th, 2014. Interview are expected to take place the week of January 20th, with the postdoctoral visitor appointed commencing by March 1st.

For further information, please contact: Applications should be emailed to with the subject line Postdoctoral Visitor in Policy, Sustainability & Education.

York University and Lakehead University are Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employers.

The Centre for Place and Sustainability Studies contributes to the wellbeing of people and places. The Centre incubates and supports diverse place and sustainability related research, education, and action initiatives within the Lakehead University community, in the region, and internationally in order to create more socially and ecologically just environments.

 The Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability is a university-wide interdisciplinary research centre at York University dedicated to pursuing multifaceted approaches to the contemporary challenges of sustainability.

Download as a PDF here

Survey gives York U community voice in restoration of green space

The following was first published by Yfile on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013.

Do you want a greater say in the development of York University’s green spaces that you use every day? York has many great green spaces that have been documented in this fall’s successful #yorkufall tagging campaign.

A survey created by University of Toronto masters of forest conservation student Janise Herridge and resident biologist Dawn Bazely, in association with the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability, gives the Groundhog at the east side of Lumbers Buildingcommunity at York University a chance to do just that, but only until Nov. 27.

Friendly groundhog at the east side of Lumbers Building

The qualitative survey questions will help determine which naturalized areas of campus the community uses, how it uses them and why. In addition, the survey includes questions about wildlife sightings, such as migratory birds on campus, and what kind of changes, if any, the community would like to see with regards to the naturalized spaces on campus. Answers will be incorporated into Herridge’s final project – an urban forest restoration plan for Keele campus.

Janise Herridge with a large Elm tree at York UThe goal of the restoration plan is to meet the needs of the planning and grounds departments with consideration of the community’s perspective. To create new enjoyable green spaces for students, staff and faculty, their input is absolutely necessary.

Janise Herridge with a large elm tree at the northwest section of Keele campus

The comments collected from this survey have the potential to impact the development of more than green spaces for the entire campus.

Interested? The survey takes between five and 10 minutes and is being run until Nov. 27.

Fill out the survey to have your say.

Applications and nominations are invited for the position of Director of IRIS

Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS)
Applications and nominations are invited for the position of Director of the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) for a term of five years, to begin July 1, 2014.

IRIS is a University-wide organized research unit that serves as a hub for interdisciplinary research on sustainability, broadly defined, across all Faculties at York. IRIS carries out research into diverse aspects of sustainability and promotes practical sustainability solutions that encompass environmental, social and economic considerations at local, regional and global scales. The Institute is a leader in creating a culture of sustainability within and beyond York University through engagement in practical, collaborative and interdisciplinary research and innovation that drives change. IRIS is currently seeking an application for a new Senate charter to further advance this mandate and build on past success. The incoming Director of IRIS will have an opportunity to provide leadership in advancing a renewed strategic vision for the Institute and defining priorities within it.

Applicants are expected to be members of the full-time faculty at York University and to have a distinguished and active record of sustainability-related research and scholarship. Demonstrated ability to lead and enable collaborative, interdisciplinary research initiatives is required, as are strong communication and networking skills. The Director is expected to provide leadership for the Institute's research activities, to develop and secure external funding, and to continue to build the local and national reputation of IRIS. He or she is also responsible for overseeing management and administration of the financial, organizational, and academic activities of the Institute. The successful applicant will receive an administrative stipend and the appropriate course load reduction as stipulated by the relevant Collective Agreement. Applications and nominations (including curriculum vitae and the names of three referees who may be contacted) should be sent to Angela Magro, Senior Administrative Assistant, Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, 5th Floor, Kaneff Tower, Applicants are also invited to submit a statement about their vision for IRIS, including goals, objectives, strategy of action and leadership style. Applications and nominations must be received by Friday, November 29, 2013.

IRIS Website:

Office of the Vice‐President Research & Innovation

Philosophy prof lands in Warsaw for UN climate change conference

The following was first published in YFile on Thursday, November 14th.

York Philosophy Professor Idil Boran landed in Warsaw, Poland, today for the United Nations climate change conference to follow negotiations as part of her work on decision making and ethics in climate change policy.

This is the second consecutive year that Boran has attended the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a York University observer delegate. She previously attended the meeting in Doha, Qatar, in December 2012 and is excited to watch this year’s negotiations Idil Boran at DOHA 2012unfold.

Idil Boran at DOHA 2012

“This is a great opportunity to follow up on specific themes that were front and centre during negotiations between parties, as well as in official side-events at COP 18 in Doha,” says Boran. “As the international community is moving toward 2015, where a new agreement on the architecture of cooperation on climate change is to be reached, any progress achieved in Warsaw will be highly significant.”

The themes she is interested in following include:

  • the role of new financial mechanisms for effective mitigations programs;
  • steps toward an international cooperation to address loss and damage due to the effects of climate change in developing countries; and
  • empowering women for climate change resilience in developing countries.

She finds the continuity afforded by watching the negotiations take place from one year to the next particularly valuable to her work and wonders if the destruction in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan will heighten the tone of this year’s negotiations. The UNFCCC started Nov. 11 and will run until Nov. 22.

Boran, director of the Certificate Program in Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy, is working on integrating problems of decision-making into a conception of an ethics of climate change policy.

The York University delegation for the UNFCCC has been coordinated by the Institute for Research & Innovation on Sustainability (IRIS) since 2009. Boran will be posting updates to the IRIS website.

Her research is supported by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada and IRIS.

For further information on Warsaw 2013, contact Anyone interested in attending next year should watch the UNFCCC website or contact Boran.

York delegation departs for the annual climate change conference

Idil Boran, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, will be heading to Warsaw, Poland to attend the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as an observer delegate from York University.

The York University delegation for the UNFCCC has been coordinated by IRIS since 2009.

cop19logoProfessor Boran is attending the UNFCCC for a consecutive year after having attended the previous meeting in Doha, Qatar in December 2012. As part of her work on integrating problems of decision-making into a conception of an ethics of climate change policy, Professor Boran is planning to follow the negotiations as they unfold.

“This is a great opportunity to follow up on specific themes that were front and centre during negotiations between Parties as well as in official side-events at COP 18 in Doha”, says Boran.  “As the international community is moving toward 2015, where a new agreement on the architecture of cooperation on climate change is to be reached, any progress achieved in Warsaw will be highly significant.”

In Warsaw 2013, Professor Boran will pay special attention to the following themes as part of the post-Durban negotiations toward 2015:

  • The role of new financial mechanisms for effective mitigations programs
  •  Steps toward an international cooperation to address loss and damage due to the effects of climate change in developing countries
  • Empowering women for climate change resilience in developing countries

Idil Boran’s research is supported by the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS); the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Institute for Research and Innovation on Sustainability (IRIS).

For further information on Warsaw 2013, contact

Anyone interested in attending next year should watch the UNFCCC website and contact IRIS at

Work and Climate Change Report: Issue 21, Oct 2013

The Work and Climate Change Report is a monthly online publication which alerts and informs academics, practitioners and students about important new research and legislation from Canada and around the world. WCR is published by the Work in a Warming World Research Programme, York University. 

To view this months report, click here

For questions, comments, or if you wish to subscribe to our monthly report, please e-mail us at: 

Visit us at:  

York University releases its first annual sustainability report

This report published in YFile 05.11.2013

The first annual York University Sustainability Report was released today. The report is a newly amalgamated report consisting of the President’s Sustainability Council (PSC) Annual Report, which has been compiled yearly since 2010, and a new Environmental Sustainability Report from York’s Campus Services & Business Operations (CSBO) Department.

Covering the period from May 2012 to April 2013, the report summarizes progress on recommendations the PSC has made to the University’s president over the past three years, including several new recommendations advanced by the working groups of the council over the past year. For the first time this year, CSBO’s annual Environmental Sustainability Report is also included.  The Environmental Sustainability Report covers operational sustainability indicators such as energy usage, waste diversion and several other indicators of sustainability that are tracked by CSBO on an ongoing basis.

“I am very pleased to share this report with the University community,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “York University is committed to being one of the leading institutions in Canada on sustainability, and the new annual report highlights the significant progress we have made, including being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2013.”

The report also highlights a number of new recommendations that form the core of the University’s sustainability plans, including new proposed initiatives in energy conservation, woodlot management, waste management, community engagement, and a farmers’ market piloted on the Keele campus this fall.

“We are very encouraged by the positive results we are seeing on sustainability here at York,” said Professor Ilan Kapoor, chair of the PSC. “The new annual report will help us communicate this progress to the broader York community, and we also hope it will encourage others to get involved in sustainability initiatives on our campuses.”

Consisting of students, faculty and staff, the PSC is an advisory body to the president with responsibility for providing input and recommendations on how to advance York University’s sustainability initiatives, projects, and practices and to provide oversight of the required actions from approved recommendations. CSBO oversees a variety of sustainability programs on both campuses, including energy conservation, transportation, and waste management initiatives.

To view the full report and executive summary, and to find more information on the PSC and sustainability initiatives underway at York University, visit the Sustainability website and theCSBO website

York hosts conference on sustaining a green economy

The following appeared in the Friday, October 25, 2013 edition of Y-File:


Brian Czech, champion of a steady-state economy, will give the keynote address Nov. 1 at an upcoming conference at York on sustaining a green economy.

Czech will argue for alternatives to a growth-based economy, the subject of his latest book,Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and the Steady State Solution. His is delivering the keynote at the biennial conference of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics (CANSEE). The conference theme is Sustaining the Commons: Ideas and Actions for a Green Economy. Academics, policy makers, practitioners and activists from across traditional disciplines are expected to attend the conference Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at Keele campus.

Czech is founding president of CANSEE, a chapter of the International Society for Ecological Economic, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing understanding of the relationships among ecological, social and economic systems for the mutual well-being of nature and people.

He earned a PhD in renewable natural resources studies from the University of Arizona with a minor in political science, and teaches ecological economics at Virginia Tech. A prolific writer about sustainable economics, he is also the author of Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, which calls for an end to uneconomic growth, and The Endangered Species Act: History, Conservation Biology, and Public Policy.

The opening plenary, Ecological Economics, Degrowth and Denial: The Role of Social Engineering, will feature William Rees, co-developer of ecological footprint analysis. Other plenaries will discuss the business case for sustainability and economics for a flourishing Earth. There will be a panel discussion on societal uptake of green fiscal measures, focusing on the Canadian experience with environmental taxes and incentives, and policies for environmental sustainability.

Speakers will give presentations on topics such as Canadian energy and climate policy, complexity science, limits to growth, green indicators, systems thinking and urban sustainability.

York faculty participating at the conference include environmental studies professors Peter Victor, author of Managing without Growth. Slower by Design, not Disaster; Ellie Perkins, whose research focuses on feminist ecological economics, climate justice and community environmental education; and Christina Hoicka, an expert in sustainable energy economics.

The event is sponsored by York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, the David Suzuki and Ivey foundations, Green Analytics and BlueGreen Canada. It is funded by a grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada.