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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.

German atmospheric chemist will give this year’s Harold I. Schiff Lecture

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



A German atmospheric chemist will give this year’s Harold I. Schiff LectureThursday.


Astrid Kiendler-Scharr (left) will discuss how a warming climate may be inducing changes in emissions of organic aerosols from vegetation and whether the changes are reducing or amplifying climate change.


The title of her talk is Chemistry Climate Interactions: Biogenic Emissions and their Contribution to Secondary Organic Aerosol. She is giving the talk Oct. 31 at 2:30pm in 103 Life Science Building.


Here is a summary of her talk:


Atmospheric aerosols impact climate directly by scattering and absorbing solar radiation and indirectly by acting as ice and cloud condensation nuclei. Secondary organic aerosols (SOA) comprise an important component of atmospheric aerosols. Biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) emitted by vegetation are a major source of SOA. It is known that BVOC emissions depend on climate, specifically on temperature and light. Therefore it is to be expected that a chemistry-climate interaction exists, in which climate change induces changes in BVOC emissions and thereby SOA formation, which feeds back to climate. The presentation details the state of the art knowledge on biogenic SOA and its climate relevance. The question of whether climate-induced changes in biogenic SOA formation may attenuate or amplify climate change is addressed based on experiments conducted in the Jülich Plant Atmosphere Chamber.


Kiendler-Scharr is  a professor at the University of Cologne, a director at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research of the Research Center Juelich, and head of a group researching Stable Isotopes in Aerosol. She did her doctoral work on “Development and application of a novel aircraft borne ion trap mass spectrometer apparatus for the analysis of trace gases and ions: measurements in a laboratory, in the plume of jet engines and atmospheric trace gas measurements with aircrafts.” Her Habilitation in  2010 was on “Formation of secondary organic aerosols from biogenic emissions of volatile organic compounds.”


This is the 23rd Harold I. Schiff Lecture. The series is organized by the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry and was established in honour of York’s founding dean of science. Schiff was known for developing techniques to measure trace constituents in the upper atmosphere and for interpreting the physics and chemistry of the stratosphere.



The following appeared in the Thursday, October 17, 2010 edition of Y-File


In conjunction with International Open Access 

Week (Oct. 21-27), York University Libraries will be mourning the “Death of Evidence,” and evidence-based research, on Oct. 22 at 1:30pm in the atrium of Scott Library. Those who would like to pay tribute to the long-form census, which has been cancelled; Library and Archives Canada, whose budget has been cut; or Canadian government scientists who have been silenced, are encouraged to join the Death of Evidence ceremony.

The ceremony will begin at 1:30pm in Central Square, as a procession accompanied by a bagpiper, which will lead guests to the Scott Library atrium (second floor). Three “eulogists,” Dawn Bazely, Janet Friskney and Valerie Preston will speak.

Bazely, professor of Biology at York and director of York University’s pan-university, senate-chartered research centre, the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), will speak on behalf of silenced government researchers. As both a professor, and director of IRIS since 2006, Bazely has participated in conversations about research related to science policy.  She is also a proponent for Open Access and has worked closely with York’s digital initiatives librarian to create the Digital Archive, Churchill Community of Knowledge, in Yorkspace.

Friskney, research officer in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University, also spends time performing executive duties for the Bibliographical Society of Canada. It is on behalf of the Society that she’s been monitoring, for the past several years, the ongoing changes at Library and Archives Canada. She will be speaking on behalf of Library and Archives Canada.

Preston, professor of Geography at York and former York Director for CERIS — The Ontario Metropolis Centre, will speak on behalf of the long-form census and how its cancellation affects researchers. As a social geographer, Preston’s research examines migration trends and policies with particular attention to questions of exclusion and inclusion for immigrant men and women.  She has also worked closely with community and government partners on research about immigrant integration in Canadian housing and labour markets.  

Following the speakers’ eulogies, those in the audience will have the opportunity to speak on behalf of science, the census and Library and Archives Canada. More information about the Death of Evidence event can be found here.

Death of Evidence Twitter Contest

From Oct. 15 – 22, members of the York community can submit their own tributes to evidence-based research via Twitter, using the hashtag #RIPevidence. Telling the Libraries, in 140 characters or less, what you will miss most about the loss of evidence-based research, will enter you into a draw to win a copy of Chris Turner’s book, The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada. The randomly selected, winning entry, will be announced at the Death of Evidence event on Oct. 22. Full contest details can be found here.

Open Access Week Tabling

Those interested in speaking with York librarians about Open Access or the “death” of evidence-based research can stop by the awareness booths on Oct. 23 at the Steacie Science and Engineering Library from 11am – 12pm, Osgoode Law Library from 12:30-1:30pm, the Bronfman Business Library from 2:30-3:30pm, and the Frost Library from 10:30-11:30am on Oct. 24.

For more information about this event visit the and York University Library

Dawn Bazely Named Hotshot Prof by Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail‘s annual Canadian University Report was released earlier this week. The report highlights York’s highly rated programs in business, social work, fine arts, psychology and criminology, where students enjoy a vibrant, politically engaged culture and a strong commitment to social justice. This year’s report announced IRIS director Dawn Bazely as a Hotshot Prof. A “hotshot prof” is listed for each school in Canada – Dawn Bazely, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, is identified as York’s. Professor Bazely continues to make innovative changes to her courses, bringing her research and life experience into the classroom, and serving as a great and passionate mentor. A winner of York’s 2013 President’s University-Wide Teaching Awards, Bazely also spearheads research at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability.

York professors who are global thought leaders in their fields, as well as our accomplished alumni who are making a positive impact in the world. To formulate the report, information is gathered from professors, alumni and the universities themselves, as well as through interviews with current and former students about their university experiences. York University is described as an “intellectual oasis in the suburbs” also pointing out that the Lassonde School of Engineering’s new building, how the University has demonstrated exceptional dedication to sustainability and the “dynamic, comprehensive university York has become”. The report is used as a tool by prospective university students and their parents, and it plays an important role in creating an understanding of what each university offers. The report also recognized Janice Fukakusa, chief financial officer at Royal Bank of Canada, who was inducted into Canada’s Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame in 2007, as one of the York’s notable alumni.

Read more about the report here.

Professor Gabrielle Slowey presents “Fracking in the Free World? Resource Extraction and Implications for Indigenous Peoples”

As part of the Csillag Seminar Series, Dr. Gabrielle Slowey, Professor of the Department of Political Science at York University will be presenting her paper on social justice in the fracking industry. Join her at The University of Toronto Mississauga on Wednesday October 30th from 12 to 1pm.  “Fracking in the Free World? Resource Extraction and Implications for Indigenous Peoples” discusses the controversial politics of fracking- the differences between provinces and states in and between Canada and the United States. This paper seeks to understand the reasons for support or opposition of fracking in different regions. It also addresses how citizens are engaged, their responses and what the implications for relations between the state and First Nations? This paper builds on the path-breaking work of Simona Perry’s “Playing for Keeps along the Susquehanna: A Community-Integrated GIS of Land and Water Uses and Rights in Rural Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play”, to represent a preliminary (and collaborative) effort to map out the terrain of fracking politics. 

Department of Geography, University of Toronto Mississauga
Csillag Seminar Series
Where: DV 3130 Council Chambers
When: Wednesday, 30 October 2013, 12-1pm
Speaker: Dr. Gabrielle Slowey
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science York University (Toronto, ON) Title: Fracking in the Free World? Resource Extraction and Implications for Indigenous Peoples

For more of the Csillag Seminar Series see here.

President to host a town hall on Oct. 2

The following appeared in the September 25th, 2013 edition of YFile.

Do you have an opinion about online education or experiential learning? A burning question about differentiation or credit transfer? This year's town hall is an opportunity to bring together York University faculty, staff, and students to discuss the rapidly changing post-secondary education sector and its impact on the University.

How do we drive innovation and strengthen the quality of education in an increasingly budget-constrained environment? How can we remain Headshot for bio and letterhead 2012competitive in a globalized context? Join York University's President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and members of the senior executive team for this interactive dialogue.

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri

The town hall will take place Wednesday, Oct. 2, from 11am into the noon hour, in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, main floor, Accolade East Building, Keele campus. All students, faculty and staff are welcome.

This year's town hall derives its focus from the five topics put forward in the summer working group roundtables hosted by the Province of Ontario, which are graduate placement, online education, differentiation, graduate education and credit transfer.

Joining the president for the town hall will be Gary Brewer, vice-president finance & administration, and Rhonda Lenton, vice-president academic & provost.

Can’t attend in person? There is more than one way to participate. The town hall will be available to watch via webcast at The President’s Town Hall website and questions can be sent in advance to the website. You can also submit your questions via Twitter using the hashtag #YUTownHall.

Students help inform design of eight sustainable housing models

The following appeared in the July 22nd, 2013 edition of YFile. IRIS was one of the partners that created the course back in 2009.

What will the highly sustainable features of eight prototype homes at the Kortright Centre’s Living City Campus look like? That’s what about 41 students, mostly from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, were exploring during a recent Design for Sustainability Workshop course.

The three-week intensive course wrapped up with a one-day Building Research Establishment (BRE) Innovation Park Design Charrette in which students worked with experts to develop recommendations based on five themes: First Nations housing, affordable sustainability, assisted living and health and the aging population, passive house and sustainable retrofits.DesignCharretteGroup

Students and experts come together to discuss recommendations

“We’re training the champions and decision makers of sustainability,” says Arlene Gould, who has taught the course for the past five years and is a part-time faculty member. “The charrette is a great teaching tool. The students love it and often tell me they found it transformative.”

About 20 experts – architects, landscape designers, Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) staff – joined the charrette. Toronto is an important design hub, one of the biggest next to New York and Boston. “We’re also a hub for green building, but we’re ArleneGouldnot really using the talents of designers at a high level,” says Gould. She hopes to change that by helping students to become more aware of the sustainable design possibilities.

Arlene Gould

Each year, the design charrette looks at something different. It’s one of the design tools explored in the course to get students thinking about sustainable solutions and opportunities that will change people’s lives.

This year, it was the BRE Innovation Park Canada. BRE, a U.K. organization that does research on the built environment, joined with the TRCA to create the park to promote sustainable construction, bridge trial concepts to large-scale implementation, field test new and advanced technologies and get industry involved in more sustainability research.

DesignCharretteGroup2The park will test and showcase best practices, new methods and materials suited to the Canadian built environment.

The various groups discussed five themes to inform the future design briefs for the housing prototypes

Participants had a first glimpse at the site plan and engaged in a series of breakout sessions. It was in those sessions that the students helped to develop the themes and outline the performance standards and targets that will inform the future design briefs. BRE has done similar projects in other parts of the world, including China and Scotland.

Industry will be asked to step forward and build the houses to showcase what’s new in design sustainability and green innovations. The park will then be open to industry and the public to see what’s possible.

In another course project, the students worked in groups to conduct a design audit of the Keele campus construction sites. They developed ideas for how to improve the currentDesignCharretteIdeawalking experience on campus and how to tell stories in public space about the transformation that each construction project will bring about.

A model by environmental studies student Jonathan Tavone illustrating one student group’s idea for telling the construction story on campus, part of the course design audit

The hands-on course takes students on several field trips. This year, those included a trip to the Kortright Centre to see first-hand where the eight houses for the BRE Innovation Park would be built and a guided tour and talk by the architect at St. Gabriel’s Passionist Parish – the first church in Canada to be awarded a gold certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.