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Internationalization

William Leggett receives prestigious lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Leggett.

William Leggett, professor emeritus in the Department of Biology and Queen's 17th principal, has received the H. Ahlstrom Lifetime Achievement Award from the Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society for his contributions to the fields of larval fish ecology.

The American Fisheries Society is the biggest association of professional aquatic ecologists in the world, with over 9,000 members worldwide.

"œIt feels good to be singled out by such large group of people who I respect so highly," says Dr. Leggett. "œI didn'™t expect to receive this award so it'™s a big honour and thrill to get it."

Dr. Leggett'™s research focuses on the dynamics of fish populations and his work as a biologist and a leader in education has been recognized nationally and internationally. A membership in the Order of Canada, a fellowship from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Award of Excellence in Fisheries Education are just some of the awards he has received for outstanding contributions to graduate education and marine science.

The Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society recognized Dr. Leggett'™s "œexceptional contributions to the understanding of early life history of fishes that has inspired the careers of a number of fisheries scientists worldwide and has led to major progress in fish ecology and studies of recruitment dynamics."

The award was recently presented in Quebec City at the 38th annual Larval Fish Conference held in conjunction with the 144th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

 

Tuning in to sustainable practices across the pond

The crew of a hugely popular BBC Radio program visits the Bader International Study Centre to learn more about sustainability and biodiversity efforts to preserve the natural environment.

A BBC panel of experts learns about biodiversity at the BISC.
A BBC panel of experts learns about biodiversity at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). (Supplied)

With its more than 600 acres of land containing medieval parklands, ancient woodlands, meadows, ponds, marshlands, and formal gardens, Queen’s University’s Bader International Study Centre  (BISC) serves as the backdrop to the latest episode of the hugely popular Gardeners Question Time (GQT) on BBC Radio 4.

“The idea to do a special broadcast from the BISC sprang from a climate change gardening workshop in the Autumn this year,” says Director of Corporate Development at the BISC, Duncan Adams. “Peter Gibbs, who chairs the panel of horticulture experts, was intrigued by the idea of the Castle’s efforts to increase biodiversity and sustainability, and thought it would be of interest to many listeners across the UK and beyond.”

As part of the broadcast, a panel of horticulture experts were hosted by the Castle’s Gardens and Grounds Manager, Guy Lucas, with the location being chosen to showcase some of the work undertaken on the estate to increase its biodiversity and sustainability. The panel had access to the entire estate but were guided through some key areas, including the Castle Courtyard, the Elizabethan Garden, Rose Garden, and Shakespeare Garden.

Over the centuries, numerous changes, both inside and outside the castle walls, have resulted in a loss of biodiversity and preservation of the unique grounds. In order to improve and restore the estate’s surrounding environment, Lucas and his team of gardeners and grounds staff are implementing sustainable ecological practices such as rewilding to repair damaged ecosystems and restore the grounds to their original state through natural processes. Sustainability and biodiversity are combined to help nurture and preserve the natural environment, while providing a living lab for students, staff, and members of the public. 

The 42-minute episode also included a wander through the grounds as panelists answered diverse questions from listeners about their own gardens, including how to encourage slugs, the lifespan of potting soil, and, just in time for the holidays, how to thicken a holly hedge.

Adams says the radio experience will help to raise the BISC’s profile.

“We really want listeners to have a better understanding of what we are doing here on the estate, how hard we work on it and how important it is to not only the Estate but the local habitat too. “

The Castle grounds are now closed for the winter, with next year’s season launching in mid February.

The BISC prides itself in it’s academic quality, offering six programs with over 60 courses for students in Arts and Science, Commerce, Engineering, Health Studies, Liberal Arts, Social Science and more. A focus on small class sizes, individual attention and experiential learning opportunities throughout the UK and Europe help to develop skillsets that serve graduates well as they head into the workforce.  

Allowing students to interact with and learn from the estate team’s sustainability and biodiversity agenda is an integral part of the BISC’s mandate. The BISC Skills Award (BSA), which encourages students to participate in university events and programs for personal development, presents an excellent opportunity for student engagement. Recently, this program has incorporated the estate team’s sustainability and biodiversity initiatives into the curriculum by allowing students to partake in projects including invasive species removal, pond maintenance, rare species seed planting, and the designing of a new student services cottage garden.

“The work we do on sustainability and biodiversity is increasingly embedded into our academic programs” says Adams. “The BISC Skills Award (BSA) helps students build graduate attributes to support their academic qualifications. Our Bees and Trees, and other projects, have this year allowed students to get involved in sustainability programs on the estate learning new skills and giving something back to the environment.”

The BISC’s focus on sustainability also contributed to Queen’s success in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings revealed that Queen’s University had placed first in Canada and fifth in the world in its global ranking of universities that are advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Queen’s earned its Impact Ranking after successfully implementing programs to improve sustainability within and outside of the local Kingston community.

Gardeners’ Question Time was broadcast Dec. 17 and 19. You can listen or download the recording here. For more information, visit the BISC and Herstmonceux Castle websites.

Queen’s PhD candidate finishes second at international 3MT competition

Samantha Twietmeyer earns runner-up honours at the 2021 Matariki 3 Minute Thesis with her presentation ‘Scared of what’s behind you – Negotiating a double minority dilemma’. 

Samantha Twietmeyer with Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science, Sandra Den Otter, Vice-Provost (International), and Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies (SGS)
Samantha Twietmeyer is congratulated by Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science, Sandra Den Otter, Vice-Provost (International), and Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies (SGS). (University Communications)

An 80,000-word PhD thesis takes up to nine hours to present. For competitors in the 2021 Matariki 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) event, they only had 180 seconds.

Queen’s University PhD candidate Samantha Twietmeyer was named runner-up for her presentation Scared of what’s behind you – Negotiating a double minority dilemma.

The Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) is an international group of seven universities including Dartmouth College, Durham University, Queen’s University, University of Otago, University of Tübingen, Upsala University, and the University of Western Australia.

The 3MT competition challenges research students to communicate the significance of their projects to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes using just one slide. The daunting task was just what Twietmeyer says - she needed to increase her confidence and to rediscover her initial excitement about her thesis work.

“In March I took part in the 3MT workshop through the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) to help me finish writing my thesis,” Twietmeyer says. “In the last couple of years of writing your thesis, you don’t have a lot of opportunity for feedback and I was struggling to keep writing. Colette Steer (Manager, Recruitment & Events, School of Graduate Studies) encouraged me to enter and thought I’d do one and that would be it. I never expected to win.”

The Matariki event allows SGS to put forward the top two PhD students. Twietmeyer was first overall and Quentin Tsang from Translational Medicine was the next top PhD.

Twietmeyer comes from a background of musical theatre and drama but the event this year was hosted virtually due to the pandemic. This unique format had its challenges for someone used to presenting in front of a live audience that gives immediate feedback that she overcame that hurdle with a lot of practice and encouragement from Steer and Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies (SGS).

She also thanked her supervisor John McGarry (Political Studies) for providing invaluable support for her research and encouragement throughout the competition process.”

And she notes, the competition has given her the motivation she needed to keep writing and she has also put her experience to good use at other public events.

“The 3MT helped me a few weekends ago when I was at a conference presenting a paper on the customs protocol in Northern Ireland,” Twietmeyer says. “My research is often difficult to disseminate outside of my own area of academia but I used my 3MT during the presentation and it made it so much easier. Other students should give it a try. It isn’t easy but it’s an incredibly valuable to experience it once. And SGS provides all the support required.”

To view Twietmeyer’s entire presentation and to learn more about the event, visit the Matariki Network of Universities website.

Pioneering Queen’s chemistry research gets $24M boost

Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund supporting novel research that could extend the lifespan of metals and potentially save billions across the infrastructure, microchip, and health care industries.

[Photo of Dr. Cathleen Crudden in the lab]
Dr. Cathleen Crudden, Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry.

While oxygen may give us life, it constantly eats away at modern living.

Picture your commute to work or school, to a store or the gym. You may drive a car or take public transit. Your route may take you over a river by bridge or by train. Maybe your phone rings along the way; it’s your friend asking for a pick-up from the airport later.

These activities, along with countless others in which we routinely engage, rely on the strength and resilience of metals, which play indispensable roles in sectors from automotive and engineering to health care and communications. The problem: when most metals meet oxygen – be it the oxygen in the air or in the molecules that comprise water – they grow unstable and break down.

With $24 million in newly announced support from Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund, Queen’s chemistry researcher Cathleen Crudden is poised to revolutionize industries worldwide with unique molecular coatings designed to significantly extend the lifespan of vital metals. These advances could not only improve our daily lives, but they could also save society billions in infrastructure and manufacturing costs.

Molecular science. Momentous effect.

Together with her multidisciplinary team of international researchers and industry collaborators, Dr. Crudden is developing a fundamentally new approach for protecting metal surfaces. Building on her prior discovery that a certain class of organic molecules can form bonds with a wide range of metals, the group is exploring and developing a carbon-on-metal coating that could slow or halt corrosion and degradation caused by oxygen, changes in pH, and heat.

"Worldwide, countries spend, on average, over three per cent of their GDP each year on corrosion maintenance. Annually, Canada spends around $66 billion across sectors," says Dr. Crudden, professor and Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry. "With new strategies, like the innovative coatings we are developing, we could save governments, taxpayers, and industries up to 25 per cent of this cost. We are very excited about the potential this work holds, and grateful for this significant support from the New Frontiers in Research Fund: Transformation Stream."

These coatings could prevent metals in microchips from breaking down, leading to greater longevity for our computers, phones, and other devices. They could also guard against automobile rust, improve aerospace design, and even be used on a nanoscale, improving targeted chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and refining medical imaging.

The technology’s potential to improve cancer care is promising, as it could enable new advances to nanomedical precision cancer treatments that could impact the health and wellbeing of one-in-two Canadians who will develop the disease in their lifetimes.

High-risk. High-reward.

Drs. Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry), Kevin Stamplecoskie (Chemistry), and Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry and Biomedical and Molecular Sciences). [Photo taken in accordance with COVID-19 protocols in effect at the time.]
Drs. Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry), Kevin Stamplecoskie (Chemistry), and Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry and Biomedical and Molecular Sciences). [Photo taken in accordance with COVID-19 protocols in effect at the time.]

The New Frontiers in Research Fund: Transformation Stream grant awarded to Dr. Crudden and her team is one of only seven grants of up to $24 million announced by the federal government earlier this morning. Distributed to recipients over a six-year span, the funding is designed to support large-scale projects involving high-risk, high-reward, interdisciplinary research. This is the first time New Frontiers in Research Grants: Transformation Stream have been awarded.

"I am beyond proud of the Canadian institutions and researchers who think outside disciplines and borders to tackle major challenges," says The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. "These programs are a catalyst for amplifying new voices, insights and discoveries that will answer communities’ needs, elevate our innovation hub and shape Canada’s prosperity for years to come. Congratulations to all recipients!"

The development of new coatings could help position Canada at the forefront of the barrier coatings industry, which has a national economic impact of $31 billion per year, and currently employs 211,000 people across the country.

"Thanks to support from the New Frontiers in Research Fund, Dr. Crudden and her interdisciplinary team will be able to advance the application of their pioneering research, protecting vital metals across industries," says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University. "This work reflects the importance of research being undertaken at Queen’s and the impact it can have on both human and economic aspects of our society."

Both Queen’s Office of Partnerships and Innovation and GreenCentre Canada – a Queen’s spinoff led by another Queen’s Chemist Philip Jessop – are on board to assist the project group with research translation and potential commercialization through regular assessments of the technology’s readiness and economic potential.

International collaboration, learning, and training.

[Dr. Cathleen Crudden with collaborators and students]
Dr. Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry) with her team of Queen's collaborators, lab members, and students. [Photo taken in accordance with COVID-19 protocols in effect at the time.]

Along with multidisciplinary research and industry collaborators across Canada, the US, and Europe, Dr. Crudden is working alongside several Queen’s University colleagues. Chantelle Capicciotti, Queen’s National Scholar and assistant professor of Chemistry and Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, joins Dr. Crudden as a co-principal investigator on the project, while Kevin Stamplecoskie, assistant professor in Chemistry, and Alastair McLean, professor in Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, are co-applicants.

"I want to congratulate Dr. Crudden and her team on being awarded this new funding, and thank the Government of Canada for supporting high-risk, high-reward research with the potential for wide-ranging impacts," says Nancy Ross, Queen’s Vice-Principal (Research). "Not only could this project boost Canada’s position in the global high-tech sector, but it will also enhance cross-disciplinary collaborations, support early career professionals, strengthen equity, diversity, and inclusion opportunities, and expand student learning in myriad ways."

The project’s potential to boost professional and educational development for those involved is significant. Early career researchers like Drs. Capicciotti and Stamplecoskie, stand to gain invaluable leadership, learning, and collaborative experiences while performing vital roles in advancing the work.

Graduate and post-doctoral students will be involved as well; learning and working alongside, and supervised by, early career and seasoned researchers – building their skillsets and improving future employability. Dr. Crudden is preparing to hire approximately 14 students and post-doctoral fellows to assist with the project.

Project collaborators

Project co-principal investigators:

Western University, Concordia University, McGill University, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Networks

Project co-applicants:

University of St Andrews (Scotland), University of Texas (Dallas), University of Jyvaskyla (Finland), University of Toronto, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US), University of Tokyo, École de technologie supérieure, Département de génie de la construction, Simon Fraser University

Identified industrial collaborators:

3M, Solvay, (SFL)-CanUSA, National Research Council Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre, Division of Transportation and Manufacturing, NRCan – CanMetMATERIALS, Hydro Quebec and CRDQA, Ocean Networks Canada, Jernkontoret, The Nickel Institute, Intel Corporation, Tokyo Electron Limited, Canadian Cancer Trials Group, Izotropic Corporation, Nano-medicine Innovation Network

The New Frontiers in Research Funding results were announced as part of a bundled science announcement that included the latest round of Canada Research Chair appointment and renewals and graduate scholarships and fellowships. You can find Queen’s coverage of these funding achievements here.

Queen’s to train next generation of Egyptian technology leaders

A signing ceremony of the new agreement between Queen’s and Egypt took place on Sept. 15.

Queen's University and Egypt enter an international partnership
Dr. Amr S. Talaat, Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, speaks with Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane who attended the signing ceremony virtually on Sept. 15, 2021.

Queen’s University has entered into an international partnership with the Government of Egypt to train their next generation of experts in the field of artificial intelligence and data science. 

Beginning in January 2022, up to 100 Egyptian students will participate remotely in the Queen’s School of Computing’s Master of Data Science and Machine Learning. Their participation in this 12-month program is part of the Digital Egypt Builders Initiative (DEBI) led by the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology — which aims to empower the next generation of Egyptian engineering and computer science graduates.

The master’s program addresses the growing demand for graduates with a data science and machine learning background from leading technology firms, healthcare companies, automobile manufacturers, research labs and government agencies. Some of the educational outcomes for graduates of this Queen’s program include developing a rigorous understanding of fundamental concepts in Data Science and Machine Learning, and designing, evaluating, and refining data-driven solutions, processes, and infrastructure for effective problem solving. This partnership with Queen’s will assist Egypt in their efforts towards building nationwide capacity in modern technologies.

We are proud to welcome Queen’s University on board of the ambitious Digital Egypt Builders Initiative. Queen’s University is among the top universities in Canada. I am confident our Egyptian Students will benefit from this exceptional opportunity offered by the Egyptian Government, setting the path for the new generations to become the driving force of technological innovation in Egypt, says Ahmed Abu Zeid, the Ambassador of Egypt to Canada.

The collaboration reinforces Queen’s commitments to equitable global engagement through sustainable development, civic impact and fostering mutually beneficial partnerships across the globe. Queen’s was recently recognized by THE Impact Rankings for the university’s societal impact based on advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This partnership is a continuation of this commitment and the university’s goal to produce and support graduates who will go on to find solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.

“Queen’s is pleased to support this new partnership with Egypt, supporting postsecondary education and preparing students to be leaders in their communities,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University. “With the signing of this agreement, Queen’s and the Ministry will be partners in equipping young people with the technological skills needed for success in the 21st century.”

A signing ceremony of the new agreement, with the Ambassador of Canada to Egypt and the Ambassador of Egypt to Canada as guests, took place on Sept. 15 in Egypt. Representatives from Queen’s University attended remotely including Principal Deane, Sandra den Otter (Vice-Provost, International), Mark Green (Provost and Vice-Principal, Academic), Hossam Hassanein (Director of the School of Computing), Fahim Quadir (Vice Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies), Barbara Crow (Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science), Sharon Regan (Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science), and Tom Collier (Coordinator, International Agreements and Partnerships).

Rewilding the estate

How sustainability and biodiversity initiatives are core to the mandate of the Bader International Study Centre.

[The Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in East Sussex, England encompasses more than 600 acres of land]
The Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in East Sussex, England encompasses more than 600 acres of land. (Supplied Photo)

This spring, the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings revealed that Queen’s University had placed first in Canada and fifth in the world in its global ranking of universities that are advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Queen’s earned its Impact Ranking after successfully implementing programs to improve sustainability within and outside of the local Kingston community. But these efforts also extend “across the pond.” On the grounds of Queen’s UK campus, the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England, sustainability and biodiversity are combined to help nurture and preserve the natural environment, while providing a living lab for students, staff, and members of the public. 

The BISC estate encompasses more than 600 acres of land containing medieval parklands, ancient woodlands, meadows, ponds, marshlands, and formal gardens. Over the centuries, numerous changes, both inside and outside the castle walls, have resulted in a loss of biodiversity and preservation of these lands. In order to improve and restore the estate’s surrounding environment, Grounds and Gardens Manager Guy Lucas and his team of gardeners and grounds staff are implementing sustainable ecological practices such as rewilding to repair damaged ecosystems and restore the grounds to their original state through natural processes. 

  • [Photo of the bluebells among the ancient woodland]
    The ancient bluebell woodland set within the BISC's historic parkland.
  • [Photo of a woodland path on the estate]
    The woodlands form part of the castle's historic parkland supporting over three hundred acres of diverse wildlife and plants including ancient oaks and sweet chestnut trees.
  • [Photo of the wildflower meadow]
    Explore the winding paths among the five-acre native wildflower meadow dedicated to conservation at the BISC.
  • [Photo of Temple Field]
    Temple Field is enclosed by woodland and leads to the Folly with its own walled cottage garden within the castle grounds.

Supporting biodiversity

Lucas and his team’s efforts to rewild large areas of the estate are at the forefront of BISC’s biodiversity initiatives. A major part of this process will include the removal of non-native and invasive species and the planting of native varieties to provide a mixed species and age structure within the woodland. Also integral to the rewilding project is monitoring the species within the woodland and the management of trails to ensure they have adequate light, and the correct woodland edge flora, as these act as highways for wildlife.

In efforts to restore the lands to their original state, the estate team has adopted the ancient practice of 'coppicing' which has been practiced in the United Kingdom since the Neolithic period. 'Coppicing' involves cutting an acre of broadleaved trees down during the winter, on a rotation of 20-30 years, and allowing them to regenerate. Opening these areas of woodland mimics the actions of Neolithic ancestors and the auroch (an extinct wild cow) who carried out this process for centuries, allowing woodland flora and fauna to thrive.

Lastly, as 98 per cent of wildflower meadows in the UK have been lost, the team has dedicated 20 acres of the estate to create and protect an environment where wildflowers can thrive, acting as a vital food source for bees and butterflies and as a habitat for invertebrates and small mammals. In the winter, the sheep on the estate graze the dense thatch of grasses, which enables fresh seeds to come in contact with the earth and grow the next year’s wildflowers. 

[The estate’s sheep grazing grasses and encouraging the natural sowing of wildflowers.]
The estate’s sheep grazing grasses and encouraging the natural sowing of wildflowers. (Supplied Photo)

Advancing sustainability

The BISC’s commitment to sustainability extends inside the castle walls where numerous waste reduction efforts have been implemented.

Recently, a Sustainability Working Group was formed to bring together employees from across the institution to drive sustainability initiatives. These include working with the Aramark food services team to ensure that 100 per cent of in-house green waste is composted, enhancing recycling facilities within the castle, removing disposable food packaging, and increasing availability of electric travel methods.

On a larger scale, the estate team maintains sustainable reed beds that address sewage waste through natural filtration, making the water safe and clean. To generate renewable energy, a heat recovery pump system located in the castle moat is estimated to generate up to 35 per cent of the castle’s heating requirements, and a proportion of the electricity needed for the estate is generated via the use of around 200 solar panels.

[Aerial photo of the estate]
The Estate’s renewable energy initiatives leverage the existing historical features and natural environment to support modern technology for sustainability. (Supplied Photo)

The environment as an education tool

Allowing students and the public to interact with and learn from the estate team’s sustainability and biodiversity agenda is an integral part of the BISC’s mandate. The BISC Skills Award (BSA), which encourages students to participate in university events and programs for personal development, presents an excellent opportunity for student engagement. Recently, this program has incorporated the estate team’s sustainability and biodiversity initiatives into the curriculum by allowing students to partake in projects including invasive species removal, pond maintenance, rare species seed planting, and the designing of a new student services cottage garden.

The BISC is also dedicated to sharing the estate’s biodiversity and sustainability efforts with the public. One program that showcases this relationship is the Herstmonceux Castle Forest School. The Forest School allows members of the public to engage with the natural environment in the estate’s ancient woodlands, offering all learners opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on experiences in a woodland environment. This program allows the environment itself to serve as an educational tool. 

Improving biodiversity and the adoption of a sustainable mindset at the BISC is reflective of Queen’s steadfast dedication to advancing sustainable development through pursuing the UN’s SDGs. By way of its community and student outreach programs, the BISC has consistently shared its advancements and knowledge in sustainability and biodiversity with the public, providing education and enjoyment to the larger community.

For more information, visit the BISC and Herstmonceux Castle websites.

Learn more about Queen's University's Climate Action Plan.

Queen’s to join universities around the world in signing Magna Charta Universitatum 2020

Free virtual conference explores university values and responsibilities.

Principal Patrick Deane signs the Magna Charta Universitatum during an event hosted at McMaster University on Oct. 17. (Supplied photo)
Principal Patrick Deane speaks at a signing event for the Magna Charta Universitatum, hosted at McMaster University on Oct. 17, 2019. (Supplied photo)

On June 16 and 17, Principal Patrick Deane will join other global university leaders in a virtual forum to celebrate the launch and signing of the new Magna Charta Universitatum (MCU) 2020. The signing event will happen during a two-day online conference examining ways in which the values and responsibilities laid out in the MCU 2020 address challenges and pressures facing universities today.  

The MCU 2020 is a declaration and affirmation of the fundamental principles upon which the mission of universities world-wide should be based. It underlines the key principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy as set out in the original 1988 document, but has been expanded to reflect the global nature of universities today and their responsibilities to the communities they serve to benefit humanity and contribute to sustainability. By signing the MCU 2020, universities are united by these principles and responsibilities and help strengthen the role of universities in the preservation of the planet and in promoting health, prosperity, and enlightenment around the world.

“Universities exist to serve the public good, a notion which the original document supported, though somewhat less explicitly. Furthermore, that document was very much focused on issues facing European universities. In the new declaration, the fundamental principles of independence, the necessary connection between teaching and research, and free enquiry remain; but greater focus on diversity, inclusion, community engagement, access to education and sustainable development reflects the current environment in which universities around the world operate,” says Principal Deane, who was a member of the committee that drafted the MCU 2020.

Principal Deane will take on the role as President of the Governing Council of the Magna Charta Observatory (MCO) on June 14 and is the first university leader from the Americas to lead the organization. The MCO is the global guardian and foundation that works to promote and defend the principles laid out in the MCU and MCU 2020.

In addition to offering an opportunity to witness the signing ceremony – a ‘once in a generation’ event – the virtual conference is focused on the theme of, “University values and responsibilities: responding to the challenges of the future.” Conference speakers will offer global perspectives on the obligations and obstacles facing universities today and how the MCU 2020 responds to them. Of interest to all university leaders, professionals, academics and students across the globe (whether their institution has signed the MCU 2020 or not), the conference will enable attendees to learn from each other, and celebrate universities and their impact in the world.

Registration for this event is free and open now.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the new MCU 2020 was planned to be launched in-person at the annual anniversary signing event at the University of Bologna in Italy. Due to continuing travel restrictions and public health requirements related to the pandemic, the MCO decided to launch the new MCU 2020 through a virtual platform.

Speaker spotlight

The conference will feature a number of global higher education leaders, including Principal Patrick Deane who will speak about the new MCU 2020 and how it can benefit universities and societies. Of particular interest will be Michael Ignatieff’s presentation as president of the Central European University, which was forced to relocate its operations from Budapest to Vienna in 2018 as a result of political conflict between its founder, George Soros, and the Hungarian President, Victor Orbán. That universities should function free from state coercion and influence is of course one of the key principles of the MCU.

Here is a look at just some of the speakers and their topics:

Principal Deane unveils university’s strategic framework

Queen’s convenes working groups to advance operational priorities.

Queen's Strategic Framework written on a blue banner, Mitchell Hall photograph in the background.
Newly established working groups will work over the coming months to define goals in support the Strategic Framework.

Following a comprehensive, year-long consultation with the campus community led by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, the university’s Board of Trustees has approved Queen’s new strategic framework. Developed out of consultations with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and stakeholders in Canada and abroad, the new strategy defines the mission, vision and values of Queen’s and identifies six strategic goals aimed at positioning Queen’s as a university committed to societal impact and positive change.

“More than a year ago, I began a comprehensive consultation process to better understand who we are as a university and why we are,” says Principal Deane, who met with several thousand Queen’s community stakeholders as part of The Conversation. “From that frank, thoughtful, and at times unflinchingly critical process emerged the components of a positive, forward-looking strategy for our institution – one that will make explicit that Queen’s is a university for the future.”

Principal Deane has established six working groups to advance the strategy in its next stage of implementation. Each working group corresponds with one of six strategic goals articulated in the framework, which include aiming to increase the university’s research impact; advancing the student learning experience; growing the interdependence between research and teaching; strengthening the university’s global engagement; deepening the university’s relationship with the local, regional, and national communities; and improving Queen’s organizational culture.

“Queen’s new strategy leads with an important vision statement that declares we are a community,” says Principal Deane. “In that spirit, I very much look forward to convening the working groups and, with their assistance, identifying ways by which we can realize our fullest potential as an institution.”

Each working group is led by a faculty champion and includes additional representatives from faculty, university senate, staff, and students. Chairs include Parvin Mousavi, Erik Knutsen, Ram Murty, Sandra den Otter, and Elaine Power. Ellie Sadinsky, a staff member, will co-chair the working group on organizational culture with a faculty member. The working groups will meet over June and July and are tasked with developing two or three operational priorities to align with the strategic goals. The groups will engage the community through public consultation and online feedback before finalizing their goals, which are to be presented to a steering committee, chaired by Principal Deane, in early August.

The steering committee – comprised of the chairs of the working groups, the senior leadership team, and the deans – will then combine the operational priorities into a plan to enable implementation of the new strategy in the early fall. Central to the realization of the strategy will be the university’s recent commitment to advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals; a commitment for which Queen’s was recently recognized as a national and global leader.

Learn more about the working groups, their composition, and mandates.

Advancing international research collaborations

CIMVHR will be participating in NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme to expand research supporting the successful transition and reintegration of military service personnel to civilian life.

Master Corporal Tina Fahie, a member of the Military Police Unit deployed on Operation IMPACT, poses for a photo on September 25, 2020. Credit: Sailor Third Class Melissa Gonzalez
Master Corporal Tina Fahie, a member of the Military Police Unit deployed on Operation IMPACT. (Credit: Sailor Third Class Melissa Gonzalez).

Transitioning out of service is a major turning point in the lives of military personnel. While many have successful experiences, a significant amount face challenging obstacles. In understanding the factors that contribute to a failed military-to-civilian transition (MCT) most of the research has focused on men, leaving a gap in addressing the unique needs of women, particularly around mental health.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) has recognized the importance of supporting women’s successful MCT as a high-level priority within its member and partner nations. This focus has led to a collaboration with the Queen’s-based Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR), a leader in MCT research over the past decade, through NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme. Joined by the Women’s Information Consultative Centre (WICC), researchers, veterans, and policy leaders will participate in a series of consultations and a workshop throughout the year with the purpose of applying a gender lens to MCT research. Focusing on the experiences of women from Ukraine, Canada, and the United States, the goal is to convene leading experts from these countries to translate existing research to policy opportunities and define priorities for new research to advance successful MCT for women.

A launch event marking the start of the collaboration happened on May 19 and reflected the significance and strategic importance of this issue for NATO and the participating lead countries. Representatives delivering remarks included David van Weel, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges at NATO, Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security, and Dr. Kateryna Levchenko, Vice-Chair of Gender Equality Commission of Council of Europe and Government Commissioner for Gender Equality Policy of Ukraine.

“Many of our institutions have long thought that being ‘gender neutral’ or ‘gender blind’ was the fair thing to do, and that in fact treating everyone the same was a way of demonstrating respect and fairness,” says Ambassador O’Neill. “Notably, security forces have long prided themselves on treating everyone the same, and this extended to their supports for the eventual military to civilian transition. But the same treatment often does not result in the same outcomes; people have different experiences and different needs. This research will bring needed attention to the range of needs of diverse women veterans and enable governments to better support women through this critical milestone in their careers and lives.”

  • Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security delivered a welcome address from Canada at the recent NATO SPS Advanced Research Workshop launching the collaboration.
    Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security delivered a welcome address from Canada at the recent NATO SPS Advanced Research Workshop launching the collaboration.
  • Dr. David Pedlar of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) and Ms. Olena Suslova of the Women's Information Consultative Centre (WICC) are co-directors of the NATO SPS Advanced Research Project.
    Dr. David Pedlar of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) and Ms. Olena Suslova of the Women's Information Consultative Centre (WICC) are co-directors of the NATO SPS Advanced Research Project.
  • Attendees of the NATO SPS Advanced Research Workshop included representatives from NATO, government, and participating research institutions, including Principal Patrick Deane and Vice-Principal (Research) Kimberly Woodhouse.
    Attendees of the NATO SPS Advanced Research Workshop included representatives from NATO, government, and participating research institutions, including Principal Patrick Deane and Vice-Principal (Research) Kimberly Woodhouse.

CIMVHR’s participation in the SPS Programme lays a foundation for significant development and application in MCT research. Contributing to NATO’s core goals for more than six decades, the SPS Programme is one of the largest and most important partnership programmes addressing 21st-century security challenges bringing together member and partner nations for high impact. At this stage in MCT research, it is already understood that women can experience unique challenges with their mental health, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), employment and income, sense of purpose, and reintegration into civilian society and workplace culture in their transition from military service. Furthering this research within the common transition domains of study, such as health, finances, social integration, life skills, housing, and physical, cultural, and social environments, will not only improve the experiences of women but also reveal the support needed specific to sex and gender for successful MCT for all military personnel.

“Working together through the SPS Programme will hopefully serve as a catalyst to not only significantly advance MCT research but lead to further efforts to support NATO’s strategic objectives,” says David Pedlar, Scientific Director, CIMVHR. “This research will also help meet the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces and provide support to Canada’s military service personnel to ensure a continued sense of purpose and good well-being for them and their families when they transition to civilians. Transition is the key point to get that right.”

Over the course of the year, CIMVHR and WICC will facilitate consultations, an advanced research workshop, and develop a report advancing the subject matter area and identifying immediate knowledge for practice. A potential outcome by 2022 will be the establishment of collaborations or linkages amongst the participating nations on several NATO multi-year projects with the goal of advancing science and progress for women.

For more information about CIMVHR, a hub of 46 Canadian universities, including founders Queen’s University and the Royal Military College, and 14 Global Affiliates with a network of researchers from across Canada, visit their website.

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