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Shaping the future of sustainable finance

The Institute for Sustainable Finance releases annual report, highlighting the institute’s efforts to support Canada’s transition to an environmentally sustainable economy.

The Institute for Sustainable Finance has published its first annual Impact and Progress Report.

Institute for Sustainable FinanceThe report looks at the ISF’s achievements over the past 12 months in terms of its four strategic pillars: research, education, collaboration, and outreach.

Highlights include: five research reports assessing different dimensions of Canada’s progress in sustainable finance; delivery of public and custom education programs; continued support and collaboration with the Canadian Sustainable Finance Network of academics across North America; producing a series of 11 educational primers on core concepts; support to post-graduate students and researchers; and more.

The report also looks at the impact of the institute’s activities toward aligning financial systems to promote long-term environmental sustainability and economic prosperity in support of Canada’s transition towards a net-zero emissions economy.

Housed at Smith School of Business, the Institute for Sustainable Finance is the first of its kind in Canada. Led by the team of Chair Sean Cleary, Executive Director Sara Alvarado and Director of Research Ryan Riordan, the ISF is a multi-disciplinary network of research and professional development that brings together academia, the private sector, and government to shape Canada’s innovations in sustainable finance.

“At a time when Canada and the world face many climate, technology and geopolitical challenges, our work is making an impact as we help mobilize capital towards sustainable finance in this race to net-zero,” Alvarado says. “We need to remain competitive as a country, continue to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to help finance our economy and ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.”   

Read the report.

New program equips leaders to tackle global challenges

Queen’s launches first-in-Canada Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship.

[Drone photo of campus]

Queen’s has launched a new program to enable executives and professionals from a variety of sectors to better understand and address complex social and global challenges. The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact (ALSI) Fellowship is a first-in-Canada program that provides the tools, knowledge, and networks participants need to tackle the root causes of social problems – from housing affordability to climate change.

“To confront the significant social issues of our day, we need people with a deep understanding and appreciation of the complexities of how to make real impact,” says Jim Leech, former president and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, former Chair of the Mastercard Foundation, and Chancellor Emeritus of Queen’s University. “Through the Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship we have the opportunity to foster a community of leaders, from all walks of life, able to drive meaningful solutions for people and the planet.”

Closing a gap

Social issues are complex and must be viewed from multiple perspectives to achieve meaningful outcomes. Leaders must also be equipped with various approaches to initiate or measure progress on impact-driven solutions. The fellowship responds to a gap in the higher education landscape.

The one-year, hybrid program draws from field-leading Queen’s research and industry experts, including environmental biologists, chemical engineers, and international business lawyers. It also applies a human-centric approach to investigate all dimensions of social issues, meaning that stakeholders are involved at all levels of decision-making and can move quickly from theory to practice and project application.

“The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship doesn’t look at social problems in isolation or from one perspective,” says Jean-Baptiste Litrico, Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Queen’s and the program’s co-director. “The program is grounded in the belief that real issues are systemic and require a multidimensional leadership approach to inspire tangible solutions.”

[Photo of people walking on Queen's campus]
ALSI Fellowship participants will engage in four on-campus residency sessions as part of the one-year hybrid program.

Commitment to social impact

The fellowship builds on Queen’s reputation as a leader in advancing sustainability and social impact. For two years in a row, the university has ranked top-10 globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure the institution’s contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  

In addition to being a Canadian-first, the ALSI program marks a milestone as the first cross-faculty delivered professional program. While co-led by faculty from the Smith School of Business and the Faculty of Education, it draws in individuals from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the Faculty of Law, and the Faculty of Arts and Science, reflecting the cross-campus commitment to driving social change.

“At Queen’s, we empower our community to advance social impact through research, teaching, and outreach activities,” says Ted Christou, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Education and co-director of the program. “We can broaden this reach to likeminded leaders through a transformative curriculum focused on a diversity of perspectives and team-based solutions.”

Transformative leadership

In October 2022, the ALSI Fellowship will welcome its first cohort with an initial intake representing a variety of careers and backgrounds. Designed to accommodate those working full-time or with other commitments, the program will combine on-campus residential sessions with online synchronous learning, and a team-based culminating project.

The one-year program includes over 130 hours of curriculum that are divided into three themed semesters: discovery, design, and delivery. Each focuses on a core mindset required to understand drivers of problems and move from theory to practice.

Participants will also network with faculty, mentors, and peers, learning from leading experts in the field with both academic and applied experience.

The Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship is currently recruiting participants for 2022-2023. For more information on the program, visit the website.

Local partnerships support education abroad

Hakeem Subair of 1 Million Teachers speaks during the Muna Taro launch.
Hakeem Subair of 1 Million Teachers speaks during the Muna Taro launch event at the Tett Centre. 

With 13 million children who are without access to schools in Nigeria alone, there is an urgent need for educational support – a trend which is expected to grow over time. Adding to the complexities of this issue are the intersections between gender and access to resources in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To address these challenges, modern policy-driven solutions that are culturally attuned, and advance sustainable community-led changes are needed. Working towards this end, Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, and the City of Kingston recently co-hosted an event at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning to showcase and raise awareness on enhancing learning in Nigeria.

Muna Taro (We are coming together) is a collaboration between three organizations based out of Nigeria: 1 Million Teachers, Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative, and Girl Rising.

The exhibit, My Story of Water, uses the power of art to foster creativity and resiliency and was open to the public between June 2- 29. The display included hand-painted water cans and photographs emphasizing the importance of safe access to water, sanitation, pollution, environmental protection, and how basic needs are fundamental to empowering educational development.   

The launch event included comments from Queen’s Provost Mark Green, Dean of the Faculty of Education Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of Smith School of Business Wanda Costen, St. Lawrence College President Glenn Vollebregt, Kingston Economic Development Council CEO Donna Gillespie, as well as the Nigerian High Commissioner, Nigerian Ambassador, and Special Advisers to the President of Nigeria.

“The showcase displays collaboration of like-minded people looking to enhance and provide access to education for the most vulnerable members of our communities,” says Hakeem Subair, founder of 1 Million Teachers and a Queen’s alumnus. “We need to show the world what we’re doing, but more importantly how to make society better, and hopefully we can get support from other people who are not yet part of our movement.”

With the exhibition focusing on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation, Queen’s and the Kingston community continues to build ties with Nigeria and support Muna Taro’s initiatives and pursuit of educational reform.

Wanda Costen and Rebecca Luce-Kapler share a laugh.
Dean of Smith School of Business Wanda Costen, left, and Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty Education discuss their support of the Muna Taro program.

Relationship-building organizations

1 Million Teachers is an organization that hopes to attract, train and retain teachers through the use of their online platform and learning modules. Queen’s connection to Muna Taro stems from the CEO of 1 Million Teachers, and Smith School of Business graduate, Hakeem Subair. In 2018, the Faculty of Education partnered with 1 Million Teachers to assist with program development and to create a practice that supports learning in Nigeria and beyond, while advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“When we started 1 Million Teachers we wanted to support teachers and when we were doing that we started seeing gaps in our programming – areas such as inclusivity, and gender responsive education,” Subair says. “The gaps we were seeing led us to taking a systems approach because most times you could see yourself working on a solution, and that solution may become part of the problem. This process led to us collaborating with all the partners we are working with today.”

The Five Cowries art initiative aims to improve educational outcomes by stimulating engagement and encouraging creativity through the amplification of narratives about social and environmental impact in Nigerian.

Girl Rising empowers young girls through the power of story telling and raising awareness of the barriers preventing girls from attending school and gaining an education. From combating early marriage, sex trafficking, domestic slavery and gender-based violence, Girl Rising’s mission is to create transformational change in the way girls are valued.

Together, these organizations advocate for grass roots changes environmental and social and environmental norms across Nigeria, and 14 other African countries.

Learn more by visiting the Muna Taro and Faculty of Education website.

What we need to build a more inclusive future

Human resources management expert provides insights on gaps and best practices in addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workforce.

As Canadians celebrate both Pride Month and Indigenous History Month, June seems like the perfect time to reflect on the different aspects of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) – how we’ve worked to implement EDI in our lives and practices and the work we still need to do. One area that has seen attention over the past decade is how EDI practices can be beneficial for institutions and businesses.

Eddy Ng
Eddy Ng

Eddy Ng, the Smith Professor of Equity & Inclusion in Business and an expert in human resources management, focuses his research on how we can promote EDI in workplaces across Canada. He recently spoke to the Gazette about how the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened existing gaps and what current research says about hiring and management practices to promote EDI.

How did COVID-19 increase gender related inequalities?

First, women are disproportionately affected by business closures (e.g., retail, hospitality, service-oriented work) and hence they suffer in employment and income in relation to men. The aggregate number of hours worked by women decreased significantly, and the number of women owned businesses declined as a result of the pandemic. Thus, the gap employment and income gaps between men and women widened.

Also, pre-existing conflicts between work and family responsibilities magnified during COVID-19. Women shoulder a disproportionately larger share of household chores and caregiving. School and daycare closures have forced a third of working women to consider quitting their jobs. A noteworthy point of observation, women are less represented in senior management and leadership roles – which tend to be more pandemic-proof. 

We hear about post-pandemic economic recovery and a shortage of skilled workers. However, Indigenous and Black workers still struggle finding jobs that are consistent with their professional competencies. Why?

The post-pandemic recovery has seen a boom in the tech sector and sectors that are adaptable, but Black and Indigenous workers still are underrepresented in tech and other booming sectors such as banking and financial services, STEM professions, and information and communications technology. Historically, Black and Indigenous workers have lower levels of educational attainment and possess job skills that are prone to automation. Simply put, Black and Indigenous workers have not been set up for success in new economy jobs and in remote or “pandemic proof” careers. To address employment gaps, we need to have policies aimed at preparing Black and Indigenous populations for the new economy, and industry commitment as partners in the training and employment of severely underrepresented racialized workers.

Individuals are differently impacted based on a combination of factors (race, citizenship, gender, class, sexual orientation etc.). Do existing EDI practices address intersectionality?

Intersectional marginalized identities tend to be invisible; the Black lesbian small business owner is grouped with other Black small business owners. EDI policy surveys tend to address identities that are measurable or quantifiable, thus individuals with intersectional identities don’t receive the same attention. To address this, policy makers need to decompose aggregate data or collect better data. The challenge, as reported here, is getting individuals to respond to policy questions. Alternatively, equity policies should be as broad as possible to ensure that individuals with multiple struggles are able to receive more comprehensive support.

Hiring practices that aim to foster diversity and inclusion are frequently criticized based on the hypothesis that they might favour minorities and fail to find the best candidates for a position. Is that a fallacy? Why?

Hiring for diversity and hiring for excellence are not in conflict with each other. Hiring the "best" candidate implies there is a singular view of what is the best, established by the dominant group, so we are reproducing the dominant group perspective. This is why it is important to have targeted hirings so that we are not crowded out by dominant group views. Meritocracy and picking "the best" favour the dominant group that establish the rules. 

What strategies are successful in creating more diverse and inclusive hiring processes and promoting EDI in workplaces?

In comparing firms that are covered under the Employment Equity Act with those that are not, research shows that firms having to comply with public policies do better in hiring for diversity. Public policies create visible accountability across firms. Research also shows that leaders who create accountabilities for diversity goals, lead more diverse organizations. Implicit bias training, however, does not work well for several reasons. First, bias training tends to emphasize the negative (i.e., remedial training), generating skepticism and resistance among participants. Thus, bias training does not change attitudes or behaviours. Second, hiring managers don’t like to be told whom to hire. People tend to rebel against rules when discretion is taken away from them. Third, bias training, when improperly conducted, can reinforce stereotypes and undermine its very own purpose in removing biases.

We already have the knowledge and skills on how to become more diverse and inclusive. What is lacking are motives. Accountability and incentives provide that motive. Once we have the critical numbers in diversity, demographic faultline weakens and organizational climate shifts to one that is more accepting of differences. 

Cast your vote for the Art of Research

The public has until June 2 to vote for their favourite Queen's research photo in the People’s Choice category.

[Collage of photos with text: Art of Research photo contest]
A selection of Queen's research photos included in the People's Choice vote as part of the Art of Research photo contest.

Voting is now open for the People’s Choice prize in the annual Art of Research photo contest. The public is invited to cast their ballot and participate in promoting the diversity of research happening across Queen’s.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations), the annual contest is an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to mobilize their research beyond the academy. The contest is aimed at providing a creative and accessible method of sharing the ground-breaking research being done by the Queen’s community and celebrating the global and social impact of this work.

Contest prizes

The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to celebrate the impact of research in advancing these important global goals. Five new categories inspired by the SDGs were introduced for this year’s contest alongside the popular People’s Choice prize.

Images selected for voting in the People’s Choice are entries that generated discussion and were shortlisted by the adjudication committee.

All prizes come with a monetary prize of $250.

Cast your vote

The survey closes on June 2 at midnight. Winners of the 2022 Art of Research photo contest will be announced shortly following the vote.

To learn more about past contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

2022 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

  • Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research)
  • Kanonhsyonne - Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation)
  • Nicholas Mosey, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Heidi Ploeg, QFEAS Chair for Women in Engineering, Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • Ruth Dunley, Associate Director, Editorial Strategy, Office of Advancement
  • Jung-Ah Kim, PhD Student, Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies
  • Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, University Relations
  • Véronique St-Antoine, Communications Advisor, NSERC

Canada faces huge physical costs from climate change, making net zero a great investment

Reducing greenhouse gases is expensive, but it’s a great investment compared to the damage we can expect to the Canadian economy if the climate warms 5 C by 2100.

 

A family watches a wildfire from the safety of a ridge.
A family watches a wildfire from the safety of a ridge. (Unsplash/Caleb Cook)

There has been a lot of discussion in Canada lately about the financial costs of achieving the country’s climate targets. And rightly so. The situation is urgent and we need to act now.

Fighting climate change will require a concerted effort, affecting all sectors of the economy. And while there will be great economic opportunity and lots of new jobs in the green economy, there will be considerable disruptions in the workforce, major economic challenges and significant capital investment required.

However, we in the finance business like to look at both sides of the ledger. And when one considers the damage to the Canadian economy we can expect from fires, floods, melting ice caps and loss of biodiversity due to climate change, the investment in greenhouse gas reductions starts to look very worthwhile indeed.

Climate change impacts economic prosperity

In a new study we recently published with the Institute for Sustainable Finance, we posit that economic value is sacrificed every day that action is not taken to mitigate the economic and ecological risks posed by climate change. Existing economic models agree that losses are unavoidable without change and investment. But questions remained regarding how much value will be lost and how quickly.

Our study modelled the physical risk to Canada, or how much capital output might be lost, over various warming scenarios between now and the end of the century. We found that under a business-as-usual scenario, with no new international greenhouse gas mitigation measures taken, allowing the climate to warm 5 C by 2100, the cumulative cost to Canada would be $5.5 trillion.

That’s a big number. And it’s a lot higher than the damage we would see under a scenario where global warming is kept to 2 C, which we estimate to be around $2.8 trillion.

Of course, this is just the financial cost and does not take into account the suffering of those who will lose livelihoods, homes and businesses, or even their lives, due to climate-related disasters.

Our study further reveals that the associated costs of physical damage are larger than the investments required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the difference is up to $45.4 billion larger than the required investment. And this doesn’t even consider the potential economic benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

Yes, it is true that Canada can’t fight climate change on its own, and that it’s a global effort. But the incentive is clear for a rich, developed, industrialized country like Canada to take a global leadership role and meet our own net-zero targets.

A worker installs solar panels on the roof of a house.
A worker installs solar panels on the roof of a house. (Unsplash/Bill Mead)

Quick action is crucial

There is also a big incentive to act now, as we will face some inflection points in the coming decades that will make the challenge considerably more difficult.

Our study found that the costs of climate change damage are expected to grow gradually until 2050, around which time there is a sharp increase under all scenarios. By 2070 there is an exponential increase in damages. These dates correspond to two of the significant target dates for achieving net zero noted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its reports.

Despite the recent increased attention to addressing climate change, progress has been too slow. It is becoming clear that we are not on pace to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Estimates from the IPCC and others suggest that with current progress, and if the world meets its existing commitments, we are more on pace for a 3 C warming scenario. There is a very real risk that warming will be higher still.

This is all bad news for Canada, which is highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and is warming at twice the rate of the global average. But until now, we haven’t had an effective assessment of the physical risks and the potential capital cost to Canada.

We have much to lose. And it should now be clear that tackling climate change more than pays for itself in terms of avoided physical damage alone.The Conversation

____________________________________________________________

Neal Willcott, PhD Candidate - Finance, Queen's University and Sean Cleary, BMO Professor of Finance, Queen's University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Transforming the global academy

Principal Patrick Deane on how the SDGs are helping break down silos, provoke dialogue, and unite us all in a common global purpose.

[Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane]
Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University

This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement in 2021.

As a member of the international group tasked with updating the Magna Charta Universitatum – the declaration of university freedoms and principles that was first signed in Bologna in 1988 – I am struck by the extent to which the intervening three decades have altered the global consensus about the nature and function of universities. Where the original document spoke eloquently to the fundamental values of the academy, the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 reaffirms those values but also expands upon their social function and utility. I would summarise the shift this way: we have moved from an understanding of universities as defined primarily by their ability to transcend historical contingency to a more complicated view, which asserts that timeless principles such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the platform from which the academy must engage with history.

If the situation in Europe and around the world in 1988 made it important to speak up for the freedoms without which teaching and research would be impoverished, by 2020 it had become equally important to speak of the responsibilities incumbent on institutions by virtue of the privileges accorded to them. The reality of rapid climate change has brought urgency and authority to this new view of universities, as have parallel trends in the social, cultural, and political climate, and “education for sustainable development” has emerged as the increasingly dominant model for global higher education – one which fuses the concerns of environment, society, and economy.  

Recent columns in Times Higher Education have admirably described the diverse ways in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been intrinsic to this reorientation of the global academy: as a rallying point for students and staff, as an accountability framework, and as a global language for political action, for example. Here at Queen’s University, the SDGs have been an important frame for our current planning process, and in all of those ways have influenced the manner in which we understand and wish to articulate our mission.

At one point in the process, an influential and valued friend of the university expressed some irritation to me about the way in which the SDGs had come to dominate and disrupt the university’s normally untroubled and inwardly-focused dialogue with itself about mission and values. “And in any case,” came the throwaway dismissal, “there’s nothing original or new about aligning with the SDGs.” Of course, that is true in 2021, but is it relevant? If a university is able to maximise its global impact, does the inherent originality or novelty of its planning parameters matter? In such exchanges – still occurring, I’m certain, on campuses everywhere – we can see that the changing consensus about which I wrote at the start is not yet complete.

It seems to me, in fact, that much of the value of the SDGs as an organising framework for universities resides in their not being proprietary or “original” to one institution, or to an exclusive group of institutions. It has often been pointed out that they now provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research. Adoption of the SDGs, however variously that is done from institution to institution, is turning the “global academy” from a rhetorical to a real construct, and I can’t imagine why it would be in the interests of any university to hold itself aloof from that transformation. Having watched our planning process unfold at Queen’s over the last two years, I can confirm that what the SDGs do at the global level, they do also at the level of the individual institution, providing a common language that provokes and sustains dialogue – not only between disciplines, but between the academic and non-academic parts of the operation.

I want to end by commenting on the excitement generated when siloes are broken open and when people and units understand how they are united with others in a common purpose and in service to the greater good. To cultivate that understanding has been the primary objective of planning at Queen’s for the last two years, and preparing our first submission to the Impact Rankings has been an intrinsic part of that process of learning and self-discovery. Naturally, we are delighted and excited by where we find ourselves in the rankings, but we are energised in a more profound way by the knowledge of what synergies and collaborations exist or appear possible both within our university and in the global academy.

The first 16 SDGs point to the areas in which we want to have impact. The 17th tells us what the whole project is really all about: acting in community for the communal good.

 

Queen’s secures second consecutive top 10 position globally in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

Queen’s places 7th in international rankings out of over 1,500 institutions in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

[7th in the world - 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings]

Capturing 7th position globally, Queen’s is ranked in the top 10 of the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings for the second year in a row. The rankings measure the actions universities are taking to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both within and beyond their local communities. This 2022 international competition saw participation from over 1,500 post-secondary institutions (up from 1,240 in 2021).

Created in 2019, the THE Impact Rankings are the only international assessment to evaluate how universities’ programs and initiatives align with the SDGs. This set of 17 wide-ranging goals is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a universal call to protect the planet and its people.

"I am incredibly proud of the Queen’s community for this repeat stellar performance," says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University. "The ranking recognizes the sustained impact we are having in our local and global communities, but also serves to inspire future action fueled by our collective intellectual curiosity, passion to achieve, and commitment to collaboration – key to our mission and values."

Using calibrated metrics and indicators across four key areas – research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship – the rankings assess hundreds of data points and qualitative evidence that tangibly measure the impact of higher education institutions in addressing urgent global challenges. Since its inaugural year in 2019, participation in the THE Rankings has increased from 450 institutions to 1,500 participating institutions across 110 countries in 2022. This includes 400 first-time ranked institutions and 24 Canadian universities.

"The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are unique in examining universities’ impact on society, through each of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals," says Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, Times Higher Education. "Canada is one of the outstanding performers in this ranking, with ten universities in the world top 50 – and it is great to see Queen’s among Canada’s leading institutions, making the world top 10 and excelling in its contribution to SDG 1, and SDG 11, and SDG 16, in particular. It is important to be able to identify and celebrate the work universities do to make the world a better place."

Queen’s performance

Queen’s results once again reflect the cross-university collaboration and partnership of dozens of units across faculties, portfolios, and departments. Highlights from the 2022 rankings include:

  • Queen’s was ranked across all 17 SDGs
  • 2nd worldwide for SDG 1: 'No Poverty.' Queen’s strong performance acknowledged the Commitment Scholars program, which provides financial support for students who are members of underserved or underrepresented groups and who have demonstrated leadership in, and commitment to, racial justice, social justice, or diversity initiatives, and Swipe it Forward, a peer-to-peer program that facilitates the donation of meals to students facing food insecurity
  • 3rd worldwide for SDG 11: 'Sustainable Cities and Communities.' Queen’s supports public access to green spaces, including self-guided tours of the university’s Snodgrass Arboretum, free trail access at Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre, and the castle gardens at the Bader International Study Centre in the UK. State-of-the-art cultural facilities – including the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre – showcase world-class performing arts and collections to the community
  • 2nd worldwide for SDG 16: 'Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.' In addition to significant collaboration with all levels of government and training the next generation of policy makers though the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s supports academic freedom and is a member of the Scholars at Risk program, which arranges temporary research and teaching positions for scholars whose lives, freedom and well-being are under threat
  • Queen’s ranked in the top 100 of 12/17 SDGs and in the top 30 of 8/17 SDGs

Evidence of impact

[Report Cover - Queen’s contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advancing social impact | 2020-2021]
Read the report: Queen's contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Advancing social impact | 2020-2021 [PDF Report 13 KB]

More than 600 pieces of quantitative and qualitative evidence looked at Queen’s research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship and included:

  • Queen’s partnership with the Karta Initiative to provide educational opportunities to low-income youth from rural India
  • The new Queen’s Institute for Global and Population Health, created to boost research, education, service, and collaborative projects that will help advance and decolonize global health systems
  • Black Youth in STEM, an outreach program engaging Black elementary students in science, technology, engineering, and math programming through fun, hands-on activities in a Black-positive space
  • Leanpath Spark, a program to measure food waste and foster education and inspire action in Queen’s dining halls
  • A new Campus Map focused on accessibility to assists campus visitors in navigating Queen’s buildings and accessible routes, entrances, washrooms, and more
  • The Queen’s University Biological Station, one of Canada’s premier scientific field stations dedicated to environmental and conservation research and outreach
  • Supporting and connecting women of all ages through the Ban Righ Centre, dedicated to diversity and community building
  • Queen’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and meeting its goal for a 35 per cent reduction in emissions between 2008 to 2020
  • A website and report created to illustrate Queen’s commitment to the SDGs and showcase programs and initiatives that address some of the world’s most pressing challenges

The Queen's University’s community of exceptional students, researchers, staff, and alumni all contribute to making a positive contribution to social impact and sustainability. For more information on the THE Impact Rankings and how the university is contributing to the SDGs, visit the Advancing Social Impact website.

[Illustration of Queen's campus and collaborations]

The cultural sector needs support in order to benefit from a digital remake

A man records a Concert with his phone
The pandemic shifted many concerts, events and performances online. (Unsplash/John Mark Arnold)

The COVID-19 crisis has dealt a massive blow to the cultural and creative sectors in Canada and around the world. The impact was broad and deep.

In 2020, museums were closed for an average of more than 155 days, and in 2021, many of them had to shut their doors again, resulting in a 70 per cent drop in attendance.

The film industry, which relies heavily on box office revenue, has seen most theatrical releases cancelled or delayed. The crisis shook the book publishing industry, putting smaller publishers at risk and delaying the launch of several new books and literary works. Music festivals, concerts and plays were forced online, delayed or cancelled and many artists had to find other work.

When these sectors hurt, Canada hurts.

Creative industries have long been one of the leading drivers of innovation and economic growth in this country, making up almost three per cent of the GDP. By promoting social inclusion and social capital, the cultural sector is a key contributor to well-being as well. Our culture drives our identity as community and as country.

Just above survival level

The pandemic has exposed the structural fragility of the businesses and people foundational to supporting the cultural and creative sectors.

For the most part, these are small businesses, non-profit organizations like art centres, fairs, festivals, museums or theaters and independent artists and creative professionals like writers, painters or musicians — many who are operating just above survival level.

The pandemic has removed their main sources of revenue but has not diminished their costs of creation. If they go under, they may never recover. This would create a long-lasting dent in the production of cultural content in Canada.

Even though the federal and provincial governments have implemented support policies for organizations and professionals affected by the pandemic, the measures have not adapted to the new reality.

Supports also appear to be poorly targeted and fail to account for the medium- and long-term impact of digital transformation on how we produce and consume cultural products and experiences.

For many arts institutions and creative professionals, continued survival and relevance will hinge on how well they can transition from in-person to digital. Doing so will build their resilience to face future shocks and offer an economical pathway to reach larger audiences.

Supply and demand

In the near future, emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality have the potential to fuel new types of cultural experiences that can be marketed not only to large audiences but also to new audiences who were not consuming the cultural content before.

In economic terms, digitalization has affected both the demand and supply for cultural content. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated technology and the adoption of digital devices to experience things remote because of the pandemic, consumers have developed a taste for new ways to “tour” museums, “attend” theatre and participate in book readings.

For culture producers, this has forced them to re-imagine not only what and how they create but also their business methods, distribution channels, advertising and funding.

Digitalization of cultural experiences

The digitalization of cultural experiences takes many shapes and forms: musicians streaming concerts when live concerts aren’t possible, museums providing online tours or online book releases with authors reading from their homes.

The pandemic forced cultural producers to think about how they might transition the delivery of their cultural content from in-person to digital in ways that wouldn’t diminish the experience of cultural consumers.

Digitalization has affected competition as well, in cross-cutting ways. It has lowered the cost of starting a new culture-based enterprises, which should spur competition. But it has also led to greater concentration among those who are able to adapt to the digital world, adding to the decade-long trend of increased market concentration in cinemas, radio, television and the press.

Greater market concentration usually leads to higher prices and poorer quality, with serious long-term consequences for access and diversity of content — that is the most worrisome.

Access to culture and the guarantee of respect to one’s culture are not only rights explicitly recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and promoted by the United Nations and UNESCO, but they are quintessential to our identity as a community and country.

Policy interventions

Given the importance of access to culture, public policy interventions must aim to support the digitalization of cultural experiences as one way to help face the uncertainty of the future.

Even in stable times, governments have struggled to adapt their policies to the nontraditional business models that mark the cultural sector. That needs to change.

The form of measures and aid provided can vary but two objectives must be prioritized.

One, the aid must help to guarantee the survival of companies and organizations, employees and artists who make access to culture possible. Cultural producers — particularly those that are small and independent — will need help to build their digital skills.

And two, looking to the future, the aid must be competition-neutral — business and organizations must not be favoured over others — to ensure lively innovation by new entrants. If necessary, anti-competition law should be applied to avoid abusive practices that reduce access to culture.

With the fulfilment of both conditions, we can emerge from this crisis a culturally stronger and more forward-looking and resilient country than before.The Conversation

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Ricard Gil, Associate Professor, Smith School of Business, Queen's University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Erik Siksna named U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian

Erik Siksna, Queen's Gaels volleyball player
Gaels men's volleyball team member Erik Siksna has been named a U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian for the 2021-22 season, marking the third straight year a Queen’s student-athlete has been recognized with the award.

Erik Siksna, a member of the Queen's men's volleyball team, has been named a U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian for the 2021-22 season.

Siksna, a third-year student in the Smith School of Business commerce program, was also named an Academic All-Canadian for the second time earlier this season.

“This award is a tremendous honour. To be recognized among the many outstanding student-athletes and Academic All-Canadians is truly special,” Siksna says. “I have always worked to prioritize both my athletics and academics, so this recognition is especially meaningful. With that being said, there is no doubt that my success wouldn’t be possible without the unwavering support from my teammates, coaches, and the university, which I am extremely grateful for.”

This marks the third year in a row that a Queen’s student-athlete has been named a Top 8 Academic All-Canadian, with Sophie de Goede (Women’s rugby and basketball) receiving the award in 2020-21, and Slater Doggett (Men’s hockey) in 2019-20. Overall, Siksna is the seventh Queen’s Gael to be recognized.

The Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian Commendation was founded by former Governor General of Canada David Johnston, who first honoured Canada’s Top 8 student-athletes in 2013. To achieve this award student-athletes must maintain an average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year while competing for one – or more – of their university’s varsity teams. Among these outstanding individuals, one female and one male student-athlete from each of the four U SPORTS conferences are selected annually to make up the Top 8. 

Siksna, an outside hitter for the Gaels, was named the OUA East Division Most Valuable Player for the 2021-22 season as well as a First Team OUA East Division All-Star.

“Erik Siksna has been one of our top student-athletes since his arrival on campus. He was named Rookie of the Year for Queen’s, the OUA, and U SPORTS in 2019 before competing with Team Canada at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship this past summer,” says Leslie Dal Cin, Executive Director, Athletics & Recreation. “A natural leader and impact player on the court, Erik also excels in the classroom as a perpetual Academic All Canadian. Erik will continue to accomplish great things during his time at Queen’s, and serve as a fantastic example of what we celebrate in U SPORTS student-athletes.”

Off the court, Siksna volunteers as an assistant coach of a high school volleyball team, and helping mentor other student-athletes as a Gaels tutor.

In the classroom, Siksna is a two-time Academic All-Canadian and holds a 4.1 GPA and was a recipient of the Queen's University Excellent Scholarship for entering with an average above 90 per cent.

“It takes a special type of student-athlete to excel at the level Erik has been able to in just his first years both on and off the court. His calm, cool and collected demeaner has allowed him to manage the stress of both a heavy commerce work load as well as the big playoff moments,” says Gabriel deGroot, Head Coach of the Gaels men's volleyball team. “Erik’s success comes with little surprise when considering the time, effort and dedication he puts into every detail of his life.”

Visit the U SPORTS website for more information on this year’s Top 8 Academic All-Canadians.

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