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Faculty of Law, BlackNorth Initiative partner to combat systemic racism

Student-initiated bursary is named after Cecil Fraser, the first Black Queen’s Law student and graduate.

The BlackNorth Initiative, led by the Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism, recently announced a partnership with the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University to support their anti-Black systemic racism efforts.

Cecil Allan Fraser
Cecil Allan Fraser, QC (Law’61),  was the first Black Queen’s Law student and graduate.

Through this partnership, the BlackNorth Initiative is contributing $65,000 to the Cecil Allan Fraser Bursary. Additionally, David Sharpe, Chief Executive Officer of Bridging Finance Inc. and a member of BlackNorth’s Indigenous Observer Committee, and Walied Soliman, Chair of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and a member of BlackNorth’s Legal Committee, have each agreed to personally contribute $10,000 for a total donation of $85,000.

The Faculty of Law is contributing $100,000 to the Fraser Bursary.

Inspired by the desire to improve representation of Black law students at Queen’s, the bursary provides financial support to Black Canadian or visible minority/racialized students enrolled in the JD program.

The Cecil Allan Fraser Bursary commemorates the laudable efforts of Cecil Allan Fraser, QC (Arts'58, Law’61), the first Black student and graduate of Queen’s Law. To many, Fraser is a pioneer in the Canadian legal profession and embodies the Faculty of Law’s motto, “Soit droit fait” (Let law be made/Let right be done). The bursary was established as a joint initiative between the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) Queen's Chapter and the Queen's Pre-Law Society.

“The Faculty of Law at Queen’s University is honored to be working with the BlackNorth Initiative to end anti-Black systemic racism in our institutions,” says Mark Walters, Dean of the Queen’s Faculty of Law. “This is only the beginning. The Faculty of Law is committed to learning and leading by example, which includes further diversifying our student body. We must ensure our law school truly reflects the diversity of Canadian society.”

Learn more about the Cecil Allan Fraser Bursary.

Faculty of Law to launch consultation on building name

The consultation process will involve the formation of a committee consisting of students, faculty, staff, and alumni that will consider comments about the law building name.

Sir John A. Macdonald Hall.
The Faculty of Law at Queen's has committed to a formal consultation process to review the name of its building, Sir John A. Macdonald Hall.

The Queen’s University Faculty of Law today announced that it is committing to a formal consultation process to review the name of its building, Sir John A. Macdonald Hall.

“Given his role in the formation of Canada, there were good reasons to honour Sir John A. Macdonald when the building was named in 1960,” says Mark Walters, Dean of the Faculty of Law. “But the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has brought greater public awareness to Macdonald’s negative legacies, in particular the development of the Indian residential school policy in Canada. In response to concerns raised in this respect, we are therefore beginning a process of consultation on whether the name Sir John A. Macdonald continues to be appropriate for the law school’s building.”

The consultation process will involve the formation of a committee consisting of students, faculty, staff, and alumni that will welcome and consider comments from both within and outside the Queen’s community about the law building name. The matter will also be considered by the law school’s Faculty Board.

Based upon these consultations and deliberations, the Dean of Law will present a report and recommendation regarding the name of the building to the Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, in late August. Principal Deane will consider this recommendation and formulate his own recommendation which he will submit to the Board of Trustees, which has authority over university building names, in time for its September meeting.

“The Faculty of Law is the most directly affected by the name of its building, and so I’m pleased that Dean Walters has undertaken this consultation process,” said Principal Deane. “I am confident that comments will be welcomed from across the Queen’s community and beyond, and I look forward to the Dean’s final report and recommendation.”

Since 2016, the law school has been engaged with implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including hiring an Indigenous Recruitment and Support Officer and the creation of two bursaries to support Indigenous students at the law school. Academically, it has integrated a number of Aboriginal and Indigenous law courses in its curriculum, and recently announced the creation of the Chief Don Maracle Reconciliation/Indigenous Knowledge Initiative. The school has welcomed a wide range of Indigenous lecturers and visitors to the faculty, with 11 scholars and leaders visiting the school in the 2019-20 school year alone. In 2018, it saw the creation and installation of a major piece of public art in its atrium themed on the Indigenous legal tradition of wampum belts, words that are lasting, by Mohawk artist Hannah Claus.  

The focus of the consultation process will be on the law building’s present name rather than an alternative name.

“We have decided to separate the question of de-naming from the question of re-naming,” says Dean Walters. “Only if the Board of Trustees decides to de-name the building will a separate process regarding a new name commence, a process that would of course be governed by the values, principles, and policies of the university.”

Full details on the process, including a statement from Dean Walters and a timeline detailing next steps, can be found at https://law.queensu.ca/about/consultation.

Queen’s Law introduces Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law

Two-term, nine-course online program will be the only educational pathway for Canadians to become Regulated Immigration Consultants. 

The journey to reinvent the training and education of Canada’s immigration consultants has been a two-year path at Queen’s Law. It culminates with the launch of the Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law. As of Aug. 1, this two-term, nine-course online program will be the only educational pathway for Canadians who want to become Regulated Immigration Consultants. 

Above and beyond a rethinking of how Canadian immigration consultants are educated and trained, it’s been a labour of love for Academic Director Sharry Aiken. And, in some respects, the culmination of her professional journey. 

“Before my appointment to Queen’s Law, I had worked in community development in Asia and Latin America, and in northern Ontario. I learned through that experience that community partnerships are key to success,” she says.

Today, Professor Aiken is one of Canada’s most respected experts in immigration and refugee law. For the past two years, however, the development of the Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law has been one of her key focuses. 

“The national regulator had contacted us through a Queen’s Law graduate for our input on their education program,” she explains. “The regulator itself was in transition at the time, and under the leadership of its new CEO we opted to submit a bid in a competitive process to become the English-language provider of a completely revamped diploma program for immigration consultants.” 

That bid – buoyed by the Faculty of Law’s success in the creation and launch of its national online Certificate in Law program – was successful. The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council – the national regulatory body behind Canadian immigration consulting – announced the law school’s successful bid on May 1, 2019. Since that date, Aiken has been building the program with both internal and external experts involved in its construction. 

“Stakeholder engagement is pivotal to success – you need the support of the people whose lives your work affects to be effective,” she says – speaking to a core philosophy behind the program’s design and development. “Even before the ink dried on our successful bid for this project, I set about building a credible national advisory committee. It is representative of the regions of Canada, the kinds of work that consultants do, and gave practitioners and the legal community a direct channel in the development of the program – particularly important given concerns the bar has about the sector.”

The committee, she points, out, is not just window dressing, but a hard-working and vital part of the program’s development. “Members are very involved with regular meetings, direct input on program policy, and providing support in relation to the broad strokes of curriculum development. 

“As a past student, a sole practitioner, and an immigrant, I enjoyed sharing my perspectives and knowledge in the development of the program,” says Ivory Xi, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant living in Victoria, B.C., and part of the National Advisory Committee. “Professor Aiken’s approach organized us into a national team, contributing to this program by bringing our diverse skills and experience into play.” 

Building a program to meet the diverse needs of immigration consultants required input not only from coast to coast, but from around the world. “As part of the process for submitting our bid to become the English-language provider of this program, we conducted an environmental scan of programs in Canada and similar jurisdictions such as Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain,” Professor Aiken says. “Some of these jurisdictions were well ahead of the curve with a more sophisticated approach to competency-based education. The existing diploma programs in those jurisdictions, as well as my own experience as an immigration and refugee lawyer, helped us identify gaps in Canada’s prior approach to training consultants.”

The result is a program that puts equal emphasis on practical skills and academic knowledge. “That equal focus is what distinguishes us from prior programs,” Aiken says. “Skills have to be equal components with content knowledge, and both have to be integrated, practised and assessed in the program, woven into every course and evaluated.”

So how does this weaving happen? Creating an online program that combines pedagogical excellence with input from advisors and program developers poses its own challenges. Fortunately for the law school, these are challenges it was poised to face. “Over the course of the past few years, Queen’s Law has invested in building a teaching and learning team composed of education experts, course developers, and multimedia designers,” says Laura Kinderman, Assistant Dean, Education Innovation and Online Programs at the law school. “We’re working to provide high-quality educational experiences for our students, blending traditional teaching with the latest pedagogical tools for online education.” 

The Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law is the third Queen’s Faculty of Law program to launch online in the last four years, continuing a pattern of growth in education that began under former Dean Bill Flanagan and continues under current Dean, Mark Walters. “Our online programs bring to bear the expertise of national and international legal academics,” Dean Walters says. “In addition to one of the country’s leading JD and graduate programs, we now have an array of online programs that provide legal education to people of all walks of life. Access to justice is a key value at Queen’s Law, and our online programs make it easier for all Canadians to access and understand the law.” 

Access to justice is a vital part of what Professor Aiken sees as the benefits of the program – and only a part of its many benefits. “We’re going to be building a cohort of competent, compassionate professionals poised to make a difference in the lives of their clients and our broader community. This program will be a flagship for Queen’s Law, in supporting the values that inform all our work at the law school,” she says. “I’m very excited to see the project at the cusp of its launch. 

“It’s been a challenging and rewarding process, but the greatest rewards will be hearing from our future students about their positive learning experiences, and I’m looking forward to that.” 

For more information and to apply, visit https://immigrationdiploma.queenslaw.ca/

 

Showcasing the Art of Research – photo essay

The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest celebrates its fifth year, with the selection of ten winning images.

It was another record-breaking year for the Art of Research photo contest, with more than 100 faculty, staff, students, and alumni submitting engaging and thought-provoking research images. The 2020 competition is the largest in the contest’s five-year history, with images winning 10 category and special prizes.

The Art of Research image take us behind-the-scenes of the everyday research experience. From images capturing remote fieldwork to invisible particles under the microscope, the Art of Research seeks to spark curiosity and visualize the ground-breaking research happening at Queen’s. The contest strives to represent the diversity and creativity of Queen’s research, with winners representing multiple disciplines and submissions highlighting research happening at all career stages. This year’s winners will be featured in a digital photo gallery showcasing the contest’s winners and top submissions from the past five years on the Research@Queen’s website.

Category: Invisible Discoveries

[Photograph is of a water-swollen hydrogel particle]

Porous Plastic Particle

Submitted by: Ross Jansen-van Vuuren, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Chemistry

Location of Photo: Bruce Hall, SEM Lab, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: The photograph is of a water-swollen hydrogel particle created in our chemistry laboratory, taken with an instrument called a Scanning Electron Microscope, which allows us to zone in and see important details on the surface of the hydrogel. A hydrogel is essentially a plastic material that is able to absorb very large volumes of water (up to 800 times its weight!) – much like a baby diaper, swelling as it does so. From the image, the surface of the hydrogel is seen to possess large, distinctive pores, which help us understand how and why hydrogels absorb so much liquid.

Category: Out in the Field

[Aerial view algal blooms in South Frontenac County]

Nature's van Gogh

Submitted by: Hayden Wainwright, Student (MSc), Biology

Location of Photo: South Frontenac County, Ontario, Canada

Description of Photo: Algal blooms appear as smears of green slime from the ground, but are beautiful pieces of abstract art from an aerial view, painted by wind and sunlight. My research takes me to lakes on the Canadian Shield affected by blooms, where I photograph them with a drone while assistants help me collect water samples. By uncovering when, where, and why they appear, we hope to restore some of Canada’s most beautiful lakes to their pristine states.

Category: Best Description

[Aerial photograph of the Adelabu Market in Ibadan, Nigeria]

Under the Umbrella

Submitted by: Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, Faculty, Gender Studies; Geography and Planning

Location of Photo: Ibadan, Nigeria

Description of Photo: On a very hot day, I went to the Adelabu Market in Ibadan, Nigeria, to meet Sarah. Several phone calls later, we found each other. She brought me inside a nearly abandoned plaza. “Less noisy,” she said. We climbed up to the highest floor. During the interview, she told me her livelihood as a market woman funded her children’s education. Rain or shine, she is at the market every day, under her umbrella. When we finished the interview, I looked down. What a view! As I snapped a photo, I wondered: “What are the stories of the other people under the umbrellas?”

Category: Art in Action

[Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) depicting diffusion of water throughout the brain]

The Wiring of the Brain

Submitted by: Donald Brien, Staff, Centre for Neuroscience Studies

Location of Photo: Centre for Neuroscience Studies, MRI Facility, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: An example of Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) from Queen’s new Prisma Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Some of the most beautiful images generated by MRI are created by imaging the diffusion (movement) of water throughout the brain. From this diffusion, we can generate maps of the neuron connections that are responsible for carrying messages from one area of the brain to another. Seen here, they are coded by direction, such that blue tracts move from foot to head, red tracts move from left to right in the head, and green tracts move from the front to the back of the head.  There are 30,000 tracts displayed in this image. By adulthood, the average person has ~160,000 km total length of these tracts.

Category: Community Collaborations

[A group of researchers collaborating in a space with mobile robots]

Researchers at Offroad Robotics

Submitted by: Heshan Fernando, Student (PhD), Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Location of Photo: Jackson Hall, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: A group of multidisciplinary engineering researchers with expertise in mining and construction applications, mechanical and mechatronics systems, as well as electrical and computer engineering collaborate to develop the next generation of field and mobile robots.

Category: People's Choice

[Researchers and community members travelling on snowmobiles]

Learning from the Land

Submitted by: Sarah Flisikowski, Student (MES), School of Environmental Studies

Location of Photo: Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada

Description of Photo: The transmission and documentation of traditional knowledge and skills is of great importance to Inuit, especially considering the continuing social, environmental, and economic changes in the Arctic. I am examining how Inuit traditional knowledge is generated and shared through a case study of an existing project in Ulukhaktok called Nunamin Illihakvia, which means "learning from the land" in Inuinnaqtun. Participants from other Inuvialuit communities were invited to travel to Ulukhaktok in February 2020 to participate in cultural activities that promoted discussion on what a cultural learning program should include. This photo shows our first trip out on Queen's Bay together.

KHGRI Prize

Sponsored by Kingston General Health Research Institute

[Patient care simulation depicting one researcher and one patient]

This is EPIC: Simulation Education with Patient Actors to Improve Care

Submitted by: Monakshi Sawhney, Faculty, School of Nursing

Location of Photo: Education and Research Centre, North York General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario

Description of Photo: Simulation education, using standardized patient actors, is a unique way to provide education in health care settings to practicing clinicians. It is an opportunity to practice assessment skills and critical thinking in a safe environment that mimics the patient care setting. Our team implemented this concept at a hospital in Toronto, with a focus on researching the outcomes of a simulation intervention for nurses who care for patients receiving epidural analgesia for pain management after surgery. This photograph depicts the real-to-life patient care environment that was created for this study.

Graduate Studies Prize

Sponsored by the School of Graduate Studies

[Fish eye lens photograph of Dog Lake]

Shattered Planet

Submitted by: Allen Tian, Student (MSc), Biology

Location of Photo: Milburn Bay, Dog Lake, South Frontenac County, Ontario, Canada

Description of Photo: The impact of human activity on our planet is often difficult to see in the moment, and requires a long-term, overlooking, view. This photo is a drone panorama of my field site on the Rideau Canal System, where I investigate the impact of human activity on aquatic ecosystems, particularly the development of toxic algal blooms. Activities such as fishing, property development and farming have fragmented and altered this ecosystem, and we need a holistic, broader view to piece together how we can protect our delicate, beautiful, world.

Innovation, Knowledge Mobilization, and Entrepreneurship Prize

Sponsored by Partnerships and Innovation

[Photograph of a leg being prepared for dynamic X-ray video]

Propelling Research

Submitted by: Lauren Welte, Student (PhD), Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Location of Photo: Skeletal Observation Laboratory, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: Our feet make contact with the ground millions of times within our lifetime, yet we still do not completely understand how they function. Using dynamic X-ray video, we image foot bones in ways we could only previously imagine.  Recent work has questioned several popular theories about soft tissue function in the arch. Ongoing research aims to understand healthy foot function, to better inform treatments for foot pain. This research has the capacity to propel our understanding of foot function forward.

Health Sciences Prize

Sponsored by the Faculty of Health Sciences

[Microscopic photo of cells within a brain region]

A Glance in the Brain

Submitted by: Natalia de Menezes Lyra e Silva, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Centre for Neuroscience Studies

Location of Photo: Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: The primate brain is highly specialized, allowing us an incredible range of experiences. This microscopic photo captures cells within a brain region, the hippocampus, involved with learning and memory. Every lived experience that we are able to remember has boosted the formation of new connections in our brains. These connections are affected in diseases that impair memory, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we can observe cells involved with the brain inflammatory response. These cells are upregulated in the brains of AD patients. This technique allows us to better understand how our brains work and how they are altered by diseases.

 

To learn more about this year’s winners and explore past winners and top submissions, visit The Art of Research Photo Gallery on the Research@Queen’s website.

Vote in the Art of Research photo contest

The Queen’s community has until June 3 to vote for the People’s Choice winner as the Art of Research celebrates its fifth year.

[Photo of a Renaissance statute - Art of Research Photo Contest]
Art of Research Winner 2016: Santa Fina – Submitted by Una D'Elia (Faculty, Art History and Art Conservation)

Have your say in promoting the beauty and creativity of research happening at Queen’s. Voting is now open for the People’s Choice category in the fifth annual Art of Research photo contest.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations), the contest is an opportunity for researchers to mobilize their research and spark curiosity. By looking at research from a different perspective, it is possible to find the beauty and art in any project. More than 100 submissions were received this year from faculty, staff, students, and alumni representing multiple disciplines and research happening at all career stages.

Contest Prizes

The People’s Choice is one of the annual contest’s category prizes celebrating Community Collaborations, Invisible Discoveries, Out in the Field, Art in Action, and Best Caption. For the fifth anniversary of the contest, four special prizes were sponsored by Partnerships and Innovation, the School of Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Kingston General Hospital Research Institute. Images selected for the People’s Choice vote are entries that generated discussion and were shortlisted by the adjudication committee. All prizes come with a monetary prize of $500.

Cast Your Vote

The survey closes on June 3 at midnight. To learn more about past contest winners, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

2020 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

Amanda Gilbert, Communications Coordinator, Partnerships and Innovation

Amir Fam, Associate Dean (Research), Engineering and Applied Sciences

Betsy Donald, Associate Dean, Graduate Studies

Brenda Paul, Associate Vice-Principal (Integrated Communications)

Dave Rideout, Senior Communications Officer, Integrated Communications

Efkan Oguz, PhD Candidate, Department of Cultural Studies

Elizabeth Cooper, Communications Coordinator, Faculty of Health Sciences

Elliot Ferguson, Multimedia Journalist, The Kingston Whig Standard

Laila Haidarali, Associate Professor and Graduate Chair, Department of Gender Studies

Lavie Williams, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Advisor, Human Rights and Equity Office

Mary Anne Beaudette, Research Knowledge Mobilization Officer, KGH Research Institute

Mary Beth Gauthier, Communications Manager, Office of the Principal

Mona Rahman, Communications and Research Activities, Office of the VP (Research)

Tina Fisher, Director, Brand and Insights, Integrated Communications

Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (Research and International)

Yolande Chan, Associate Dean (Research), Smith School of Business

[Photo of UV light train - Art of Research Photo Contest]
Art of Research Winner 2019: A New Light – Submitted by Robert Cichocki (PhD Student, Civil Engineering)

Celebrating graduates during COVID-19

Principal, Chancellor, and Rector share special video messages with the class of 2020 to mark important milestone.

 

Student waving Queen's flag.
Lists of conferred graduates will appear on the new Registrar web page over the coming weeks.

As public health officials continue to respond to COVID-19, the class of 2020 is marking their graduation under truly unprecedented circumstances. Since traditional convocation ceremonies have been delayed until safety guidelines permit, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Rector Sam Hiemstra, have shared special video messages of congratulations with graduates to mark this important milestone.

“This has been an amazing academic year, and I’ve thought a lot about the situation of our students bringing their careers to a close in what is an absolutely unprecedented set of circumstances,” says Principal Deane. “The big celebration with the robes, the music, and the applause – that will have to wait. In the meantime, congratulations! You have my deepest admiration, and best wishes for the future.”

The video messages have been shared as part of a new degree conferral and graduation activity webpage, which will also highlight evolving lists of graduates that will be added as they are conferred over the coming days and weeks. With in-person ceremonies postponed for an indeterminant period, many of the faculties are looking to celebrate graduates in a variety of virtual ways, and degrees will be mailed directly to them over the coming weeks. These activities will be highlighted on this page as they become available as well.

“We want to take this moment to congratulate you for completing your studies, and thus, earning your degrees, diplomas and certificates,” says Chancellor Leech. “You should be proud of your accomplishments, and that you are now a full-fledged member of Queen’s alumni.”

Planning is underway to offer in-person celebrations to ensure the university is ready to offer Spring 2020 graduates the experience they deserve, once conditions allow.

“During a traditional ceremony, we would soon gather outside of Ontario Hall, admiring the gardens and feeling the iconic Kingston warm breeze as we take photos and reminisce,” says Rector Hiemstra. “While that may not be happening today, from the bottom of my heart, I want you all to know that you are celebrated and valued.”

Learn more on the degree conferral and graduation activities webpage. Queen’s will update Spring 2020 graduates on planning for in-person ceremonies as pandemic response guidelines continue to evolve.

Research@Queen’s: Championing AI for social justice

How Queen’s researchers are using AI to level the legal playing field for Canadians, including those affected by COVID-19 unemployment.

Research at Queen's

Queen's researcher Samuel Dahan is focused on making legal services more equitable, and he knows all about winning and losing disputes in battle, and the importance of a level playing field for combatants. While researching alternative dispute resolution for his PhD in law at the University of Cambridge, this versatile, black-belt competitor won many bouts in the ring as Cambridge taekwondo team captain and a varsity kickboxer. He also earned medals in the French taekwondo nationals, and the French and British kickboxing championships.

Discover Research@Queen’s
Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on how our researchers are confronting COVID-19, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research@Queen’s.

“In martial arts competition, you don’t want to fight someone less experienced than you or someone better than you. Fights are arranged so there is a balance of power,” says Dahan, Director of the Conflict Analytics Lab and assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University. “But fighting is the worst scenario for settling disputes in the real world."

Dahan has teamed up with Xiaodan Zhu, assistant professor in the Ingenuity Labs Research Institute and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Queen’s, to develop an AI (artificial intelligence)-powered set of tools to help level the legal playing field for lower- and middle-income Canadians.

In the wake of COVID-19 unemployment, Dahan and collaborators also recently launched MyOpenCourt.org, an open access app to help recently laid off workers.

Continue the story on the Research@Queen’s website.

Samuel Dahan and Xiaodan Zu

Samuel Dahan, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law, teamed up with Xiaodan Zhu, assistant professor in the Ingenuity Labs Research Institute and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to develop an AI-powered set of tools to help level the legal playing field for lower- and middle-income Canadians. (Photograph was taken before social distancing measures were implemented.)

Queen’s launches AI-enhanced tools for those affected by pandemic layoffs

MyOpenCourt, a project of the Conflict Analytics Lab at the Faculty of Law and Smith School of Business, helps out-of-work Canadians to understand their legal rights and options.

MyOpenCourt, a project of the Conflict Analytics Lab at the Faculty of Law and Smith School of Business,
MyOpenCourt currently features two free and simple-to-use web-based tools that harness artificial intelligence and data science technologies. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, millions of Canadians are out of work and facing uncertainty about returning. These circumstances can put workers, particularly those in ‘gig economy’ jobs, in situations where their legal rights are unclear. 

MyOpenCourt, a project of the Conflict Analytics Lab at Queen’s University’s Faculty of Law and Smith School of Business, will now help these workers understand their rights – and options. 

“Most Canadian workers cannot afford an employment lawyer, or live in areas with few skilled employment law experts,” says Samuel Dahan, Director of the Conflict Analytics Lab and a professor in the Faculty of Law with a cross-appointment to Smith. “Since COVID-19’s arrival in Canada, we have seen nearly 2 million jobs lost with terminations and layoffs across many different sectors, and decided to launch our tools to help Canadians who have lost work.”

MyOpenCourt currently features two free and simple-to-use web-based tools that harness artificial intelligence and data science technologies. Both are available at the project site at myopencourt.org

The “Am I an employee or contractor?” application can determine the likelihood that a work arrangement is an employment relationship or that of a contractor through a fast, anonymous questionnaire.

Workers who believe they have been wrongfully dismissed can use the “How much severance am I entitled to?” tool to calculate reasonable notice for dismissal.

“These tools are as valuable for employers as they are for workers,” Professor Dahan says. “Navigating employer-contractor relationships is challenging, and severance is difficult to calculate. We hope to provide both workers and employers with ways to avoid pitfalls and find equitable solutions to the challenges created by the pandemic.” 

Powerful AI technology lies behind both tools. Working from thousands of Canadian employment law cases, MyOpenCourt can make predictions that can offer guidance to workers in these uncertain situations. While these applications cannot take the place of a lawyer, they can help users understand if they have a case before contacting one.

Should a user discover they have a case, MyOpenCourt will automatically connect the user to a partner law firm at no cost. 

The MyOpenCourt tools have been developed by students and researchers at Queen’s Law, the Smith Master of Management in Artificial Intelligence, Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and partners like McGill University and institutions based in the U.S. and Europe. Professor Maxime Cohen of McGill and Professor Jonathan Touboul of Brandeis University provided data science expertise, helping to translate the case data into predictions.

“We are thrilled that the Conflict Analytics Lab has been able to launch this platform, at a time when these tools will be able to help many Canadians,” says Yuri Levin, Executive Director of the Analytics and AI ecosystem at Smith and an instrumental player in the creation of the Conflict Analytics Lab.

 MyOpenCourt reasonable notice calculator cannot currently be used to generate case outcomes for Québec-based users.

To learn more about the work of the Conflict Analytics Lab, visit conflictanalytics.queenslaw.ca

About Conflict Analytics Lab

The Conflict Analytics Lab (CAL) strives to build a fairer future by improving access to justice.

We are experts in applying artificial intelligence to help resolve conflicts in a transparent, consistent, and innovative manner all over the world.

Housed at Queen’s University, the CAL combines academics, technology experts, and the legal industry to revolutionize the way we approach conflicts and better serve those who cannot afford traditional justice. 

Ready for a productive summer online

Enrolments are surging in popular online summer courses at Queen’s.

Photo of a person using a laptop.
Faculties have been adding new courses to meet the high demand for summer online learning at Queen's University.

Demand has never been higher for online summer courses at Queen’s University.

As many students have had their summer plans disrupted by the pandemic, they are turning to online courses in large numbers. And there is still time to enroll in a wide variety of courses, including options in the humanities, education, engineering, and health sciences.

Across the university, most faculties are reporting large increases in their summer online programs over last year. Compared to May 2019, the Faculty of Arts and Science has seen enrolments for Arts and Science Online rise by 50 per cent. They currently have over 9,000 enrolments across their courses and are expecting more for the July start date.

“The pandemic has made it challenging for many students to pursue their original plans for the summer. With our long track record of delivering first-rate online education, we are well-positioned to increase our course offerings and expand enrolment to help ensure that students have options. The extremely high levels of enrolment we are seeing is thanks in large part to the strong reputation of our online programs. It is also due to the fact that our courses are for-credit and may be applied to a student’s degree, regardless of whether they are Queen’s students or students at other institutions who are taking our courses for transfer credits,” says Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science.

Increased demand for online courses across Queen’s

Arts and Science Online is not the only program seeing large spikes in enrolment. The Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) has more than doubled its enrolment for summer online courses compared to last year. Currently, there are over 1,900 students enrolled in these classes. Recognizing the high demand, the BHSc has added six courses to its original set of offerings for the summer.

The Faculty of Law has raised the enrolment caps for some of their courses as well to respond to demand. Enrolments for Aboriginal Law have more than doubled compared to last year. And Introduction to Canadian Law has 210 students enrolled with a number of students on a waitlist, compared to 147 enrolments in 2019.

Over the last five years, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS) has seen sustained growth in its online summer courses. This summer that trend has accelerated. This spring term, FEAS has more than 775 enrolments in their online courses, which is more than 200 additional enrolments then they had in 2019.

Expanding course offerings in Education

Teachers and graduate students in education are also turning to Queen’s to develop their skills over the summer. The Faculty of Education has added courses to several different programs and seen unprecedented demand for all their offerings. They have added a new seven-week spring term to their Graduate Diploma in Professional Inquiry and Professional Master of Education programs. During this new term, they are offering nine courses, and all reached full enrolment shortly after registration opened.

The Faculty of Education also offers a number of Continuing Teacher Education (CTE) and Professional Studies courses. These have also seen strong surges in interest. Compared to their 2019 spring course enrollments, there are 1300 more students enrolled in Professional Studies and CTE courses this spring. One of the more popular courses this year is Teaching and Learning through e-Learning, which provides timely skills that can help teachers improve their remote instruction abilities.

Read more about how faculties are connecting students with online learning opportunities in this previous article in the Queen’s Gazette.

To learn more about summer online courses and enrolment, visit the faculty websites.

Principal announces 2020 Distinguished University Professors

Six faculty members receive Queen’s University’s top research-related honour.

 

Six faculty members receive Queen’s University’s top research-related honour
The 2020 Distinguished University Professors are, clockwise from top left: David Bakhurst (Philosophy); Audrey Kobayashi (Geography), Julian Barling (Smith School of Business); Glenville Jones (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences); Kathleen Lahey (Law);John Smol (Biology).

Queen’s University has announced the latest recipients of the Distinguished University Professor designation, the university’s highest research-related honour.

Now in its second year, the Distinguished University Professor Program recognizes professors for exhibiting an outstanding and sustained research record, teaching excellence, and significant and lasting contributions to Queen’s, Canada, and the world.

“There is world-class research and teaching being conducted every day at Queen’s and this seems all the more imperative with the challenges we currently face with COVID-19,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s. “Each recipient exemplifies excellence in their field and it is my great pleasure to designate these six accomplished faculty members as Distinguished University Professors.”

The 2020 Distinguished University Professors are:

  • David Bakhurst, Department of Philosophy
  • Julian Barling, Smith School of Business
  • Glenville Jones, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences
  • Audrey Kobayashi, Department of Geography
  • Kathleen Lahey, Faculty of Law
  • John Smol, Department of Biology

The Distinguished University Professor Program was made official by the university’s Senate in 2017-18. Each year, the program’s advisory committee invites nominations from the campus community, reviews the submissions, and makes recommendations to the principal, who then determines the recipients.

“Assessing the submissions for this program provides an invaluable opportunity to see just how our faculty members are having an impact in the classroom and through their research,” adds Principal Deane.

Each recipient will soon add an honorific name to their title, to be selected from a list of Senate approved names.

Visit the Principal’s website to learn more about the Distinguished University Professors Program, its advisory committee, and selection of honorific names.

The inaugural list of recipients, announced last year, included nine faculty members.

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