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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]

Creating meaningful change through the arts

Queen’s researcher, Ben Bolden, UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning, is committed to improving access to arts education worldwide.

Ben Bolden
Ben Bolden, associate professor in the Faculty of Education and UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning.

For Ben Bolden, a musician, composer, researcher and associate professor in the Faculty of Education, arts have always helped to transform the world. Bolden is a passionate advocate for arts education and its possibilities for empowering people to address some of the world’s biggest challenges. Now beginning his second term as the UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning, he leads initiatives that aim to foster arts education – including music, drama, dance, and visual arts – in Canada and internationally.

His efforts align with some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 4: Quality Education, which seeks to advance inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Arts education, believes Dr. Bolden, can be a powerful tool to help learners understand themselves and their relationship with the wider world. He recently spoke to the Gazette about his research goals, current projects, and how Queen’s can contribute to improving arts education globally.

Can you tell me about your mandate as the UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning?

A UNESCO chair is an individual or a team at a higher education or research institution who partners with UNESCO to advance knowledge and practice in an area that is a priority for both the institution and UNESCO. For me, that priority area is arts education.  The mandate of the UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning is to promote access to and quality of arts education through research, communication, and collaboration, in alignment with the UNESCO priorities for education, culture, and sustainable development.

The role is a good fit for me because I’ve had the privilege of benefitting from all kinds of arts education, since I was very young. While this education certainly didn’t make me into a great artist, it did make my life infinitely richer. And when I started teaching in schools I wanted desperately to help others tap into all the wonderful things the arts can offer. But as teachers we are constantly learning, and my goal is to figure out how I, and others, can be effective teachers in and through the arts.

You’re starting a collaboration with the UNESCO associated Schools Network (ASPnet) to develop materials that will support arts education within 11,500 schools worldwide. What are the main goals of this program and what are its main challenges?

UNESCO focuses on what is called transformative education, that is, education that can help students transform themselves and the world they live in. Through transformative education, we educate learners so that they can address real challenges – climate change, sustainability, promoting peace. We are developing a model to communicate and illustrate how teachers can support transformative education with arts learning experiences.

A major challenge is to do something meaningful for people across cultures. We plan to describe specific practices – things that teachers and/or students are doing in different contexts around the world – that will help illustrate what this kind of education can look like.

Mural shows a hand holding a small plant
Receiving and creating arts are both ways to build students' understanding of the world and their relationship with topics like climate change and conservation. (Jonne Huotari/ Unsplash)

How can arts education support the achievement of the SDGs beyond addressing access to quality education?

This is very much at the heart of the transformative education model: helping learners better understand what they can do to support the SDGs. Thinking about climate change, for example, arts education might lead to creating a mural that identifies negative effects of climate change, or how people can work locally to minimize its impacts.

Queen’s is committed to advancing the UN SDGs through our research, teaching, outreach and stewardship activities. For more information on the contributions the university is making to social impact and sustainability, visit the website.

That’s an obvious example. But there are also more subtle ones. The real value in arts education is to provide opportunity for learners to better understand themselves and their relationship with the world. The SDGs are all about that relationship, and the importance of nurturing it. Art is a brilliant tool for building understanding. By receiving art – listening to music, experiencing drama and dance, spending time with creative writing and visual artworks – we can gain new perspectives on all sorts of issues, and think about how to negotiate our own interactions with them. Mental health, inequality, peace, justice: What do those things mean to us? To others? How do we position ourselves in relation to them? What can we do? The arts tell the stories that help us find answers.

And arts education is not only about receiving art but also creating it. Let me offer an example. Dance students in Argentina virtually collaborated, during a recent Covid lockdown, to explore and communicate what it meant to them to be confined in bedrooms and apartments, dancing alone. The new relationships that developed with physical surroundings. Dancing in tiny spaces between the wall and the edge of the bed. In making the compilation video the dancers explored what it meant to be confined in this way and how to metaphorically step beyond those confines. By watching the video, I came to understand what that experience was like for those dancers, and I gained new perspective on my own lockdown experiences—the new relationships that I developed with my own physical surroundings, and indeed with myself.

Tell me about the arts education projects Queen’s has been supporting in Nigeria?

We have been working with three NGOs that support education in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa: 1 Million Teachers, Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative, and Girl Rising. Together they have established a fantastic teacher education program, online modules that people who are learning to be teachers can access on their cell phones. These is such a need for teachers, and so few resources to help them. I am now supporting the development of a new module on arts education.

This June, Kingston will be hosting an event and exhibition called Muna Taro to build awareness of the work that these three groups have been doing and to increase connections with the Queen’s, St. Lawrence College, and Kingston communities.

International group of arts education researchers
International network of arts education researchers gathered in Winnipeg in 2019.

You helped set up an international research group focused on arts education, gathering researchers and students from countries like Singapore, New Zealand, Germany, Colombia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Kenya, and others. What were the lessons you learned from this experience?

We are all researching and advocating for improving arts education around the world. But that looks very different from context to context. We did a global survey of expert art educators, trying to better understand how arts education, its benefits and its challenges are conceptualized and understood in different countries.

One of the lessons I’ve learned is that there are many nuanced aspects to how we understand the arts and indeed education differently. That’s one of the joys I’ve experienced working with this international group —the opportunity to gain new perspectives over and over again.

Recently, I have also been organizing international seminars for graduate students working across the globe, where we become aware of the many approaches to arts education and to arts education research.

You’ve spoken about the role of the chair in advancing arts education worldwide. Are there similar initiatives in Canada?

My chair predecessor, Queen’s professor emeritus Larry O'Farrell, established the Canadian Network for Arts & Learning (CNAL) and I work regularly with this network on a number of initiatives.

One of these is a national campaign to increase awareness about the health benefits of engaging in the arts. Another project, funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, aimed to build digital strategies for arts and learning in Canada. The project connected people within the sector to share and raise awareness about digital tools and resources that can support the work of artists and artist educators.

One such resource, that CNAL created, is an interactive tool to map arts education initiatives across Canada. It’s a central registry for the sector: people who are offering arts education activities can put themselves on the map, and people interested in arts education can look for opportunities. The map has already listed over 9000 organizations and professionals.

Science Rendezvous Renaissance

After a pivot to virtual offerings in 2021, Science Rendezvous Kingston will once again bring Queen’s researchers and community members together in-person to share in science-based fun.

Dinosaur skeleton in exhibition at the Leon's Centre.
Science Rendezvous Kingston at Leon's Centre in 2019.

Each year, Canada’s national science festival, Science Rendezvous, is held across 30 cities with over 300 events and thousands of hands-on activities. The festival provides participants of all ages with the opportunity to engage with science and to learn about the discoveries being made by Canadian researchers across the nation.

Since 2011, Kingston has been home to one of the most successful local chapters of Science Rendezvous, regularly attracting over 4,000 visitors from across eastern Ontario. Under the leadership of Lynda Colgan, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education, Science Rendezvous Kingston is committed to engaging people of all ages with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research, and creating an unforgettable and educational experience for all attendees.

Virtual Pivot

Last year, Science Rendezvous Kingston had to adapt to limitations brought on by COVID-19. Despite the challenges, Dr. Colgan, Science Rendezvous co-coordinator, Kim Garrett, and a small team orchestrated a successful pivot from in-person to online events, developing a unique 16-day Science Rendezvous program that balanced screen-time sessions and kitchen table or outdoor activities. The events reached over 29,000 people from around the globe.

Video capture of a researcher doing an experiment in the lab.
Science Rendezvous Kingston 2021 featured online activities children could do at home, like this strawberry DNA extraction video.

"Although we hosted live webinars and Q&A sessions, the virtual nature of our event meant that we could record the full session. Soon after the 'live' event, we posted each session on our virtual platform for 'on demand' viewing – a feature that proved to be enormously popular with visitors to the site," says Dr. Colgan.

In recognition of their efforts, the Science Rendezvous Kingston team was awarded the COVID Creative Award by the Board of Directors of Science Rendezvous Canada for executing a successful educational experience for their participants and for their resiliency, creativity, and positivity during these challenging times.

Science Rendezvous 2022

This year, Science Rendezvous Kingston’s theme is ‘DISCOVER’. According to Dr. Colgan, the theme was selected to "highlight the leading-edge STEM research that is being done at Queen’s in all domains and encouraging young students to see themselves as future researchers and scientists who are on a quest to discover solutions to problems that face our world."

Science Rendezvous Kingston will have a hybrid design, offering both virtual and in person options for participants. The hope is that visitors will be able to engage in hands-on learning while preserving the best aspects of 2021’s virtual experience.

These year’s virtual events will include presentations from researchers including Queen’s Astrophysics PhD Candidate Connor Stone, a webinar on robotics use on a dairy farm, a virtual tour of SNOLAB, and a live-streamed hook-up with researchers at a lab in the South Pole.

In addition to webinars and virtual presentations, last year’s popular digital resource, the Daily Book Lists including many Indigenous titles, will once again be available during the 2022 festival. Other digital resources for this year include downloadable self-directed activities such as a geological scavenger hunt and an on-line workshop about how to build an anatomical model of the human GI system.

These virtual and at-home activities will be accompanied by in-person events and workshops including a 'STEM Sampler' in Market Square featuring demonstrations by Ingenuity Labs, Queen’s Physics, the McDonald Institute, Limestone Bee Keepers, and Research Casting International. Visitors to the Leon’s Centre will also be treated to hands-on workshops about the Ice Age and climate change, and a Guided Bird Walk with Dr. Fran Bonier and Dr. Paul Martin through City Park.

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2022 will continue to facilitate events to break down barriers between scientists and the public.

"By bringing science, technology, engineering and math to the streets, we make it possible for visitors across all ages to mix and mingle with award-winning scientists and researchers in the absence of intimidation," says Dr. Colgan. "Informal learning environments like Science Rendezvous can spark student interest in STEM, provide opportunities to broaden and deepen students’ engagement, reinforce scientific concepts and practices introduced during the school day, and promote an appreciation for and interest in the pursuit of science in school and in daily life."

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2022 will run from May 6 to May 20. Learn more about the program on the website.

Celebrating inspirational women in our communities

Alejandra Zamora Flores and Rena Upitis
This year’s recipient of the Ban Righ Foundation Leadership Award is Alejandra Zamora Flores, left, while Professor Emerita Rena Upitis is the recipient of the Ban Righ Foundation Mentorship Award. 

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, the Ban Righ Foundation is combining their Inspiring Women Awards and Spring Awards ceremony into one virtual event, celebrating leadership, mentorship, and women who display exceptional contributions to their communities.

This year’s event will be a live video release on Facebook on Tuesday, March 8 at 7 pm.

“Due to public health guidelines at the time, we decided to bring everyone together and combine both events into one big, online celebration,” says Susan Belyea, Director of the Ban Righ Centre. “At our previous video events many students, alumni, and friends from the community joined us online to virtually comment and applaud the award recipients. It has been surprisingly fun and intimate, and we expect a similar energy this year.”  

The Ban Righ Foundation Inspiring Women Awards celebrate the contributions of women who inspire and support others. These achievements are recognized through two annual awards, one honouring a woman who shines as a community leader and one recognizing a woman faculty member for their mentorship of others.

This year’s Ban Righ Foundation Mentorship Award recipient is the Faculty of Education’s Rena Upitis. Now a Professor Emerita of Education and Sustainability, Dr. Upitis was nominated by a team of students for inspiring them in experiential learning, art, and activism.

The Ban Righ Foundation Leadership award will be presented to Alejandra Zamora Flores. Since her arrival in Kingston from Mexico in 2016, she has had a remarkable impact on diverse populations across the city through her warmth, generosity, and compassion. Flores was nominated in particular for her work with schools and community organizations supporting Black, Indigenous, people of color and immigrant children and youth. 

This year’s video event also features recipients of the Ban Righ Foundation Spring Awards, which provide an opportunity for mature women students to celebrate their achievements and determination with their families and friends, faculty, staff, and Ban Righ donors.

This year 13 students will receive awards established by supporters, whose generous gifts allow the Ban Righ Foundation to continue this tradition. For a full list of the awards and this year’s recipients, visit the Ban Righ Centre website.

To save the date for the 2022 Ban Righ Celebration, visit the Facebook event page. For those unable to join live, the video will be available on the Ban Righ Centre’s YouTube channel.

The Ban Righ Centre provides student advising and other supports and services to mature women students and student mothers at Queen’s University. For more information, visit the Ban Righ Centre website.

Combating misinformation and fake news

Two upcoming workshops with The Conversation Canada will highlight how Queen’s researchers can help bridge the gap between academia and the public

The Conversation Canada and Queen's University workshops

As we enter the third year of a global pandemic, we are facing what the World Health Organization calls an infodemic – too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. In this scenario, the importance of fact-based, expert commentary has never been clearer, and not only in relation to COVID-19: research-informed analysis is a powerful tool in supporting critical thinking and daily decision-making related to climate change, health, politics, technology, the economy, and many other topics.

The Conversation and Queen’s

The Conversation, an online news platform created in Australia in 2011, aims to combat misinformation by paring academic experts with experienced journalists to write informed content that can be shared and repurposed by media outlets worldwide.  Following its success in Australia, regional editions began appearing worldwide and, in 2017, The Conversation Canada launched with support from some of the country’s top universities, including Queen’s, and Canada’s research funding agencies.

As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media. Over 240 Queen’s researchers have published more than 380 articles that have garnered over 7 million views via The Conversation Canada’s website. Through the platform’s Creative Commons Licensing and newswire access, 100s of major media outlets, including The National Post, CNN, TIME, The Washington Post, The Weather Network, Today’s Parent and Scientific American, have republished these pieces.

From cryptocurrencies to extinct bird species, Queen’s researchers have written on a variety of timely and timeless topics. Some of our most-read articles looked at the rising popularity of spirituality without religion, the negative effects of salting icy roads on aquatic ecosystems, a study of depression in adults with autism, wine consumption and cardiovascular health, and COVID-19 tests and terminology. Each of these articles have reached over 127,000 readers.

“Key to our research promotion and thought leadership strategy, The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement, bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “We have seen participation from every faculty, and Queen’s continues to show leadership in contributing to the platform among Canadian peers.”

The workshops: How to write for The Conversation

The Conversation Canada and Queen’s University Workshops*
Wednesday, March 9, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Limited spaces. Click to register.
* The workshops will be held via Zoom.

On March 9 and 22, Queen’s will welcome Scott White, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada, for two workshops targeted to faculty and graduate students interested in writing for the platform. The virtual, hour-long program will highlight the changing media landscape, the role of The Conversation and researchers as credible news sources, and how to craft the perfect pitch. Participants can bring pitch ideas to the workshops to receive real-time editorial feedback.

Queen’s is always looking to add to its roster of authors taking part in The Conversation. Researchers interested in learning more about the platform are encouraged to register for the March workshops or contact researchcommunications@queensu.ca. 

Visualizing impact with the Art of Research

The Art of Research photo contest has been reimagined to highlight research that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.

[Collage of past winners of the Art of Research photo contest]


The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest is returning for its sixth year with a new focus. The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action and framework for social impact. This change also aligns with the mission and vision of the new Queen’s Strategy and our participation in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure an institution's impact on society, based on their success in delivering on strategies that advance the SDGs. Queen’s ranked first in Canada and fifth in the world in the 2021 Impact Rankings. Photo submissions will be accepted from Feb. 28 to April 13, 2022. 

SDG Action and Awareness Week
As a new member of the University Global Coalition, Queen’s is participating in the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Action and Awareness Week and highlighting the contributions of the Queen’s community to social impact within and beyond the local community. Learn more.

For the past five years, the Art of Research has been an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to share their work through compelling visuals and engage the public in seeing their research in new ways. In aligning this year’s contest with the UN SDGs, we celebrate the impact of Queen’s research in advancing these important global goals.

“The Art of Research showcases the diversity of Queen’s research in a creative and innovative way,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “By aligning the contest with the SDGs, we can further demonstrate the impact of our research in addressing the challenges of society at home and around the world. I encourage members of our research community to participate.”

Eligibility and prizes

Hosted by Queen’s University Relations, the photo contest is open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Research depicted in the submissions must have been completed at Queen’s or while the submitter was affiliated with the university. More information about contest rules can be found on the Research@Queen’s website.

Five new SDG-themed categories will be offered this year. These, along with the popular People's Choice Vote, add up to a total of six prizes of $250 each for the top submission in each category. Photos from the contest are highlighted across university research promotion initiatives.

2022 categories:

Good health and well-being

Research that advances our understanding and the improvement of human health and supports the well-being of all global citizens.

Inspired by SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), and 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)

Climate action

Research that seeks to protect our planet’s natural resources, including water, biodiversity, and climate for future generations.

Inspired by SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water), and 15 (Life on Land)

Creative and sustainable communities

Research that helps us to understand our past and present to help build resilient, sustainably-focused, and creative communities.

Inspired by SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions)

Partnerships for inclusivity

Research that promotes just and inclusive societies through partnerships and community-based research.

Inspired by SDGs 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and 10 (Reduced Inequalities)

Innovation for global impact

Discovery- and curiosity-based research and innovations that addresses wicked, complex global challenges.

Inspired by SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)

People’s choice

Determined by an online vote by members of the Queen’s community.

The contest closes on April 13. To submit an entry and explore winning images from previous contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On Feb. 11 Queen's is encouraging the campus community to share their passion for STEM to celebrate and inspire present and future women in STEM disciplines.

[International Day of Women & Girls in Science]

On Feb. 11, Queen’s is recognizing the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science by encouraging the campus community to share their passion for STEM and showcase their research by tagging Queen's on Twitter @queensu and Instagram @queensuniversity.

This year marks the seventh anniversary of the international recognition day, which promotes full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. According to UNESCO’s Science Report, only 33 per cent of researchers globally are women. International Day of Women and Girls in Science is meant to celebrate and inspire present and future women in STEM disciplines.

Showcase your research and follow Queen's University on Twitter and Instagram as we share and highlight some of our researchers and their contributions to groundbreaking STEM research.

“Love Under the Microscope.” Dalila Villalobos, Pathology Researcher. Submitted to the Art of Research.
Art of Research Photo: Love Under the Microscope by Dalila Villalobos, Pathology Researcher
As pathologists in training, we are constantly reminded that both human cellular responses and the most deadly medical conditions can be unexpectedly beautiful under the microscope. We are trained to be detail oriented and to understand disease in all its forms because abnormalities will only present to the eye that knows what to look for. This photo captures a normal prostatic gland with its characteristic double layer and irregular branching. The moment we diagnose a benign condition in a patient that is anxiously awaiting results is always rewarding. But, if, on top of that, we see heart-shape glands, it is inspiration.


Announcing the first Education Leaders in Residence

Queen’s University has appointed three faculty members as the inaugural Education Leaders in Residence (ELIR). The ELIR program was announced in September 2021 to support the development of high-impact teaching and learning practices by providing Queen’s faculty members with protected time and funds to develop and implement campus-wide initiatives.

Each ELIR will dedicate approximately 20 per cent of their time to the program and receive a teaching and learning development fund of $15,000 over two years. The Education Leaders will consult broadly to develop and implement actionable and innovative teaching and learning projects with clearly stated outcomes.

“The Education Leaders in Residence program supports the university’s strategic goals to advance highly effective pedagogies and reconceive educational programs,” says Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green. “I look forward to seeing the implementation of these interdisciplinary teaching and learning projects that will benefit students and instructors across campus.”

ELIR applications were sought to develop teaching and learning initiatives in three priority areas, including interdisciplinarity practices, mental health and the teaching and learning environment, and anti-racism and intersectional pedagogies. These areas were chosen to align with the values outlined in Queen’s Strategy, including nurturing the well-being of our community, advancing equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigenization, and supporting interdisciplinary learning and research.

The 2022 Education Leaders in Residence are:

Dr. Michelle Searle, Faculty of Education

Dr. Searle is an Assistant Professor of Educational Evaluation and their research focuses on increasing the value of program evaluation through collaborative approaches and innovative forms of knowledge dissemination that enhance capacity within organizations.  As an ELIR, Dr. Searle will develop a university-wide opportunity for students to engage in experiential learning and community-based research. The initiative will partner students with community organizations to systematically examine the organization’s programs and practices, allowing students to build their interdisciplinary skills as evaluators and researchers, while having a positive impact in their local communities.

Dr. Mala Joneja, Faculty of Health Sciences

Dr. Joneja is an Associate Professor and the Division Chair for the Division of Rheumatology at Queen’s. As an ELIR, she will work to create resources to integrate anti-racist pedagogies into teaching and learning at Queen’s. Dr. Joneja will collaborate with students, staff, and faculty from across the university to identify opportunities and challenges to the integration of anti-racist pedagogy and develop resources to connect anti-racist pedagogy to traditional learning theories at Queen’s.

Dr. Lee Airton, Faculty of Education

Dr. Airton is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in Education and their research focuses on gender-expansive pedagogies and gender diversity inclusion. In their role as an ELIR, Dr. Airton will work to develop campus-wide resources to make Queen’s classroom experiences more accessible to transgender and/or gender non-conforming students. This work will include developing resources for gender diversity curriculum integration, growing and facilitating a community of practice on gender-friendly post-secondary teaching, and creating a professional development series for Queen’s faculty members.

Instructors honoured for championing student mental health

More than two dozen Queen’s instructors have been nominated as Classroom Champions for Mental Health.

Seated students are seen from the back of a classroom
A total of 28 Queen’s instructors have been nominated by students and teaching assistants as the inaugural Classroom Champions for Mental Health. 

An instructor’s work does not simply conclude at the end of a lecture. The journey to a successful session – or term for that matter ­– often requires a holistic approach. An approach that includes a key element: championing mental health.

The Student Mental Health Network is honouring Queen’s educators working to support and advance the mental wellbeing of those in their classrooms. These instructors have been named Classroom Champions for Mental Health.

A total of 28 instructors were nominated by students and teaching assistants for this honour. Those who submitted nominations shared stories of the positive impacts instructors made on the mental health of students.

“Mental health determines everything we do in life. Even when thinking that you are doing fantastic, this still involves mental health,” says Daphne Brouwer, a professor in the Department of Philosophy. “And when not doing so great, it can take over your life in ways that is hard to talk about. Mental health is, however, never an individual thing, and the only way to improve it is by sharing it. It is for this reason that mental health should be recognized more, accepted more, and worked on more. Not only for us as students and educators, but also for us as human beings that are trying to stay alive. One day after another.”

The Student Mental Health Network is a caucus of student and staff leaders working to advance student mental health. The project aligns with the objectives and values outlined in Queen’s Campus Wellbeing Framework and Queen’s Strategy, including promoting a culture of health and well-being across campus.

Classroom Champions for Mental Health is co-led by the Campus Wellness Project’s undergraduate student intern, a position partially funded by Bell Let’s Talk and coordinated through Student Affairs.

“The Classroom Champions for Mental Health project showcases educators who have made a significant contribution to student mental health,” says Linda Cheng, QUIP student intern, Project Coordinator of the Campus Wellness Project, and Co-Lead of the Student Mental Health Network. “The student submissions and insights on how these educators view and approach mental health, really show how a small action can create a large impact. For example, taking a couple of minutes before class to ask how everyone is doing or telling students they’re available to talk and/or listen.”

Elizabeth Baisley, a professor in the Department of Political Science, focuses on three areas to help their students. First is making sure students have a manageable workload; Second, classes are designed by using the principals of universal design for learning. Built into the curriculum is the assumption every student will experience some form of an accommodation need; and final, Dr. Baisley reduces the stigma that comes with mental health issues through regular conversations with the class.

“To me, mental health is about the parts of health that tend to be ignored by focusing solely on physical health. This includes emotional, psychological, social, and sometimes even spiritual wellbeing,” Dr. Baisley says.

Educators who are nominated as Classroom Champions will be profiled on the Campus Wellbeing site and social media (Instagram: @campuswellbeingproject) during Mental Health Promotion Week (Jan. 24-28). Students will have the opportunity to nominate additional Classroom Champions later this term.

Jodi Basch, an instructor and PhD student in the Faculty of Education, provides students with resources to support their own mental health. Additionally, Basch empowers students to share those tips with their peers.

“Just as we have a physical immune system, it is important to recognize that we also have a psychological immune system,” Basch says. “It is important to be kind to ourselves through the challenges that we will all inevitably face and allow our psychological immune system to do its job. Some days it may feel as if we have more reserve than others and other days it may feel like any challenge will push us over the edge. If we discover what we need on both the good and the bad days, it will be easier to live both presently and authentically.

The next round of Champions for Mental Health will open this spring, and will be open for students to nominate staff and instructors.

For more information and resources on mental health efforts at Queen’s, please visit the Wellbeing Resources page on the Campus Wellness Project site.


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