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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.

Supporting teachers with online education

Faculties of Education and Engineering and Applied Science share teaching resources webpage to help educators across Canada.

A teacher's desk with an apple, books, and letter blocks.
With students and teachers connecting from home, Queen's Faculty of Education has created a webpage to share a wide range of teaching resources. (Unsplash / Element 5) 

When the Government of Ontario made the decision to close elementary and secondary schools across the province to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on March 13, teachers and school boards were tasked with moving their programs online. While the required infrastructure was mostly available, resources to develop a quality online learning experience were in need.

Seeing an opportunity to share its teaching knowledge and expertise, the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University quickly created a teaching resources webpage to support teachers as they made the transition to remote learning.

The webpage has become a valuable resource hub for the teaching community, students, and parents during these unprecedented times.

“Creating a teaching resources page to share the knowledge and expertise in our faculty has been an idea we’ve been thinking about for awhile,” says Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education. “When the schools closed and students, teachers, and families were suddenly learning from home, we knew right away that sharing our expertise would be an impactful way for us to support teachers and families.”

Sharing ideas

Dean Luce-Kapler reached out to the Faculty of Education community to share their ideas and immediately received a flood of responses from faculty members, instructors, teacher candidates, alumni, and the experienced online teachers from the Faculty’s Continuing Teacher Education unit.

The webpage is divided into five categories – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Arts and Literature, Indigenous, Geography, History and Social Sciences, and General – where teachers  and parents can access a variety of resources including activities, books, games, worksheets, videos, and more.

Teacher candidates pitch in

One particularly rich source of ideas is the Faculty of Education’s teacher candidates, who, as part of their studies, are asked to create lesson plans and resources that can be used when they enter their own classrooms. Highlights include the Art at Home videos by Nelligan Letourneau, and the Phases of the Moon video provided by Craig Harris.

“I am very proud of the efforts by all of those involved with this project,” says Dean Luce-Kapler. “Queen’s Faculty of Education has always supported teachers, through their time here as teacher candidates and as alumni. It is exciting to see this project be so well supported by our community.”

Adding resources

New resources are continually being added, such as the recent contribution from PHd student Hassina Alizai with resources and ideas for learning about Ramadan.

To contribute, contact Becca Carnevale, Director of Operations, Advancement and Communications, Faculty of Education.


Engineering engagement

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s outreach teams are creating online programs which are giving elementary and high school students at home opportunities to virtually participate in fun STEM activities, and teachers much-needed resources for keeping young minds engaged.

Aboriginal Access to Engineering (AAE) works with Indigenous students and their teachers at Six Nations, Tyendinaga and Akwesasne, as well as with local Indigenous family networks through the Limestone District School Board, providing hands-on outreach to students in all elementary grades.

The team has launched InSTEM@home, an online program that features content they have developed for their partner schools. Running until the end of June, the program lets elementary students participate in weekly design challenges, using common household materials, and to share those creations back with the instructional team for a chance to win weekly prizes. Guest appearances by Indigenous engineers also help relate content to the "real world" of engineering.

Parents can enroll their children even if they aren’t a student at one of AAE’s First Nation partner schools.

Building Connections

Connections provides a wide range of outreach programs, both on and off-campus. Along with the ‘Tech and Tinker’ trailer, a mobile engineering classroom that visits local schools, the Connections team runs a number of programs for students of all ages, including STEM workshops and clubs for girls, and a Summer Engineering Academy. They also provide valuable training for teacher candidates in the Faculty of Education.

In early May, the Connections team reached out to school contacts to offer them support while transitioning their students to online learning. The response was overwhelmingly positive and resources were sent out to 100 teachers in the Kingston area, who have since shared videos of completed student work.

The team will also be delivering workshops for 200 Faculty of Education students in June, and is planning a remote version of their Summer Engineering Academy, designed for students in grades 4 to 11.

Using self-regulation to help children deal with stress

Research shows that approximately 40 per cent of children struggle with attention, motivation, and impulsive behaviours at school.

Kristy Timmons, professor, Faculty of Education
Kristy Timmons, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, discusses self-regulation in kindergarten contexts during a recent presentation. (Supplied photo)

Children today face a vastly different educational experience than what most of us typically remember from our own childhood. Children as young as four and five years of age are experiencing extraordinarily high levels of stress, resulting in challenges at home and at school. Canadian research shows that approximately 40 per cent of children struggle with attention, motivation, and impulsive behaviours at school.

Kristy Timmons, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, is well aware of the current climate.

“The number of children experiencing these challenges is growing and behaviours are becoming more severe and presenting at a younger age,” she says.

As a result, teachers are spending an inordinate amount of time and resources on managing behavior which leaves less time to focus on classroom learning. In order to address this, educators and parents need to help children develop the skills to deal with both difficult and day-to-day situations.

“Without addressing the underlying factor of stress, efforts to work solely at the level of behaviour will be at best ineffective and at worst will exacerbate the child's challenges in regulating their emotions and behaviours,” Dr. Timmons says.

In the past, educators and parents addressed challenging behaviours of children reactively. Dr. Timmons’ research focuses instead on the ways educators and parents can support self-regulation proactively to combat what might appear to be behavior challenges but what is actually a stress reaction. These proactive strategies include working with young children to develop learning goals, coming up with strategies with children in advance so that the children have a strategy to pull from when needed. This also includes the use of contemplative practices (e.g., mindfulness and mediational based practices) as a tool to facilitate self-regulation skills in the early childhood classroom.

Important role of shared- and co-regulation

Her research emphasizes the important role of shared- and co-regulation. After all, “children learn self-regulation skills best through the modeling of regulation strategies by educators, parents and peers.” Through her research, Dr. Timmons continues to lead work in understanding processes that influence young children's' learning, engagement, and self-regulation, as well as educators’ and parents’ ability to support this.

She became aware of the misconceptions within the field of self-regulation including the limited understanding of how best to support self-regulation skills. This has become a driving force behind her research, prompting her to partner with numerous organizations to help improve understanding of self-regulation and self-regulated learning practices.

Listen to Dr. Timmons discuss self-regulation in the early years in her invited talk on the VoiceEd podcast.

One key partnership is with the Self-Regulation Institute (SRI), a charitable organization founded by Stuart Shanker, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology at York University. A partnership with the SRI will leverage cutting edge research on stress and the brain to better support young children’s self-regulation.

Dr. Timmons has also worked with researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education to develop the Child Observation Framework, a tool to help researchers make meaningful observations about self-regulation behaviours.

She is currently working to adapt this framework so that it can be used by teachers and early childhood educators to assess self-regulation in play-based context.

Additional barriers

Dr. Timmons’ research also assists children who face additional barriers and those who work with them. She is currently working with The Kid’s Brain Health Network to conduct an objectives-based program evaluation of the Provincial Outreach Program for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (POPFASD). POPFASD is funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Education with the mandate of increasing educators' capacity to meet the educational needs of students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

This research will provide important insight into how POPFASD is preparing educators to support students with FASD, and more broadly helping teachers across Canada to support these students.

Across her research, Dr. Timmons’ commitment to children’s health and learning is central. What also stands out is her ability to collaborate with academics, government, communities, and organizations to improve the experiences of Canadian children and to build the capacity of those who work with them.

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.

Music teaching app connects teachers and students from home

The Cadenza practice app developed at Queen’s is a growing hit with aspiring musicians in Canada and around the world during the COVID-19 crisis.

A girl practices playing a flute
For the Cadenza app, there has been a 10-fold increase in subscribers as a direct result of people staying at home due to COVID-19. (Supplied photo)

If you’ve been on social media since the COVID-19 crisis began, you’ve no doubt seen people busy making the most of their time at home by trying their hand at skills such as cooking, sewing, painting, and other hobbies.

You can add picking up a musical instrument to the mix. The Cadenza app was developed by Queen’s University researchers in collaboration with professors and developers at Concordia University and community partners and was launched late in 2019. It works by virtually linking a music teacher with a student, or group of students. There's been a 10-fold increase in subscribers as a direct result of people staying at home due to COVID-19.

“We’ve had new users from Italy, Switzerland, and Singapore since the pandemic began,” says Jodie Compeau, Project Manager for the Cadenza Community Project.

The greatest surge of users has come from the United Kingdom, followed by Canada and the United States.

“We work with a group in the UK called The Curious Piano Teachers,” says Compeau. “They advise us and have helped to get the word out by endorsing Cadenza as an effective music teaching platform.”

The web-based app, which represents a great example of research translated to social innovation, received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and was supported by the Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation team.

As of April, 250 teachers and 3,300 students have subscribed.

“We have teachers who have dozens of students, and schools have signed on that have lots of students, so the app really is becoming a popular tool,” says Rena Upitis, Professor of Education at Queen’s and principal investigator on the project.

The app was originally developed for students 12 years of age and older, but the creators have found students as young as six are using it.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve also noticed a number of adult learners are wanting to play again,” says Dr. Upitis. She also observed that, “When we first launched Cadenza we imagined it would be a 1:1 private teacher and student ratio. But group lessons are possible now. An instructor with 10 students can create a lesson and send it out to their students or add an attachment or annotate things.”

The app’s creators say one of the most surprising things they’ve experienced since launching the service was the sense of community that has emerged through the service.  

“It is a big adjustment to learn how to teach on a screen instead of face-to face. As a result, everyone supports one another,” says Compeau.

There is a graduating scale of payment, depending on the number of students, for this web-based app.

“We weren’t expecting to be in the black until mid- 2021. Any money we have generated is going back into the app to make it better,” says Dr. Upitis. “We’ve been getting great user feedback, and if we can, we make changes.”

The Cadenza team is setting its sights on breaking into the U.S. market and has just joined forces with SPARK at St. Lawrence College to come up with a marketing strategy.

Anyone can access the app at the Cadenza website.

The learning should never stop

More Confronting COVID-19 Stories

Queen’s University education expert Lynda Colgan has advice for parents now that schools have closed.

Two children use cellphones
Queen’s University researcher Lynda Colgan says maintain a daily learning routine is important for children (Unsplash / McKaela Lee)

With schools closed for at least the next three weeks, Queen’s University researcher Lynda Colgan says it’s critical for parents and guardians to continue to keep young people engaged through informal learning opportunities.  This will help them to feel more positive and prepared about returning to the classroom, when school is back in session.

“We know there is evidence of a ‘summer slide,’ which teachers have to work through in the fall. Some researchers suggest that in mathematics, children lose about 2.6 months of learning over the summer vacation. This situation is really no different,” says Dr. Colgan, who has been an educator for more than 30 years. “Routines have gone out the window, but we need to keep learning a daily routine and there are lots of ways to do that and keep it fun at the same time.”

Both locally and on a provincial level, there are a lot of learning opportunities available. Dr. Colgan says there are many free resources online for both younger learners and those at more advanced education levels. Locally, Science Rendezvous Kingston (@STEMygk) is tweeting new activities daily including bird watching, creating green cleaning products in your own kitchen, building a bottle rocket, and is supporting a Lego building challenge from @WAFFLESRobotics.

On a provincial level, organizations like Discover the Universe are offering online astronomy courses while Reading Rockets has a wide range of information for parents and unique activities for children. PopSugar is also sponsoring daily book readings by popular authors. Young people interested in history and science can visit the American Museum of Natural History for videos about dinosaurs and fossils.

“We are trying to do our best locally and I’ve personally been tweeting an activity every day,” says Dr. Colgan. “For me, it’s important have children reading and also doing some other kind of educational activity on a daily basis. This could include cooking with the family, which involves reading recipes and measuring ingredients. We know anxiety is increasing in children as the adults in their worlds are becoming increasingly stressed. Family activities like these are essential, educational, and reinforce the importance of human connection especially at a time like this”

Dr. Colgan, who has taught at all levels of public education in Ontario and is a leading researcher in elementary mathematics education, also addresses the increasing number of “education” videos popping up on social media channels as well as via workbooks and flashcard sets available in stores. She says worksheets do not often result in meaningful learning and many videos not only lack instructional quality, they contain content and strategies that are misleading at best, and wrong at worst. It is important to use websites, videos and on-line tutorials that are developed and recommended by educators.

“The most important message is that learning at home should not generate anxiety on the part of parents or children. Learning at home should be more about instilling the attitude that the world is our classroom and that we can acquire new skills and interests simply through everyday actions more than being about meeting formal curriculum goals,” she adds. “Instead of playing video games, why not read a book online instead, or to reduce children’s screen time, try planting some vegetable seeds and measuring their growth or playing games like UNO and Quiddler. Learning, especially learning that is fun because it is achieved through alternative methods like kitchen-sink science and word games, will be engaging and most importantly, memorable.

For more even more resources visit the Queen’s University Faculty of Education’s Resources for Parents and Teachers website.

Science outreach wins national award

Science Rendezvous Kingston is recognized for inviting the community to a world-class science festival featuring Queen's researchers.

  • Photo of Lynda Colgan and Kim Garrett receiving the STEAM Big! Award from Katie Miller and Dwayne Miller
    Lynda Colgan and Kim Garrett accepted the STEAM Big! Award for Science Rendezvous Kingston. From left: Dr. Colgan, Katie Miller, Garrett, and Dwayne Miller. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane giving remarks during the ceremony.
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane spoke about the important forum that Science Rendezvous Kingston provides for Queen's to reach out to the community. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Photo of Mayor Bryan Paterson addressing the attendees
    Mayor Bryan Paterson gave remarks about the positive role that Science Rendezvous Kingston plays in the community. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Photo of Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler speaking during the event.
    Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Queen's Faculty of Education, congratulated Science Rendezvous Kingston for the success of their educational outreach work. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Photo of a large team of Science Rendezvous Kingston participants standing with the award.
    Lynda Colgan and Kim Garrett invited volunteers and participants from Science Rendezvous Kingston to share the stage with them. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Science Rendezvous Kingston put on one of the largest and most successful Science Rendezvous events in Canada in 2019, attracting over 5,200 visitors. For this work, they were presented with the inaugural STEAM Big! Award from Science Rendezvous Canada at a ceremony in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on March 3.

The STEAM Big! Award was created to recognize an outstanding Science Rendezvous event. The board of directors and members of Science Rendezvous Canada chose Science Rendezvous Kingston for developing “an event that went above and beyond, creating a truly world class science festival that successfully ignited an interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM), in their community,” according to a statement from the organization. The 2019 event was the ninth for Science Rendezvous Kingston, and it has grown every year. 

“It is so important that Queen’s has a strong relationship with our community and that we create forums where we can share and celebrate educational partnerships. Science Rendezvous provides an exceptional forum for this fundamental outreach. The STEAM Big! Award is a very well-deserved honour,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.

Presenting the award

Both Katie Miller and Dwayne Miller – Executive Director and Founder & Chair of Science Rendezvous respectively – were in Kingston to present the award. Bryan Paterson, Mayor of Kingston, and Alejandro Adem, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) were also on hand to congratulate the winners. From Queen’s, Principal Deane and Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education, gave remarks, while a video message from MP Mark Gerretsen was played.

Lynda Colgan, Professor in the Queen’s Faculty of Education, and Kim Garrett, co-organizers of Science Rendezvous Kingston were present to accept the national honour.

“The STEAM BIG award is attributable to the long-term enthusiastic actions of the 450 volunteers who represent a diverse continuum from high school students to Canada Research Chairs. The dedication and generosity of these faculty members, physicians, citizen scientists, and community organizations cannot be understated. Science Rendezvous Kingston would like to express our appreciation to them and share this award with them on behalf of our Kingston community,” says Dr. Colgan.

Hosted at the Leon’s Centre, the day featured three headline events. Attendees had an opportunity to meet Astronaut Drew Feustel (PhD’95, DSc’16), former commander of the International Space Station and Queen’s alumnus at the Ask an Astronaut Q&A. Upon entering the event space, visitors were greeted by Dippy the dinosaur, a casting of a Diplodocus standing over four metres high and 26 metres long. There was also an opportunity to learn about bee health and pollination with the Limestone Beekeepers’ Guild as they demonstrated a working beehive.

Queen's researchers get involved

About 75 per cent of the researchers exhibiting at Science Rendezvous Kingston were Queen’s affiliated. Some of the highlights of the free, family-oriented event included hands-on exhibits from Queen’s Anatomy, Hexagon Magic Puzzles, the Art of Research pop-up photo exhibit, demonstrations from Ingenuity Labs, and the Chemistry Magic Show.

Science Rendezvous Kingston is supported by the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s, the Queen’s Faculty of Education, the Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Group, University Relations, NSERC, and Science Odyssey. It is also made possible by many sponsors, including the City of Kingston, Leon’s Furniture Kingston, Rogers Media, visitkingston.ca, Utilities Kingston, and Research Casting International.

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2020 will take place on Saturday, May 9 and will give the Kingston community the chance to meet with scientists and learn about the possibilities of science, technology, engineering, and math. Learn more about Science Rendezvous on their website.

Beautifully set, ‘The Two Popes’ omissions leave me with a taste of exclusion

The Two Popes by Netflix
Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce star in ‘The Two Popes.’ (Netflix) 

The Two Popes provides a creative dialogue about God, faith and moral responsibility. The film is a fictionalized encounter between German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, and Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Bergoglio was elected after Benedict’s resignation in 2013, becoming the current Pope Francis.

The ConversationThe appeal of the Oscar-nominated film has to do with the human touch, and with the substantive global character of the Catholic Church.

As a native of Argentina, I have a special connection with this film. I am also a professor of history of education at Queen’s University, and my research focuses on Catholic social thinking, education and the state and women’s religious orders devoted to teaching. I also study the intellectual history of education including the ideas of critical writer, essayist and priest Ivan Illich, and Brazilian Catholic educator Paulo Freire, a key figure in the popular education movement.

My interest in this film lies in how it uncovers the theological currents underlying the institutional church, as well as in the film’s silences.

Divergent currents

The film’s narration conveys with great artistry a conversation that confronts two (of many) divergent currents in the Catholic Church: a reformist one, and a conservative one that retains the anti-modernist tones of the church before what Catholics know as Vatican II (1962-65). This church council represented an attempt to attune the Catholic Church with social and cultural changes in the 20th century.

In the early 1970s, Latin American theologians developed liberation theology, a perspective that emerged from people’s experience of oppression in Latin America. This theology would nourish the movement of popular education in the 1970s and early 1980s with a strong grassroots foundation. Cardinal Ratzinger was active in undermining liberation theology.

The film references the rise of Pope Francis’s religious call and his commitment to the poor. A montage shows the times of repression in Argentina (1976-83) which overlapped with Bergoglio’s time serving as superior of the Jesuits in Argentina and Uruguay (1973-79).

When Bergoglio served in this role, as shown in the film, two Jesuit priests were kidnapped by the military. Bergoglio’s Jesuit community later sends him into exile in Cordoba. The film suggests Bergoglio was tormented by his failure to protect the priests. It also alludes to the “interior crisis” that Pope Francis has said he experienced in Cordoba.

It is not surprising that in the film, Bergoglio, seen sometime after the March 1976 coup in Argentina, appears to be throwing books away from the Jesuit library such as by Brazilian Archbishop Dom Hélder Cȃmara (1909–99) and by Italian Marxist philosopher and thinker Antonio Gramsci. Cȃmara, while very involved in social action, was also critical of the hierarchical bureaucratic structure of the church and its separation from workers and the poor. These would have been among books that the Latin American left read at the time.

Later, Bergoglio was one of the architects of what is known as the Aparecida document. This 2007 document articulated a church committed to the poor in light of a relationship between God’s kingdom and the dignity of human beings.

Walk in the garden

The plot begins with Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s desire to submit his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI, given the expected age of retirement. The two men meet at the Palace of Castel Gandolfo and talk about God and the church.

The next day, they go to the Vatican by helicopter. Here, the film takes some historical liberties such as when Benedict indicates his intention to resign and a plan for Bergoglio as the new pope, given the need for change.

The dialogue reconstructing their positions and their pasts is beautifully set in the garden of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo and later in the Sistine Chapel.

One could forget for a moment a line from Ivan Illich: “The Roman Church is the world’s largest non-governmental bureaucracy.” One could also forget the institutional church’s hierarchical and authoritarian structure, very much out of tune with a world concerned with rights and identity.

Sins of the church

Pope Benedict voices the sins of the church in the form of a confession. The film acknowledges sexual abuse and also financial scandals.

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

But the conflicted souls of many Catholics, who face the sins of the institution — including the exclusion of women from ordination, the church’s opposition to gay marriage, divorce, contraception and so on — are bracketed in silence.

One of the voices that does not come through is that of feminist theologians and prophetic feminist visions. These theologians offer a powerful line of thought that embraces social justice and the environment, as well as one that sees gender, class and race as significant lenses.

My own research on women’s religious communities has documented congregations’ attempts to rebuild their individual and collective identity following Vatican II reforms and changes in the long 1960s.

I have come across powerful statements, for example, from the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions/Religieuses De Notre Dame des Missions, about the sisters’ own way of living social justice as women, and their critique of coloniality and of western cosmology in their own building of an eco-spirituality.

At these sisters’ general gathering in Rome in 1996, they wrote:

We recognize the struggle and hold the pain of those oppressed by the institutional church, and … we too may find ourselves in situations of tension with the hierarchy.”

Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. (Rosa Bruno-Jofré)

Toward the world

Vatican II set the stage for openness toward change and the world, and was resisted by many, including Ratzinger. Many changes took place mostly outside the Vatican walls and started before Vatican II.

The work of Brazilian Catholic educator Paulo Freire, whose book Bergoglio is shown reading in one scene, for example, marked a turning point in how critical-minded educators in Latin America approached adult education projects — and how they understood the sources of authoritative knowledge. This turning point was rooted in cultural and social movements taking place in Latin America. Freire’s theory and method reflected the language of justice and liberation of a radicalized Catholic social imaginary of the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America.

Still, Vatican II did not touch central issues that now have become imperative if the church does not want to be examined as a residual institution of the past.

Today, church leaders have not moved toward a democratization of the church as an inclusive institution, and continue with an authoritarian line. This is the case even as a degree of internal change is happening and even as Pope Francis, as portrayed in the film, has a commitment to the poor and social transformation.

Overall, the film’s omissions left me with a taste of exclusion, a sense of the need for a renaissance. I simply could not locate my spiritual soul in the red sea of well-rounded men set in choreographed rituals deciding the future of the church.The Conversation


Rosa Bruno-Jofre is a Professor and former Dean (2000–2010) of the Faculty of Education, cross-appointed to the Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Science, at Queen’s University.

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

A Finnish phenomenon: Where students learn how to ask, not only answer, questions


Kid with an axe across lap
Chopping wood and making paper airplanes are activities children might pursue in a class that takes a phenomenon-based approach to the question: How would we respond to a loss of electricity? (Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash)

All four teacher unions in Ontario are in the midst of labour unrest.

Teachers in Ontario have long had the right to strike, and when the province threatened this right in 2012, the courts upheld it.

While the list of particular negotiating points between the government and the four unions depends on the situation, there are common priorities: funding, class sizes, job security and salary.

When we examine the past 20 years of education strife in Ontario, it’s clear that labour unrest has become a response to a wider failure to adequately invest both financially and imaginatively in schooling.

Playing politics with schools is not an anomaly, it has become the norm. It is exhausting, particularly for the province’s public educators, parents and students.

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

Perhaps it’s time for Ontario residents to look elsewhere. We have had to imagine and invent the kinds of schools we wanted in the past. We can always re-imagine them.

What about Finland? What can we learn from a place where the government is led by Sanna Marin, a 34-year-old woman with new ideas about old institutions?

Recently, I was welcomed into Helsinki schools to observe and learn about what the Finns call “phenomenon-based learning” — a philosophy that supports their schooling.

Finland has been on the radar of international educators for nearly a decade for various reasons, including high rankings in the international game of right answers (also known as the Program for International Student Assessment or PISA) and a well-defined international marketing plan for Finnish educational ideas. The world is increasingly aware of the pride Finnish people have in education.

Finland is one of the top global investors in education, spending a larger fraction of its GDP on education than Canada.

The Roihuvuori Comprehensive School, Lower Stage (grades 1-6), in Helsinki, Finland, is in a large building with skylights that houses a wood and metal shop. (Author provided)

Phenomenon-based learning

Phenomenon-based learning is a distinctly Finnish approach to inquiry learning in schools. It means leading students to ask big questions that don’t have easy answers.

Labour action, as an example, could be a phenomenon that would keep most students engaged for many months.

It’s also a brand, because it’s marketed as a distinctly Finnish approach rooted in the Finnish context.

Books on phenomenon-based learning can be found in tourist shops and on display during Helsinki Education Week, and programs have been promoted as part of Finland’s educational reforms. This branding is intentional and explicit, which is refreshing in the marketplace of ideas in which we live.

Ontario, too, has inquiry linked into its curricula, notably in social studies and history. Ontario’s students are familiar with science projects or social studies units, but in Finland, inquiry is all encompassing. It requires students to step outside of subjects to ask broader questions that aren’t limited to what needs to be covered in the curriculum.

Chopping wood at school

On my trip, during a visit to a third-grade classroom, all the students were engaged with a particular phenomenon: How would we respond to a loss of electricity?

Children were chopping wood, deciding how to divide resources and making paper airplanes.

Where would such an approach come from? Academics like me are trained to look for the ways that research affects practice in education.

The ideas of John Dewey have influenced Finnish education, as outlined by Finnish educator and researcher Pasi Sahlberg. Dewey was an influential 20th century American philosopher who is often associated with democratic living and engagement in meaningful activities in schools.

Sahlberg writes that “Dewey’s philosophy of education forms a foundation for academic, research-based teacher education in Finland.”

Children explore the first day of snow outside their school building on wooded lands at the Roihuvuori Comprehensive School, Helsinki, Finland. (Author provided)

In the class I was visiting, I was curious to know what or how the teacher thought about Dewey. But the notion that he had impacted Finnish education didn’t resonate for her and she said phenomenon learning is a Finnish idea.

Her response suggests that whatever aspect Dewey contributed has indeed become a Finnish approach in its own right.

Education more than schooling

I asked a group of three girls in an upper secondary classroom (roughly, Grade 11) if they felt educated.

“We know that our schools are impressive. You came all the way from Canada to talk to us about our learning. But you did not come across the world to talk about small things, right?”

She was correct. I was interested in getting outside of my own context to see what was possible. I was a host in a class focused on entrepreneurship, where the students’ phenomena were start-up businesses that integrated their learning and applied it to the real world of commerce.

“Yes, we feel educated. Sometimes we learn in the school. Doing phenomena like this. We also have classes in history and mathematics. But we also learn during our breaks, talking to each other. School plays a role in our education, but it is not only school that educates us.”

Finnish schools are also affected by labour action. Recently, 20,000 children had to eat cold meals as service sector strikes made it difficult for them to have their warm meals served as per custom in early childhood settings.

Schooling and education

Why should Canadians pay attention to education elsewhere? Even in our own provinces, it is a challenge to understand the intricacies of schooling elsewhere across the country.

Schools are not fixed, nor are their structures. We have made them up and we can change them. And we should not confuse schooling with education.

Travel, through books or via other means, enriches our view of the world and our place within it.

Everyone with something at stake in Ontario’s schools ought to ask: “What is an education for, anyway?” The questions we ask colour the way we look at our own schools and our educational investments.

_______________________________________________________________________________The Conversation

Theodore Christou is a Professor of Social Studies and History Education, and the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of Education at Queen's University.

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


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