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Travelling the world for real-world experience

Queen's doctoral candidates Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan are traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship.

Queen's doctoral candidates Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan are traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship.
With the support of the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship, Kaj Sullivan and Neil Fernandes are able to travel to gain real-world expoerience and skills training in their areas of study. (University Communications)

For any student, gaining real world, hands-on experiential learning is invaluable.

Thanks to the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship from the Kimberley Foundation, Neil Fernandes and Kaj Sullivan, doctoral candidates in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, will be traveling the world meeting with leading workers from industry, academia, and government within their respective fields of study.

This year marked the inauguration of the Hugh C. Morris Fellowship, which is valued up to $40,000, and is intended to fund a year-long experiential learning program. Three fellowships, two for Queen’s, were handed out due to the quality of the proposals and because the Kimberley Foundation wanted to demonstrate the breadth of projects that fall under its mandate.

For Mr. Fernandes that means traveling to the United States, Peru, Brazil, Ireland, Sweden, Namibia, Australia, and around Canada, to learn about some of the world’s most important geological and mineral sites related to ore deposits found in sedimentary rocks.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he explains.

“It’s a great chance to see how the mining industry and mineral resources affect different people around the world and how it is all sort of linked to geology. The rocks play a critical role in it obviously as the rocks are the sources of the minerals, but from the perspective of a career in the natural resources sector, it’s a chance to see a variety of different kinds of mineral deposits in a variety of geographic settings in a variety of cultural settings,” he says. “I never thought that I would find myself underground in a mine in the southern desert of Namibia. For me, it’s a dream come true really.” 

Through his studies, Mr. Fernandes investigates the genesis of a significant zinc mining district in Central Brazil. No matter where he ends up, he realizes the importance of understanding the full scope of the mineral resources process – exploration, extraction, processing and remediation. Another increasingly important element is developing positive relationships between the mining sector and the surrounding communities. 

Through the fellowship he will be able to connect with and experience first-hand a wide range of examples of these working relationships. As such he will be collaborating with 13 mining companies, eight universities and five government geological surveys around the world.

“Right now, the big thing for people coming out of school is that everyone is saying they don’t have enough experience. We have all this learning but we don’t have, quote, unquote, the experience,” he says. “So I think what this does for us specifically is gives us the experience of seeing what is going on in our relevant fields – what resources are being used, what techniques are being applied to find and extract them, how these tools are being developed. It is sure to be a life-changing experience.”

Mr. Sullivan’s plans involve less traveling as he is focusing on collaborating with labs in Japan, England and here in Canada. Specializing in isotope geochemistry, he is exploring if copper, zinc, and iron can be used as biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, as is done with some forms of cancer.

“One of the great things about the Experiential Learning Fellowship is the flexibility that we’re provided with. Due to the differing nature of each recipient’s research, we have designed drastically different learning programs that will best suit our needs. While Neil’s journey will take him to many different locations, mine will involve extended visits at three laboratories,“ he says. “I viewed the fellowship as an excellent opportunity to reach out to the researchers who have inspired my work and spend time at their facilities learning from them.” 

The fellowship also offers recipients the chance to learn new skills and information that will not only help them in their doctoral work but in their later careers as well.

As part of his fellowship, Mr. Sullivan will be spending six months with the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa, working with researchers to develop analytical abilities at their lab. 

“Overall, these visits are about becoming a better, more well-rounded researcher,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to getting exposed to different research environments and developing skills and relationships that will help shape my future career. The opportunity to work with researchers at home and abroad will be invaluable. It is truly a global research community and the more connections made, the more opportunities to participate in new and exciting research emerge. This was demonstrated to me by my original supervisor, the late Dr. Kurt Kyser, who collaborated on numerous multidisciplinary projects with researchers from different parts of the globe.” 

The knowledge sharing through the fellowships isn’t in just one direction. Both Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Sullivan will also be sharing their research and experiences gained at Queen’s as they make new connections.

The Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship was created to support graduate students at Canadian universities to undertake a program of self-guided travel and experiential learning for studies related to earth, geology, environment, water, alternative energy, climate change, sustainability, or the social impact, social sciences or design sciences concerned with earth, sustainability or environmental issues.

Building community at the castle

Staff, students, and faculty at the Bader International Study Centre are working together to foster equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

A group of students are welcomed to the BISC at Heathrow Airport. (Supplied Photo)
A group of students are welcomed to the BISC at Heathrow Airport. (Supplied Photo)

Multi-faith space; training for staff, students, and faculty; and more people resources dedicated to equity, diversity, and inclusivity are on their way to the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) this fall.

These new additions to the castle community came about as a result of efforts on the part of staff, students, and faculty working to build a more inclusive campus.

In 2016, a one-time BISC University Inclusion Committee was struck to study these issues and come up with some recommendations. Since that time, the BISC’s Vice-Provost and Executive Director, Hugh Horton, has followed up by establishing a standing Vice-Provost’s Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity.  

“This committee will be working over the next three years to support senior management in their development of a strategic plan for ensuring the promotion of access, inclusion, and diversity on the BISC campus; and to provide a coordinated approach to these issues,” says Roxy Denniston-Stewart, BISC Student and Enrolment Services Manager, who chairs this committee. “So far, the reception has been positive and the results encouraging.”

One of the committee’s first tasks was to issue a campus-wide survey to help form localized recommendations that could help make the BISC campus more inclusive.

The survey identified that the majority of respondents felt that they were treated equally, and that the BISC offered an inclusive environment. The issues and barriers that were identified were similar to those identified in the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) report, with two challenges in particular that posed more of a problem for the BISC - infrastructure, and ensuring the language of Queen's values were transparent to British faculty and staff. 

"Being based in a historic building can make accessibility at times an intractable problem, and when we first attempted to get the view of staff and faculty on the many issues we were debating we had to ensure we kept true to the meaning of the Queen's values while translating these values into British English,"  says Ben Martin, a Philosophy Professor who is a member of the Advisory Committee. "For example, instead of using the word 'equity' in the UK, we tend to use the terms 'equality of opportunity'. The important point, however, is that all members of the community recognize what these values represent: the commitment to ensure that all academically able students have an equal opportunity to attend the BISC, regardless of their background."

In response to the survey, the BISC is ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusivity issues are taken into consideration and reflected in campus policies; providing cross-cultural training and sexual violence awareness training to all staff, and similar training to BISC first-years; and increasing collaboration with the Queen’s Equity and Human Rights Office.

As some next steps, the BISC will aim to establish a dedicated multi-faith prayer and reflection space; introduce more staff and management training; and work to ensure there is an Equity and Human Rights Office representative for the BISC as well as student government representatives focused on equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

“The committee made great strides in identifying areas that would improve the inclusivity, equity, and diversity at the BISC,” says Chloe Smith (Artsci’21), one of the student members of the committee. “I found all the committee members to be open to suggestions and it was evident by their hard work that this topic was important to everyone.”

“My experience really showed me that it only takes a few committed individuals to be able to make a difference,” adds Sara-Maya Kaba (Con.Ed’22), another student member on the committee. “I want the BISC to feel like home to anyone who walks through its doors, and I believe equity, diversity, and inclusivity plays a big part in being able to make that happen.”

A super supervisor

Suning Wang is being celebrated with a national award for helping graduate students become successful scientists.

[Suning Wang with students]
Dr. Suning Wang (centre right) poses in her lab with three of her students. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

A national body has recognized a Queen’s professor for her outstanding mentorship of graduate students.

Suning Wang of the Department of Chemistry has received the inaugural Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentorship.

This award is intended to recognize graduate faculty members with a record of excellent mentorship of graduate students under their supervision. Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean (Graduate Studies) who is also Past President of CAGS, noted the importance of strong mentorship in the success of students during their studies and in their careers.

“The outstanding mentorship that Dr. Wang provides is reflected in the success of her graduate students, who go on to hold prestigious fellowships and faculty positions, and work in government and in industrial labs around the world,” says Brenda Brouwer. “Her students credit her with supporting life-changing personal growth, stemming from her genuine care for each student as a person. She sets high expectations and challenges her students to think critically about science, ask difficult and important questions, communicate scientific findings, and to grow as researchers, scientists, and individuals.”

CAGS has identified a few key behaviours that the best graduate mentors all demonstrate:

  • inspiring, guiding, and challenging supervisees to achieve excellence in scholarship;
  • providing a supportive environment that stimulates creativity, debate, engagement and dialogue and progression toward timely completion;
  • responding to the needs of their students and their career/future aspirations;
  • encouraging students to pursue opportunities to share and disseminate their research and scholarly activities within and beyond academia; and,
  • supporting supervisees in developing their academic and professional skills and transitioning beyond graduate studies.

“Dr. Wang’s record and the sincere gratitude and enthusiasm of your students for the mentorship she provides them was truly inspiring and stood out as exemplary,” says Susan Porter, CAGS President. “We are delighted to have Dr. Wang serve as the inaugural role model for this award.”

As the recipient of this award, Dr. Wang will receive a certificate of recognition from CAGS at their annual meeting.

“I consider this the most important recognition for my professional life because I spent most of the past 28 years – including 22 years at Queen’s – supervising the research of graduate students,” says Dr. Wang. “I feel very grateful and pleased that my efforts are appreciated by my former and current students. I am truly honored and humbled by this award.”

This award comes hot on the heels of an award for graduate student supervision which Queen’s announced for Dr. Wang back in the fall. She formally received that award during spring convocation 2018.

For more information on the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentorship, visit cags.ca.

Turning entrepreneurial dreams into reality

Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing'Dare to Dream program provides support for businesses launched by recent graduates of the Smith School of Business.

[Dare to Dream program winners]
Dare to Dream recipients Rizma Butt (MMIE'17) and Hakeem Subair (MMIE'17) talk about their venture, 1 Million Teachers, on The Morning Show on CKWS. (Supplied Photo)

From machine learning that helps restaurant owners fill seats, to an online platform that transforms teachers into lifelong learners, four businesses launched by recent Smith School of Business graduates are furthering their growth with support from Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing’s (QCBV) Dare to Dream program.

The Dare to Dream program provides critical resources to help Smith students and new alumni turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality. Through the financial support of several alumni and corporate donors, each recipient is provided up to $15,000 in funding, office space and access to mentoring to help their new ventures succeed.

“Dare to Dream is about increasing the odds of success and inspiring entrepreneurial dreams,” says JP Shearer, Associate Director of QCBV. “By providing early stage ventures with the necessary support and resources to turn their plans into reality, Dare to Dream ensures entrepreneurs can continue to work on their businesses.”  

This year’s recipients are:

Kyle Brykman (PhD’18)
TalentFit – CIBC Dare to Dream

TalentFit, founded by Kyle Brykman, Mitch Gudgeon (MBA’13), and Lykaio Wang, matches job applicants to companies based on “culture-fit.” By combining academic research on organizational culture, and through machine learning and artificial intelligence, TalentFit helps job seekers find companies that are culturally compatible based on markers such as core values. 

Rizma Butt (MMIE’17) and Hakeem Subair (MMIE’17)
1 Million Teachers (1MT) – QCBV Dare to Dream

An online education program first launched in Nigeria, 1 Million Teachers is based on the idea that a major reason students underachieve is a lack of education among teachers. 1MT offers online learning for teachers through a rewards-based development program that encourages teachers and their schools to get on board. The program is now expanding to other sub-Saharan countries.

Leanna Li (Com’18)
Mia Technologies – RLS Foundation Dare to Dream

Mia Technologies, co-founded by Leanna and Eddie Wang, utilizes machine learning to ensure restaurants are at full capacity throughout the day. Mia is a reservation booking platform that lets restaurants set discounts in 30-minute windows based on their traffic. Lower discounts are offered during peak times, and higher discounts, during off-peak hours. 

Tyler Whitney (Com’17, Artsci’18)
Spectra Plasmonics — Battat-Steffensen Dare to Dream

Tyler Whitney and co-founders Christian Baldwin (Sc’18), Malcolm Eade (Artsci’18), and Yusuf Ahmed (Sc’19), created a patent-pending technology that provides quicker, more accurate and cost-effective chemical detection. Their vision for SpectraPlasmonics is to take quality chemical detection out of the lab and into the field for professions such as law enforcement and food safety.

This article was first published on the Smith School of Business website.

Making dreams come true

The Principal’s Dream Courses support ongoing efforts to make Queen’s a more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming institution.

Each year, the Principal’s Dream Courses fund a number of course proposals tied to key themes, such as Indigenous knowledge, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion.

The selected courses will be taught for at least two iterations and each has access to up to $15,000 in one-time funding for teaching materials, field trips, and guest speakers. Faculty members will also receive course development assistance from the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

“The Principal’s Dream Courses support our ongoing efforts to make Queen’s a more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming institution, and a place that values, reflects, and shares Indigenous histories and perspectives,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “At the same time, the program asks faculty members to be creative and to consider what they’ve always wanted to teach. I am certain that each of these new and innovative courses will provide students with an exceptional and memorable learning experience.”

The winning courses are:
DEVS 221: Topics in Indigenous Human Ecology
T'hohahoken Michael Doxtater (Global and Development Studies, Languages, Literatures, and Culture), Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Studies: Land- and Language-Based Pedagogies and Practices

A redesign of the popular DEVS 221 course, Topics in Indigenous Human Ecology (TIHE) reevaluates conventional knowledge based on Indigenous knowledge, worldview, and culture. The course will introduce an Indigenous perspective on contemporary issues. Content and activities will provide detailed examinations of specific topics such as contemporary issues in Indigenous healing and wellness, art, teaching, and learning, socio-political life. Course activities include deep, collaborative inquiry-based learning, use of multimedia tools, and access to Indigenous subject matter expert coaches. Students will participate in four high-quality ‘TED Talk’ style presentations on topics related to course content and will summarize the talks using animation software.

PHIL 276: Critical Perspectives on Social Diversity
Lisa Guenther (Philosophy, Cultural Studies), Queen's National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies

The starting point of this course is Indigenous scholar Eve Tuck’s call to suspend “damage-centered research” that relies on pain and injury for its theory of change, and to cultivate a “desire-based research” that affirms the “complexity, contradiction, and the self-determination of lived lives.”  The course will develop a critical toolkit of concepts and methods for desire-based research on race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability, in conversation with primary texts and theoretical reflections on recent social movements such as Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, #MeToo, and movements for queer and trans liberation, disability rights, prison abolition, and radical ecology. Students will work in active-learning groups to create a collective project on a specific social movement, and will also be guided through an inquiry-based process to develop their own individual research paper. Scholar-activists Eve Tuck, José Medina, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor will be invited to campus to share their perspectives with students.

MUTH 329: Listening Otherwise
Dylan Robinson (Dan School of Drama and Music, Gender Studies, Global Development Studies, Cultural Studies, Languages, Literatures & Cultures, Art History) Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts

We listen every day, every moment, yet often do not consider the ways in which this form of perception is guided by factors including gender, sexuality, race, class, and ability (i.e. our individual positionality). MUTH 329 – Listening Otherwise considers the particular ways in which listening takes place in different settings (the concert hall, gallery, and urban and domestic spaces), and is influenced not only by cultural and gendered norms, but also by values of the institutions we are part of and the nation states we live within. The course is envisioned as a kind of “listening lab” in which we will experiment with different practices of listening. Students will have the opportunity to explore new ways of listening to music (recorded and live performance), of listening to place (as a ‘visitor/guest’ or when ‘at home’), and reconsider the political stakes of listening. The course will benefit from learning from a wide range of visiting artists, musicians, and scholars who will share their work with the class. We will listen to multiple genres of music, sound art and places themselves as we ask how the body listens “beyond the ear.”

The Principal’s Dream Course program is administered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning – learn more about it on the CTL’s website.

* * *

Queen’s University is committed to creating a campus environment that is more inclusive, diverse and welcoming. In the past year, Queen’s has received final reports from the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion (PICRDI) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Task Force. Recent developments in support of these efforts include expanding Deputy Provost Teri Shearer’s profile to cover the diversity and inclusion portfolio, establishing the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE), instituting the Office of Indigenous Initiatives and appointing Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) as the first Director of Indigenous Initiatives, as well as having all areas of the university develop and implement their own plans for addressing the TRC and PICRDI recommendations.

* An earlier version of this article had the wrong course number for MUTH 329 – Listening Otherwise. Information about the course has also been updated.

Identity, diversity, and supporting students

The Division of Student Affairs hosted a morning town hall to help staff consider how to incorporate diversity and inclusivity principles into their work.

Student Affairs staff members are better equipped to help build more inclusive living and learning spaces at Queen’s, thanks to a special town hall this week. The entire division participated in a series of sessions focused on helping them build a more inclusive Queen’s through their work.

“We want to provide staff with regular opportunities to consider how they can learn more about integrating equity, diversity, and inclusivity principles into the work they do,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “Events like our town halls also promote discussions and dialogue about these important issues and help build community and support for each other and for the students we serve.”

The session opened up with some context from Vice-Provost and Dean Tierney, helping to paint the picture of the progress the university and the division have made in the past year since two key reports – the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) task force final report, and the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report – were issued.

Stephanie Simpson, Executive Director of the Human Rights and Equity Office and University Advisor on Human Rights, then led a discussion on privilege, bias, and how these two facets can influence our work.

[Erin Clow and Vanessa Yzaguirre]
Erin Clow (Human Rights and Equity Office) and Vanessa Yzaguirre (Student Affairs) preview new training being developed for student leaders. (University Communications)

Following Ms. Simpson’s presentation, staff chose between two sessions. In the first, Vanessa Yzaguirre, Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator with Student Affairs; and Erin Clow, Education and Communication Advisor with the Human Rights and Equity Office presented an overview of new student leader training they are developing to support peer-led conversations about diversity, and building an inclusive community, starting in Orientation Week.

“Traditions change and evolve – that’s part of being an inclusive community,” said Dr. Clow. “The traditions which tend to stick with people are the ones that help them build community, which of course is one of the key goals of orientation.”

The training is one piece of the university’s response to the Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group’s report recommendations. Increasing student leaders’ exposure to diversity, inclusivity, and reconciliation matters was also part of the PICRDI and TRC reports.

[Teri-Lynn Brennan]
Terri-Lynn Brennan is the CEO of Wolfe Island-based Inclusive Voices Incorporated, a consulting firm which supports outreach to Indigenous community. (University Communications)

Another session was led by Terri-Lynn Brennan, CEO of Wolfe Island-based Inclusive Voices Incorporated. Dr. Brennan is a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and her firm helps organizations as they work to build relationships and grow cultural competency.

Her remarks focused on titles, language, communication, and relationship building with Indigenous communities.

“There are over 50 different Indigenous identities in the Kingston region and many of those are represented at Queen’s,” she noted. “The word Cataraqui means ‘crossroads’, and my hope is that Queen’s both strives to meet the needs of the Indigenous communities within Queen’s while also acknowledging the broader communities that meet in Kingston.”

Dr. Brennan’s presentation was intended to provide broader context to staff so they can support the university’s efforts to include Indigenous identities, histories, knowledge and cultures into curriculum, trainings, engagement, and planning processes.

In addition to new and enhanced staff and student training, Student Affairs has increased resources dedicated to supporting equity, diversity and inclusivity in student services and increasing enrolment among under-represented student populations, expanded student programming, and is creating new online resources for staff and students. 

Taking a closer look at online learning at Queen’s

Online Credentials Strategy Working Group hosting six consultation sessions to assess the current state of online academic programming at Queen’s.

Queen’s University is a leader in providing online learning and currently offers more than 20 online programs and more than 150 online courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Having received over $5 million in external funding, more than any other university in Ontario, to grow courses and programs, Queen’s online learning has seen tremendous growth in recent years.

To ensure that these online offerings are meeting the needs of students and will continue to do so moving ahead, the university has formed the Online Credentials Strategy Working Group, which is tasked with assessing the current state of online academic programming at Queen’s with regard to academic, operational, and budgetary concerns.

At this time the university needs to consider what opportunities are available and where it should go in the future to continue to grow and support quality online learning opportunities for students, explains Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) and the working group chair.

“In a very short time, Queen’s has emerged as a leader in online learning both at the undergraduate and graduate level,” she says. “With a large number of degree programs and more in the works, this is the time to consider where online learning fits within our strategic priorities and how we can best support excellence in online education and an exceptional student learning experience.”

The focus of the working group will be on senate-approved credentials as well as non-credit courses and programs that are delivered fully online, including those developed for domestic students, international jurisdictions, and professional learners, which together comprise Queen’s online offerings.

A planning process for online learning has been underway since the fall of 2017, and the working group will be holding six focus group sessions to gather information. The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 16. The remaining sessions will be held Tuesday, May 22, Wednesday, May 23 and Thursday, May 24.

 The sessions will include questions such as:

  • where online learning fits in our vision for Queen’s
  • what infrastructure is required to support growth and potential
  • how online learning links to our internationalization goals

“Queen’s has ambitious goals for internationalization and online learning will be an important component of our efforts to enhance our global reputation,” says Kathy O’Brien , Associate Vice-Principal (International) and a working group member.

The work of the group is to be completed by November 2018. Regular updates will be provided to Senate Committee on Academic Development and Senate.

Each of the six consultation sessions is open to students, staff and faculty. 

Times, locations, and sign-up is available online.

Online Credentials Strategy Working Group members



Jill Atkinson

Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Faculty of Arts and Science

Helena Debnam

Executive Director, University Marketing

Leslie Flynn

Vice-Dean (Education), Faculty of Health Sciences

Rebecca Luce-Kapler

Dean, Faculty of Education

Kathy O’Brien

Associate Vice-Principal (International)

Stuart Pinchin

Executive Director, Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment

Jill Scott

Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), Chair

Ann Tierney

Vice-Provost and Dean (Student Affairs)

Martha Whitehead

Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) and University Librarian

Pulling double duty

An upcoming event aims to help graduate students and post-doctoral fellows balance their family and scholarly lives. 

[Leena Yahia]
Leena Yahia and her husband are both doctoral candidates, and they have four children together. They are helping to organize a workshop for fellow graduate students who are also parents. (University Communications)

Long nights, years of hard work, and plenty of life lessons along the way – graduate studies and parenting have a lot in common. For those who are furthering their education and raising their kids, it can be a challenge to keep up with both responsibilities.

That’s why the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) is co-organizing an upcoming workshop to help students and post-docs who are parents, or who want to become parents, with resources, wisdom, and an opportunity to discuss ideas that would help them keep it all on track.

“The idea for the workshop was developed with the Graduate Student Life Advisory Group – a collaboration of students, faculty, and student services staff who work together to enhance the graduate student experience at Queen’s,” says Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “We hope that the event will be an opportunity for the community of parents to meet one another and form a network of support.”

Leena Yahia and her husband are both Queen’s doctoral candidates and they have four children together. After noticing many of their friends and colleagues having similar struggles, they formed a support network and approached the SGS about holding an event on campus.

“We want our kids to have the best experience, while also wanting to be the best students,” says Ms. Yahia. “Rather than complain, we decided to be socially innovative and put something together – and the SGS was very responsive in helping us organize the event.”

The event will begin at 8:30 on Friday morning in room A234 of Duncan McArthur Hall, and will include discussions on time management, stress and mental health, mentorship, existing supports and gaps, and funding. A panel discussion will feature faculty members and post-doctoral fellows balancing caregiving and academic responsibilities, as well as graduate students – like Ms. Yahia – who are studying and parenting simultaneously.

Ms. Yahia notes that, while her graduate studies take time away from her children, it has brought the family together and taught her children to depend on each other and themselves. Plus, she has been able to introduce them to the possibilities of a university education.

“My daughter wants to be a scientist and is keeping in touch with my professors,” she says. “My teenage son wants to be a geneticist and sees what it is to get a university education...he sees that his dream is a not-too-distant reality.”

Ultimately, Ms. Yahia hopes this conversation will spark more discussions about how to make studies at Queen’s more family-friendly through different approaches to conference funding, class scheduling, and spaces for graduate study parents to meet.

Learn more about the event, and register, on the School of Graduate Studies website.

Expanded space for athletics and recreation

New facilities in the Innovation and Wellness Centre are on the way for intramural athletes and varsity teams. 

[IWC gym rendering]
One of the three gyms which will be available in the Innovation and Wellness Centre. (Supplied Photo)

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, an intramural participant, or a varsity Gael, Athletics & Recreation hopes to see you in the Innovation and Wellness Centre (IWC) this fall.

“The IWC will be a hub where every aspect of campus life intersects, blending academic and wellness spaces and emphasizing the links between physical and mental health and academic success,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “When completed, the project will be a signature building for Queen’s and a powerful catalyst for growth and change in the lives of our students.”

When the former Physical Education Centre was closed for construction in 2016, there were three gyms located inside. Once construction on the IWC is complete, two gyms will be re-opened and a third gymnasium will be located on the lower level.

“The IWC’s opening will mean hundreds of additional hours of participation opportunities that will benefit all of our programs, from casual recreation and intramurals to varsity sports and community partners,” says Leslie Dal Cin, Executive Director, Athletics & Recreation. “The new facilities will open up space in the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC), allowing us to provide additional programming and equipment to accommodate ever-increasing interest and demand from our entire campus community."

[High performance training centre]
When it opens, the High Performance Training Centre will provide student-athletes with cutting-edge equipment and technology, including a turf area and weight room, on-site coaching, and an efficient and productive training environment. (Supplied Photo)

The IWC will also be home to a high performance training centre for varsity athletes. This state-of-the-art resource, which will open in January 2019, will provide student-athletes with cutting-edge equipment and technology, including a turf area and weight room, on-site coaching, and an efficient and productive training environment.

The centre will include a 4,000-square foot weight room, a medicine ball power development wall to be used for throwing and catching drills, and a 35-metre turf area for movement, conditioning, and skills development.

“The combination of facilities, equipment, and dedicated strength and conditioning programming in the High Performance Training Centre will allow us to create a unique training environment for our student-athletes,” says Ms. Dal Cin. “Moving the athletes out of the ARC will increase the availability of weights and other equipment for all students looking to work out and get active.”

Rounding out the Athletics & Recreation facilities within the IWC, visitors will also enjoy an active staircase that encourages stair usage, universal change rooms, and student-athlete support offices.

Collectively, the three IWC gymnasia and the training centre will be known as “ARC South”. The facility will be linked to the existing ARC through an underground passageway.

What's in the IWC?
A holistic view of wellness
A home for innovation
Bringing Queen's engineers together
● Learn more on the Innovation and Wellness Centre website

Co-located with the new Athletic and Recreation facilities in the IWC are other wellness services, student life programs, and academic spaces. Placing all of these services under one roof reflects the connection between wellness, the student experience, and student success.

The Innovation and Wellness Centre will be officially opening during the 2018/19 academic year, and a grand opening is being planned for this fall. Follow along with the centre’s progress via the building’s website.

The creation of the IWC was made possible through $55 million in philanthropic support, including $40 million to revitalize the facility. In addition, the federal and Ontario governments contributed a combined total of nearly $22 million to this facility.

Providing students with exceptional learning opportunities

The Faculty of Law's Erik Knutsen is the 2018 recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award.

[Erik Knutsen]
The Faculty of Law's Erik Knutsen is the 2018 recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award. (Photo by Greg Black)

When Erik Knutsen talks about teaching and learning it quickly becomes clear that he is passionate about the topic.

It’s one of the reasons he re-designed three Faculty of Law core courses.

For this work and his ongoing efforts to foster active learning and student engagement, Professor Knutsen is the 2018 recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, which recognizes undergraduate, graduate or professional teaching that has had an outstanding influence on the quality of student learning at Queen’s University.

“Erik Knutsen’s dedication to providing students with exceptional learning opportunities is truly inspiring,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “He has purposefully redesigned his courses to ensure that they are engaging, relevant and provide students with the kinds of hands-on experiences and skills they will need in the legal profession. Professor Knutsen is deliberate and purposeful in his use of evidence-based pedagogies and yet he also has the ability to make learning come to life.”

The recognition, he says, is humbling considering the number of exceptional educators across the various faculties and departments at Queen’s. He also says the work wouldn’t have been possible without the “incredible support” he has received from Dean Bill Flanagan, associate deans, fellow faculty members, and Queen’s Law students.

Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award recipients:
2017 Catherine Donnelly, School of Rehabilitation Therapy
2016 Jill Atkinson, Department of Psychology
2015 James Fraser, Physics, Physics Engineering and Astronomy
2014 Stephen Lougheed, Biology
2013 Anne Godlewska, Geography
2012 Lindsay Davidson, Surgery
2011 Brian Frank, Electrical and Computer Engineering
2010 Mark Weisberg, Law
2009 Richard Ascough, Theology/Religious Studies
2008 Bill Newstead, Chemistry
2007 Ron Easteal, Anatomy and Cell Biology
2006 John Smol, Biology
2005 Maggie Berg, English
2004 Morris Orzech, Mathematics and Statistics

In nominating Knutsen for the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, Dean Flanagan pointed to the trailblazing role he has taken in an area of study that has long been resistant to change.

“Erik is on the forefront of rethinking how we can teach law in a way that is more engaging for our students and with better learning outcomes,” Dean Flanagan says. “ He cares deeply about his students’ development and growth, continually finding new and innovative ways to teach them about the law and also professionalism.”

In redesigning three core courses in the Faculty of Law, Knutsen tried to place himself in the position of the students with the end goal of providing them with the skills they need to become a lawyer. He then incorporated as much active learning and student engagement as possible throughout each course to help develop the skills they will need in the workplace.

That meant creating “experiences” for the students.

“So I took all the things I wanted to impart in my courses and thought of them that way, as experiences rather than as didactic learning/information,” he says.

Typically, he divides class time into three sections: a limited period of info delivery; an exercise or group work; and time for feedback to discuss the lessons learned.

Take, for instance, selecting an expert witness in a lawsuit, a key skill for a lawyer but one they are unlikely to experience before actually having to do it.

Traditionally, students would read about some recent cases and discuss it in class. That still happens but under the redesign the students are tasked with selecting an expert witness for a hypothetical case. They are given the CVs of actual expert witnesses and are required to make a selection. Further, they have to defend their expert’s qualifications with relevance to the law and the case and explain why they did not choose the other three experts.

“As a result, the students walk out of there with a totally different experience than had they read some cases about what happened to somebody else and we talked about the rules and reviewed them. They had to apply it and think about why, and it was made to feel real to them,” Knutsen says. “So to me that is taking the learning to a different place. The simple version is I’ve always told my students you have come here to learn as much as you have come here to have an experience.”

This teaching leadership and innovation has extended to other faculties and departments as well, having taught a professional competencies course at the School of Medicine, and contributing to the Faculty of Law’s foundational course for Queen’s Undergraduate students (Law 201: Introduction to Canadian Law).

He is also a founding member of the teaching team for the Masters of Science in Healthcare Quality program, a two-year interdisciplinary blended/online program on patient safety for midcareer healthcare professionals. The program is a joint effort between the School of Nursing, School of Medicine, Faculty of Law, Smith School of Business, School of Policy Studies, and Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In addition to serving on the program design and approval team, Knutsen developed and taught the course Law, Risk and Healthcare.

This work, he says, has been immensely rewarding.

“Best thing I ever did. Getting out of your own world, an academic silo setting, and learning how other disciplines, other professors and other students operate has been absolutely invigorating because it forces you to challenge your own assumptions about your own discipline,” he explains.  “If I meet them halfway and they meet me halfway, it’s fantastic because as much as they are learning about a world that they haven’t seen before, I am learning about how nursing, medicine, and management operate. It’s fascinating and different.”

More information about the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, including eligibility requirements, is available on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.


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