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Supporting Indigenous academics and Indigenous research

New funding and updated policies will support Indigenous graduate students, and students conducting research with Indigenous communities.

[Alex Veinot Queen's Chemistry]
Alex Veinot is a PhD candidate in Chemistry, and a member of Glooscap First Nation located in Nova Scotia. (University Communications)

One in four Canadians holds a bachelor’s degree or higher according to Statistics Canada. Yet for Indigenous people in Canada, the number is just one in ten - making it more of a challenge for Indigenous learners wishing to obtain a graduate education.

To help support Indigenous students seeking their masters or doctorate, the School of Graduate Studies has earmarked additional funding, and introduced a new admissions policy for Indigenous applicants in keeping with the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) task force’s report.

“These actions are a step toward increasing access to graduate studies,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean (Graduate Studies). “They align with increasing inclusivity in our graduate community and promoting opportunities for research and scholarship that actively engages Indigenous communities.”

Among the changes, the value of entrance scholarships for Indigenous students has been increased from $10,000 to $15,000. Ten such awards are adjudicated each year.

Additionally, an Indigenous Student Admission policy was approved this year to encourage applications from Indigenous candidates and support access to graduate studies.

The regulation applies to all graduate programs in the School of Graduate Studies, and it means that the evaluation of applications from Indigenous candidates will consider academic, cultural, personal, and professional background, along with other factors indicative of capacity for graduate study.

To be considered under this regulation, applicants must self-identify as Indigenous upon application for admission defined as First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Peoples.

“Financial supports such as the Robert Sutherland Fellowship, which I received in my first year of doctoral studies, and other awards with allocations designated for Indigenous students are invaluable for promoting the advancement and development of Aboriginal communities throughout Canada,” says Alex Veinot, a PhD candidate in chemistry. “While Queen’s University has made significant improvements in supporting its Indigenous students both culturally and financially, there are still issues that need further attention in order to greatly improve the experience of Indigenous students at Queen’s.

The School of Graduate Studies has also set aside funding resources to support graduate students conducting research that requires travel to Indigenous communities. Masters and doctoral students engaged in Indigenous-related research can apply for Graduate Dean’s Travel Grant for Indigenous Field Research to help offset the costs.

These awards are similar to the Dean’s Travel Awards for Doctoral Field Research, but address a particular need linked with conducting responsible and respectful research with Indigenous communities. These awards are not restricted to PhD students.

It is expected the first applications for these travel awards will be submitted in the coming academic year in response to a call for applications from the SGS.

To further raise awareness about the distinctive requirements of research collaborations with Indigenous communities, the School of Graduate Studies has partnered with the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University (ACQU) to organize a series of workshops.

The first workshop was held in October 2017 alongside the Indigenous Research Symposium and attracted nearly 90 student, faculty, and community participants. A second workshop will be held in November 2018 and will focus on issues of ownership and control in research.

“We are working with the ACQU and Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre to enhance our outreach, and to facilitate research with and by Indigenous communities,” says Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean (School of Graduate Studies). “It is important we build these relationships in a manner that respects Indigenous knowledge, research methodologies, and cultural protocols.”

“Respecting different ways of knowing and facilitating uptake and mobilization of the scholarly work requires that consideration be given to how the work is presented,” she adds. “The revised regulations on thesis structure affords flexibility in how the research is presented for alignment with the nature of the research conducted.”

For more information on support for Indigenous graduate students at Queen’s, visit queensu.ca/sgs/aboriginal-students

Budget 2018-19 approved by Board

The new budget allocates new funding for research, accessibility, and faculty hires.

The Queen’s Board of Trustees recently approved the 2018-19 operating budget. This year’s plan will see the university deliver another balanced budget, while also investing in a range of strategic priorities.

“This budget once again affords us the ability to invest in major institutional priorities, such as faculty renewal, research excellence, and diversity and inclusivity,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “While we continue to face some pressures around our pension and facilities maintenance, the hard work of the last several years has provided stability and a promising future for Queen’s.”

After contributions to the pension reserve there is a budgeted deficit of $7.7 million, which is then offset by the drawdown of operating carryforward reserves resulting in a balanced budget.

While the majority of the budget allocations cover ongoing expenses including salaries, utilities, and building maintenance, the university has allocated some discretionary funds towards key institutional priorities.

Growing Our Community

In 2018-19, the university will continue recruiting new faculty as part of the Principal’s faculty renewal initiative. This plan calls for the hiring of 200 tenured or tenure-track faculty members over five years.
“The Principal’s faculty renewal plan represents an extraordinary opportunity to recruit faculty to Queen’s with diverse backgrounds, experiences and research areas,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “We have already been very successful in attracting talented and accomplished faculty members, allowing us to build on our research strengths, and foster diversity, inclusivity, and reconciliation.”

In response to a recent accessibility audit, this year’s budget also includes some funding dedicated to making campus more accessible. In addition to the annual funding dedicated to deferred maintenance, the university is allocating $250,000 to make accessibility improvements across campus.

This accessibility funding will also complement the three years of diversity and inclusivity funding that was announced as part of last year’s budget. The 2017-18 budget pledged $3 million over three years to foster inclusivity at Queen’s.

Research and Innovation

Recognizing the importance of Queen’s research, the 2018-19 budget makes a few specific and deliberate investments in Queen’s research strengths.

“Queen’s has a long history of pioneering discoveries and innovations that have shaped our knowledge and helped address some of the world’s deepest mysteries and most pressing questions,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Importantly, these new funds will help us build on our research strengths and continue to strengthen our research culture.”

Among the new investments is a Research Catalyst fund within the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio. This $600,000 annual fund will be used to support emerging and strategic research opportunities.

The budget also allocates $7 million to create a new Research Intensity fund. This annual fund is designed to support the indirect costs of conducting research, and addresses a recommendation stemming from the review of the budget model.

Financial Sustainability

There are many ongoing challenges which the university is addressing through targeted investments.

Queen’s continues to contribute to a pension reserve, while it remains in negotiations to create a new jointly sponsored pension plan for the Ontario university sector, along with partners at the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph.

Additionally, the institution has earmarked an additional $750,000 for facility repairs and upgrades. Queen’s will spend a total of $11.9 million on deferred maintenance in 2018-19.

Risks to the budget include the dependence on government grants and regulated tuition and market volatility affecting university investments. In addition, future investments will be required to support information technology and infrastructure renewal. These risks are being closely managed and mitigated, and incremental investments in infrastructure are being made to ensure sustainability.

Learn More

To see this year’s budget, visit queensu.ca/financialservices/publications

Choose your own adventure

If you have an idea for a new experiential learning opportunity, you can apply for up to $2,000 in one-time funding to make it a reality.

[Two of the WIIS-Queen's leaders]
Andrea Vovk, Vice President of WIIS-Queen's, (Artsci’18), and Lindsay Coombs, President and Founder of WIIS-Queen's. Ms. Coombs is a PhD candidate in Political Studies. (Photo by Carling Bennet, Artsci’18)

Students, faculty, and staff looking to introduce a new hands-on learning opportunity can apply for funding support through Queen’s Experiential Learning Hub.

Applications are now open to the Experiential Learning Projects Fund – a one-time funding opportunity designed to integrate experiential learning opportunities into courses or co-curricular projects, enabling students to apply workplace-linked skills on-campus, across the country or around the world.

“By bridging theory and practice, experiential learning activities provide students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom, enhancing their understanding and knowledge of themselves and their field of study,” says Cathy Keates, Director of Career Services which oversees the Experiential Learning Hub. “In Winter 2018 this program supported 19 projects resulting in 247 Queen’s students accessing new experiential learning opportunities. We hope to continue to build on these strong results in 2018-19.”

This fund was created through support from Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skill Development’s Career Ready Fund. The Career Ready initiative aims to support universities in increasing the number of students who complete an experiential learning experience before graduation. Queen’s received a total of $1.16 million from the Ministry through this program, with a portion of that being allocated to the Experiential Learning Projects Fund.

Types of projects that are eligible for funding:


Organizing a conference
Organizing a competition (i.e. Hackathon)
Community service project
Artistic performance
Workplace related field experience directly related to students' field of study
Industry-related boot camp
Industry-related innovation project
Public awareness campaign

Grants will be awarded in the range of $1,000 to $2,000 per project, typically creating five to ten new student experiential roles per project. Special consideration will be given to initiatives that support underrepresented student populations and communities, and requests exceeding $2,000 will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Lindsay Coombs received funding last year to build a Queen’s-based affiliate to the Women In International Security (WIIS) Canadian and global network, an organization dedicated to promote women’s leadership in international security.

“The Experiential Learning Projects Fund program was central to the success of the initiatives undertaken by WIIS Queen’s in the winter 2018 academic term,” Ms. Coombs says. “I believe that the type of impactful community engagement that this program promotes is important for the development of knowledgeable and compassionate leaders – the type of leaders whose perspectives will be critical in shaping Canada’s future.”

Other projects receiving funding last year include the Queen’s Native Students Association’s annual Indigenous Awareness Week, a food cupboard for families known as the Queen’s Community Cupboard, and a QYourFuture event for graduating international students as they transition to the workforce.

Those looking to apply for funding must include a description of the project; the specific skills or learning outcomes for students; the number of student experiential learning opportunities created and their specific roles; a description of the self-assessment and reflection mechanisms that will be used throughout the project; and a detailed budget.

The application deadline for the Spring 2018 round is Friday June 29, and there will be a final round in Fall 2018. For more information and to apply for funding, visit the Experiential Learning Hub website.

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


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