Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Research Prominence

Revitalizing Policy Studies

Principal Daniel Woolf announces plans to elevate the School of Policy Studies by drawing on expertise across many faculties.

The School of Policy Studies is about to begin a new chapter in its long and impressive history. Principal Daniel Woolf has announced a new associate dean and director (Policy Studies) for the school, as well as a new model that will allow the school to leverage faculty expertise from many more areas of the university.

[Warren Mabee]
Warren Mabee

Warren Mabee will become the school’s associate dean and director (Policy Studies), starting on July 1, 2019, succeeding Dr. David Walker who has been in the role of interim executive director since July 2016. A respected researcher, Dr. Mabee is currently a professor and head of the Department of Geography and Planning, a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation, and director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.

Dr. Mabee’s appointment is the latest in a series of important announcements about the School of Policy Studies this year. In February, the Principal’s Commission on the Future of Public Policy at Queen’s University delivered its final report, An Ambitious Vision for Public Policy at Queen’s. Shortly after, an implementation and transition working group was appointed to identify next steps for the report’s top recommendations.

“For generations, Queen’s University has been an important driver of public policy in this country, both through our research and through our talented graduates taking up leadership positions in the public service, as well as in the private and not-for-profit sectors,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “The changes we are announcing will set the school up for future success by elevating public policy to a pan-university priority that incorporates a multi-disciplinary approach to public policy research.”

To help facilitate this new approach, the School of Policy Studies will now become part of the Faculty of Arts and Science. From this new base, it will be able to regularly draw on a wider range of faculty expertise. Queen’s has international research and academic leadership spread throughout its faculties of Arts and Science, Business, Engineering and Applied Science, Health Sciences, and Education. This new initiative will set the school up to become a national leader by enabling it to leverage this deep expertise across multiple fields of endeavor.

The school will also be setting up an internal and an external advisory board to help identify priorities and future opportunities.

Principal Woolf also announced the university will be providing funding to cover operating costs to support the school during this transition period and to support the development and advancement of new programs over the coming years.

“Public policy is arguably more important now than it has ever been, with governments in Canada and around the world facing challenges that are dynamic, incredibly complex, and often global in scope,” says Dr. Mabee. “With the support and guidance of the new advisory boards, the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s will be aiming to develop a new model that will allow us to begin consistently leveraging the world-class expertise available across Queen’s, including such areas as economics, business, engineering, biology, and health sciences.”

This new focus on cross-faculty collaboration will set the school up to carry out leading research in such important and pressing areas as indigenous reconciliation, climate change, the impact of technological change, refugee movements, and shifting demographics, to name just a few.

Currently, the School of Policy Studies offers two programs – a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and a Professional Master of Public Administration (PMPA). Each are staffed by leading faculty and distinguished public policy practitioners.

To learn more about the school visit the Queen’s School of Policy Studies website.

The Conversation: The impact of climate change on language loss

Approximately 7,000 languages are spoken in the world today, but only about half are expected to survive this century.

[Sulawesi village]
The coastline of Sulawesi, Indonesia, where languages and cultures are threatened by climate change. (Photo by Anastasia Riehl) 

Images of extreme weather and alarming headlines about climate change have become common. Last month, dire predictions about our warming planet from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were reported as distressing scenes from a devastating tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia were still in the news.

[The Conversation]As residents of Sulawesi villages mourn their losses and rebuild their neighbourhoods, scientists and policy makers seek to better understand and prepare for the effects of climate change. Often overlooked are the effects on the world’s languages.

Global loss of languages

While approximately 7,000 languages are spoken in the world today, only about half are expected to survive this century. A number of factors contribute to this loss: increasing globalization, which pushes countries and individuals to shift to national or international languages for economic reasons; lack of support for regional languages in educational systems and mass media; persecution of minority linguistic groups by governments and disruption of communities during war and emigration.

It is difficult to predict the future for any particular language. While some minority languages will thrive for generations to come, many of the world’s languages are moving towards extinction within a generation.

One stressor that may be the tipping point for some communities is climate change. Many small linguistic communities are located on islands and coastlines vulnerable to hurricanes and a rise in sea levels. Other communities are settled on lands where increases in temperature and fluctuations in precipitation can threaten traditional farming and fishing practices.

These changes will force communities to relocate, creating climate change refugees. The resultant dispersal of people will lead to the splintering of linguistic communities and increased contact with other languages. These changes will place additional pressures on languages that are already struggling to survive.

[Harbour Market in Manado, North Sulawesi. Anastasia Riehl]
Harbour Market in Manado, North Sulawesi. (Photo by Anastasia Riehl)

Sulawesi’s languages are disappearing

I spent many months in Sulawesi in the early 2000s, recording languages of the northern and central regions. The island, shaped like a giant starfish with massive limbs unfurling in the Pacific Ocean, is home to dozens of distinct languages, many of these spoken by only a few thousand people in a handful of villages each.

Moving from one bay or valley to another often means entering a different linguistic community. The people living at the mouth of the long, narrow bay, where the tsunami’s waves first began to gather force, speak a different language than the people living at the base of the bay, where those 20 foot waves stormed inland.

When people learned that I was in Sulawesi to study the languages, they would excitedly engage me in discussions of the languages of their region. This frequently happened when I was out for a walk in a village and had attracted a small group of residents curious about my presence. Inevitably someone would hold out their hands and use their fingers to list off the names of languages in the area. As I became better acquainted with an area’s languages, I would join others and call out the names along with them, a sing-song game that ended in laughter.

These conversations never took place in one of the local languages, however, but rather in the country’s national language, Indonesian. Despite the great pride in linguistic diversity that I witnessed, many of those eager to discuss the regional languages with me knew only a handful of words in their own community’s traditional language. Sulawesi’s languages, increasingly relegated to the oldest generations and most isolated communities, are disappearing.

Sulawesi’s story, both of linguistic diversity and of language endangerment, is the story of Indonesia more broadly, a country of over 600 languages, many of which are vulnerable. Indonesia’s story is, in turn, a global story.

[A flooded market in Sulawesi. Anastasia Riehl]
A flooded market in Sulawesi. (Photo by Anastasia Riehl)

Loss of language, loss of data, identity

When a language is lost, the result can be a loss of identity, one that may impact the health and vitality of a community for generations to come. The importance of the connection between language and identity can be seen here in Canada.

Indigenous communities are struggling to overcome decades of persecution and discrimination, the traumatic legacies of residential schooling and, increasingly, environmental challenges. Alongside efforts to secure equal access to education, health care and infrastructure, communities are making substantial investments in the revitalization of their languages, viewed as a critical part of healing the past and securing the future.

The loss of a language is also a loss of data needed to better understand human cognition, as happens when a language disappears before its structures and patterns have been documented. It is a loss of knowledge about the world as well, as when descriptive names for plants or practices — still unknown outside a local area — are forgotten.

Some of climate change’s effects are easy to see and to fear: homes destroyed by a wildfire, people swept away in flooded streets, crops withering in a drought. Other effects, like language loss, are less tangible and more complicated but also devastating.

As I read the harrowing forecasts of the consequences of rising temperatures, and as I fear for the fate of friends in villages overtaken by the tsunami’s mudflows, I also worry about the future of Sulawesi’s languages — and of the world’s languages more generally.

The IPCC report warns us that if the world does not come together to prevent a projected global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees, the future will be one of loss: loss of land, of food and water supplies, of lives and livelihoods.

It will also be a loss of languages, of the knowledge and cultures they embody, and of the diversity and richness of human experience that they represent.The Conversation


Anastasia Riehl, is the director of the Strathy Language Unit at Queen's University. In this role she pursues and supports projects that explore variation in Canadian English and the role of English in a multilingual society. Her other areas of research and teaching include the phonology-phonetics interface and endangered language documentation. 

The Conversation provides news and views from the academic and research community. Queen’s University is a founding partner. Queen’s researchers, faculty, and students are regular contributors. 

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

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

Smith expert sees positives for Canadian economy in 2019

The Canadian economy will remain upbeat in 2019, despite falling oil prices and rising interest rates.

That’s the prediction Evan Dudley, Associate Professor of Finance at Smith School of Business, made Thursday at the school’s annual Business Forecast Luncheon.

[Evan Dudley, Business Forecast Luncheon]
Evan Dudley, Associate Professor of Finance at Smith School of Business, makes a presentation during Thursday's Business Forecast Luncheon. (Supplied Photo)

“The economy is pretty much at full capacity right now,” he says. “But it’s still going to grow.”

Real gross domestic product will rise two per cent nationwide in 2019 — the same as this year he says. Record-low unemployment of 5.8 per cent in October will fall to 5.75 per cent by October next year.

Deficit spending remains an important economic stimulator.

“Neither Canada nor the U.S. seem interested in lowering their deficits,” Dr. Dudley says. “That’s why I still see room to grow, even though the economy is already doing really well.”

Ongoing worldwide demand for Canadian fuel, minerals and other resources will also contribute to growth.

After raising interest rates three times in the last year, the Bank of Canada will hike rates just twice next year (by 25 basis points each time), he predicts.

“It’s going to err on the side of caution as long as oil prices remain low,” Dr. Dudley says.

The central bank won’t be as aggressive on rates as the U.S. Federal Reserve. As a result, the Canadian dollar will slide to 70 cents against its American counterpart by next December. (It’s 75 cents now.)

Inflation, which stood at 2.4 per cent in October, will slow to two per cent next year. The prime interest rate will reach 4.45 per cent by next December, up from 3.95 per cent now.

Rising wages, falling home prices and Canadians’ recent tendency to spend with debt signal an end to the current growth cycle. But Dr. Dudley anticipates a gradual slowdown rather than a sharp fall into recession.

He also doesn’t believe the recent fall in oil prices will trigger a nationwide downturn. When oil fell in the past, so did the Canadian dollar. But that isn’t happening now, Dudley says.

“It tells me the Canadian economy has diversified away from the oilsands,” which makes up around 1.9 per cent of GDP, he explains.

Smith’s Business Forecast Luncheon at the Four Points by Sheraton in downtown Kingston drew more than 200 local business and government leaders. Speakers included Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson and Smith professors Kathryn Brohman and Ken Wong.

Dr. Brohman discussed her research into organizational “cost of execution,” the subject of her upcoming book, Shift: A New Mindset for Sustainable Execution.

Only 40 per cent of organizations successfully deliver on strategy, according to a 2012 survey. Why so low? Dr. Brohman determined to find out, studied hundreds of firms and uncovered 12 common barriers. They include poor prioritization, technology gaps, complacency and a silo mentality among employees.

One interesting observation that she noted: “People are extremely resourceful at finding ways to overcome execution barriers to achieve aggressive short-term goals.”

But sometimes long-term goals are sacrificed in the process.

Her book contains a tool used by more than 750 companies to identify execution barriers. It can also determine how much poor execution costs individual firms.

“A high cost of execution can result in a decrease in long-term performance,” she says.

The subject of strategy also came up when Mayor Paterson took to the stage for a fireside chat led by Professor Wong.

Paterson discussed his “smart growth” vision to tackle issues such as employment, transit, economic development, and, perhaps most important, housing. As of October, the city’s rental vacancy rate was just 0.6 per cent, the lowest in Ontario and well below the city’s 10-year average of 1.6 per cent.

Smart growth will allow Kingston to “achieve a number of goals all at the same time,” the mayor said.

Paterson said he believes that smaller cities like Kingston can have an advantage over major cities as they can more easily “co-ordinate strategy and bring everyone around the table” to get things done. As an example, he cited the popular Kingston Penitentiary tours, which required co-ordinated effort by the city, Corrections Canada and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission to get off the ground.

Wong asked the mayor about potential cuts to municipal funding as the Ontario government looks to cut its deficit.

Paterson said he would like to see Ontario loosen certain regulations that, “restrict the creativity the city can have.”

As an example, he cited development that, even after municipal approval, is sometimes held up for years by provincial authority.

“If the government can let us be more flexible we can do a lot more with the dollars that we have,” he says.

Kingston’s economy will have grown 1.9 per cent in 2018, with unemployment at 5.5 per cent, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

“Kingston is becoming more attractive for students, retirees and also increasingly for professionals as new companies establish themselves here,” Dr. Dudley says. 

Canada Foundation for Innovation seeking input

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) helps Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research organizations to increase their capability to carry out high-quality research through investment in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, retention of top talent, and training of the next generation of researchers. 

With new federal investment from the Government of Canada from Budget 2018, the CFI has proposed a conversation with the Canadian research community and key stakeholders on the future of research and research infrastructure in Canada and the CFI’s role in supporting institutions to sustain and enhance their research capacity.

More information can be found in the discussion paper, Conversation on the future of research and research infrastructure in Canada: role of the Canada Foundation for Innovation

CFI staff will meet with as many stakeholders as possible through a series of meetings across the country and a few webinars. In addition, they invite institutions to submit written comments by Friday, Dec. 14, to conversation@innovation.ca. Queen’s encourages its faculty, staff and students to engage in the discussion.  Comments at Queen’s will be accepted by the Associate Vice-Principal (Research) Kent Novakowski until Monday, Dec. 10. Please direct emails to Kelly Blair-Matuk, Associate Director, Office of the Vice-Principal (Research).

Bridging the gap between science and art

A lab affiliated with the Beaty Water Research Centre participated in a creative collaboration with Art the Science.

[Mumford Research Group and artist Owen Fernley]
Artist Owen Fernley participated in a residency at the lab of Kevin Mumford, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and a researcher affiliated with the Beaty Water Research Centre. From left: Matan Freedman, Owen Fernley, Nick Pease, Kevin Mumford, Caroline Wisheart, and Cole Van De Ven. (Supplied Photo)

A recent creative collaboration at a lab affiliated with the Beaty Water Research Centre is showing that when art meets science, good things happen.

Beaty Water Research CentreEarlier this year, Kevin Mumford, an associate professor and researcher in the Department of Civil Engineering, hosted artist, geophysicist, and Queen’s alumnus Owen Fernley (Sc’01) at his environmental engineering lab. The residency was made possible through a partnership with Art the Science (ATS), a non-profit organization founded by Queen’s alumnus Julia Krolik (MSc ’14) that facilitates artist residencies in science research spaces.

The goal of the residency is to give artists the opportunity to explore and expand their practice while immersed in a research environment while, at the same time, providing scientists with an innovative outlet for sharing their research with the public. The second phase of the program engages the public through physical and online exhibitions.

“I’m always interested in creative solutions to problems. A chance to have an artist work alongside researchers in my lab sounded like an excellent opportunity to tap into a different creative perspective,” Dr. Mumford says. “It was also an opportunity to talk to an artist about how the results of science and engineering research, even the process of science and engineering research, could be better communicated to people outside of the lab and outside of the discipline.”

Fernley specializes in creative coding, where computer programming is used as a medium for artistic and creative purposes.  

During his residency, Fernley had to quickly gain an understanding of the lab’s various research projects. Dr. Mumford’s research is focused on the fate of hazardous chemicals when they are discharged into the environment, particularly subsurface environments such as soil and groundwater, as well as the development and optimizing of clean-up technologies. The group’s research projects include physical models for liquids and gases moving through porous media and computer models that describe those processes and apply them to new situations.

Fernley interacted with lab members asking questions and engaging in discussions. He then absorbed the knowledge he gained and experimented with ways he could incorporate what he learned into his artwork. He became most inspired by the negative pore space between sand grains.

“In the lab we observed gas as it flowed through packed sand, leaving behind intricate branching pathways. I learned at the residency that when spherical shapes are packed together, the space between is constructed from only six known configurations. Combining them together, you get these unique pathways between the sand,” he says. “Of course, the shape of each sand grain, the viscosity of the gas, and the shifting of the grains all change the paths further, but I wanted to explore what the negative space means and how it could be approximated through creative coding.”

Pre- and post-residency interviews, including a daily artist video diary, were completed as part of the evaluation process led by Art the Science’s Program Evaluation Officer Catherine Lau, to better understand the value of the scientist-artist collaboration. A report summarizing evaluation findings is available on Art the Science’s website.

For Dr. Mumford the residency made it clear that an artist can contribute to the research environment, particularly by offering a new perspective for scientists and encouraging creative thinking in the lab. He hopes this residency would stimulate discussion and creative ideas, thereby fostering better problem solving.

“The entire experience was really interesting and really positive. I especially liked listening to Owen get excited about what he was seeing in the lab, how he was piecing it together, and what aspects of the work were jumping out at him artistically,” he says. “I’m very excited to see what he will create based on this experience with us.”

In addition to valuable discussions, Fernley’s presence prompted conversations with researchers outside the lab who were curious to learn about this interdisciplinary collaboration.

Fernley is currently working on the final artwork, titled Between the Sand, which will be presented at Art the Science’s digital exhibition launch on Feb. 27. This event will feature a panel discussion (including Krolik, Fernley, Dr. Mumford, and his graduate students) and mark the digital release of the research-based artwork into Art the Science’s Polyfield Gallery.

In addition, an interactive installation of Between the Sand, which places the audience inside the experiment, will occur at Science Rendezvous on May 11, in Kingston. 

The Conversation: How sex and gender influence how we vote

Men and women are not unified voting blocs. We must consider how voters identify themselves in terms of gender to truly understand how women and men think about politics.

Neither men nor women vote in blocs, and gender identity helps explain voting patterns. (Photo by photo by Arnaud Jaegers/Unsplash)

Leading up to the recent midterm elections in the United States, pundits predicted women voters and candidates would alter the race.

There were, in fact, historic changes as more women than ever gained seats in U.S. Congress, breaking the 100-seat barrier. The winners included two Muslim women and two Native American women, both historic firsts.

However, as we unpack and explain voting patterns, the narrative must move beyond stereotypical and biologically grounded explanations that focus on men and women as voting blocs. Instead, we must ask how gender orientations condition men’s and women’s politics.

Several lessons from our ongoing research are instructive: First, gender strongly conditions the impact of sex on the vote. By “gender,” we mean the extent to which men and women identify with masculinity and femininity as sets of roles, traits and ideals.

The impact of gender on the vote differs from the effect of sex alone, in part because sex does not determine where you place yourself on a masculinity/femininity continuum.

Why some men are more liberal

Our work on measuring sex and gender in survey research, published last year in Political Behavior, shows that men who do not strongly identify with hypermasculinity are equally or more liberal than women on various issues, from same-sex marriage to social spending.

This implies that moderately masculine men, so to speak, are not in the Republican orbit because they do not share the party’s positions on the issues that defined the 2018 midterms: Immigration, gun rights, Brett Kavanaugh and the backlash against so-called “identity politics.”

In fact, all respondents whose gender self-placement veers from the most masculine or feminine endpoints of the scale tend to be more politically moderate than the hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine identifiers.

This means that highly feminine women — those who possess very traditional gender identities — are more conservative on some issues, including workplace discrimination, and are indeed open to the Republican platform.

Neither men nor women vote in blocs, and gender identity helps explain voting patterns. (Photo by Mirah Curzer/Unsplash)

The general message here is not novel in its recognition of multiple and cross-cutting identities and their importance to voting. Race, socioeconomic status and religion, for example, are other important influences on the vote.

What is novel about our research is that it identifies the patterns from an overlooked aspect of identity — gender. Sex and gender tend to be treated as synonymous both in “real life” and in research. Disentangling them is revealing the ways that our biology affects our behaviour less than previously thought.

Gender not a factor for some

The second big message coming from our research is that we must stop automatically treating gender as a “first-order” or “meta” identity that eclipses all other identities. For some voters, gender is not a strong pull on the vote or on political attitudes. Our research published last year in the Canadian Journal of Political Science finds that there are few male-female gaps in attitudes, and presumably voting, among people for whom gender is not important.

It’s only among those for whom gender is highly salient (and this is the case for a lot of people) that sex and gender have the potential to create gaps in attitudes and votes, producing a chasm in the electorate.

In the context of the 2018 midterms, a key observation is that sex and gender are more prominent in some campaigns than others.

Sometimes gender-based issues are at the top of the agenda, or high proportions of women candidates run. This can cue voters to think about gender issues when making their vote choices, a process called priming.

This helps explain the large partisan gaps between men and women and the unprecedented showing of women candidates in 2018. A record number of women candidates ran and won, and media, think tanks, researchers and political parties spent a lot of time discussing the anticipated “pink wave.”

#MeToo movement in play

What’s more, voters went to the polls soon after a Supreme Court confirmation process fought nearly exclusively over allegations that nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted several women. And this came after a year of intensive public action by the #MeToo movement, which has illuminated the widespread sexual violence and harassment faced by women.

It’s clear the electoral environment contributes to the politicization of social divisions. When campaigns focus on other issues or other types of candidates, different electoral divides define the vote, and sex and gender may take a back seat to partisanship, race or religion.

Traditionally, we talk about women voters as if they are unique and act as a bloc. But not all women vote the same, and women don’t uniformly feel the same about issues, parties or candidates over time.

Context matters. It activates identities in the minds of voters, and campaigns provide cues for the types of considerations that will influence voters at the ballot box. The 2018 midterm election campaign activated sex, but it also activated gender, and the strength of a voter’s masculinity and femininity no doubt had a discernible impact on how they cast their ballots.The Conversation


Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant is an associate professor the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University, director of Queen’s Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, and director of the Canadian Opinion Research Archive. Amanda Bittner is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The Conversation provides news and views from the academic and research community. Queen’s University is a founding partner. Queen’s researchers, faculty, and students are regular contributors. 
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

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

Breaking new ground at the intersection of AI and law

The Conflict Analytics Lab is uniting experts across the globe with cutting-edge technologies that tackle some of law's toughest challenges.  

[Samuel Dahan, Faculty of Law]
Professor Samuel Dahan is the director of the Conflict Analytics Lab, which will offer “opportunities to educate the next generation of lawyers, negotiators and mediators.” (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Conflict Analytics is taking off. 

“It’s hard to describe how fast this is growing,” says Samuel Dahan, Assistant Professor at Queen’s Faculty of Law and head of its nascent Conflict Analytics Lab.

Conflict Analytics is a notion that began with Dahan before he joined Queen’s, and that has grown rapidly since then. 

“The idea of extracting data from negotiation settlements and cases, converting it to knowledge that is understandable and can be acted on, and using that to help people not only in legal practice is one I’ve been intrigued by since my time as a PhD student at Cambridge, and then while I was at the Court of Justice of the European Union,” he says. “It’s not just a question of creating information of use to lawyers, but also providing guidance for parties and organizations involved in a dispute, such as consumer or employment negotiation.” 

Dahan brought this idea to Queen’s when he joined the faculty in 2017, having already found collaborators, including Jonathan Touboul of the College de France; Aymeric De Moncuit of the Court of Justice of the European Union; Maxime Cohen of NYU Stern; Colin Rule, founder of eBay’s online dispute resolution platform; and David Restrepo Amariles of HEC Paris. While the idea behind the project has remained consistent, the list of collaborators has continued to grow. The Conflict Analytics Lab, the first of its kind, now has the largest consortium of experts on data analytics and dispute resolution.

Through a partnership with the Smith Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics and the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace, a team of more than 25 law students and data scientists is working feverishly on data entry and coding in order to develop an open source AI-tribunal for small claims in Ontario. This digital dispute-resolution platform would be aimed at providing predictive legal services and negotiation support for self-represented plaintiffs.

Professor Kevin Banks, Director of the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace, has played an important role in the project. 

“Professor Dahan is taking the centre’s work in bold new directions,” he says. “He joined the faculty as a centre affiliate, and the work he’s doing with the lab will support our mandate to advance the thinking around workplace law, particularly rights adjudication, at a national and an international level.”

But what does it all mean? 

“This is a project that quickly moves from academic work to something with real-world applications,” Dahan notes. “Key to this is our work on applied research – using the machine-learning system we’re building to create a dispute resolution service for people who cannot afford to be represented. There are several applications of the technology, for instance, dispute resolution, consumer complaints, contract negotiations and trademark analysis.”

“To take an example,” Dahan continues, “look at consumer disputes. Companies spend excessive amounts of money to solve customer disputes, and struggle to build consistent dispute-resolution processes. We are collaborating with several industries, including the hospitality and banking sectors, to develop a cutting-edge neural network system. We’re going to use it to analyze this vast volume of information so that we can start to provide guidance for customer services on what happens in some cases, as well as identifying best practices for resolving disputes. 

“What if there was a tool for customers that let them see what the history of similar disputes was? Or for businesses to see what the most likely result of a resolution would be? How would that change how the business responds to a customer who has a problem? And how much time and energy would it save, on a mass scale, if we could streamline these processes?” 

These are big questions – and perhaps big solutions – that apply to all of the applications that the Conflict Analytics Lab is working on. 

“That’s the philosophy that also drives the idea of a tool for an open AI resolution tribunal, as well as a system to let us see whether Canadian, French and European case law are consistent,” Dahan says. 

On a smaller scale, the lab is currently using cutting-edge text analytics to help one of the largest train builders in the world to improve their contract drafting and negotiation strategies. 

“This is a smaller project, but one that will really serve as a proof of result for the project,” Dahan says. “We are taking past negotiations over contracts in this specific industry, building a database, and then moving on to analytics that will help administrators enter into contracts with a solid idea of what has resulted in success in the past.” 

Beyond these direct applications, the Conflict Analytics Lab is also serving as an incubator, creating a home for legal technology entrepreneurs to foster and grow their own projects. 

“We’re excited to be creating an ecosystem for future projects,” Dahan says. “Mariella Montplaisir, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa, is working with us on her Solvr project, an online dispute-resolution system, and we are looking forward to more partnerships like this in the future.” 

All of this, of course, involves substantial research – and will generate some foundational work on data analysis and dispute resolution in the academic sphere.

“As an academic, I’m excited at the potential here to produce substantial work that will extend the benefits of the project far beyond our collaborators and to an international audience of scholars dealing with both the issues surrounding labour law, and also how data and analysis can fuel a better understanding of our field,” Dahan says. 

That, in turn, will fuel the final mandate of the lab: education. 

“This brings us full circle,” Dahan says. “We’re creating practical tools for the legal and other industries, but are we informing them? This work can create powerful ways for people to understand and use data, but the education component of this is vital and cannot be overlooked. Beyond the tools, there are opportunities here to educate the next generation of lawyers, negotiators and mediators. At the end of the day, meaningful work is about change, and change is something that has to happen at the user level.” 

The project is also creating opportunities for students: Maddy Sequeira (Law’21), and Shane Liquornik (Law’20), are two of Dahan’s first hires as research assistants for the project. 

“It’s exciting as students to have the opportunity to play a role in shaping the way in which technology and law can interact and advance the field of dispute resolution,” they say. “As next-generation lawyers, the lab has exposed us to the benefits of embracing innovations in the legal field.”

Bill Flanagan, Dean of Queen’s Law, is delighted with the Lab and its remarkable progress since Dahan’s arrival at Queen’s. 

“Samuel has taken a leadership role in creating a space where we are leveraging both technology and creative thinking in developing highly innovative and low-cost ways to deliver legal services,” he says. “The lab is putting Queen’s Law on the forefront of thinking and research on the application of AI to dispute resolution, developments that hold major potential to address some of the chronic access-to-justice challenges in Canada and around the world.”

Learn more about the Conflict Analytics Lab.

This article was first published on the Queen's Law website.

A national honour

Three Queen’s faculty members now invested as Officers of the Order of Canada.

  • Kerry Rowe promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada
    Kerry Rowe, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and former Vice-Principal (Research), is congratulated by Governor General Julie Payette upon being invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. (Photo by Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall. © OSGG, 2018)
  • Elizabeth Eisenhauer promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada
    Professor Emerita Elizabeth Eisenhauer, the former director of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, shakes hands with Governor General Julie Payette after being invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. (Photo by Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall. © OSGG, 2018)
  • Paul Armstrong promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada
    Governor General Julie Payette congratulates Paul Armstrong, an adjunct professor in the School of Medicine, after he was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. (Photo by Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall. © OSGG, 2018)

The Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, has recognized three Queen’s faculty members for their outstanding contributions to the country. Announced as recipients in January 2018, both Elizabeth Eisenhauer and R. Kerry Rowe were invested as Officers of the Order of Canada this month in Ottawa, while Paul Armstrong received the honour in September.

The Order of Canada is one of the country’s highest civilian honours and it recognizes those who make extraordinary contributions to the nation as exemplified in its motto Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam – “They desire a better country.” Since its creation in 1967, about 7,000 people have received the honour.

According to the Office of the Governor General, the Queen’s faculty members are recipients for the following reasons:

Elizabeth Ann Eisenhauer, O.C. (MD’76, Professor Emerita, Department of Oncology, former Director, NCIC Clinical Trials Group Investigational New Drug Program)

“Elizabeth Eisenhauer is an international leader in clinical cancer research. Professor emerita at Queen’s University and former director of the NCIC Clinical Trials Group Investigational New Drug Program, she has played an influential role in helping shape cancer treatment through key advancements in clinical trials. Notably, she led the design of criteria to evaluate the response of tumours to therapy, and evaluated numerous new drugs now used routinely in cancer treatment. Renowned for her experience and expertise, she has served on numerous international professional and institutional committees, benefiting oncology research worldwide.”

R. Kerry Rowe, O.C. (Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, former Vice-Principal (Research))

“Kerry Rowe is a passionate leader in the safeguarding of Canada’s natural resources. A professor at Queen’s University and a pioneer in geoenvironmental engineering, he is responsible for many of the designs, techniques and materials now used to manage waste disposal in the developed world. His seminal research on landfills has led to critical advancements in protecting land and water from contamination. Renowned for his dedication to the advancement of this field, he has served at the helm of numerous professional societies and institutional committees.”

Paul W. Armstrong, O.C. (Arts’63, MD’66 – Adjunct Professor, Queen’s School of Medicine)

“Paul Armstrong is a pioneering investigative and clinical cardiologist whose work in acute cardiac care has had global reach. A professor at the University of Alberta, he has conducted transformative research in the treatment of acute heart attacks and was instrumental in implementing this pre-hospital treatment in Alberta’s ambulances, which is credited with increasing patient survival rates. He is also recognized for his leadership in health care institutions, including as founding president of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and as director of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre, an international enterprise that conducts global-scale clinical trials in cardiovascular medicine.

For more information on other Order of Canada recipients with Queen’s connections see the Queen's Gazette and the Governor General's website.   

A seniors’ oasis

Unique model of active aging in place expands from Kingston to other parts of Ontario.

[Oasis Wii bowling]
As part of the Oasis Senior Supporting Living program Pearl Larson tries her hand at Wii-bowling, while Norm Fournier and Evelyn Farrar look on. (Supplied Photo)

With an aging population, it is critical that seniors living in the community receive the support they need. It is important that new effective and cost-efficient strategies are developed to help seniors live where they want to live and prosper in their chosen communities.

The Oasis Senior Supporting Living program, is a unique model of active aging-in-place originally developed with a group of seniors living in an apartment building in Kingston. While Oasis has been cherished for many years by members and the many people who work with them, its value and potential has recently been recognized outside the city.

Professors Catherine Donnelly and Vince DePaul from the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University are leading a research project to expand and evaluate the Oasis Model into seven new communities in four cities in Ontario. In this project, they have partnered with the seniors at the original Oasis program at Bowling Green II apartment in Kingston, the Oasis Board of Directors, and researchers at Western University in London, and McMaster University in Hamilton.  

 “The Oasis model is a unique model that’s seniors driven,” says Dr. Donnelly. “Isolation can be a major issue for seniors who are living alone and who may have challenges getting out and about. With Oasis, there is a support system naturally built in to where they are living. Members can connect with others in their familiar space.”

Each Oasis building features an Oasis members committee, a community board of directors and onsite program coordinator. Oasis members drive the program and direct the programming, including communal meals, social activities, and exercise and activity programs. The onsite program coordinator supports all aspects of the program delivery, working with the members. The community board offers oversight and governance support and has been instrumental in supporting Oasis.

All programming occurs in the apartment building where seniors are living ensuring that Oasis brings the services they need to them. Programming includes everything from a Wii bowling league, exercise classes, creative writing workshops, and daily coffee times. Three days a week, catered meals are served to Oasis members in a communal dining space.

“This was a very grassroots, seniors-driven, community-supported idea. The original Oasis building opened about 10 years ago in the Bowling Green II apartment owned and operated by Homestead Landholdings,” says Dr. DePaul. “Homestead has been very supportive from the beginning, including providing space for the program to operate. They continue to be very supportive as we move forward to expand the program to other buildings. We have also received support from another Kingston landlord, CJM, to open an Oasis program in one of their buildings here in the city. It’s these partnerships that are critical.”

The project has been funded through three separate grants from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, the Baycrest Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovations, and the Ontario Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. The funds from each grant are being used to support the expansion and evaluation of Oasis into different buildings. The project team includes colleagues from Western University, McMaster University and Queen’s. Work began on this project this past summer and will continue for the next 18 months. Kingston is now preparing to open its second facility.

This new funding will allow this multidisciplinary and multi-community project with new programs being put in place, and the model evaluation with an eye on refining the process and, potentially, bringing new aging in place communities on board.

For more information, visit the website.

New program honours past and present researchers

The Distinguished University Professor program was created to recognize researchers who have made significant and lasting contributions to Queen’s and beyond.

Queen’s University is seeking nominations for a new program celebrating the university’s top internationally-recognized researchers.

The Distinguished University Professor program was created to recognize researchers who have made significant and lasting contributions to Queen’s and beyond. The honorific titles, approved by Queen’s Senate on Sept. 25, are named after past Queen’s community members who have helped make the university a special place.

Distinguished University Professor Advisory Committee
Tom Harris, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science
Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies
Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning)
Kim Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research)
Yolande Chan (Professor - Smith School of Business)
John Fisher (Professor - Biomedical and Molecular Sciences)
Carlos Prado (Professor Emeritus - Philosophy)
Tyler Morrison, President, Society of Graduate and Professional Students
Miguel Martinez, President, Alma Mater Society
Chad Gaffield, Professor, University of Ottawa, and President, Royal Society of Canada
Cheryl Misak, University Professor, University of Toronto

The designation as a Distinguished University Professor is the highest research-related honour bestowed by Queen’s. The program is open to all individuals holding a full-time academic appointment at Queen’s.

The honorific titles are named after:

  • Ralph Allen (Fine Art)
  • Allie Vibert ‘Vi’ Douglas (Arts and Science)
  • Stephen Giymah (Arts and Science)
  • George Whalley (Arts and Science)
  • John Freeman (Education)
  • Barrington Batchelor (Engineering)
  • William Ralph Lederman (Law)
  • Patricia Monture-Angus (Law)
  • Elizabeth Smith (Health Sciences)

A brief bio for each is available on the Principal’s Office website.

“The Distinguished University Professor program is an opportunity for the university to celebrate faculty members who have made significant and lasting contributions to Queen’s and to Canadian society today and, through the honorific titles, in the past,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “Personally, I am excited to see this latest chapter in our history unfold and call upon the Queen’s community to participate in the nomination process.”

Queen’s faculty, administrators, staff, students, and retirees can nominate candidates. Successful nominees will then be able to select a preferred honorific name to form part of their title – “Honorific Title” Distinguished University Professor.

The recipients will be recognized each year at convocation.

Nominations are to be submitted to the Distinguished University Professor Advisory Committee, care of the Office of the Provost, by Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. The preferred method is by email to provost@queensu.ca. A hard copy may also be submitted to the Office of the Provost, Suite 353, Richardson Hall, 74 University Ave., Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6.

The committee will then make a recommendation to Principal Woolf on which nominees, if any, should be designated as a Distinguished University Professor.

The advisory committee invites nominations for all who meet the eligibility guidelines. Queen’s University is committed to equity and diversity and welcomes nominations for women, Indigenous/Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, racialized/visible minorities and LGBTQ+ persons.

For further information or questions, contact the Office of the Provost at provost@queensu.ca or 613‑533-6000 ext. 74569.

The terms of reference for the program, and further details about the committee, are available on the Principal’s Office website.


Subscribe to RSS - Research Prominence