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Big thinkers - three York University professors join ranks of CIFAR

Big thinkers - three York University professors join ranks of CIFAR

Home » Category Listing » Big thinkers - three York University professors join ranks of CIFAR

Big thinkers - three York University professors join ranks of CIFAR

TORONTO, April 3, 2023 – Three York University professors join other big thinkers as part of two new programs launching today at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) to delve into pressing and challenging questions facing humanity now and into the future.

Hélène Mialet

York Faculty of Science Professor Hélène Mialet of the Department of Science Technology and Society is Principal Investigator and co-director leading CIFAR’s new Future Flourishing program of which York Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies Professor Kristin Andrews of the Department of Philosophy was named a new Fellow. York Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change Professor Roger Keil was named a Fellow of CIFAR’s Humanity's Urban Future program.

Future Flourishing is one of three new programs announced today that won CIFAR’s The Future of Being Human competition, which called for ideas and proposals looking at the long-term intersection of humans, science and technology, social and cultural systems, and the environment.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for York University researchers to apply their knowledge and expertise toward answering some of humanity’s most urgent questions and to make a difference in the world. It is not only a testament to the talent and expertise of our researchers but speaks to the forward-thinking research that takes place every day at York,” says York Vice-President Research & Innovation Amir Asif. “My congratulations to Professors Hélène Mialet, Kristin Andrews and Roger Keil for pioneering new research and ideas on the impact of technology on society and our urban future.”

A Canadian-based global research organization, CIFAR convenes extraordinary minds to address the most important questions facing science and humanity.

Mialet, as co-director of the Future Flourishing Program with Tarek Elhaik, University of California, Davis, and Christopher Kelty, University of California, Los Angeles, has assembled a network of 16 exceptional scholars and practitioners, including philosophers, historians, curators, conservators, artists and anthropologists from around the world to participate in the program.

Kristin Andrews

Her longstanding research aims to set out an innovative methodological and empirical trajectory for the study of the human as a distributed centred-subject. This work has been foundational to the inception of the Future Flourishing program, which will explore how human exceptionalism can be reconfigured by extending the boundary and definition of the human to the living and non-living beings that make us who we are.

As a new Fellow in the program, Andrews, York Research Chair in Philosophy of Animal Minds, will bring empirical and theoretical expertise to questions about the similarities and differences between humans and non-human animals, their cognitive, affective, social, and cultural capacities. She developed novel frameworks for social and normative cognition that can be used to investigate these capacities in other animals.

“The fundamental question at the core of the Future Flourishing program,” explains Mialet, “is how can we live well without human exceptionalism. How can we live well and flourish with those upon whom we depend or with whom we share a common world? The establishment of a new definition of the human will have tremendous implications for how we think about and ‘do’ politics, ethics, knowledge and morality.” In addition, she points out that “this is an important award for York. It has the potential to make profound change in how we engage with our complex world.”

Roger Keil

Humanity's Urban Future program will explore the question – what is a good city of the future? Keil is an expert in global sub/urbanization with a particular interest in the urbanization of nature and the relationships of cities and infectious disease. He currently leads an Urban Studies Foundation sponsored project, City after COVID-19: Vulnerability and urban governance in Chicago, Toronto and Johannesburg.

He says Toronto will be one of the six cities around the world that the group, led by Simon Goldhill of Cambridge University and Diane Davis of Harvard University, will study.

“This is significant as Toronto will be scrutinized as one of the places where humanity's urban future takes shape,” says Keil. He considers becoming a Fellow a “great honour”. He further notes that York's exemplary track record in hosting large, multi-site and interdisciplinary research programs at its City Institute and the purposeful recent creation of a Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, provided excellent conditions for the work that lies ahead as he seeks to contribute to thinking about future urban life on this planet.

Successful programs were required to submit bold, new ideas that have the potential to be transformative in tackling complex questions affecting the world. Mialet, Andrews and Keil join a community of Fellows, Nobel laureates and some 400 researchers from around the globe. Each newly establish research program is interdisciplinary and collaborative.

PHOTOS: Hélène Mialet, Kristin Andrews, and Roger Keil

For more information, watch the following CIFAR videos:

Humanity’s Urban Future -

Future Flourishing -

About York University

York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change, and prepare our students for success. York's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York’s campuses in Costa Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs. Together, we can make things right for our communities, our planet, and our future.

Media Contact: Sandra McLean, York University Media Relations, 416-272-6317,