The pandemic has served to highlight how interconnected we are, and the need for a collective approach to addressing the complex issues facing the world today — from climate change, to inequities in affordable housing and public health, to systemic racism. York University plays a critical role in facilitating this type of cross-sector collaboration — bringing together researchers, policy makers, practitioners, and experts from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to solve global challenges and build communities that are inclusive, resilient, safe, and sustainable.
industry research agreements
billion annual economic output
more likely to have volunteered in the past 12 months (York graduates vs. graduates of other Toronto-area universities)
In partnership with the City of Vaughan, Mackenzie Health, and ventureLAB, York continued to make progress on the creation of the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct, a new healthcare and innovation hub that will transform an 82-acre site around the recently opened Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital into a home for healthcare innovation, education, entrepreneurship, and treatment.
In June 2020 the first part of a three-phase feasibility study for the precinct was completed, and in January 2021, York signed a memorandum of understanding with Mackenzie Health to explore further areas for engagement and cooperation, including education, professional and community development, and health research and innovation.
In August 2021, the government of Canada awarded $3 million to a partnership between York University and the Black Creek community that will support Black-Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses in Humber River-Black Creek. The Black Entrepreneurship Alliance will offer education, mentorship, and support to Black entrepreneurs seeking to establish or grow agri-food businesses.
The award was made to the Black Creek Community Health Centre and the Black Creek Community Farm, working in partnership with the Schulich Executive Education Centre, York University’s YSpace, and the TD-Community Engagement Centre.
And through a separate program, the Schulich School of Business partnered with A Different Booklist Cultural Centre to launch a free introductory business webinar series for the Black community.
The eight-week business certificate program covers topics from marketing and accounting to leadership and human resources management, and concludes with a session on how to develop a business plan. Each webinar includes a lecture from a Schulich professor, a discussion with a Black entrepreneur, and a question-and-answer session.
In May 2021, Lassonde School of Engineering students launched a pilot project to provide information about water quality to communities in Canada with limited access to clean water. The project will lead to a satellite-based system that monitors ground-based sensors in water near remote communities.
In addition to addressing water quality concerns across Canada, the pilot program aims to challenge the traditional classroom learning experience by showcasing the impact that project-based education can make. The six-week program is being led by Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director for Space Engineering Franz Newland.
In January 2021, the IP Osgoode Innovation Clinic officially launched “Isaac Pewton,” an artificial intelligence–powered ChatBot designed to provide start-ups, entrepreneurs, and innovators with accessible and affordable information and assistance on intellectual property–related matters.
Isaac’s debut represents more than a year of hard work by the Innovation Clinic team under the leadership of IP Osgoode founder and director, Professor Pina D’Agostino, in collaboration with partners at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. The IP Innovation Clinic is a year-round, needs-based innovation-to-society intellectual property legal clinic that helps Osgoode law students gain practical experience by providing one-to-one legal information services.
In February 2021, Professor Jamie Robinson debuted “Madness with Rocks,” part of the 21 Black Futures theatre project co-produced by Obsidian Theatre and the CBC.
In the play, written by Peace Akintade and performed by Dion Johnstone, an African warrior must use poetry, fables, and childhood stories to come to terms with the extinction of his tribe and reclaim his culture.
21 Black Futures brought together 21 black writers, actors, and directors to create 21 ten-minute, one-actor plays that explore the future of Blackness. It is available to stream on CBC Gem.
In January 2020, York introduced a new social procurement policy to leverage the University’s procurement practices to positively impact the social well-being of its surrounding communities and assist in reducing poverty, promoting economic and social inclusion, and supporting local economic development and social enterprise.
The policy aims to remove barriers experienced by equity-seeking communities and others who disproportionately experience unemployment or underemployment and discrimination; build a culture of social procurement at the University; and use the University’s purchasing processes to benefit local economies.
The social procurement principles were put into place in a variety of renovation projects on the University’s Keele and Glendon campuses throughout the 2020–2021 academic year, as well as on a larger scale through the construction of the new Markham Campus.
In December 2020, York announced that it was making the ambitious commitment to become carbon neutral on or before 2049, following recommendations made by the community and the Carbon Emission Reduction Target Advisory Committee. The commitment was part of York’s continued efforts to measure and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and ecological footprint of the University and its institutional activities.
This initiative, and the many others being undertaken as part of York’s Sustainability Strategy, continued to strengthen the University’s international reputation in sustainability. As a testament to its dedication to sustainability through action, research, education and partnerships, in April 2021, York was named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the ninth consecutive time.