York University Academic Plan 2020-2025

Building a Better Future

Spinning Wheel

The University Academic Plan (UAP) 2020-2025 is about coming together to make positive change for our students, our campuses, and our local and global communities. 

This UAP is launching at a moment of unprecedented trial for human and planetary health, security, well-being, and understanding. In the midst of both a global pandemic and an international mobilization against anti-Black racism, our York University community has demonstrated extraordinary creativity, solidarity, and dedication to serving the public good while caring for all people, including the most marginalized and vulnerable. As a leading generator of knowledge and exemplar of social responsibility, York seeks to bring expertise from across disciplines to build new tools and strategies to tackle the myriad dimensions of these historic crises. Notwithstanding the restraints imposed by physical distancing, we are truly coming together as a resilient community. In the process, we are proving once again York’s commitment to an enduring and distinctive set of core values:

  • We strive for Excellence in fulfilling all aspects of our mission.
  • We are Progressive, encouraging open minded inquiry, innovative approaches, and forward looking solutions. 
  • We champion Diversity and Inclusivity, embracing differing perspectives, peoples, and ways of knowing, and fostering global fluencies and cross-cultural knowledges. 
  • We are passionate about advancing Social Justice and Equity through critical insight, creative problem solving, and socially responsible action. 
  • We uphold Sustainability – environmental, social, and fiscal – as a vital compass for decisions and initiatives. 

These values are embedded in York University’s Mission and Vision statements: 


The mission of York University is the pursuit, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge. We promise excellence in research and teaching in pure, applied, and professional fields. We test the boundaries and structures of knowledge. We cultivate the critical intellect. York University is part of Toronto: we are dynamic, metropolitan, and multi-cultural. York University is part of Canada: we encourage bilingual study, we value diversity. York University is open to the world: we explore global concerns. A community of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and volunteers committed to academic freedom, social justice, accessible education, and collegial self-governance. York University makes innovation its tradition. Tentanda Via: The way must be tried.


York’s vision is to provide a broad sociodemographic of students with access to a high quality education at a research intensive University that is committed to enhancing the well-being of the communities we serve. 

People vote in a meeting.

The Journey to 2020 

After a decade of rapid development York has arrived as a fully comprehensive, research- intensive, multi-campus, urban University. We combine groundbreaking scholarship, discovery, and artistic creation with renowned strengths in community engaged and industry partnered research for maximum social and economic impact. 

We are a full spectrum University, increasingly recognized for excellence in health, engineering, and sciences, while we continue to lead in liberal arts, creative and performing arts, and professional studies. The comprehensive strengths of our Keele campus are enhanced by our bilingual Glendon campus, our downtown professional learning sites devoted to law and business, our management education campus in Hyderabad, India and our eco-campus in Las Nubes, Costa Rica. 

York boasts one of the largest and most diverse undergraduate and graduate student bodies in Canada, almost 18% of whom are now international students. Through the ingenuity of our faculty, we have dramatically grown opportunities for students to access our programs virtually from anywhere in the world, and to learn experientially through community placements, capstone projects, and research internships. Students are embracing new programs in emerging areas like Global Health, Indigenous Studies, Digital Media, and Management of Artificial Intelligence. Our School of Continuing Studies has quickly become one of North America’s largest and most successful, offering cutting-edge and flexible pathways to education for adult learners looking to retool their careers.

Through the growth of Innovation York, we have emerged as a thriving regional hub for entrepreneurship and knowledge mobilization. We value our deep connections to local and global partners, who work with us to contribute to the wellbeing of both people and communities. York University has a global alumni network of over 325,000 people in more than 170 countries, who are making a positive impact on their communities and excelling in every field of human endeavour. 

Our Next Chapter

York is entering a new phase of purposeful expansion in directions that anticipate the needs of future learners, both locally and globally, as well as the evolving needs of society. We reassert our foundational commitment to the arts, humanities, and social sciences not only as fields of inquiry but as modes of apprehending human existence at this critical juncture. In addition, we will launch a new campus in Markham centred on technology and entrepreneurship. We will develop an integrated health precinct with partners in Vaughan. We will take steps to realize the potential of the Lands for Learning at our flagship Keele Campus. We will elevate our international partnerships and profile, and the global connectivity of our research and our graduates. To enable this future-oriented vision, we will invest in robust professional development for our instructors and in the significant renewal of our research and teaching infrastructure, both physical and virtual. 

York has scaled up its health-related teaching, research, and innovation based on a vision of keeping more people healthier, longer. We are well placed over time to establish a medical school aligned with this vision, to serve one of Canada’s fastest growing and most diverse regions through a community-based care model that integrates physicians into broader health and wellbeing promotion teams. 

Focusing on the next five years, our UAP charts a path to positive change in relation to six Priorities that are foundational to York University’s mission, vision, and identity. For each Priority the Plan explains why action is imperative and the key aims that will guide us. Permeating all six Priorities is a theme of coming together as both a precondition and an outcome of fulfilling the Plan. A better future must be rooted in strong relationships – among the members of our own institution, across our multiple campuses, with our closest neighbours and Indigenous communities, and with our burgeoning networks of partners near and far. 

Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals

In the spirit of coming together, the York community has expressed a strong desire to bring our unique capacities to bear on some of the most urgent issues facing the planet, from climate change to inequality to truth and reconciliation to forced migration, among others. Over the next five years, we will challenge ourselves as a University to deepen our collective contributions to the United Nations’ seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The York University SDG Challenge will invite participation from all interested members of our community. York is already recognized globally for our excellence in SDG-relevant research, education, innovation, and civic action. The SDG Challenge will further elevate our engagement and project our distinctive ethos as a community of changemakers. Additional details are provided in the final section of the Plan.

York University’s Planning Ecosystem 

The UAP 2020-2025 marks a new beginning. At the same time, it builds on the transformational work already underway across the institution. This Plan is designed to function as a meta-document that links our existing academic plans and initiatives into a coherent whole. It embeds and affirms the University’s Strategic Research Plan, its Indigenous Framework, its Sustainability Strategy, and a new Internationalization & Global Engagement Strategy, among others. These focused strategies are embraced as vital planning elements that complement the UAP as an overarching meta-document, which charts our direction over the next five years. 

Our UAP also informs our operational and budget plans. York is known as a leader in Integrated Resource Planning (IRP), which ensures that our high-level strategies do not sit on a shelf but are translated into concrete implementation plans. Every faculty and administrative unit has an IRP that lays out the specific actions it is taking to embrace and implement the UAP with timelines and regularly scheduled progress reports, so that our people and our financial resources are continually aligned to support our stated academic priorities and goals. 

Intro planning ecosystem.

Six Priorities for Action 

York University has an enduring commitment to critical inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge that comes from many differing perspectives and ways of knowing. As a learning community, we believe in the power of research, scholarship, creativity, education, and dialogue to transform ourselves and the world around us for the better. We share a collective belief in the university as a public trust. 

Our new UAP is designed to uphold the fundamental values of the University, even as we evolve our roles and reach to ensure our graduates are equipped for a future that will be defined by dramatic change. 

  • Climate and environmental change raise urgent questions for virtually every field of endeavour and a need to come up with innovative solutions.
  • Digital inter-connectivity and physical mobility of people generate complexity but also immense possibilities to accelerate collaboration and problem solving.
  • Technology is simultaneously enabling, enhancing, and disrupting every sphere of life and work, as well as revolutionizing how we all learn, think, and create. 
  • Global power shifts translate into local tensions and inequities, highlighting the need for meaningful strategies to enhance international cooperation, economic inclusion, and social cohesion. 
  • The ethical and moral imperatives of social movements—such as #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, among others—need to inform our policies and direction as an academic community and as a force for good in the world.

Answering the Call: A University-Wide Challenge to Contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 

In addition to the six foundational Priorities above, members of our York University community have expressed a strong desire to make a difference on compelling issues of our times. Community members have highlighted a range of complex societal issues to which York is ideally placed to contribute, given our commitment to social responsibility, our extensive network of partnerships, and our excellence in thinking across disciplines. It is striking that most of the issues that surfaced in these conversations are referenced in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a framework that calls on member countries to take urgent action in seventeen areas that are critical to ensure peace and prosperity for people and the planet. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further underscored the urgency of this agenda. 

Meeting the Challenges of Tomorrow

At York University we are renowned for the opportunities we offer students of all backgrounds, for our progressive outlook and breakthrough achievements, and for our ability to reimagine the possible. Over the past few months, fuelled by our passion to serve, we have demonstrated tremendous fortitude as we have rallied together, innovated, and adapted, emerging stronger and more resilient than ever. As we enter this next chapter, our UAP will provide an inspirational compass to guide our choices and actions. Our hope is to enable every member of our community to fulfill their potential and contribute their talents as we create positive change, locally and globally, for our students, the communities we serve, and the world around us.