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Student Learning Experience

Record year for internships at Queen’s

With more than 250 students currently on internship, the Queen’s University Internship Program, (QUIP), which provides students the opportunity to gain paid work experience and ‘test drive’ a career choice for 12 or 16 months, continues to grow.

[Queen's Undergraduate Internship Program participants]
There are urrently more than 250 students participating in the Queen’s University Internship Program, (QUIP). (Supplied Photo)

“It’s been a record year for Queen’s internships,” says Chelsea Elliott, Manager of Experiential Learning and Partner Relations at Career Services. “QUIP has more than doubled in size within the past two years alone.”

Thomas McRae, a fifth-year engineering student, recently completed an internship at Mercedes-Benz Canada as a materials testing and development intern. He found that working with a company for 12 months was a great way to be exposed to an office environment and be a part of a team.

“One of my most valuable experiences was being able to see the direct impact of my work, and producing results based on academic knowledge and engineering judgement gained through three years of education,” he says.

The internships have proven to be a win-win experience for students.

“Not only do internships allow students a chance to apply what they’re learning in their academic programs to the workplace, they also give them a chance to return to their final year of studies with renewed energy and deeper connection to course materials,” Ms. Elliott says.

Aliya Ali agrees. A fifth-year biology student Ms. Ali chose to do her internship in the related field of healthcare at Baycrest Health Sciences. She notes that her internship greatly benefited her studies upon returning to Queen’s.

“During my internship, I had to complete various grant applications which helped me improve my scientific writing style,” she says. “Within my first semester of being back, I have found that my assignments in classes are noticeably better developed and written than before I embarked on my internship.”

Employers continue to hire from Queen’s to tap into a talented pool of students from a diverse array of programs. The 12-16 month model allows for a relatively high return on investment in training.

To learn more about QUIP visit careers.queensu.ca/quip

Introducing our new faculty members: Ravi Prakash

Ravi Prakash is a new member of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

This profile is part of a series highlighting some of the new faculty members who have recently joined the Queen's community as part of the principal's faculty renewal plans, which will see 200 new faculty members hired over the next five years.

Ravi Prakash (Electrical and Computer Engineering) sat down with the Gazette to talk about his experience so far. Dr. Prakash is an assistant professor.

[Ravi Prakash]
Ravi Prakash is a new member of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. (Photo by Rob Whelan)
Fast Facts about Dr. Prakash

Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Hometown: Delhi, India

Alma mater: University of Calgary (Doctor of philosophy and master of science in electrical and computer engineering), IIT Madras (undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering)

Research area: Disposable sensors and micro-actuators, organic transistors, label-free biosensors, bio-engineering

Unwinds with: Tennis, squash, swimming, hiking, walking the dog

Dr. Prakash’s web bio
Why did you decide to teach?
My perspective has always been to solve a research challenge. I feel like I have always been a mentor, even during my undergraduate studies. I was engaged in activities where I could help students in junior years.
When I started my masters and had some teaching assistant responsibilities, I thoroughly enjoyed assisting undergraduates. Everyone has their calling, and it seemed like research and instruction is mine. I have enjoyed it so far – I must be doing something right.
What got you interested in electrical engineering?

I think what attracted me to engineering most was the eagerness to deliberate about real-world challenges, and growing up in resource-limited settings offered an excellent vantage point for that.

When I was doing my bachelor degree in mechanical engineering at IIT Madras, I opted for a minor degree in biomedical engineering and was looking to develop microsystems for biomedical applications. I realized there are more electronics to these systems than mechanics. I had a good background for the transition when it appeared the best possible department to continue research would be electrical and computer engineering.

In my past research, I have developed advanced chip technologies for conducting bio-assay and biochemical tests. If you think of any nucleic acid test, for example, you go to a clinical laboratory where they take a blood or other bio-fluid sample, and they do a host of clinical tests using expensive bench-top instruments to identify bacterial, viral, or other kinds of infections.

During my PhD and my NSERC postdoctoral fellowship, I designed molecular diagnostic microchips that did not require such large, expensive clinical equipment, allowing for potential low-cost and point-of-care applications.

[Ravi Prakash]
Dr. Prakash examines a polymer biosensor device. (Photo by Rob Whelan)
What do you hope to achieve in your research?

My research is more focused on physical and chemical sensors now, and less on biomedical devices.

I am looking to create disposable, flexible sensors and soft-wearable devices where a polymer patch on skin can detect analytes such as glucose level, lactate level, or levels of stress induced hormone cortisol for biomonitoring applications. Two of my current students are working on cortisol detection in sweat and saliva, and detection of different kinds of enzymes and antibodies using novel label-free organic biosensors, in collaboration with faculty members in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and the Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

There is a health management aspect to monitoring these bio-molecular concentration levels, but there are many devices already available to track glucose. What we are trying to do is offer a multitude of tests within the same device through smart, multi-modal sensor integration and implementing new data analytic tools. Let’s say you’re doing athletic conditioning – these devices could help monitor lactate, pyruvate, glucose levels, measure breathing rate, exhaled air composition and the like. Or we can monitor acute or chronic stress conditions in workplaces, such as the military or healthcare facilities, where chronic stress and associated conditions are a major concern.

I also have some tangential research interests in clean tech energy sources. We are developing bio-supercapacitors with a company in Ottawa which will use a sustainable bio-electrolyte product in small and large footprint energy storage systems. I have recently started working on a geophysical sensing project – which is more of a civil engineering and environmental engineering domain – but my interest is focused on enhancing near-field sensing methods for testing geomembrane integrity as part of my sensor research.

Are you teaching as well?

I have taught a few technical electives, such as sensors and actuators, and core courses in electronics and digital electronics. This fall, I believe I will be teaching graduate courses in biological signal analysis.

This term, I had a large class with about 270 students, which can be a bit overwhelming administratively. But I love being in the classroom, and I enjoy being in front of the avid learners at Queen’s who are both intelligent and willing.

[A photosensitive chip]
Flexible organic transistors like these are sensitive to the environment and must be handled with care. (Photo by Rob Whelan)
What are you most proud of?
I completed my undergraduate degree at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. IITs are world-renowned institutions and, if you have some idea of the population of India, you know the competition to get in is really rigorous. I believe we had about two million students take exams per batch. Only a handful – less than 2,500 – are selected. I was ranked around 700th nationwide.
I am also proud of some of the research I led during my PhD. We were developing some superhydrophobic coating for new lab-on-chip tests and other biological assays. At the time, creating such coatings was rather expensive. I connected with a research team in Athens, Greece and worked with them on optimizing a relatively low-cost technique. We ended up coming up with a very novel way of developing superhydrophobic coatings. 
Doing a successful, interdisciplinary project where I was heavily involved gave me a lot of confidence. I was able to combine my various experiences into fruitful research outcomes.
Since that time, I have formed new research collaborations in Greece, as well as some in the U.S. and Germany. I have exceptional collaborations across Canada, particularly in Ontario.
[Ravi Prakash]
Dr. Prakash sits on the steps outside of his lab in Walter Light Hall. (Photo by Rob Whelan)
How are you liking Kingston?
I love Kingston. There is so much history in this town…and I call it a town. It’s not really a city, is it? Coming from Calgary at least, it seems like a town…but there is so much culture and history here.
I love the Victorian architecture, the limestone buildings and the gorgeous waterfront. I miss hiking though, being in Calgary and near the Rockies, but I am planning to head to Québec City at some point this summer to get some hiking in. 
I liked the weather in Kingston last year. This year, not so much.
It’s still a transition as my wife transitions her work from Calgary to Kingston – when you leave a city where you have been for eight years, it takes time!
Other than hiking, any hobbies or interests?
I love swimming. I haven’t made it to the beach yet but I look forward to checking that off my list.
I enjoy racket sports – tennis outdoors, squash indoors. I also have a 11-month old black Labrador retriever which means a lot of training, walking, and other outdoor activities.

Faculty Renewal

Principal Daniel Woolf has identified faculty renewal as a high priority for reinvestment by the university in support of the academic mission. The five-year renewal plan will see 200 new faculty hired, which nearly doubles the hiring pace of the past six years.

Faculty renewal supports Queen’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by giving the university the opportunity to seek, proactively, representation from equity-seeking groups such as women, people with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and racialized individuals. It will also build on Queen’s current areas of research strength.

To learn more about the Principal’s faculty renewal plans, read this Gazette article. Stay tuned for additional new faculty profiles in the Gazette.

One year later

Principal Daniel Woolf reflects on the year that has gone by since the publication of the Principal's Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion final report, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission task force final report.

[Principal Daniel Woolf and Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) hold a wampum belt]
Principal Daniel Woolf and Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) hold a wampum belt at a special Senate meeting to mark the 175th anniversary. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Just over a year ago, the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion (PICRDI) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Task Force presented their final reports about how to make Queen’s a more inclusive, diverse and welcoming institution, and one that also values and reflects Indigenous histories and perspectives. Since then, many people across the institution have been working towards these goals and I’m pleased with the progress we have made so far.

This week, we released the one-year implementation reports for PICRDI and TRC and in the reports you will find very extensive updates on all of the initiatives and projects that have taken place. This first year has focused on building the foundation we need to guide long-term, sustainable change. Most notably, this includes expanding Deputy Provost Teri Shearer’s profile to cover our 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.

Read the Annual Reports
PICRDI
TRC

We need to continue the dialogue that has begun with all members of the community. The long-term change we are striving for will only happen when everyone—students, faculty, staff, and the broader community— is both committed to and engaged in the process, and understands that being a diverse, inclusive and welcoming institution enhances our academic mission, our student experience and our research. We will be a stronger, better Queen’s for doing this work. 

There is a saying, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” Certainly we believe that having a diverse, inclusive and welcoming institution is not just worth having, but something we must have. To get there takes a lot of hard work, and we’ve seen a tremendous effort over the past year.

However, I want to emphasize that we will not consider our work to be complete once we have ‘checked all the boxes’ on the lists of recommendations. We must continue to prioritize and work towards these ideals. New ideas and initiatives will also emerge and be championed from every corner of the university. I encourage you to read the implementation reports to get a better understanding of what we have collectively accomplished.

I thank everyone who has contributed to these initiatives over the past year and those who continue to lead the charge. I look forward to ‘year two’, using the momentum we have built to create positive change at Queen’s.  

  • [Various diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation leaders on campus]
    A number of new positions were created and new people were hired over the past year to foster diversity and inclusivity on campus. From L-R, front to back: Bezhig Waabshke Ma'iingan Gewetiigaabo (Deborah St Amant), Vanessa Yzaguirre, Stephanie Simpson, Mona Rahman, Erin Clow, Teri Shearer, Klodiana Kolomitro, Lavie Williams, (Thohahoken) Michael Doxtater, and Alana Butler. (University Communications)
  • [Members of the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE)]
    In the fall, the university formed the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE) to promote and support the efforts of the university to foster a more diverse and inclusive campus community. (University Communications)
  • [Principal Daniel Woolf and Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) pose with the Queen's Remembers plinth dedicated to Indigenous Peoples]
    Principal Daniel Woolf and Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) pose with the Queen's Remembers plinth dedicated to Indigenous Peoples. It was unveiled in the fall as the first in a series of "Queen's Remembers" plinths located across campus. (University Communications)
  • [Jill Christie, Patty Hajdu, Heidi Penning]
    Jill Christie (left) and Heidi Penning (right) of the Queen's Equity and Human Rights Office accept an award from the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour for an equity tool and framework their office developed. (Supplied Photo)
  • [TRC one-year anniversary event - circle]
    Members of the Queen’s community take part in a Haudenosaunee round dance at the event marking the anniversary of the release of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Queen’s rises to the World’s Challenge Challenge

A team of Queen’s students will compete this summer at a social enterprise competition hosted at Western University.

[James Hantho, Karina Bland, and Mitch Sadler of ClimaCube]
James Hantho (Comm'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18) celebrate their win at the local World's Challenge Challenge competition. The international finals take place in June in London, ON. (Supplied Photo)

Hot off the heels of their win at the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) Winter Pitch Competition, ClimaCube will represent Queen’s at an international competition designed to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) is a competition started at Western University in 2014, and expanded to include other institutions last year. The mission of the competition is to bring together students from a wide range of institutions, cultures, and continents to create potential solutions to significant global issues. Past winners include a team from Dalhousie University who planned to 3D print prosthetics in developing countries from recycled materials, and a team from The Netherlands who created a knapsack to help Indonesian anglers keep their catches cold. There are four prizes up for grabs this year, including a grand prize of $30,000.

Queen’s recently held a local competition, supported by the DDQIC, aimed at selecting a team to represent Queen’s at the WCC. Galvin Niu (Sc’19) and Jacob Riha (Sc’18) ran the local competition, which concluded this past weekend.

ClimaCube includes James Hantho (Comm'18), Leigh-Ann McKnight (Sc'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18). The team is developing portable cold storage units to maintain the quality of items such as samples or vaccinations and extend the cold lifetime (or 'cold chain') as they are in transit.

As the winning team, ClimaCube earns the right to represent Queen’s at the WCC and their costs to attend the conference will be picked up by the DDQIC.

ClimaCube is also being sponsored to attend the MassChallenge Awards with DDQIC in October 2018, which is the grand finale to the MassChallenge accelerator program in Boston. On past trips, DDQIC has taken students to lectures at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), visited local incubators, and networked with the startup community at MassChallenge – all opportunities that ClimaCube may receive this fall.

“We are all very excited about this next step in our venture’s journey,” says Ms. Bland. “Competing at The World’s Challenge Challenge at Western University in June has further motivated our team to speed up our prototyping process, which we think can greatly contribute to our success in the competition. Additionally, as Queen’s students we are excited to compete against our rival Western University.”

Members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities served as judges for the local competition, including Dirk Rodenburg, a lecturer and educational consultant; Pavel Graymason, Executive Director of Sustainable Kingston; and Chloe Beisheim of the DDQIC.

"I have judged a few of these competitions at Queen's, and it is always a refreshing and exciting experience," says Mr. Graymason. "I believe innovation is implementation, and in that respect these students are way ahead of some seasoned professionals - they have big ideas and they make them happen. All the ideas presented were great and demonstrated significant creativity and it is an honour to support them."

When scoring the proposals, judges followed criteria set by WCC organizers which looks at the strength of the proposal’s argument, its financials and feasibility, potential partners, some recognition of the origins of the problem, and three other categories.

Four teams applied to represent Queen’s at the WCC this year, and the DDQIC hopes to attract even more competitors in the future. Two runner-up teams will receive a one-year membership to SparQ Studios, a makerspace on campus designed to help these entrepreneurs further develop their ideas.

The World’s Challenge Challenge international finals take place June 3 to 8 in London, Ont. For more information, visit www.worldschallengechallenge.com

Engaging the community in inclusivity

The 2017-18 budget allocated $1 million for diversity and inclusivity initiatives, including support for ideas from the community.

[The QBAS conference team]
The Queen's Black Academic Society (QBAS) conference team. From left to right: Dayna Richards (Artsci '19), Kianah Lecuyer (Artsci '19), Maclite Tesfaye (Artsci '19), Sydney Williams (Artsci '18), and Brandon Tyrell (Artsci '19). (Photo by Zoe Walwyn)

When the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) issued its final report last year, the university was given dozens of recommendations to respond to – creating new positions, updating policies, and funding initiatives.

To help meet some of the needs, the university set aside $1 million per year over three years dedicated specifically to diversity and inclusivity initiatives. The funding has primarily been used to pay for a number of big-picture priorities, but some was put aside to support community initiatives – mainly to bring in speakers and host events.

“A more diverse campus community enhances our academic mission, our student experience, and our research,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “These initiatives have offered many opportunities to share diverse perspectives and ideas across the university over the past year, and I thank all of the organizers who are helping us build a more inclusive community.”

[Photo from Mus[interpreted] art collection]
Additional funding for the Journal of Critical Race Inquiry has allowed them to purchase art like this image, from the “Truth & Dare Project” by Zahra Agjee, to enhance the journal’s presentation. (Supplied Photo)

A total of six initiatives were funded, resulting in dozens of high profile speakers visiting campus and some enhancements to a key diversity publication produced at Queen’s.

The Journal of Critical Race Inquiry, a publication based in Queen’s Gender Studies department, received some additional funding to help with the journal’s long-term planning and allowed them to make some investments to enhance the journal’s presentation – for instance, the February edition featured an art piece from the (Mus)interpreted project. Providing more funding for the journal was a recommendation of the PICRDI report.

In the academic year ahead, Samantha King, Head of the Department of Gender Studies, says the journal is planning an international symposium and special issue on ‘Decolonial Sex and Love’.

The Studies in National and International Development (SNID) speaker series was another initiative which received support. In addition to featuring 12 Queen’s academics, SNID 2017-18 co-chair Karen Dubinsky says the funding they received helped them bring in 12 up-and-coming speakers.

Upcoming Events
SNID: Regulating Romance: Hindus, Muslims and Proscribed Pleasures in Modern India – Thurs, Apr 19, 5 – 6:30 pm, Mackintosh-Corry Hall Room D214

Muslim Societies, Global Perspectives: The Medieval Mediterranean: Interconnected Histories – Sat, Apr 28, 9 am – 5 pm, Watson Hall Room 217

“Some of the highlights of this year’s series were Tanya Talaga, author of Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Deaths and Hard Truths in a Northern City; and Robin Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present,” says Dr. Dubinsky, who is a Professor in Global Development Studies and History. “Both of these authors came to Queen’s at the beginning their book tours, and these titles have since become celebrated across Canada.”

Other groups across the institution and the Kingston community joined in with the Provost’s Office to help fund some of these programs. For example, the Faculty of Arts & Science partnered with the Provost’s Office to help fund the Muslim Societies-Global Perspectives initiative, which hosted a series of events looking at the legacy of Kingston resident and Syrian immigrant George Masoud, the 2017 Québec mosque massacre, and medieval Jerusalem.

[Adnan Husain, Ariel Salzmann, Gord Dueck]
Adnan Husain, Ariel Salzmann, and Gord Dueck of the History Department pose with a poster from their event about the life of George Masoud. (University Communications)

The support also resulted in some brand new projects, such as the Future of Black Scholarship Conference organized by the Queen’s Black Academic Society. More than 90 students, faculty, and alumni attended, and organizers say they hope to build on that with a second conference in 2019. Various community and corporate sponsors supplemented the Provost’s Office sponsorship.

Dr. Shearer says the Provost’s Office will seek to raise awareness of the opportunity to apply for funding in the year ahead. Her office is currently drafting terms of reference for the application process, which will be unveiled this fall.

Reports will be issued in the near future which detail the university’s overall progress in meeting the PICRDI recommendations since the report was issued last year. You can find links to all the mid-term updates on the Deputy Provost’s webpage.

New Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies appointed

Dr. Fahim Quadir joins Queen’s from York University.

Queen’s University announced today the appointment of Fahim Quadir as Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies for a five-year term effective July 1, 2018.

[Fahim Quadir]
Fahim Quadir has been appointed as the next Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, effective July 1, 2018.

Dr. Quadir joins Queen’s from York University where he is currently Interim Dean and Associate Vice-President Graduate in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and a professor of Development Studies and Social Science. He was enthusiastically recommended for the position by the Principal’s Advisory Committee, chaired by Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Quadir has accepted my invitation to lead the Queen’s School of Graduate Studies,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Promoting and supporting the graduate mission is one of Queen’s highest priorities, and Dr. Quadir will work to provide strategic direction, academic planning leadership, and administrative oversight to achieve the highest possible standards in graduate education and research.”

Previously, Dr. Quadir has held academic positions at St. Lawrence University in New York, Dalhousie University in Halifax, and the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh. He also taught Political Studies here at Queen’s for 18 months from 1999 to 2000. Dr. Quadir then joined York University in 2001 and in 2006 he became the founding director of the Graduate Program in Development Studies and its undergraduate program in International Development Studies, both of which aimed to trans-nationalize the process of knowledge production.

Over the past several years, he has championed a variety of innovations to enhance the graduate student experience at York, including new online tools, improved student complaint processes, strengthened supervisory policies and education, and more supports for international graduate students.

“Dr. Quadir brings both broad expertise in graduate education and passion for the graduate student experience. I am delighted that he is coming back to Queen’s to take on this very important leadership role,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic).

As a researcher, Dr. Quadir specializes in International Development, International Relations and International Political Economy. His current work focuses on South-South cooperation, democratic cosmopolis, emerging donors, aid effectiveness, good governance, civil society, and human development. He has edited/co-edited five books and published extensively in various international peer reviewed journals.

He was the recipient of several SSHRC grants, the Fulbright Scholarship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, International Development Research Centre ‘Canada in the World’ Fellowship, and Killam Memorial Scholarship, among others. In 2007, he was presented with the York University-Wide Teaching Award for teaching excellence in the full-time faculty category.

“I look forward to collaborating with colleagues across all faculties at Queen’s to ensure the university’s continued reputation for excellence and leadership in the nexus of graduate teaching, learning and research,” says Dr. Quadir.

The principal and provost wish to extend their most sincere thanks to Brenda Brouwer for her exceptional tenure as vice-provost and dean, and to the members of the Principal’s Advisory Committee for their commitment and sound advice.

Principal’s Advisory Committee

• Benoit-Antoine Bacon (Chair) – Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
• Lori Stewart (Secretary) – Director, Office of the Provost & Vice-Principal (Academic)
• Adam Ali – Teaching Fellow, School of Kinesiology & Health Studies
• Monica Corbett – Director, Admissions & Student Services, School of Graduate Studies
• Ann Deer – Indigenous Recruitment & Support Coordinator
• John Fisher – Interim Vice-Principal (Research)
• Il Yong Kim – Associate Professor, Mechanical & Materials Engineering
• Ceren Kolsarici – Associate Professor of Marketing, Smith School of Business
• Palmer Lockridge – Vice-President (University Affairs), Alma Mater Society
• Rebecca Luce-Kapler – Dean, Faculty of Education
• Stefy McKnight – Vice-President (Graduate), Society of Graduate & Professional Students
• Cherie Metcalf – Associate Dean (Academic), Queen's Law
• Kathy O'Brien – Associate Vice-Principal (International)
• Stephanie Simpson – Executive Director (Human Rights and Equity Offices) and University Advisor on Equity and Human Rights
• Denise Stockley – Office of the Provost (Teaching & Learning Portfolio) and the Faculty of Health Sciences
• Stéfanie von Hlatky – Associate Professor of Political Studies and Director, Centre for International & Defence Policy

Inclusion in the classroom

The Centre for Teaching and Learning is working to ensure curriculum meets the needs of Queen’s diverse student body.

[Klodiana Kolomitro and Ian Fanning]
Klodiana Kolomitro and Ian Fanning of the Centre for Teaching and Learning will play a key role in examining curriculum through the lens of diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation efforts. (University Communications)

The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is looking at all of Queen’s curriculum and asking the question, “How do we ensure it is reflective of the inclusive community we are striving to create?”

Following recommendations of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI), and the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) task force, faculties, schools and departments are embarking on a curriculum review to ensure that racialized students, Indigenous students, and all students of diverse backgrounds and identities see themselves reflected.

That review process is part of the CTL’s mandate, which is to ensure quality teaching and build teaching and educational leadership capacity at Queen’s.

“To create a more inclusive learning environment, we are working on a number of initiatives that will ensure that our curriculum reflects the diverse viewpoints and experiences of a greater proportion of our community,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “By taking steps to ensure the inclusion of content reflecting the experiences and perspectives of diverse groups, including Indigenous students and racialized students, we can begin to reduce barriers to education and create a more welcoming university for all.”

To better equip the CTL team as they work to enhance curriculum, the centre’s staff have taken courses centred on mental health awareness, creating positive space, trans-inclusion, and cultural safety training. In addition, the whole team participated in a KAIROS blanket exercise designed to help explain the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The CTL is also ensuring it has the right leadership in place within the unit on diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation matters. Klodiana Kolomitro, an Educational Developer in the CTL, has been appointed as the centre’s specialist on equity and inclusivity in curriculum. Educational developers like Dr. Kolomitro work closely with educators to cultivate inclusive teaching and assessment practices that reflect our students’ experiences and create space for imagining alternatives.

“The curriculum that we design can be a powerful vehicle for asking courageous questions, examining our assumptions and academic practices, and truly recognizing the limits of our own knowledge,” says Dr. Kolomitro. “If we decide on one curriculum, we must consider whose voices are heard, what knowledge and worldview is privileged over others, and why that is? I am really looking forward to enhancing inclusive excellence, and supporting all Queen's educators in developing a curriculum that encourages relevance, meaning, and accessibility.”

Complementing Dr. Kolomitro’s work, the CTL recently hired Ian Fanning as the centre’s first Indigenous curriculum developer. Dr. Fanning will be responsible for the creation and delivery of professional development programming on Indigenous knowledge, ways of knowing, and anti-colonial training at the individual, unit, department, and faculty levels.

He will also facilitate consultations with educators and educational support professionals to build capacity and provide leadership in the area of Indigenous curriculum development across the university. Dr. Fanning will work closely with the Director of Indigenous Initiatives, the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, and other Indigenous support professionals on campus.

The centre isn’t just investing in its own learning – they are also sharing what they know with the broader community. In March, the CTL hosted a workshop to provide educators with strategies for providing classroom and supervisory experiences that are inclusive of transgender students. This follows similar workshops on Indigenous cultural awareness in the classroom, and building inclusive learning environments.

The efforts to incorporate diversity into the learning environment do not stop at matters of curriculum. To address recommendations in the PICRDI Report, the Provost has also struck a subgroup of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Teaching and Learning to revise the Teaching and Learning action plan and the Queen’s Learning Outcomes Framework through the lenses of diversity, inclusivity, and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

These efforts to diversify Queen’s curriculum align with the recommendations of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report and the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission task force final report.

“We recognize that our community contains many diverse identities, and having a greater understanding of and appreciation for different cultures is important for our learners as they join increasingly diverse work and study environments.” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “We are striving to promote an inclusive living and learning environment here at Queen’s, and we are committed to continuous improvement through dialogue and engagement with all members of our community.”

To learn more about upcoming teaching and learning sessions, visit the Centre for Teaching and Learning’s website

Dreams of reconciliation

Among the Principal’s Dream Courses funded last year, two courses were specifically focused on sharing Indigenous knowledge.

For one group of students, their semester-long dive into Indigenous culture is nearing an end – while another class gets set to begin its journey this summer.

[Lee Maracle]
Lee Maracle, an early Indigenous feminist, activist, and writer, speaks to the ENGL218 class. (University Communications)

Heather Macfarlane, Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of English, has just recently completed the first offering of ENGL218: Introduction to Indigenous Literature in Canada. The course examined Indigenous novels, traditional stories, poetry, short stories and plays from various time periods, written by Métis, Inuit and First Nations authors.

“My goal was to provide the students with insight into Indigenous cultures that they might not otherwise have,” she says. “Students love to have answers but I wanted to open things up for them, and show them how much there was to learn about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. I want to get them asking questions, with the goal that they ended up with more questions than when they started.”

Texts for ENGL218 – Introduction to Indigenous Literature
● Dimaline, Cherie. The Marrow Thieves.
● Halfe, Louise. Burning in this Midnight Dream.
● Maracle, Lee. Sojourner’s Truth and Other Stories.
● Moses, Daniel David. Almighty Voice and his Wife.
● Robertson, David Alexander. Betty: the Helen Betty Osborne Story.
● Ruffo, Armand Garnet. Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird.
● Van Camp, Richard. The Lesser Blessed.

In addition to reading the stories, the class of 54 students also welcomed a number of the authors to campus for weekly guest lectures. To engage them in these talks, Dr. Macfarlane had the class conduct traditional greetings, introduce the authors, and prepare thoughtful questions in advance.

The speakers included Onangaate, a knowledge keeper from the Kingston Indigenous community; Lee Maracle, an early Indigenous feminist, activist, and writer; and two authors from Queen’s including Daniel David Moses of the Drama department and Armand Ruffo of the English department. The final speaker was Louise Halfe, who shared poems about her experiences as a student at a residential school.

Of particular interest to the students was Cherie Dimaline, winner of the 2017 Governor General's Award for English-language children's literature. Ms. Dimaline was the author of dystopian post-apocalyptic book The Marrow Thieves.

Dr. Macfarlane’s course will be offered again this fall, potentially with changes to the author lineup. The talks are being video recorded, and Dr. Macfarlane hopes to use the recordings with future offerings of the course if it becomes a permanent addition to the department’s course lineup.

“I am thankful for the Principal’s Dream Course funding, as I would not have been able to bring the authors in otherwise,” she says. “I am hopeful the fall intake will be even more popular than this term’s offering.”

[Students walk along a rocky trail]
Indigenous community members lead students on a nature walk. (Supplied Photo)

In June, another Dream Course will get underway as Heather Castleden begins her first offering of GPHY309: Indigenous Perspectives on the Environment and Health. This field school is an opportunity to meet with Indigenous peoples to learn directly from them about their interconnected relationships with the land, environmental management, and human health.

“This is based on a field school I used to offer at Dalhousie University, and builds on many of the same relationships I developed when I was working out in Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia),” says Dr. Castleden, who is the Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities. “There seems to be a lot of excitement from the students - that Queen’s is finally offering something like this.”

As part of the three-week course, students will spend two weeks in Mi’kma’ki meeting with members of several Mi'kmaw First Nations.

[Google Maps screenshot of the students' route through Nova Scotia]
Dr. Castleden's students will be on the road for 14 hours as they meet with Indigenous communities across Nova Scotia. (Google Maps)

Their travels will take them to, for example, Pictou Landing, an Indigenous community that has been heavily affected by a local pulp and paper mill; to Unama’ki (Cape Breton), where they will learn about two-eyed seeing from the Elder who originated the principle. of embracing the best of both Indigenous and Western knowledge systems.They will meet with other Indigenous knowledge-holders that apply this principle to interpreting the local archaeological history and geological formations.

If time permits, they’ll also participate in a cultural camp in Bear River on the western side of Nova Scotia.

Along the way, they will connect with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs, visit the site of a centralized residential school, go eel fishing at night (if the weather cooperates), and participate in land-based learning activities. The students have also been invited to a pow wow. The focus is on experiential learning with many in-person meetings and engaging in ceremony when invited to do so by Mi’kmaw hosts.

“This field school is meant to challenge the students emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually,” says Dr. Castleden. “When they get back to Kingston, the students will each have the opportunity to reflect on their experience by preparing short video stories, which will be showcased at a special open event on June 15.”

When the course is offered for a second time next year, Dr. Castleden says she may take the field school out to the west coast where she has other established relationships instead – though she is also keen to eventually develop local relationships so students can experience something similar in southeastern Ontario.

[Principal's Dream Course logo]
The logo for the Principal's Dream Courses program. (Supplied Photo)

Each year, the Principal’s Office funds a number of courses through the Principal’s Dream Course program. Interested faculty should submit proposals tied to key themes, such as sustainability, Indigenous knowledge, and diversity and inclusion, and successful proposals are granted up to $15,000 in one-time funding to offer the course for at least two iterations.

The Principal’s Dream Course program is administered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning – learn more about it on the CTL’s website. The 2018/19 recipients will be announced in the near future.

Building teacher networks across borders

A group of teacher-candidates travels to Africa in support of 1 Million Teachers, a startup created by a Queen's alumnus.

[1 Million Teachers host workshop in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivore]
A group of Queen's teacher-candidates visited the Iqrah International Model Kiddies College in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire as part of the collaboration with 1 Million Teachers, a startup created by Queen's alumnus Hakeem Subair. (Supplied Photo) 
 

The Faculty of Education has partnered with a startup, created by a Queen’s alumnus, that is providing support for teachers in countries where in-class and educational resources are lacking.

1 Million Teachers is the brainchild of Hakeem Subair, a graduate of the Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at Smith School of Business. The organization’s goal is to help attract, train, and retain 1 million teachers, as well as develop the capacity to train more, in developing countries through its online platform. Utilizing reward-based training, the program aims to transform teachers into life-long learners who are engaged and motivated – positively impacting the future of millions of children around the world.

A number of faculty members from across Queen’s are involved in the advisory team while a group of 13 final year teacher candidates from the Faculty of Education recently traveled to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to deliver workshops and engage with teachers interested in the program.

Collaboration and relationship-building is a key theme.

“We’re not going there and saying ‘this is what you need to know.’ That’s not our approach,” says Jane Chin (Education), who traveled with the group and is a member of the 1MT advisory board. “The teacher-candidates are excited because the whole point is to go sit with these teachers, who are their colleagues, and say ‘What do we have in common and how do we support each other?’ They’re really excited to have the opportunity to learn from other teachers.”

All but one of the teacher candidates is in the Educators Abroad focus track of the teacher education program.

As with any project, there is a lot of work that must be done first in creating the structure and connections, as well as the online content for the program.

“All of the teacher candidates involved expressed an interest in teaching overseas or cross-cultural teaching and they have to do a three-week alternative practicum as part of our program,” says Dr. Chin. “This group has worked really hard and has put together 10 modules to be used and sent out through 1 Million Teachers. That is a lot of content.”

The support, both online and on the ground, has helped build a strong foundation for 1 Million Teachers while also providing valuable experience for the teacher candidates, says Mr. Subair.

“The modules are high-quality work,” he says. “The (teacher candidates) are involved in every aspect of the process – the writing, the audio and the editing of the graphics as well.” 

In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the Queen’s group will lead a number of workshops while fostering the creation of professional learning communities for attendees, a key element for 1MT.

“We will get the dialogue going – here are some of the things we are thinking about in Canada, here’s some things we think about in relation to the new ideas about teaching, getting students to ask good questions, how do you do it, kind of sharing – but then the ultimate goal is to facilitate these teachers connecting to one another,” says Dr. Chin. “We want them to know that they do not have a lot of resources but we do. You communicate with one another, support one another and we’ll support you.”

Having grown up in Nigeria, Mr. Subair knows the monumental task facing teachers in sub-Saharan Africa and other locations all too well. In many countries there is little funding or resources provided to teachers. As a result, for many families there is a stigma toward pursuing teaching as a career. Still, he points out, there are those who remain passionate about teaching and educating the next generation.

Through 1MT, these teachers can get the support they need. There’s also a longer-term goal of improving the situation for teachers overall, Mr. Subair adds.

“This is the community. The idea is all the teachers using the platform are part of the community. Imagine having someone like Professor Chin and someone is asking a really technical question about teaching and she’s able to respond,” he says. “There’s an advocacy piece as well. We are engaging with governments and we want to be able to strongly advocate for teachers with governments to change policy such as increasing remuneration.”

To learn more about the program, visit the 1 Million Teachers website.

A healthy approach to the Three Minute Thesis

  • Priyanka Gogna, a master’s student in epidemiology
    Priyanka Gogna, a master’s student in epidemiology, receives the top prize of $1,000 from Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, for winning the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. (Photo by Greg Black)
  • Dhruv Bisario, a master’s student in astrophysics and astronomy
    Dhruv Bisario, a master’s student in astrophysics and astronomy, was selected as runner-up for his talk on “Accretion in Old Galaxies - A Piece of the Puzzle.” (Photo by Greg Black)
  • Shannon Neville, a master's students in biomedical engineering
    Shannon Neville, a master's students in biomedical engineering, makes her presentation at the Three Minute Thesis competition on Wednesday, March 28. (Photo by Greg Black)
  • Three Minute Thesis competitors and judges
    The Queen's Three Minute Thesis brought together graduate students from across the university who were competing for the title before a panel of non-specialist judges. (Photo by Greg Black)

Priyanka Gogna, a master’s student in epidemiology, is this year’s winner of the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Using only one static slide and no props, the graduate student competitors must present their research to a panel of non-specialist judges within a maximum time of 180 seconds.

In her presentation “When prevention could be the cure,” Ms. Gogna, spoke about how prevention is perhaps the best approach when dealing with disease rather than always looking for a cure.

Ms. Gogna, who is supervised by Will King (Public Health Sciences), also won the People’s Choice Award through a vote by audience members.

Dhruv Bisario, a master’s student in astrophysics and astronomy was runner-up with his talk on “Accretion in Old Galaxies - A Piece of the Puzzle.”

Ms. Gogna will now represent Queen’s at the Ontario 3MT on April 19 at York University. 

“For the Queen’s 3MT our students put in hours of preparation for their three minutes in front of the judges,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies. “The competition helps students hone communication skills while at the same time making their research accessible and it’s a great way to celebrate the innovative and thought-provoking research our graduate students are conducting across campus.”

The 3MT is a communications competition for graduate students. Developed in Australia by the University of Queensland in 2008, it has expanded to a series of competitions held at universities around the globe. In 2012, Queen’s held the first 3MT competition in Ontario and since then, Queen’s students have consistently excelled at both provincial and national competitions.

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