News – The Cord https://thecord.ca The tie that binds Wilfrid Laurier University since 1926 Wed, 14 Nov 2018 23:57:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://thecord.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/logofavicon-32x32.png News – The Cord https://thecord.ca 32 32 42727683 The math behind ocean protection targets in Canada doesn’t add up https://thecord.ca/the-math-behind-ocean-protection-targets-in-canada-doesnt-add-up/ https://thecord.ca/the-math-behind-ocean-protection-targets-in-canada-doesnt-add-up/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:54 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52598

Graphic by Kash Patel

Laurier assistant professor in geography and environmental studies Christopher Lemieux has taken his research skills beyond the classroom as he has been investigating Canada’s commitment to keep their oceans clean and protected.

Canada agreed to protect 17 per cent of all land and 10 per cent of all marine areas by the year 2020, as part of agreeing with the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity to increase the rates of protection.

Canada has been primarily focusing on Aichi Target, the Goal A group which consists of five targets, although there are 20 different focussed targets within the convention to protect the earth, though Canada only signed onto 18.

“With the recent government – the Liberals and their platform for being voted in years ago – they included environmental protection in their platforms,” Lemieux said.

“Given that Canada used to be a leader in conservation and we have some of the largest intact ecosystems remaining in Canada like the Boreal Forest, and on the marine side we don’t have a lot of protected areas, but we have the knowledge on how we should plan and establish them.”

The problem with this protection is that Canada has seemingly increased their protected areas in no time at all, and Lemieux has found the reason for the math being so fishy.

“What we found is through this commitment, was that under the Trudeau government we went from less than one per cent to seven and a half overnight. Right now, we have 10 per cent of our land protected, and that took 120 years,” Lemieux said.

“What most of these marine protected areas are actually is fisheries closures, so the government is converting already established fisheries closures, so areas that in some parts have already been exhausted of some biodiversity, species like lobster and scallops, which is not beneficial as you want to protect whole ecosystems that species depend on.”

Though there has been much irreversible damage done to this country and the earth by human activity, future generations will be the ones responsible for protecting what is left of the earth, and ensuring they are implementing proper procedures and people is key.

The problem with the Canadian government’s approach to protect their land and marine life is that they focus on quantity over quality; instead of ensuring that Canadian oceans are protected for years to come, they instead have closed down establishments that in some cases have already been overfished and are not protecting any biodiversity.

“Some of them are called conservation areas, but for the most part they are labelled as closures, and there’s often very distinct species, like protecting species. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada closed them essentially because they were overfished and exhausted of a resource, so whether or not they should count towards these biodiversity targets is another question,” Lemieux said.

The targets are not just zoning in on marine and land protection, but there are also other environmental priorities like better understanding how to adapt to climate change and acknowledging the materials of those in Aboriginal communities and the maintenance of such.

“When you think about a protected area, you think hands off, very minimal activity, and this is pretty misleading to the public, and in Canada we often adopt a single species management approach in our oceans and it hasn’t really worked,” Lemieux said.

Lemieux’s research however is questioning the integrity to long-term conservation of these areas and protecting the earth for future generations, as Canada seems to be moving towards meeting their goal by 2020 as easily as possible instead of doing it sustainably.

“They didn’t adhere to any science-based guidelines. They didn’t consult with the Canadian public very well. So the question here is are they doing it right, are they doing it for the effective long-term conservation of biodiversity, and this is really what Canadians want?” Lemieux said.

Though there has been much irreversible damage done to this country and the earth by human activity, future generations will be the ones responsible for protecting what is left of the earth, and ensuring they are implementing proper procedures and people is key.

“Your best option is always to participate in politics and vote, and the best thing you can do is vote for the right people who are concerned, and the parties who have a concern about the environment.”

“It’s kind of sad to say these issues are popping up now because the Trudeau government had a pretty strong conservation mandate, and the previous government weren’t very supportive of environmental conservation,” he said.

“Vote for parties that have a conservation ethic, or a more of a sustainable long term, and they take the long term into account and aren’t just focussed on the short-term gains.”

]]>
https://thecord.ca/the-math-behind-ocean-protection-targets-in-canada-doesnt-add-up/feed/ 0 52598
Pride in Science event helps LGBTQ+ students feel more comfortable in STEM https://thecord.ca/pride-in-science-event-helps-lgbtq-students-feel-more-comfortable-in-stem/ https://thecord.ca/pride-in-science-event-helps-lgbtq-students-feel-more-comfortable-in-stem/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:53 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52600

Photo by Jackie Vang


The first ever Pride in Science event took place at Wilfrid Laurier University this past Monday Nov. 12, 2018.
The event was held by the Rainbow Centre and Sarah Scanlon, sexual violence response coordinator at Laurier, who teamed up with Megan Larsen, a post-doctorate in biology, to organize the the event, with the aim of having a group-directed discussion on being LGBTQ+ while studying science.
The event took place last Monday in the Science Building, which was a convenient change for students who wanted to attend. Usually, pride events are held at the Rainbow Centre or near-by, which can make it difficult for busy science undergraduates to get involved.
Larsen had initially approached the Rainbow Centre in order to create the event and bring LGBTQ+ students together to have a conversation about their experiences in science, which also became a step in the right direction to connecting folks with resources they may need and not always see.
“A lot of the time folks in science tend to end up very isolated in their specific buildings and in their specific areas of campus so they aren’t likely to come across a lot of Rainbow Centre events or a lot of supports for LGBT folks,” said Milas Hewson, administrator for the Rainbow Centre.
Hewson continued, noting how the event could be used to encourage LGBTQ+ students to participate in STEM and share their experiences.
“STEM is sometimes known for being a very difficult place for women, LGBTQ folks and people of colour to navigate,” Hewson said.
Indeed, many of the students who participated in the group discussion gave voice to a similar narrative. The reality is, science can be quite a competitive department, where students are under a lot of stress.
Unfortunately, some students feel the need to one-up their competition through discrimination against those they know to identify as gay or queer, instead of supporting one another.
Despite these negative experiences, the group spoke positively about being in science as well and the event was greatly appreciated as an opportunity to meet other queer folk who are interested in science.
The event provided many resources and supports and introduced the students to academic scholars they could rely on, such as Scott Davidson, from the department of geography and environmental management at the University of Waterloo and the facilitator herself, Larsen.
Larsen began the discussion by stating that it is much easier for people to succeed in the sciences when they feel comfortable in their own skin. There should be no need to turn off a certain key aspect of yourself in order to succeed. Stereotypes of how scientists should look and act come into play, as often the image of straight white men come to mind.
Scott Davidson introduced a project during discussion called “500 Queer Scientists.” This campaign seeks to represent the diversity of queer people in the STEM fields and dislodge the stereotypes that may surround them. The project accepts contributions and also provides validation for STEM students by doing so.
“It would be nice to do it on a regular basis, I think. I haven’t put much thought into it as a continuing series, but this one came to fruition because Megan actually approached the Rainbow Centre and wanted to get involved and have conversations about LGBT folks in science,” Hewson said.
“We felt that this was a really great way to start connecting some of those resources — so we’ll see where it goes from here.”

]]>
https://thecord.ca/pride-in-science-event-helps-lgbtq-students-feel-more-comfortable-in-stem/feed/ 0 52600
The Turret gets a facelift as the Laurier event space is revamped https://thecord.ca/the-turret-gets-a-facelift-as-the-laurier-event-space-is-revamped/ https://thecord.ca/the-turret-gets-a-facelift-as-the-laurier-event-space-is-revamped/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:39 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52692

Photo by Jackie Vang


For almost three weeks now, The Turret at Wilfrid Laurier University has been inching towards the final, closing stages of its construction and will be officially opening for public use by January of next year.
It has, however, opened its doors for a “soft open,” for smaller-scale events and for use by clubs and associations, to get a better understanding of how the new space will operate, as well as what storage solutions will and will not work in the future.
It gives the opportunity for members of the Students’ Union, like Phil Champagne, executive director and chief operating officer (COO) to ask questions about how The Turret will be accommodating these new kinds of events.
“When we do something in the full room, what do we do with all the furniture? Is there room in storage for all the furniture? Do we have to hide it somewhere? What does that look like?” Champagne said.
“The plan is, as the new furniture is gonna be delivered, because not all of it has been delivered yet, hence why we haven’t really done much with it, that we’ll kind of open that and make it more accessible for students as we ramp up towards finals.”
But as far as a grand opening for The Turret for public use may still be a number of months away. Unofficially, the final opening is set for January, which will allow the Students’ Union to have a couple of months of utilizing and organizing the space.
One of the first challenges will be in terms of being able to use the room in a variety of different functions and fully understanding this newly-renovated space, before its full launch for the students and the community at large.
The construction on the space has been a long journey. According to a letter from Kanwar Brar, the former president and CEO of the Students’ Union, the construction began on May 1, 2018, but surpassed both the expected and revised dates for the construction’s scheduled conclusion.
For the last few weeks, the Students’ Union has been focusing on fixing “deficiencies,” such as some lighting and cosmetic issues — things that may have been missed or done poorly, that need to be re-done. However, in that time, they have still had a number of club and association events in the space.
“The A-Team had their event, they had Euchre night yesterday — the Lazaridis Students’ Society event happened last week. This weekend is the Orientation Week volunteer appreciation event,” Champagne said.
“I believe the Pakistani Students’ Association has an event next week … [so this is] just us taking our time to make sure we do it right, because it’s really easy for things to go left if you don’t pay attention to them and do that in a very thoughtful and mindful way.”
As far as the general feelings towards the nearing conclusion of this project, Champagne expresses that it is generally one of excitement.
“It is pretty dramatic … [and] the idea is to have as much student space accessible as possible,” Champagne said.
“I think it’ll be really popular, especially certain parts of it, once we do open those doors officially.”

]]>
https://thecord.ca/the-turret-gets-a-facelift-as-the-laurier-event-space-is-revamped/feed/ 0 52692
The LRT delay in Waterloo Region keeps passengers waiting for the bus https://thecord.ca/the-lrt-delay-in-waterloo-region-keeps-passengers-waiting-for-the-bus/ https://thecord.ca/the-lrt-delay-in-waterloo-region-keeps-passengers-waiting-for-the-bus/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:34 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52608

Photo by Jackie Vang

After a highly anticipated arrival, Kitchener-Waterloo’s new ION Light Rail Transit System has been again delayed until the spring of 2019.

This 19-kilometre transit route, consisting of 19 stations between Conestoga Mall and Fairway Station, has been a project in the works since 2012. In 2013, Waterloo region entered into a contract with Metrolinx and Bombardier that outlined the purchase of 14 LRT vehicles with the prospect of purchasing up to 14 more in the future.

This contract also stated that all vehicles were to be issued with a “final acceptance certificate” as on January 2017, making them fit for service.

As well, the fourteenth transit vehicle was expected for delivery by the end of December 2016.

It is clear that the expectations of this contract have not been met and disappointment is prevalent throughout the region by both members of the municipal council and the community.

As a result of these past delays, the region announced in the spring of 2018 that the start of service for the LRT would be postponed to this December.

However, the region and its partners in the project have concluded that they need more time.

“We’re going to have to take some more time to get the vehicles ready, get them tested and get them certified,” said Tom Galloway, chair of Waterloo Region’s Planning and Works Committee.

The most recent start-of-service schedule indicated in September that the LRT would be ready for commuter use by the end of December 2018.

This manifests that the delay was generally unanticipated by the region and it’s Planning and Works Committee.

“[Regional] staff really only came to know sometime quite recently that Bombardier was not going to make this date,” said Galloway.

An ION vehicle and testing update was released by the Waterloo municipality on Nov. 6, indicating the project’s progress.

This report stated that, in summary, 11 LRT vehicles have been delivered to Waterloo, four of which have specialized on-board equipment installed.

The other three vehicles are in Kingston awaiting delivery and specialized on-board equipment has been installed on one.

Further stated in this update, “no vehicles are yet fully ready for service, in that they have not yet achieved Preliminary Acceptance Certificate (PAC).”

To achieve such certification, the vehicles must be fully assembled, continual modifications to the vehicles are completed and each vehicle passes routine inspections.

“It has to do with safety for sure … but the certification also signals payment for the vehicle. We’ve not yet paid for any of the vehicles,” said Galloway.

The approved capital budget for Waterloo region’s LRT installation totals $868 million dollars. Stated in their report, the region “will seek to recover from Bombardier any additional costs incurred as a result of the delays in vehicle delivery.”

Both Bombardier and GrandLinq have a significant amount of testing ahead of them for the 14 LRT vehicles headed for Kitchener-Waterloo’s streets. Bombardier is in the process of qualification testing on pilot vehicles in Kingston, and GrandLinq is completing system integration testing for the vehicles currently in Waterloo.

This recent report concludes that based on several safety and testing variables, it is generally difficult to predict the start of service for the ION LRT, however, the region is aiming for sometime in the spring.

“Regional staff will continue to closely monitor Bombardier’s and GrandLinq’s progress and schedule will work diligently with them to get the system into service as soon as it is feasible and safe to do so,” reads the region’s statement.

As of now, the start of service for the ION has not been given a date due to a level of uncertainty at this point in time.

“We want to wait until we have a good number of vehicles certified and have a high level of confidence,” said Galloway.

Weather conditions for the start of service in the winter have also posed some concerns among the regional council.

“We may have been able to start in February or March, but we made the decision that we would rather start in the spring as opposed to the middle of winter,” added Galloway.

While commuters wait for the LRT’s start of service in Waterloo region, there have been initiatives to keep the public informed of its progress and make sure that riders will be prepared for its usage.

As a part of the region’s public outreach program, ION vehicles will be available for public observation on several occasion.

At the upcoming Christkind Market on Dec. 7 at Kitchener City Hall, an ION vehicle will be parked at  the designated station to provide the region’s residents with the opportunity to view, board and discuss.

This will promote the community’s inquiry on service and safety features for the LRT and the region hopes to provide residents with this valuable information.

]]>
https://thecord.ca/the-lrt-delay-in-waterloo-region-keeps-passengers-waiting-for-the-bus/feed/ 0 52608
The Land We Are event aims to educate about Indigenous peoples in Waterloo Region https://thecord.ca/the-land-we-are-event-aims-to-educate-about-indigenous-peoples-in-waterloo-region/ https://thecord.ca/the-land-we-are-event-aims-to-educate-about-indigenous-peoples-in-waterloo-region/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:32 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52604

Photo by Eva Ou


On Thursday, Nov. 7 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wilfrid Laurier University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives teamed up with the library and the history departments from both Laurier and the University of Waterloo to create the event The Land We Are.
The event took place in the library and consisted of different speakers from different departments and throughout the region like Susan Neylan, an associate professor in history at Laurier, speaking on land acknowledgments and Phil Monture of the Six Nations of the Grand River.
Another speaker at the event was Gary Warrick, an associate professor in Indigenous studies and Indigenous archaeology at Laurier. He began his speech by recounting a time in the 1970’s when he was a young archaeology student and excavated Indigenous burials.
“The site dated to about 1300 give or take, and it was a pit filled with buried people who were disarticulate, which means they weren’t in the anatomical position, but I was a student, and I was tasked with taking those bodies out carefully and recording everything,” Warrick said.
“I was saying things have really changed since then, that was 1976, and Indigenous peoples are wanting more control over their ancestors and their ancestral belonging, or artifacts as we call them. I felt bad, and I still feel bad about that.”
The bones Warrick found are, to this day, found at McMaster University, but they are trying to take them back to Six Nations and have Six Nations re-bury them, and Warrick is going to be present as he has one of the most personal experience when it comes to these particular bones.
Warrick is also a professor of a first-year Indigenous studies course at Laurier, and realizes the difference that educating students on what Indigenous peoples have gone through in Canadian history that often gets bypassed can have a tremendous impact.
“The school system does a terrible job of educating people on that Indigenous past, and that is such a big part of Canada. We need more education, just having one event and saying ‘Ok, we’ve done our part’, and I know the university isn’t thinking that way, but we need more and more events like this and aimed at different sectors of the population,” Warrick said.
“I think once Canadians are educated about that history, they’re going to treat one another differently and they’re going to treat the land differently from that Indigenous perspective and see how things should have gone in Canada and how they did not go that way.”
One of the main organizers of the event, Jean Becker, is the senior advisor for the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and advocates not only for the education of Canadians on Indigenous history, but the history of Indigenous peoples who had previously lived right here in Waterloo region.
“Phil Monture from Six Nations, who worked for the land and resource office at Six Nations for many years, he spoke about the Haldimand tract, the period from 1784 when the British awarded that land to the Haudenosaunee people, and he talked about the way the land disappeared from the control of the Six Nations,” Becker said.
“One of the things that he really emphasized is that Six Nations is in a lawsuit with the Canadian government and has been for 23 years, and the facts of the case are not in dispute, they have proven that the land was sold and the compensation was never made to the Six Nations, they have traced where the money ended up.”
The Haldimand tract runs 10 kilometres wide on either side of the Grand River, and stretches all the way through to Orangeville, and is territory that was not properly paid for as the Six Nations received no income from it.
One of the key reasons that The Land We Are was created is to educate students and members of the community about the injustices that have and continue to exist in Indigenous communities and is one of the main reasons Becker believes students need to come out and hear these speakers.
“Indigenous peoples couldn’t vote until 1961. Up until 1951 First Nations people weren’t allowed to hire a lawyer, it was illegal, they would go to jail. This is in Canada, and in 2018 the Indian Act controls the lives of First Nations people, it’s still in existence and it’s a law that applies only to First Nations people. Canadians don’t know anything about this,” Becker said.
“A few months ago, the schools on Phil’s reserve got clean water for the first time, and lots of houses don’t have it. People think this is going on somewhere else, somewhere up north — it’s not. It’s happening right with your neighbours; and they are your neighbours, they have just as much right as any other Canadian to healthcare and education and they don’t have it, and Canadians don’t know this.”
The Land We Are was not only an eye-opener for those who may know little about Indigenous peoples in Canada, but those who reside in our own backyard that are underprivileged and overlooked due to false stereotypes.
“There’s so many things that you learn when you go these events that you might not have ever known if you didn’t bother to go,” Becker said.

]]>
https://thecord.ca/the-land-we-are-event-aims-to-educate-about-indigenous-peoples-in-waterloo-region/feed/ 0 52604
Holocaust survivor Berthe Cygelfarb brings awareness and education to Waterloo https://thecord.ca/holocaust-survivor-berthe-cygelfarb-brings-awareness-and-education-to-waterloo/ https://thecord.ca/holocaust-survivor-berthe-cygelfarb-brings-awareness-and-education-to-waterloo/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:22 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52606

Photo by Nichole Grossman


Holocaust Education Week, which was hosted by Hillel Waterloo and Hillel Laurier and ended last week, featured a Holocaust survivor testimony at the University of Waterloo campus on Nov. 8.
Holocaust survivor Berthe Cygelfarb used the opportunity to discuss and share her personal experiences during the Shoah.
“My grandmother … talked about her times during the war — she was a hidden child in France — she also spoke about what was going on around her and in France [at this time],” said Kyle Cygelfarb.
Kyle is a second-year BBA student at Wilfrid Laurier University along with his brother Will Cygelfarb, fourth-year health science student at Laurier who were both present at the event in support of their grandmother.
Shedding light onto the untold horrors of the Holocaust and the genocide that occurred 70 years ago has become a yearly necessity through this education week in order to reach younger audiences and continue educating people on the atrocities that people faced during this tragic period of history.
“There are so many Holocaust deniers out there and there’s been a lot of hate going around, like anti-semitism, a lot of anti-cultural, anti-sexual preferences [issues] — and it’s been going on for so long now. Recently, [with] the events that happened at Pittsburg, it kind of just relates back to what happened in World War Two,” Cygelfarb said.
“It’s very important to learn about these things to ensure that it will never happen again and also to kind of become a witness. I’d like to think of it as: [if] you’re hearing a holocaust survivor speak, you become a witness to what happened.”
“I think it’s extremely important to share your knowledge and share what you know, so something like this will never happen again.”
Eva Plach, associate history professor at Laurier, whose research interests include the history of Polish Jews, recognizes and stresses the importance of events such as this.
“I think if we talk about survivors, specifically … many survivors are dying or we have very few survivors left,” Plach said.
“It’s important to get their voices and understand what their specific experiences were like — and I think that’s the kind of thing that really resonates with students, right? To be able to hear personal stories and to move away from those big, general statements [you tend to hear].”
Plach, like Cygelfarb, believes that in a broader context, Holocaust Education Week is important to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and to ensure that people — not just those of us who are younger — understand what really happened.
“There’s a contemporary moment right now where people are talking a lot about how politics can turn in particular directions and people are looking for historical precedents — not at all suggesting we’re moving toward a Holocaust,” Plach said.
“But I think people are interested in far-right politics, people are interested in the rise of fascism, people are interested in trying to understand how states and bureaucracies and governments can transform over time and transport people in different directions.”
From her perspective, Plach is heartened both as an academic and a person, to see there is still so much interest in Holocaust history, especially so many years after the fact.
It remains a reminder of the potential that humanity has to make terrible choices — and how we might work to recognize that in the future.
“I bristle, sometimes, at the idea that ‘oh, we need to know history so that we never repeat it,’ but I think there’s ultimately a little bit of truth in that. There is something that is everlastingly compelling about that statement: that if we understand context and if we take education seriously, then people are better equipped to analyze their own modern-day realities,” Plach said.

]]>
https://thecord.ca/holocaust-survivor-berthe-cygelfarb-brings-awareness-and-education-to-waterloo/feed/ 0 52606
Enactus’ strikes gold with their ethically made Hawk Honey https://thecord.ca/enactus-strikes-gold-with-their-ethically-made-hawk-honey/ https://thecord.ca/enactus-strikes-gold-with-their-ethically-made-hawk-honey/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:04 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52602

Photo by Eva Ou

This past Friday, Nov. 10, students from the Laurier campus club, Enactus, set up a booth to sell locally made honey and “PolliNation kits.”

These PolliNation kits were made by the students of Enactus in the Science Maker Lab and the honey came from on-campus hives, at Laurier’s Northdale location in Waterloo.

The purpose of these kits are to aid in preventing the local bees from extinction. According to enterprise manager of PolliNation at Enactus, David Townshend, the kits are geared towards mason bees.

Mason bees are a solitary bee species — they are non-stinging, native to Ontario and pollinate a lot more than honey bees do. The issue Townshend brings up is that they do not live in colonies or build hives — leaving them far more at risk due to urbanization.

“They rely on nature as their homes. Obviously with urbanization we’re tearing down a lot of trees, building cities and taking away homes for them — and they’re at risk of going extinct,” Townshend said.

“The sustainability office saw our enterprise and how it is lined up with their work preserving the bee population. So they partnered with us, supplied us with a bunch of this honey and that is why we’re here today,” Townshend said.

These PolliNation kits are birdhouse-like structures, with many small wooden tubes throughout.

“That’s where we come in as a enterprise; we have these kits that give them a little replication of their ideal living space, because they like living in tube and circular areas,” Townshend said.

The PolliNation kits also come with packets of native wildflower seeds and information pamphlets.

To use these kits, Townshend lays out the simple instructions.

“You plant the seeds in your garden … put the kit nearby and they attract mason bees and other pollinator species,” Townshend said.

The price of Enactus’ pollination kits are thirty-five dollars and the jars of honey are ten, or sold together for forty dollars. The money earned from these sales will go to the upkeep of the apiary at Northdale.

Hawk Honey is sourced from the campus apiary started by Tyler Plante, the outreach and program coordinator for Laurier’s Sustainability Office, and James Emary, manager of grounds services. The Sustainability Office reached out to Enactus to help market the honey and spread the word about their endeavours.

“The sustainability office saw our enterprise and how it is lined up with their work preserving the bee population. So they partnered with us, supplied us with a bunch of this honey and that is why we’re here today,” Townshend said.

To get further involved, Townshend and Madeleine Wilson, another Enactus member, direct students to look at their Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as their website.

]]>
https://thecord.ca/enactus-strikes-gold-with-their-ethically-made-hawk-honey/feed/ 0 52602
Bina Mehta’s sustained excellence as a professor awarded at convocation https://thecord.ca/bina-mehtas-sustained-excellence-as-a-professor-awarded-at-convocation/ https://thecord.ca/bina-mehtas-sustained-excellence-as-a-professor-awarded-at-convocation/#respond Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:01:42 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52519

Photo by Jackie Vang

Each year, Laurier hands out awards to faculty for teaching excellence in multiple categories, and the recipients receive these awards at convocation, which occurred between Oct. 26 and 27 this year.

The awards given for the Donald F. Morgenson Faculty Awards for Teaching Excellence include Early Career Excellence, Sustained Excellence, Innovation in Teaching, Excellence in Interna-tionalization, Faculty Mentoring Award, Hoffman-Little Award and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) Award for Excellence In Teaching.

This year, one of the recipients for the Sustained Excellence category was Bina Mehta, a part-time faculty member in both North American and global studies. Mehta has been an instructor at Laurier for 13 years and has taught in higher education for 25 years.

“I am extremely, extremely humbled by this recognition. A colleague of mine in global studies nominated me for the award and he kind of had to twist my arm to let my nomination stand. I wasn’t really too keen about it, partly because I just don’t like the attention,” said Bina Mehta, recipient of the Sustained Excellence award.

“It’s just kind of outside my wheelhouse a little bit in terms of that level of attention, but the teaching award I feel very humbled.”

As Mehta is contract faculty, she would typically make less than full-time colleagues, thanks to underfunding by the government. Ontario universities are 34 per cent behind the Canadian average for funding and therefore almost half the teaching done in the province is done by contract staff.

What sets Mehta apart in her excellence is that she values the opportunity for growth and relationships with her students to not only enhance her experience as an instructor, but to make an impact on youth who spend a decent chunk of their life here.

“I have to say that I share it with a lot of part-time faculty who work at Laurier, close to 50 per cent of the teaching done at Ontario universities is done by people who are contract faculty, so the word part-time is a bit of a misnomer,” Mehta said.

“It’s more like contract people who have been working sometimes at two or three universities, so I share this award with them.”

As for Mehta’s work at Wilfrid Laurier, it goes beyond the lecture hall. One of her colleagues, John Abraham, invited her to organize a field course in Kerala, India, where they took 10 students in Global Studies to look at sustainable development in a developing country.

“Kerala is a bit of an anomaly. It’s a state in India that defies all the odds in terms of development; infant mortality is low, literacy rates are high — it’s kind of got all these things that you wouldn’t expect about a developing country like India to have,” Mehta said.

The group went for three weeks, from June 1 to 22. The most rewarding experience of the trip, Mehta said, was the relationships established from it.

“We had an enormous opportunity: ten students, nine women and one international male from Colombia … We stayed in the residence there, so we ate cafeteria food together everyday, three meals a day ,” she said.

What sets Mehta apart in her excellence is that she values the opportunity for growth and relationships with her students to not only enhance her experience as an instructor, but to make an impact on youth who spend a decent chunk of their life here.

“It is the relationship that’s gained from the students; I tell them I like double-doubles so they bring me one or we go out and get them,” said Mehta.

“It’s about learning a little about their lives and my teaching philosophy is if I make myself vulnerable and tell them a little bit about who I am, then they open up also and I think that’s the space in which learning happens.”

]]>
https://thecord.ca/bina-mehtas-sustained-excellence-as-a-professor-awarded-at-convocation/feed/ 0 52519
Laurier grad seals himself inside an “earth jar” to research and discuss climate change https://thecord.ca/laurier-grad-seals-himself-inside-an-earth-jar-to-research-and-discuss-climate-change/ https://thecord.ca/laurier-grad-seals-himself-inside-an-earth-jar-to-research-and-discuss-climate-change/#respond Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:00:52 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52372

Contributed Image

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, British Columbia resident, Laurier and Guelph graduate and self-proclaimed “whimsical scientist” Kurtis Baute declared that he would secure himself inside of a self-made “earth jar”, an isolated and self-sustaining ecological environment of his own creation, to explore his research on climate change.

The earth jar was roughly 1,000 cubic feet in size, 10 feet long by 10 feet wide by 10 feet high and was intended to be a scale replica of earth’s atmosphere. The experiment was intended to last three days and his own experiment predicted 21 hours.

However, due to the build-up of carbon dioxide levels, he was forced to abandon the project after only 14 hours. It’s that fundamental significance of carbon dioxide, with regard to air levels, that he wants people to address.

“I think that people don’t understand the basic science around the air that we breathe. They don’t understand that, yeah, carbon dioxide makes up less than one per cent of the air, but it’s an extremely important quantity and an extremely important gas. In my jar, levels only went up to one per cent carbon dioxide, but that was still extremely dangerous for me,” Baute said.

“I think that — obviously — as we raise the carbon dioxide levels globally, it has all sorts of implications for our environment.”

Baute got the idea for the earth jar based on a terrarium that he has been keeping at his desk for the past two years, monitoring and watching the life and death cycle of the plants that have existed inside of it.

“People have been doing terrarium experiments for hundreds of years, but not often with people in them,” Baute said. “Through that time I [was] thinking: ‘what would it look like if a human did that? What sorts of lessons could you teach people from that experiment’?”

If you want to be an ally, you have to stop using your proximity to a friend’s lived experience as a scapegoat when you are being called in or called out. You have to be accountable. 

“There [was] a great opportunity to teach about climate change and how carbon dioxide is affecting our earth. So I decided to go for it,” he said

According to his Twitter page, the World Health Organization predicts that climate change will cause five million deaths by the year 2050.

Part of the earth jar experiment was to spread the word about a number of concerns that he feels should be at the forefront of people’s thoughts.

On a more personal level, Baute noted that this project has really helped him to see air for what it is, as well as the fundamental role that it serves.

“I no longer just look right through it: I see it as this fluid we are immersed in and it’s helping keep us alive. The more people that can see it that way, the better off we’ll be,” Baute said.

As climate change becomes a more serious, divisive and political issue, experiments like those of Baute underline the necessity of continuing the ongoing conversation regarding the significant impact that humans have on our sensitive and delicate ecosystem.

There are, however, a number of things that he feels could be done to work on that.

“One is that we need to eat less meat. Meat is a super inefficient way to get our calories,” Baute said.

“It takes at least three times the amount of grain — probably around three kilograms of grain per kilogram of beef. It’s got a huge impact on our environment.”

“Second thing is we need to drive less, so whether we’re changing how we commute — biking or walking or if we just work from home more.”

“The third thing is that we need to start a conversation which includes social change, using our votes to implement change, trying to change the ways we make policy,” he said.

]]>
https://thecord.ca/laurier-grad-seals-himself-inside-an-earth-jar-to-research-and-discuss-climate-change/feed/ 0 52372
Teaching and Learning Commons brings together resources for student achievement https://thecord.ca/teaching-and-learning-commons-brings-together-resources-for-student-achievement/ https://thecord.ca/teaching-and-learning-commons-brings-together-resources-for-student-achievement/#respond Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:00:49 +0000 https://thecord.ca/?p=52380

Photo by Jide Dotun

In an event held on Thursday, Nov. 1 from 1 to 3 p.m, Wilfrid Laurier University unveiled the Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) on the second floor of the newly renovated Frank C. Peters Building, their newest amalgamation of student success services and support teams.

This new collaborative space will offer students easier and more accessible assistance, and combines the Accessible Learning, Math and Statistics Support, Online Learning, Student Teaching Development, Study Skills and Learning Strategy Support, Transition Services and Writing Support services into one condensed area.

In a press release sent by Claire Bruner-Prime, communications and public affairs officer at Laurier, the TLC was described as “a modern, collaborative space for faculty, staff, and students … a renovated, centralized environment for these communities to access a wide variety of teaching and learning resources and personalized support.”

The event offered students and faculty alike the opportunity to find out more about these supports and services.

It also gave them a chance to engage in an interactive component with each department, allowing them to showcase presentations regarding the individual merits of their branches.

There were also remarks from Kathryn Carter, associate vice-president of teaching and learning, who commented on the significance of the space and its established intent.

“I wanted to say thank you to facilities and asset management … for the amazing job you’re seeing here today and the remarkable transformation they’ve created,” Carter said.

“It’s a great chance for us to be able to really come together as departments who have always worked under the same portfolio,” said Allie Downing, communications coordinator: teaching and learning at WLU.

“This is a new space that houses all of the Waterloo units for a whole number of areas of expertise that come under the banner of teaching and learning.”

She took the chance to reflect upon the promise of the space by reflecting on the role of teaching and learning units across the country.

“[They] have been at the vanguard of some huge changes in post-secondary education in the last three decades,” Carter said.

“Certainly our language has changed over the years and the scope of our activities have really changed … and how we might best support and showcase student success and engagement in all those activities.”

“Now, more than ever, educators need to imagine a community of support around us, because teaching is happening in situations that are increasingly complex — like the culture around us,” she said.

Carter also took the opportunity to recognize the privilege that she is an active recipient of, through a land acknowledgement, giving thanks to those who came before.

“[One] that says I’ve benefitted from those who were stewards of the land, for thousands of years before … I wanted to acknowledge the difficult work of those who came before me, to teach all of us about the things that came before us, so that we could all aspire to a broader perspective and understanding about our lands,” Carter said.

The Teaching and Learning Commons now offers more of a centralized environment for student and faculty support. Though they have always worked under the same mandate, there is now a more consolidated space for them to exist in.

“It’s a great chance for us to be able to really come together as departments who have always worked under the same portfolio,” said Allie Downing, communications coordinator: teaching and learning at WLU.

“[But now] we get to collaborate more with one another, we get to see students studying and working in these environments — and we can all get a better sense of what each other does.”

]]>
https://thecord.ca/teaching-and-learning-commons-brings-together-resources-for-student-achievement/feed/ 0 52380