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Petitioning President and Vice-Chancellor, York University, Toronto President Mamdouh Shoukri

Save YorkU's Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS)

YorkU's Annual Campus Sustainability Survey uses Participatory Action Research to engage all members of the community, from students to staff to faculty. The topic is selected by Campus Staff together with students and faculty. The students design the survey, put it through the ethics approval protocol, implement it with Survey Monkey, analyze the data and write the report. Faculty advise and facilitate, and the director acts as Chief Editor & Proofreader! Along the way, Fine Arts Design students make the report beautiful and accessible. See the website: http://bit.ly/1m3cFjt

This is engaged experiential education at a stellar level and is what YorkU says that it wants for its students. I am one of many profs who value teaching highly! The survey model and methods was invented, developed and implemented by the university's research institute in sustainability (IRIS) in 2007. It has given 5,000 students, faculty and staff a voice in sustainability policy development. This inclusive, diverse set of voices is about to be silenced.

Why do we say this? First, because many students, staff and faculty have said that this is one of the most inclusive, respectful, empowering, learning experiences that they had in education.

Please sign the petition to recharter IRIS so that this innovative research, for which the model is about to be exported to University of Toronto, can continue at an institutional level.

Details of the proposed termination can be found at the #FriendsOfIris website: http://bit.ly/1lTqNrd

Here's why things are about to grind to a halt:

It came as a surprise to hear on April 23 2014, the day after Earth Day, that York's Vice-President of Research plans to terminate IRIS. IRIS is the pan-university hub for local, regional, national and international research including participatory action research on sustainability. It's a Senate-chartered research unit that applied for Observer Status at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on behalf of the entire York University community. Faculty, staff and students come together to work on interdisciplinary, sustainability projects in a collaborative, inclusive, team approach.

Three external reviewers, who are professors from 3 universities across North America wrote a report strongly endorsing IRIS activities.

Over 100 York faculty signed on to participate in a rechartered research centre.

There was minimal consultaton and discussion along the way, with the Vice-President Research about the rechartering application. Dr. Andrew Tanentzap of Cambridge University's and IRIS alumnus, wrote to the Vice-President expressing his view that this looks to be an entirely political decision.

York administration proposes to close a functioning research centre and have yet another Sustainability Task Force. Not only will the local community around York University, where students do research, suffer, while the concept of how sustainability research should look is discussed, yet again, but faculty have been left unsure as to what will happen with their grants and grant applications. 

After a long and unclear rechartering process, faculty who signed on are burned out. Why would they invest their precious time and energy into yet another long and time-consuming bureaucrat process? Especially when the demands of teaching and research (publish or perish pressures) continue to escalate?

This petition was delivered to:
  • President and Vice-Chancellor, York University, Toronto
    President Mamdouh Shoukri

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