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Fulfilling our pledge to create a better world

2020 HIGHLIGHTS


Commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Concordia has pledged to advance the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a call to action and game plan for promoting prosperity while protecting the planet.

Along with environmental sustainability, the 17 global goals cover sustainability relating to social justice, inclusivity, the economy, strengthening institutions and fostering collaboration on development across sectors and organizations.

Concordia will use the goals as a framework for continued action in support of sustainable development in the community and throughout the world. The university will undertake a broad range of SDG-related teaching, research, engagement, innovation and operational activities. 

Concordia launches its Sustainability Action Plan

In the fall, the university unveiled its Sustainability Action Plan, which includes a long-term vision as well as five-year plans around five stream topics: food, waste, climate, research and curriculum.

"The streams allowed for a diverse set of voices to be represented and removed the sense of silos between operational and academic units," says Michael Di Grappa, Concordia's new vice-president of services and sustainability.

The plan's long-term goals will guide short-term actions and priorities. It will combine with other efforts to support Concordia’s commitment to accelerate solutions to the UN's SDGs.

Annick Maugile Flavien, BSc 13, GrDip 15, MA 18, founding coordinator

Black Perspectives Initiative kicks off

Concordia's Black Perspectives Initiative (BPI) launched in February through the Faculty of Arts and Science. BPI connects and supports activities related to Black perspectives, initiatives and scholarship on campus and within the broader Montreal community. It offers funding, mentorship, programming and research dissemination.

"At its core, this project was informed by Black student activism, which has been very strong at Concordia since the university’s inception. The BPI allows for those perspectives to be heard, respected and supported from within the university's structure," says Annick Maugile Flavien, BSc 13, GrDip 15, MA 18, founding coordinator.

Concordia launches the Task Force on Anti-Black Racism

As part of its responsibility to the community, Concordia launched its President's Task Force on Anti-Black Racism in October.

"Over summer 2020, I began meeting with Black faculty, staff, students and alumni," says Anne Whitelaw, interim provost and vice-president, academic. "It was clear that the university experience was not one of equitable access for many of our Black students, faculty and staff."

The task force's mandate is to oversee and coordinate the work needed to generate recommendations that will address systemic anti-Black racism as it occurs across the university — in employment, policies, teaching and learning practices.

Indigenous personas initiative seeks to achieve more inclusive digital environments

As part of Concordia's Digital Strategy, the university partnered with Leger to run a series of public consultations with Indigenous students and faculty. The collaboration produced Indigenous student and faculty personas to help highlight important considerations when planning inclusive digital environments.

"The public consultations with Indigenous students and faculty have provided a better understanding of the specific challenges related to Concordia's digital environment," says Guylaine Beaudry, vice-provost of digital strategy and university librarian. "This information will help shape the university's digital priorities to ensure more respectful, reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous members of our community."

Who is responsible for protecting communities facing the impacts of COVID-19?

"We are in this together. We care." An overwhelming number of businesses communications expressed this sentiment early on in the COVID-19 pandemic — but not for long.

Department of Marketing faculty Zeynep Arsel and Aya Aboelenien and York University's Charles Cho note in their published article that "care" reached a ceiling — and, eventually, the responsibility to limit the virus's impact shifted from organizations to consumers. Their research findings reveal that when there is ambiguity of scientific knowledge, such as with COVID-19, organizations should "not wait for government or organizational directives to try and 'act right,' " Arsel says.

Groundbreaking exhibition celebrates past, present and future Inuit art

Heather Igloliorte, associate professor of art history and Tier 1 Concordia University, was one of the INUA exhibition's co-curators, who represented the four regions of Inuit Nunangat, the homeland of Inuit in Canada.

INUA virtually launched Qaumajuq, the new centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery dedicated to Inuit art and culture. The show features approximately 100 works from over 90 Inuit artists from across northern Canada, as well as some in the urban south and from circumpolar Indigenous artists.

Tainted H20 project earns national recognition

Tainted H2O, a project coordinated by Concordia's Institute for Investigative Journalism, won the Radio Television Digital News Association Dan McArthur Award for investigative journalism. The nationwide collaborative investigation exposed dangerous lead levels in Canada's drinking water.

Tainted H2O was a yearlong investigation conducted by more than 120 journalists from nine universities and six media groups. The investigation reviewed thousands of undisclosed results and tested water from hundreds of homes in 11 different cities. One-third of tests exceed the national safety directives.

Concordia initiative will direct Canadian component of the World Values Survey

The new Center for Research on Values, Attitudes and Societies will give researchers access to data from the World Values Survey, to help them better understand how principles and attitudes evolve. The survey observes human values, beliefs and behaviours in up to 80 countries.

The centre is co-directed by Department of Political Science professors Guy Lachapelle, who will also supervise the project in Canada with the help of collaborators, and Antoine Bilodeau. The centre received $350,000 in funding from the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadiennes and Concordia.

Professor partners with Cree to protect 30,000+ square kms of Indigenous territory

A SSHRC-funded research partnership explored ways to protect land of the Cree community of Wemindji, located on the coast of James Bay, Quebec, in the context of growing pressure from extensive development.

Members of the Cree community worked with Monica Mulrennan, associate professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment and associate vice-president of research, development and outreach in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, and a multidisciplinary team of natural scientists and social scientists. Mulrennan also co-edited Caring for the Eeyou Istchee: Protected Areas Creation on Wemindji Cree Territory, a book that documents the decades-long project.

Dave McKenzie, GrDip 93, MA 03, founder and coordinator of the MBA Community Service Initiative

Community Service Initiative connects business students with non-profits

Dave McKenzie, GrDip 93, MA 03, is coordinator of the MBA Community Service Initiative (CSI), which he founded in 2008. The initiative, embedded in the John Molson School, creates opportunities for experiential learning by connecting faculty resources to the needs of the wider community.

As pressures on resource-strapped community organizations intensify, McKenzie oversees the CSI's role to help ensure that agility-boosting business techniques are paired with a recognition of communities as experts on their own requirements. He asks, "How can we really help, and what do they want us to do?"

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