Postsecondary institutions across Canada are celebrating Earth Day with special announcements, initiatives, and events. In Quebec, Dawson College students are highlighting biodiversity with a “bio-blitz” aiming to identify 1,000 species on campus. The University of Ottawa is celebrating Earth Day with the installation of 20 new electric vehicle charging stations and a bike repair station. Niagara College Dean of Business, Tourism and the Environment Al Unwin spoke to Niagara This Week about ways members of the community can improve their impact on the earth. At the University of Manitoba, President Michael Benarroch highlighted recent activities at the university such as the approval of the Responsible Investment Principles. Thompson Rivers University President Dr Brett Fairbairn discussed how the university is committed to infusing Secwépemc values about nature and the land into campus culture and using them to guide sustainability initiatives.
McGill University and the Université du Québec à Montréal have launched the new Research and Innovation Chair in Animal Welfare and Artificial Intelligence (WELL-E), a five-year initiative linking animal welfare and profitability on dairy farms. The research team will use artificial intelligence to detect changes in the cows’ welfare, which in turn will provide dairy farmers with the information they need to improve and extend the lives of their livestock. WELL-E will be piloted on two farms and then expanded to more than 100 farms across Québec and Ontario. The chair will be co-led by McGill Department of Animal Science Professor Elsa Vasseur and UQAM Department of Computer Science Professor Abdoulaye Baniré Diallo.
Loyalist College has officially opened a technology-based makerspace and learning environment named the “FailSafe.” This space will provide students, industry, and community partners with access to state-of-the-art equipment–including 3D printers, laser cutters, recording booths, design computers and more–as well a supportive environment where they can experiment with these emerging technologies. “In engineering, a fail-safe is a design feature that prevents damage in the event of a failure,” said Loyalist President Mark Kirkpatrick. “We named this new learning environment on campus the ‘FailSafe’ because it’s designed to be a safe space for students to test their limits and innovate – without the fear of holding them back.”
Canada’s Top 100 Employers has released its Greenest Employers for 2023. Employers were selected in recognition of their work to create a culture of environmental awareness within their organization. A dozen of Canada’s postsecondary institutions were awarded the distinction this year in recognition of their sustainability initiatives and environmental leadership. Institutions recognized as the Greenest Employers include Durham College, Fleming College, Humber College, Mohawk College, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, the University of Northern British Columbia, the University of Toronto, the University of Victoria, Wilfrid Laurier University, and York University.
Langara College has received a $2.67M boost from the Government of Canada to enhance applied research in early childhood education. The three-year funding will support a project focused on exploring how virtual and immersive learning can prepare early childhood educators to work more inclusively with Indigenous, racialized, and diverse children and families. The project will be completed in collaboration with members of the Musqueam First Nation and YMCA BC’s Early Years and Family Development Branch. “The project has the potential to not only impact families in our community, but the field of early childhood education across Canada,” said Langara Provost and VP Academic Margaret Heldman.
The University of Guelph recently announced that enrolment will be paused for 16 programs due to declining or low enrolment. The news affects approximately 360 students who had received offers for the programs. The programs include 11 undergraduate programs and five graduate programs. UoGuelph physics professor Joanne O’Meara told CBC that the paused programs include four physics programs that have high numbers of women. O’Meara explained that pausing them is a blow to the continued efforts to recruit women into STEM fields.
Faculty at the University of Victoria have expressed concerns regarding the potential student use of large language models (LLMs) – like ChatGPT – to generate exam answers. Chek News reports that UVic administration is investigating an undisclosed number of students who have used LLMs to complete their coursework and is working to update its policies to reflect the use of AI in academia. UVic VP Academic and Provost Elizabeth Croft issued a statement explaining that new technologies like these should be carefully considered to ensure their use adheres to the school’s academic integrity policies. “We need to prepare our students to understand and embrace technology through the lens of critical analysis and ethical and equity principles,” said Croft.
The University of Manitoba’s latest senate agenda includes requests for increased intakes to select undergraduate and graduate programs in healthcare. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that the proposal includes an increase of 15 undergraduate seats for future physicians next year and 15 additional seats the following year. UManitoba Max Rady College of Medicine Dean Dr Peter Nickerson, Dean acknowledged that this increase would be a large jump, but that “it’s what’s called for, given the circumstances” of the province’s healthcare worker shortage. Other master’s program admissions–including nurse practitioner, physician assistant studies, physical therapy, and occupational therapy–are also slated to grow by 20, 15, 10, and 10 seats, respectively.
Mohawk College has announced a partnership with the Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada (ARUCC) to join MyCreds™ and provide students and alumni with digital access to their credentials. Using MyCreds™, students and alumni will be able to securely access and share a digital version of their official academic documents with other educational institutions, employers, and others. The documents issued are tamper-evident and cryptographically signed so that recipients know they are authentic. Mohawk says that the MyCreds™ platform will be more accessible and convenient, while also helping reduce paper use.
Thanks to the acquisition of a new semi-truck, Northern Lakes College will offer Class 1 Driver Training at its campus. The truck will allow Northern Lakes to offer the standardized Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program, which is mandatory for commercial Class 1 drivers in the province. The program includes classroom theory components and in-yard and in-cab training where students take part in vehicle inspections and practice skills behind the wheel. “Ensuring the availability of this training in-region means increased accessibility for students,” said Northern Lakes Dean of Business, Academics, Trades & Regional Stewardship Amy Saitz.