Instructors at the University of British Columbia are exploring new ways to use tools like ChatGPT in the postsecondary classroom. UBC instructor Ioan ‘Miti’ Isbasecu encouraged students to use ChatGPT as a virtual teaching assistant (TA) after hours to help alleviate workloads for human TAs. Isabasecu explained that it is important to integrate these tools into teaching practices to prepare students for their future work. Dr Patrick Parra Pennefather is using the software in an emerging technology course where students have used applied generative AI software to prototype ideas and additionally critically examined the machine’s outputs for biases. “That’s where the learning unfolds,” explained Pennefather, “because then we can start to question the body of data that the AI model is relying on and the inherent biases introduced with the source material and during the data labeling process.”
The Official Languages Health Program (OLHP) has received a new commitment of $14.5M over five years from the federal government to support health care and personal support worker training in official language minority communities in Canada. The funding will benefit projects completed by members of the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne – Volet consortium de formation en santé (ACUFC-CNFS). Laurentian University will receive $7.7M to support its nursing sciences, social work, and speech therapy programs; Collège Boréal will receive $3.8M to support training in a variety of health care programs, including dental hygiene, paramedic care, and personal support work; and Université de Hearst will receive $2.0M for its psychotherapy program.
Due to the lack of available student housing in Rimouski, hundreds of Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) students may be unable to start their courses this fall. Le Journal de Montréal reports that the current inoccupancy rate in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region is only 0.4%, which could dissuade many students from studying at UQAR. As temporary solutions, UQAR directeur des Services à la communauté étudiante Jean-François Ouellet explained that 200 students have been offered a transfer to the Lévis campus and the university has additionally rented hotel rooms for some students. Longterm, Ouellet hopes to obtain funding to build a new student residence.
Red River College Polytechnic has received a $1.5M gift from the Joyce Family Foundation to support students who face barriers to their education. The gift will create annual bursaries of $5K each for youth in care and vulnerable students. Successful applicants will also be assigned an academic coach to support them throughout their studies. “The Joyce Family Foundation Bursary creates the largest fund for student aid at the College and more than doubles RRC Polytech’s ability to support financially vulnerable students pursuing post-secondary educations,” said RRC Polytech President Fred Meier.
The University of Toronto Scarborough’s music and culture program has launched SoundLife Scarborough (SLS), a new research centre that brings together community engagement and music. “The centre supports community partnerships and community-engaged research excellence grounded in the principle of reciprocity,” said SLS co-lead and UTSC Assistant Professor Laura Risk. “We’re trying to help facilitate connections and really think about how we can contribute to the already vibrant musical world in Scarborough.” The centre will build and develop lasting relationships between the university and the community. It will also offer free and accessible programming to the community, such as pop-up and weekly music-making events.
Scientists from the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) have been granted $1M in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study mpox. Specifically, the team of scientists will analyze mpox transmission and host responses to mpox infection. “Strengthening capacity and expertise is critical to respond to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases–like mpox–and further defines VIDO role as Canada’s Centre for Pandemic Research,” said VIDO Director Dr Volker Gerdts. “The support from CIHR will help prevent future outbreaks of mpox and other related viruses in Canada and globally.”
Universities are often reluctant to support whistleblowing activities, but a series of recent articles suggest that a more open approach could help address research’s mental-health crisis. In one article, Shannon Hall highlights the rising issues of bullying, harassment, and mental health issues among researchers. Both Nature editorials additionally discuss the impact that these behaviours have on other researchers if left unchecked and encourage university administrators and governing bodies to modernize their reporting and redress systems. In particular, the articles propose looking to industry for examples of these systems, consider reorganizing their internal processes to address power distribution issues, and adapting funding structures. In an article for Times Higher Education, Mark Geoghegan emphasizes the need for these changed systems by highlighting four stories of researchers who blew the whistle on others at their institution at the cost of their personal and professional wellbeing.
Lakehead University faculty and students partnered with First Nations and Métis community members to excavate a 4,000-year-old archaeological site beside the McIntyre River on the traditional territory of the Fort William First Nation. The dig was revealed historic evidence of people quarrying and using local materials to make tools. The hands-on-training opportunity was the result of a collaboration between Lakehead’s Department of Anthropology, the Niijii Indigenous Mentorship Program, Woodland Heritage Northwest, the Ontario Archaeological Society, and Parks Canada. Alongside this project, an Indigenous Archaeological Technician training program took place, which was developed by the Woodland Heritage Northwest and the Ontario Archaeological Society for the Waasigan Transmission Line project.
Cégep de Granby has revealed the new identity for its sports teams for the 2023-24 season: “L’Indigo.” Granby directrice des affaires étudiantes et des services à la communauté Isabelle Giard explains that the colour indigo is one of the oldest pigments used to dye clothing, such as the denims that were historically dyed in the city of Granby. The colourful new identity therefore reflects the city’s cultural heritage, but also signifies unity, positivity, and individuality. As a crucial next step, Granby will create a new logo to match the revitalized name in collaboration with the creative agency Blue de Granby.
Cape Breton University has launched a new project called Uggwata’q: Walking our Way to Wellness that will consider the cultural and regional factors that impact healthy aging. The program will offer initiatives that nurture intergenerational relationships for the benefit of older Nova Scotians, including community walking programs, mindfulness sessions, and flexibility training. “We have an opportunity to create an active living model that reflects the fabric of our Cape Breton communities,” said CBU Assistant Professor Dr Lynn LeVatte. “We are so fortunate to have cultural diversity as well as intergenerational connections, which are assets to support healthy aging.” The project team comprises CBU colleagues, local leaders, healthcare providers, community organizations, and representatives of the Membertou First Nation.