Within mere days of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, Jade Crimson Rose Da Costa, a PhD candidate in the sociology department at York University, had co-founded The People’s Pantry.
The grassroots group’s mission is to support marginalized individuals affected economically by the pandemic – including queer, trans and BIPOC as well as sex workers and newcomers – by providing them with groceries and home-cooked meals. No cost. No questions asked.
With The People’s Pantry, Da Costa’s organization has a positive impact on its target groups, changing lives for the better. And that is the mission of York University: to nurture a community of changemakers like Da Costa, driven by a desire to make the world a better place.
Over the past decade, technology has brought the world to everyone everywhere, making global issues everyone’s issues. So, a generation that is just coming into their own knows precisely what they’re facing and the necessary changes that lie ahead. And like 17-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the millions of young people who have taken to the streets around the world to protest injustice, this generation is not afraid to lead the way to a better future.
A global perspective is just part of York’s DNA. With 55,000 students from about 178 countries and connections with over 500 different universities, industry and NGO partners, York places a high value on collaboration, diversity and inclusivity to tackle pressing issues. Right now, through work underway at the university’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, for example, York is well-positioned to play a leading role in the fight against COVID-19.
But this is nothing new for a university that has one of the most diverse student populations in the world – to its great advantage. In June, a university program that brings together students from different disciplines to work on real-world problems received an international award from Airbus and the Global Engineering Deans Council. The Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4) project involved 74 students from eight different faculties who worked in multidisciplinary teams to design solutions for social impact challenges.
For one project, students from the Lassonde School of Engineering, Glendon College and the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies designed a solar home system as affordable heating and electrical power options for homeowners and Chilean workers. New ways of thinking and experiential education are vital in creating big ideas and solving real-world challenges.
This fall, the new Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) brought together physical geographers, ecologists, social scientists, humanities researchers and artists to assess natural, built and social spaces from a global perspective. With the current emphasis worldwide on regulation and public policies focused on sustainability and smart cities, students from the new EUC – believed to be the first faculty of its kind in the world – will be uniquely qualified for these new opportunities.
With 11 faculties, 25 research centres and countless worldwide partnerships, York is the third-largest university in Canada. The Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall Law School are among the best professional schools globally; the University’s Kinesiology and Health Science program ranks in the top three in North America. And employers know that York graduates possess essential skills and in-depth knowledge – over 90 per cent of York students are hired within two years of graduation.
“The world needs places that aren’t afraid to ask tough, foundational and fundamental questions, where students and faculty are inspired to speak truth to power, where we can come together from a variety of backgrounds, with a diversity of opinions and perspectives, and passionately debate the issues of the day,” says York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “Because that is what a university is and does. And no one else does that better than York.”
For more information about York University, please visit yorku.ca/rightthefuture.