Statements from the Faculty of Environmental Studies Reply

See two statements from the Faculty of Environmental Studies.

Faculty Council (March 17)

FES Faculty Council expresses its view that all FES classes must be suspended until the resolution of the CUPE 3903 Strike.

Motion passed 31- 4 with 2 abstentions

Continued Suspension/Resumption of FES Classes March 23rd (March 21)

Dear FES Community:

With only one exception (ENVS 6115), FES courses will notresume on Monday March 23.

Since the beginning of the strike, our courses have been onsuspension according to the procedures of the University. Last week, Senate Executive authorized us to resume courses on March 23 rd , but gave usuntil Friday to assess whether we could do so following the principles of academic integrity and fairness to students during the context of the ongoing strike. Throughout the week, we engaged in an extensive process involving input from every Winter term instructor, as well as student feedback about how they would exercise their rights to cross or not cross the picket line to attend classes, should they resume.

Our assessment did not just involve this student inputthrough the survey, but a serious evaluation of whether courses could resume without CUPE 1 (TA and Course Director) involvement; our commitment toexperiential, collaborative and student-directed learning means that the work done by CUPE 1 (TAs) is an integral part of many of our courses. For other courses without CUPE 1 involvement, instructors assessed whether various learning objectives concerning tutorials, group projects, student presentations, field trips, guest lectures, and other aspects of our pedagogy could be met under the present circumstances.   Everysingle one of the instructors of our 59 Winter term courses responded with thoughtful rationales, that took seriously student concerns as well as academic goals.

After this exercise was completed, it became clear that we could not at this time resume FES courses, with the exception of one course, ENVS 6115, which already operated on a distance-learning format, in partnership with University of Vermont and McGill University.

I realize that this decision will cause disappointment andconcern for the many students who wrote to me and to their instructors saying that they wished to continue their education in some form even though the strike is still in place. We know that students have serious pressing issues (graduation, financial impact, summer jobs and courses, internships, travel plans, visa concerns, etc.) that will become more pressing the longer the strike lasts. Please be assured that we will continue to monitor the situation and will make changes in this decision where it seems feasible to do so with academic integrity and fairness to students.

If a student has a particular concern that needs addressing, they should write their instructors as well as our Associate Dean of Students, Leesa Fawcett at .We will be updating our FAQs frequently to try to make as much information available as possible in a timely way; please check them often. The Dean’s Office will be monitoring the situation daily to provide as much clearinformation as we can in a fast-moving and complex situation.

I want to explicitly recognize and honor the fact that manystudents wrote to their instructors and the Dean’s Office, expressing their decision to exercise their rights under Senate rules to cross or not cross the picket line. I am very grateful for that feedback, which I know in many cases was very difficult for them to express. I was clear to all that this wasn’t a vote about whether courses would resume or not, but was only one aspect of our evaluation of the viability of courses. The information was an important part, but not determinative, of instructor assessment of whether they could carry out their courses with academic integrity.

Thanks to all of the people who worked so many long hours sowe could have a clear message for our students well before March 23rd: instructors who gave us detailed and convincing rationales to pass on to the Senate Executive; the many students (on the picket and off) who wrote to us; the hard-working staff (Josephine Campanelli, Sharrieffa Sattaur, Peggy McGrath, and Anna Bozzelli) who produced data and wrangled emails; the Undergraduate Program Director Gail Fraser and the Graduate Program Director Justin Podur; and the Dean’s Office: Associate Deans Leesa Fawcett and Ravi de Costa and Executive Officer Paul Elliot. We have all worked hard to allow us to come to a point of clarity. But it is not an ideal situation for any of us. I am sure that we are all…students, staff, faculty, and administration…hoping for a fair and equitable settlement to the strike as soon as possible.

All FES classes remain on suspension except for ENVS 6115: Ecological Economics. Students in ENVS 6115 should be in contact with the Instructor, Dr. Eric Miller.



Noël Sturgeon
Dean, Faculty of Environmental Studies
York University

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s