What we will remember from 2021 – University affairs
It’s been all year. We have read and reported, edited and produced hundreds of stories, many of which are related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we prepare to say goodbye to 2021, here are the stories we will remember the most.
Most of the stories we’ve published over the past year that will stay with me focus on universities responding and adapting to COVID-19, or efforts to make those institutions more inclusive. The profile of Suzanne Simard by Kerry Banks, professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia, is an exception. It takes a close look at a Canadian researcher whose work has important implications for another pressing problem: climate change. “In a series of landmark experiments she conducted avoiding grizzly bears in the lush green interior of British Columbia, she discovered that trees are connected to each other by large and complex underground fungal root systems known as mycorrhizal networks, ”writes Banks.
While Dr. Simard’s early career discovery that trees communicate with each other initially attracted much criticism, in the years that followed it found its way into academia and beyond. of the. In May, Dr. Simard’s book, In Search of the Mother Tree: Uncovering the Wisdom of the Forest, hit stores and became a New York Times bestseller. Production companies have acquired the rights to the film, and Dr Simard has said actress Amy Adams looks set to play it on the big screen. The book, film, and its ongoing research aim to help scientists and laymen alike understand the complex relationships that underpin healthy forests – and what can be done to minimize the impact on them as the planet warms. .
– Ian Munroe, editor-in-chief
This story idea arose in a very interesting way. I started researching whether the pandemic had prompted many Canadian university presidents to resign from their posts. After speaking with Holly Batten, head of the executive office of Universities Canada, we quickly discovered that some presidents had left their posts, but not by choice. What particularly caught my attention was that they were also all women.
After discussing how the idea for the story was clearly going in a certain direction with our editor, Philip Landon, he mentioned reaching out to Julie Cafley as a possible source. When I called her, I hadn’t expected that not only was she aware of all the unfinished business, but that she had already spoken to several people about them. This made her the obvious choice to write the article, and I think she did a great job. I especially liked the advice she gave to people working in higher education to avoid these situations in the future. As she says at the end of her essay: “These institutions look out to the world through the important research they advance. It is time to turn this mirror over on themselves.
– Tara Siebarth, Acting Assistant Editor
I always enjoy the design process the most when the story and the artwork fit together perfectly. The opening layout of this story features an illustration of Essy May, a science-fantasy artist based in London, England. She combines love of the stars (her uncle is an astronaut) and science fiction with a futuristic aesthetic.
It was perfect for a story about re-imagining experiential learning. Although her schedule did not allow us to order original artwork, we were able to choose an existing print from her portfolio that brought the story to life. The illustration depicts a futuristic world in which a pair of virtual hands are able to hold a bouquet of blooming flowers. The flowers appeal to the reader’s touch, smell and sight, making an interesting juxtaposition to the virtual environment depicted in the story.
A dark, starry universe serves as a backdrop and evokes a sense of wonder and endless possibilities. The type overlay on the title emphasizes the idea of “re-examining” and “rephrasing” and emphasizes the need for rapid transformation during this pandemic.
– Judith Lacerte, senior designer
As an Acadian graduate from Laval University and having spent most of my career working in French outside Quebec, the opportunity to co-write this article on the struggles of universities offering programs in French in Canada touched me a lot. With the year these institutions had, it may seem obvious why we decided to write about it. Yes, the Laurentian University situation precipitated things, but it is more than that. For years, francophone universities have had financial problems. As one source put it in a neutral tone: “This is not news.” And she is right, for many years, francophones across the country have known only too well the impact of these struggles; how does this lead Francophones to decide to study in English because the program they want is no longer offered in French, or how it pushes some of them to move far from home in order to be able to live and study in a French speaking part of the country.
A better understanding of the issues would have been considered a good thing. But the real success of this feature is that it has been made available to English readers. Too often, the conversation about the needs and relevance of French education in Canada is limited to Francophone circles. In a way, University Affairs has bridged a gap between the two solitudes with history – and that, to me, comes with feeling like I did the right thing.
– Pascale Castonguay, French writer-editor