It has been a long, difficult winter. We have been isolated from family, friends and colleagues. The uncertainty of not knowing when things will get better is taking a toll. As each day begins to blend into the next, we need to hang in there just a little longer.

For some, the pandemic has been especially hard. Some have experienced income and housing instability, unsafe home environments or had loved ones with COVID-19 or other health conditions. Many have been impacted by the wave of anti-Asian racism that has been escalating all year.

We will all have been changed by the pandemic. Things won’t entirely get back to the way they were before, but there will be a new normal.

Teaching and research in the Faculty have been integral to addressing issues related to the pandemic. The “public” in public affairs is central to our ability to navigate issues of inequity that have become even more evident this year.

Mehdi Ammi is researching the unmet health care needs of non-COVID-19 patients. Dennis Kao is tracking Twitter data and media reports to look at racial discrimination and the health and well-being of Asian Canadians.

Christina Gabriel and Anil Varughese were awarded SSHRC Partnership Engage COVID-19 Special Initiative grants for their research on the experiences of immigrant women and international students (respectively) during the pandemic.

In spite of all difficulties over the past year, we can still point to a number of successes.

The Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The Scholar Collaboration Program was launched to support scholars from the Global South and underrepresented communities to work towards publishing their research.

We also recognized our researchers, teachers and staff through the FPA Excellence Awards.

In 2020, the Staff Excellence Award went to Holly Klein-Swormink for her commitment to the student experience.

Kenta Asakura was the recipient of the Teaching Fellowship for his work in simulation-based teaching, learning and student assessment as a signature pedagogy.

The Teaching Awards went to Kelly Lauzon for her passion and commitment to student success and to Megan Gaucher for diversity and inclusion in the classroom.

William Cross received the Research Excellence Award for his work on Canadian politics and political leadership. Josh Greenberg received the Public Commentary Excellence Award for public dialogue across a wide range of media and genres.

Louis-Philippe Beland was awarded the FPA Research Excellence Chair. His research looks at the effects of traffic, health care and social interventions and their direct impact on the lives of citizens.

These colleagues embody the mission of the Faculty of Public Affairs. They are producing research to build better societies and stronger democracies, fostering informed citizenship, addressing regional and global challenges and informing public discussion.

They also demonstrate our values of community and collaboration and our efforts to make the world a better place.

This spring and summer, I’d encourage you to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. If you can, connect with the FPA community through online events and conversations on social media.

Please keep well and stay safe.

Brenda O’Neill
Dean, Faculty of Public Affairs