I am writing with respect to York University’s decision regarding IRIS. IRIS has been one of the most important aspects of my studies at York University. Without IRIS I would have never pursued an MA or PhD at York.
I have been part of IRIS since its beginnings.I was an assistant to Dr. David Wheeler at the Schulich School of Business in the year that discussions about starting IRIS were conducted. I was an undergraduate student at the time, and in its infancy IRIS provided incredible moral support as I made a major decision about leaving business to pursue intellectual interest in sustainability. As we built IRIS and a core groups of academics across the university with expertise in sustainability, I changed my undergraduate focus at the Schulich School of Business away from accounting and towards sustainability. Because of IRIS, I met many admirable professors who inspired me to pursue a MA at York.
I entered the Department of Political Science in 2003 for my Masters. Throughout this time I was an RA through IRIS. All the publication opportunities and funding opportunities that supported my Masters studies came through IRIS or were facilitated by IRIS. I formed my committee through connections at IRIS, and was able to have an interdisciplinary committee, which was unusual for my department, but was necessary for my research interest in climate change. Without this intellectual and financial support, I would not have completed my MA. I published several pieces from my MA, all with the support of IRIS and the faculty members that I met through IRIS.
In 2006 I decided to continue my studies, and pursue a PhD, also at York. I was accepted to many programs, but chose York, only because of IRIS. During my PhD IRIS was exceptionally important. Through IRIS I found a professor to co-supervise a specialized minor for my PhD core courses. IRIS provided RA opportunities, they helped send me to the UNFCCC Convention of the Parties twice (which was indispensable for my doctoral research). I was given the opportunity to publish and apply for scholarships with the assistance of faculty that I had met at IRIS. I won a $20k IDRC for my doctoral fieldwork because of IRIS. Furthermore, I was given the opportunity to present my work to community members at York and in the broader academic community because of IRIS. All of the publications that have come out of my PhD research were because of IRIS. Finally, my committee for my doctoral research is interdisciplinary (unusual for my department), because I met faculty members through IRIS that had interest in supporting my doctoral work.
Please save IRIS. It is a fantastic institution that does so much for its students. It was a saving grace in times of need for my own studies, and its work is critical for those who wish to pursue studies in sustainability, which is a cross-cutting issue that not all departments have the ability to offer without the support of IRIS. In my case, I wanted to pursue the study of climate change politics through the department of Political Science, but my department did not have the faculty or network to support my studies fully. Without IRIS my research would not have been possible.
BBA, MA, PhD (ABD)