How York University is fostering future changemakers

Its interconnected Toronto-area campuses deliver experiential education and exciting opportunities for personal growth.

November 13, 2023

With high-quality academic programming, transformative interdisciplinary research and a welcoming multi-campus experience, Ontario’s York University is rapidly building momentum on the world stage, while its reputation continues to shine here in Canada. The university has seen upward momentum in Maclean’s annual Education Rankings; posting the strongest-ever result this year with York now holding fourth place in the comprehensive category.

On the heels of impressive global rankings, York continues to establish itself as a beacon of excellence and an international leader in creating a more sustainable and inclusive world. In the 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, York climbed one band—ranking 375 out of more than 1,900 universities; in the 2024 QS World University Rankings, the university moved up more than 100 spots over last year to 353 out of 1,500 universities; and in the 2023 THE Impact Rankings, York now ranks among the world’s top 40 universities.

A thriving campus, or three—is one part of the recipe for nurturing leaders and innovators of the future; it also takes world-renowned academic experts, state-of-the-art facilities, innovative research, and a vibrant community. That’s where York shines, raising the bar with three unique campuses in the Greater Toronto Area: Keele, Glendon and Markham. These three core campuses, along with international satellite locations in Costa Rica and India, combine as a powerful, global education network where students prepare for career and personal success.

Programs enriched through their focus on global engagement are at the core of Glendon, York’s founding campus, where courses are offered in a uniquely diverse and immersive environment—between 20 to 30 per cent of students choose to study in three or more languages, including English, French, Spanish and Anishinaabemowin. Nestled on 35 picturesque hectares in mid-town Toronto, Glendon’s small class sizes, and hands-on approach help build strong connections among students, faculty, and staff.

For Toronto-based teacher and entrepreneur Korina Thomas-Reynolds, a York graduate and the founder of Roots to Routes Academy, an independent school for Black students, attending the university helped propel her career trajectory.

“At Glendon, I cherished the intimacy of small classrooms and the easy access to professors,” says Thomas-Reynolds, one of York’s Top 30 Alumni Under 30, who earned an International Bachelor of Arts degree in French Studies at the campus while also taking advantage of the opportunity to take courses at Keele Campus. “During my Bachelor of Education degree, I embraced the larger campus environment at Keele (in north Toronto) – exploring diverse electives that not only enriched my knowledge but also deepened my self-awareness about the world [and my place in it].”

York has a longstanding reputation as a progressive and forward-looking institution, and it continues to create positive change both locally and globally, as demonstrated by Glendon’s alumni community. Core to its mission is providing a diverse community of students with access to a high-quality, research-intensive learning environment, committed to the public good. Thanks to the recent introduction of Glendon’s unique Core Curriculum, students will gain the capacities needed to succeed in the workplace and work towards equity across cultures and borders to achieve positive social impact.

Thomas-Reynolds credits the top-ranked education she received at York for fueling her desire to research and address the impacts of systemic racism. “I’m grateful to be in a position where I can use what I learned at York University to empower Black students,” she says.

Institutions in Maclean’s Canada’s Best Comprehensive Universities category have a significant amount of research activity and a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, including Osgoode Hall Law School, one of Canada’s largest and most respected law schools and a centre of influential legal research and thinking.

Lawyer and LGBTQ2S+ advocate Trevor Fairlie says his three years studying at Osgoode on York’s Keele Campus were some of the best years of his life. A co-founder of the Canadian Association of LGBTQ2S+ Lawyers, he serves as the Board Chair of leadership-and-empowerment non-profit Start Proud/Fier Départ and works as legal counsel at the Office of Mergers & Acquisitions of the Ontario Securities Commission. Another York Top 30 Under 30 alum, Fairlie graduated in 2019 and says that "the curriculum was world-class and there were amazing experiential education opportunities.”

A thriving community hub serving more than 54,000 students, the Keele Campus is home to 11 Faculties amid expansive academic, arts and athletic facilities, affording students a myriad of opportunities to explore new ideas, gain invaluable hands-on experience and pursue their passions.

“Studying at Osgoode gave me the skills and confidence I needed to be an agent of positive change,” Fairlie says. “I also met a group of inspiring and hard-working changemakers itching to make a difference — classmates who are still friends and colleagues today.”

Set to welcome the first cohort of students in Fall 2024, York University’s Markham Campus will focus on technology and entrepreneurship, offering innovative, tech-forward programs and research. In one of Canada’s most diverse communities, York’s newest campus will share a home with hundreds of corporate head offices and more than 1,500 high-tech and life science companies. Its 10 floors of state-of-the-art teaching and learning spaces will eventually welcome more than 4,000 students, and include a new location for YSpace, York’s entrepreneurship and innovation hub. The campus will also boast modern common areas with ample open-concept spaces, a multi-faith space, an Indigenous learning circle, accessibility features, and a pathway to LEED Gold certification, furthering York University’s commitment to sustainability while ensuring a welcoming environment for all.

Claire Del Zotto, currently in her fourth year of the Biology program at Keele Campus, lives in the York Region and sees the benefits the Markham Campus will bring to students in new areas of the city.

“Having a campus closer to home will allow students to explore York’s diverse academic programs and professional development opportunities without sacrificing valuable time commuting,” Del Zotto says. “I have no doubt that this expansion will only fortify the one-of-a-kind student experience that York has worked to offer, and ultimately guide thousands of the world’s future innovators, leaders and visionaries to success.”

Learn more about York University’s network of campuses and opportunities at our upcoming open houses taking place November 18 (Keele), November 25 (Glendon), and December 2 (Markham): click here to RSVP.