Closure of IRIS Letter

In response to York University’s decision to close the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability, FreeSay recently sent this letter to York University President Mamdouh Shoukri highlighting our concerns about the future of pan-departmental sustainability initiatives at York University.


Dear President Shoukri,

This letter is being written to express the deep concern that Freethinkers, Skeptics and Atheists at York (FreeSAY) has over the decision of the Vice President Research and Innovation not to recommend the re-chartering of York’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability. Our organization joins the growing chorus of voices urging that IRIS continue to receive funding and formal support from York due to the Institute’s ongoing contribution to academic understanding of the relationship between human activity and terrestrial function, with the object of harmonizing the workings of Earth with human enterprise. We have come to better appreciate this work in large part due to our personal interaction with Doctor Dawn Bazely.

Dr. Bazely recently attended one of our meetings to lead discussion about GMOs from scientific, social, economic, and other viewpoints. Her work, and the work of IRIS, was made apparent as clearly enlightening and valuable with her attendance. FreeSAY has greatly benefitted from this committed outreach from IRIS to educate students on issues of sustainability and engage the wider student body through critical thought about these concerns from multiple disciplines, those being among the core goals of IRIS.

FreeSAY understands the efforts of this Institute and those like it as immensely valuable to York and even to communities larger than our own. IRIS, it will be repeated, has received commendations from the external panel engaged by the VPRI for its numerous achievements over its lifetime given only modest financial requirements from York. Given the value of this organization’s services to practice and academe in sustainability, we request that you work to preserve and nurture IRIS by acting to have it chartered once again to continue operation. Such a decision will be bound to reward York and the global community with the future products of the Institute’s labour.


Freethinkers, Skeptics, and Atheists at York

Board of Directors


If you are interested in helping IRIS, go to Friends of IRIS for more information.