No one dreamed, or nightmared, that this would be the year a microscopic monster would dominate the global conversation and spark the most intense research collaborations of our time. (Do most of us even remember January? Does anyone else look at pre-March group photos and think, for a fleeting moment, “They’re standing too close…”?)
2020 will forever be known as a watershed.
We mourned: four brilliant Western students lost in the downing of an Iranian jet.
We took action: a commitment and a plan to eliminate anti-Black racism and redress colonialism’s harms.
We celebrated: figurative caps thrown in the air, digital fireworks cascading above a livestreamed University College Hill.
Even as 2020 earned its reputation as a serious and sombre year, it also provided curious minds with a wealth of new knowledge, and discoveries from the mammoth to the minuscule: exomoons in distant solar systems; 5G technology; fruit-fly mating choices, the dietary habits of ancient Arctic beavers.
We discovered that bilingualism doesn’t make us smarter (incroyable!); that sparrows can predict snowstorms; that even minor, non-concussion hits to the head can alter brain function.
And we also learned that we are bigger than our circumstances. We led world-changing research into global diseases, including COVID-19. We pivoted in ways we had never anticipated. Above all, we took care of each other and our community.
Here, we share 10 stories – in images, video and words – from the year that was.
Year in review: The new language of COVID
“Because of COVID” became shorthand for the myriad ways we became experts in the art of the pivot.
Year in review: A community mourns four Iranian students
The graduate students’ Western home became a focal point for a community remembering their lives and grieving their loss.
Year in review: Parr, partnerships, pace-setters
A raft of gifts and investments showed faith in the quality and potential of Western and its people.
Year in review: Let me count the ways
A Western researcher analyzed what makes relationships work, or not. Turns out, relationship success has little to do with your personal awesomeness, and even less to do with fairy-tale love potions and Puccini arias.
Year in review: Lightning-fast research
We are speed. Western became the first Canadian university with a 5G research network.
Year in review: Western research addresses One Big Problem
Every faculty at Western brought some new research insight to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Year in review: Western sustainability, version 2.020
Western’s renewed and renewable commitment to sustainability is far more than a (phosphate-free) laundry list of activities.
Year in review: The birds and the bees (and other beasts)
This was a year of quirky critter news, Western research that made international headlines, from ancient beavers to murder hornets.
Year in review: Addressing and redressing racism, colonialism
Western shone an unblinking spotlight on the scourge of racism and the shadows of colonialism.
Year in review: Western Space looking for life in all the right places
In its first full year, Western Space explored, discovered, dreamed – and became recognized as one of the leading authorities for all things terrestrial and extra-.