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.
“Because of COVID” became shorthand for the myriad ways we became experts in the art of the pivot.
The graduate students’ Western home became a focal point for a community remembering their lives and grieving their loss.
A raft of gifts and investments showed faith in the quality and potential of Western and its people.
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.
We are speed. Western became the first Canadian university with a 5G research network.
Every faculty at Western brought some new research insight to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Western’s renewed and renewable commitment to sustainability is far more than a (phosphate-free) laundry list of activities.
This was a year of quirky critter news, Western research that made international headlines, from ancient beavers to murder hornets.
Western shone an unblinking spotlight on the scourge of racism and the shadows of colonialism.
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-.