Reza NakhaieUWindsor professor Reza Nakhaie will work with the local YMCA to study the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of immigrant and refugee youth.

Pandemic research to focus on young immigrants and refugees

Social isolation and government rules related to COVID-19 may be having extraordinary effects on young immigrants and refugees. Or, perhaps, teens and young adults who have faced an uprooting of their lives are better able to take a global pandemic in stride.

“We assume the effects are all negative effects, but this is an open question,” said UWindsor sociology professor Reza Nakhaie.

Dr. Nakhaie has been awarded nearly $20,000 to research the effects of pandemic measures on the mental health of newcomers aged 14 to 24. He has partnered with the local YMCA and fellow sociologist Howard Ramos to conduct interviews and compile data. He hopes to begin sharing his findings early next year.

Nakhaie said he expects to hear that the pandemic has been especially hard on recent immigrants.

“They’ve already lost their family and social networks and support from their home countries. Their sense of belonging has already been diminished because of immigration. Now there’s a new layer of isolation for them because of COVID-19.”

They will have lost their ability to attend religious services or gather with new friends they’ve made.

“The isolation they feel will be exacerbated by the mandated social distancing.”

But, he said, immigrant youth, particularly refugees, might be more resilient than young Canadians who have not faced the same degree of turmoil in their lives.

Nakhaie conducted a recent study on truancy among refugee and immigrant youth. For his new study, he hopes to re-interview some of those same people, and more.

Nakhaie likens immigration to repotting plants.

“Just like the plants, it takes time for new immigrants to put down roots.”

COVID-19, he said, interrupted the process further.

Nakhaie said immigrant youth may be feeling a disproportionate amount of depression, fear, stress, and anxiety due to the isolation caused by social distancing. They may resent government restrictions resulting in their social isolation and feelings that their lives are over-regulated.

“Under these conditions, egoism and fatalism may take hold,” Nakhaie said, citing literature that links isolation and regulation with mental health, self-harm, and suicide.

Funding for the study is coming from the Child and Youth Refugee Research Coalition at Dalhousie University. The coalition, headed by Michael Ungar, received $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in 2017. Researchers compete annually for funding from the grant.

The local YMCA will provide $10,000 in in-kind contributions to the research by connecting Nakhaie with young newcomers and providing translation services.

Nakhaie said he intends to hire a refugee student to help with the project. The study will also provide research opportunities for two graduate students.

—Sarah Sacheli

photo of UWindsor campus taken from garden rooftop of CEIMost UWindsor employees will enjoy a five-day weekend at the start of July, president Rob Gordon announced Thursday.

July 2 and 3 declared University holidays

UWindsor president Rob Gordon has declared Thursday and Friday, July 2 and 3, University holidays in appreciation for the work by employees during the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He sent a message to staff and faculty on June 25, thanking them for their ability to adapt at a moment’s notice to changing circumstances.

“At the University of Windsor, we have met that challenge with patience, persistence, and grace in the face of adversity,” Dr. Gordon wrote.

Acknowledging the short notice, he added that those in essential services and with work-related commitments for those dates may take the holidays at another time.

“I’m hoping that everyone can take a bit of a break from MS Teams and enjoy some much-deserved time off,” Gordon said, concluding: “On behalf of the entire Leadership Team at the University of Windsor, I wish you all a very safe and relaxing Canada Day and long weekend!”

stairway made of booksPhoto by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash.

Open e-book reframes key ideas to teaching and learning online

With the University of Windsor’s decision to move courses primarily online in Fall 2020, many instructors are designing their learning material for an environment that may be new to both they and their students.

The Office of Open Learning has developed the first of two open textbooks to offer instructors a path through some key concepts that provide the foundation for learning to teach online.

With feedback from the successful continued offerings of Open Learning’s course “Introduction to Teaching Online,” Dave Cormier and Ashlyne O’Neil have authored 12 Key Ideas: An Introduction to Teaching Online. The book takes a simple approach to the complex work of using the internet to build on the connections of the face-to-face classroom learning environment.

“We’re all learning to do a new thing together, and it’s great to be able to openly share and build on the work we’re doing, as it changes and grows so rapidly right now,” says Cormier, a learning specialist with the Office of Open Learning. “Capturing the process of that work, and that of our colleagues, with an openly licensed e-book that can keep evolving just makes so much sense.”

The e-book, built on the eCampus Ontario Pressbooks platform, is a free, openly licensed resource for instructors to quickly search and find the content they need most, or to click through each idea as a self-paced course for bringing their classes online. The short chapters with multimedia elements and various resources for continued learning make it accessible for even the most time-strapped of instructors.

They include concepts like keeping the material simple, equitable, and engaging, rethinking the idea of teacher presence in an online classroom, and using communication with students as a way to connect them to the course material, to each other, and to their own learning.

As co-author O’Neil, a learning specialist with the Office of Open Learning, reflects: “The transformations aren’t just in course delivery right now. We’re seeing teaching and learning shift in a way that builds on all the expertise of our instructors, and allows us all to think about how we can use the tools of the internet to build a great learning environment for our students.”

Instructors can find the 12 Key Ideas: An Introduction to Teaching Online textbook in the Ontario Open Textbook Library. The second e-book, Practical Digital Course Design, will be released in early summer.

The Open Learning team is continuing to offer the “Introduction to Teaching Online” course through the summer, along with a wide range of other workshops and courses to help instructors explore all the possibilities that online learning and teaching has to offer. Registration is available here:

—Alicia Higgison

woman sitting at laptop computerPhoto by Christina @ on Unsplash.

Course to explore edges of online teaching and learning

The Office of Open Learning is offering a free, online course for University of Windsor faculty, staff, and graduate student instructors interested in developing their online teaching skills.

“Exploring the Edges of Online Teaching and Learning” will start June 29, and will run for seven weeks, with a break for Reading Week, July 20 to 24. The course will cover topics such as:

  • theoretical foundations of online learning,
  • open pedagogy and open educational practices,
  • ePortfolios for teaching and learning,
  • a brief introduction to virtual and augmented reality, and
  • a critical look at learning analytics.

The course is flexibly designed for busy faculty and graduate students, with asynchronous components and one synchronous, live class a week.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing instructors to teach online for Fall 2020, the course will focus on supporting instructors prepare and teach their online courses in an evidence-informed way,” says Instructor Nobuko Fujita, a learning specialist in the Office of Open Learning. “I want instructors to put pedagogy before technology, humanize their online teaching practices, and engage online students in their own learning.”

The course counts towards the Certificate in Open and Online Learning offered by the Office of Open Learning. Graduates will be recognized at the annual Celebration of Teaching Excellence.

The course is open exclusively for UWindsor faculty, staff, and graduate students, who can register at:

Direct questions about the course or the Certificate in Open and Online Learning to Fujita at or message her on Teams.

shrimp fried cauliflower riceA garnish of sliced scallions completes a dish from chef Paolo Vasapolli.

Cauliflower a carb-cutting substitution in keto cuisine

Fried rice is certainly a comfort food, but it can pose a challenge for people trying to limit their intake of carbohydrates.

Paolo Vasapolli, executive chef in Food and Catering Services, substitutes cauliflower in his recipe to make it keto-friendly as well as delicious.

Keto Shrimp Fried Rice


  • 3 cups of riced cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup onions, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce, or more to taste
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • ¾ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: sliced green onions for garnish


  1. In a skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and carrot to the pan, cook 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the red bell pepper; cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the vegetables from the pan, place them on a plate and cover to keep warm.
  4. Add a bit of oil into the pan; add the eggs and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up with a spatula until the eggs are scrambled and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the cauliflower rice, reserved cooked veggies, and frozen peas to the pan. Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil and cook until cauliflower has just softened, about 2 or 3 minutes.
  6. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the pan; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until shrimp is pink.
  7. Serve immediately, sprinkle with sliced green onions (optional).

Find more recipes — as well as a place to submit your own — on the Healthy Eating website.