Welcome to the SEEDS (Social Ecological Economic Development Studies) Sustainability Program. SEEDS creates applied student research and interdisciplinary partnerships between students, faculty, staff, and community partners to advance sustainability ideas, policies, and practices. SEEDS creates societal impacts by using the Campus as a Living Laboratory. Learn about the history of the program, our goals, impacts, and our achievements so far.

Vision Statement 

We advance UBC's leadership in sustainability by convening and catalyzing community-based partnerships and actionable solutions towards ecological human health and wellbeing by empowering and mobilizing students to make meaningful and positive change at UBC and in the world.


Mission Statement   

Utilize the Campus as a Living Laboratory to co-create impactful student research opportunities and interdisciplinary partnerships that advance UBC’s ambitious sustainability and wellbeing commitments and create scalable solutions to critical societal issues. 



UBC’s ambitious sustainability goals and wellbeing commitments are reflected in the 20- Year Sustainability Strategy, UBC Strategic Plan, comprehensive action plans, policies and practices. One of the important ways the university has addressed the challenges in supporting these goals is to utilize its vast Campus as a Living Laboratory approach as a societal testbed where studies lead to outcomes with transformative impacts. 

Read more about SEEDS history




SEEDS Sustainability Program directly supports UBC’s rapidly evolving sustainability and wellbeing commitments to create scalable solutions to critical societal issues. 

Our goals are to:   

  1. Advance strategies to achieve UBC’s sustainability and wellbeing commitments and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as they align with the University's strategic priorities.
  2. Catalyze impactful applied research experiences that empower and equip students to explore and develop solutions to societal challenges and advance UBC’s sustainability and wellbeing commitments. 
  3. Foster and strengthen interdisciplinary partnerships between campus students, faculty, staff, and community. 
  4. Integrate operational and academic efforts in sustainability that connect UBC’s curriculum to its sustainability mandate. 
  5. Generate scalable solutions to critical societal issues that leverage the Campus as a Living Laboratory. 
  6. Co-create, mobilize and amplify knowledge for inclusive and meaningful engagement, knowledge, and action to address critical societal issues with communities in which issues affect for shared solutions and collective impact.


The SEEDS Sustainability Program has received international recognition through several awards, and our model has been replicated across several universities in North America and Europe.

Research produced through the SEEDS program has made tangible impacts and has influenced decision making in advancing UBC’S commitment to sustainability and wellbeing. 


We are proud to say that we have engaged more than 10,000 senior undergraduate and graduate students, UBC faculty, staff and community partners, including:


  • 2,000 student-led applied research reports. 
  • 250+ senior undergraduate and graduate courses with student-led research integrated in 12 faculties and schools. 
  • 46 informed and advanced sustainability plans, policies, and strategies 

Learn more about SEEDS awards and recognition


Core Principles

Guiding SEEDS are core principles that are integral to our approach in achieving our mission and vision. 

Core Principles

Guiding Approaches 

Community –based 

We ground our research in the communities in which the issues affect, apply participatory approaches where campus practitioners and students are involved in all stages of our research cycle, from ideation to dissemination, working collectively to enable processes and solutions that can address complex challenges.


We create applied research and collaborations that are purposeful to inform policies and practices and produce tangible outcomes that can create positive and meaningful change.

Whole systems


We acknowledge that complex issues cannot be solved through fragmented approaches, and apply an integrated process that takes the whole system and individual parts into account in our research and partnerships development, including ecological, cultural, and social systems, necessary to understand issues and create impactful collaborations and solutions.


We foster student agency in applied research and learning, help amplify student voices, experiences and knowledge to inform the decision-making and practices of the university through student applied research and collaborations.

Openness and Transparency

We exercise transparency and are guided by principles of mutual learning by sharing our program model and learnings openly, creating accessible research that is exchanged widely with a range of stakeholders in which the research issues affect, and across institutions and places to advance societal issues and realize greater collective impact


We approach our research and partnership development considering hope as a powerful motivator, instrumental for effective collaborative engagement to address societal challenges that contribute to a positive world.

Communities of Learners 


We consider learning a mutual and ongoing process, whereby everyone can learn from someone else, and research builds off previous learnings which is embedded in our iterative research model.


We acknowledge the importance of place and practice decision making that takes into account interconnected cultural and geographical contexts, and value plurality in human and more than human communities and contextualize applied research to embrace diversity as a key strength and opportunity.   

Inclusivity and Wellbeing

We are committed to a work environment and program based on mutual respect, care and fairness and practice horizontal leadership in our decision making. We practice inclusivity and consider the relationships between all human and non-human nature and embrace diversity of experiences, cultures, and practices in our collaborations.

Diversity in Knowledge

We value diversity in knowledge, and acknowledge that expertise is based on a myriad of factors, including plurality of lived individual and community experiences, cultural contexts, informal and formal education, and learning with hands, head, heart and plurality of senses. We promote the exchange of diverse and intersectional ways of knowing throughout our research model. 

We cross traditional boundaries between academic disciplines and operational units, and co-create interdisciplinary and multistakeholder collaborations across disciplines and sectors to inform knowledge and action to address societal issues more broadly.