As part of our mission at the Sustainability Hub, we support faculty from across disciplines who are working to integrate sustainability and climate change content in their teaching so that their students can become agents of change in the world. Sustainable Education Grants support faculty members who are looking to create new courses or enhance existing ones with sustainability content.

Congratulations to the 2022 recipients of the Sustainability Education Grants! Learn more about this year's recipients and the exciting work they have planned.


JEDDII in Sustainability Education [2-year grant]

Lead applicants: Leonora Angeles (Applied Science) and Kim Snowden (Arts)

This project reviews some of the current Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice course offerings to update and accelerate their integration of sustainability and ecological perspectives, climate and nature emergencies, post-capitalist circular economy, and community resilience. GRSJ faculty members and students, with support from SCARP graduate students interested in sustainability, climate and ecological issues, will review and revise all relevant GRSJ undergraduate and graduate courses to integrate sustainability-related learning objectives, readings, pedagogical approaches, assignments, and class projects. In particular, this project develops a new GRSJ 309 course on Intersectional Approaches in Thinking Sustainability Through JEDDII with a community-based, experiential, or action-research focus to complement GRSJ 300 - Intersectional Approaches in Thinking Gender.


Climate Communications - Developing a transdisciplinary approach to understanding and engaging the social complexity of climate action [2-year grant]

Lead applicants: Shannon Hagerman (Forestry) and Kai Chan (Science)

Canadians are increasingly concerned about climate change and its impacts. Yet, despite this increasing concern, a values/action gap persists in which people struggle to connect their concerns with changed behaviours and lifestyles. This is explained in part by the fact that climate change presents a cognitive challenge that evades a full comprehension. It also relates to people’s sense of agency, wherein they perceive that such a large-scale collective problem requires a systems-change that is too big for any one individual to take on. The ways climate change has been framed and communicated up until now have not managed to meaningfully address these psycho-social barriers to the uptake of climate action. The challenge now is to study, design, and carry out communications and public engagement approaches to climate change in ways that better enable citizens to make meaning of something complex, support their sense of agency, and identify ways to translate their concerns into individual and collective action. The next generation of climate change communicators will be university graduates who understand this issue from multiple disciplines and have had opportunities to carry out applied, experiential studies on the subject. UBC plays a key role in prioritizing teaching this social aspect of the climate action challenge. Yet, at present, there is no UBC graduate-level course specifically on Climate Communications. This project will change that, drawing on human dimensions and psycho-social research on climate change to fill a key gap in the courses offered at UBC Vancouver on climate change.


Climate Change Education through Immersive Media: Educating for Sustainability in Multimodal Ways [2-year grant]

Lead applicants: Sandra Scott (Education) and Lindsay Rogers (Medicine)

A 2021 UNESCO report indicates that educators seek an action-driven climate change curriculum that fosters student empowerment and agency and involves innovation, culturally responsive pedagogies, student-centred learning, and community partnerships. We aim to produce immersive interactive media to engage learners in climate education with a special focus on UBC and British Columbia. This project will be completed in collaboration with Emerging Media Lab at UBC, an experimental space where faculty, students, and staff collaborate to evolve learning by creating cutting-edge visual technologies. This project will produce immersive media and an interactive platform to create a virtual community for climate education within the following:

  1. Climate Science that focuses on UBC research, researchers, and community partners.
  2. Impacts of Climate Change that focuses on local impacts such as flooding, heat domes, and changes to species migration patterns resulting in ecosystem collapse and biodiversity loss.
  3. Climate Policy and Justice that focuses on UBC policy and Indigenous communities.
  4. Climate Action that focuses on youth voices, local community-centred opportunities, and action.

This media will be used within one for-credit undergraduate course offered by the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department (BIOC470; Biochemistry and Society: Current Issues) and four for-credit courses in Teacher Education (EDCP 352 Secondary Science Methods, 349 Elementary Science Methods, EDCP 328 Environmental Education, EDCP 448 Conceptions of the Natural World: Implications for Science Education). We foresee this content being adopted within courses across UBC and anticipate widespread interest in this content outside UBC within public education and community settings.


Engineering Economics: Expanded for Relevancy [1-year grant]

Lead applicants: Tamara Etmannski (Applied Science) and Gabriel Potvin (Applied Science)

As a requirement for graduation, all engineering students in Canada, including the over 1000 graduating students/year at UBC, must take an Engineering Economics course (as stipulated by the CEAB – Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board). This requirement is based on the need for engineers to be able to apply economic principles in the making of technical engineering decisions, mainly through the evaluation of direct financial costs during the design, operation and decommissioning phases of a project. This approach, however, does not evaluate the true costs of projects, and the modern engineer must understand economic principles and be able to apply them in the evaluation of environmental and social costs of a project as well, including those associated with climate change, mental health, equity, and social and cultural capital. The proposed project would, through an interdisciplinary collaboration of accomplished engineering economics and sustainability instructors, develop new engineering economics modules incorporating social and environmental sustainability considerations. These modules would be implemented in one of the seven engineering economics courses at UBC as a pilot, with a plan to share the materials with all the other engineering departments at UBC, as well as with other engineering economics instructors in Canada through the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA). Modules will showcase how sustainability considerations can and must be quantified, measured, and weighted alongside all the other costs of engineering projects, and how these indicators allow for making better, more accurate engineering decisions. These will be of great interest to the engineering community in Canada as very little pedagogical material is currently available on the subject.


Case-based Learning on the topic of Sustainability in the Agri-Food and Environment Sector [1-year grant]

Applicant: Kelleen Wiseman (Land and Food Systems)

Climate change has traditionally been studied in a science‐based context. However, if we are to make progress, climate change and sustainability must also be brought into the business disciplines in an applied and active manner. The objective of the project is to increase students’ awareness of the importance of integrating sustainability into the core business economic principles that are used to study the Agri‐Food and Environment sector. This objective will be achieved by developing four new case studies that will be used in two Food and Resource Economic business courses. Case topics include:

  1. Sustainability Entrepreneurship in the Agri‐Food and Environment Sector.
  2. Incorporating Sustainability into Operating Plans of Small to Medium Business in the Agri‐Food sector.
  3. Sustainability Reporting in Agri‐Food and Environmental firms.
  4. Competitive Analysis: Assessing Sustainable Agri‐food and Environment Firms.


Anthropology of Electronic Waste [1-year grant]

Applicant: Amirpouyan Shiva (Arts)

In its analyses of the destructive effects of capitalist accumulation on landscapes and bodies, anthropology has proven pivotal in our understanding of rubbish and waste, including more recently the issue of electronic waste. Due to strategies such as planned obsolescence of electronic media (i.e., devices’ obsolescence is built into them from the beginning) and rapid innovation in digital media (that encourages consumers to replace perfectly good devices with new models), electronic media now account for a substantial fraction of e-waste. So, e-waste has become a topic of interest to media anthropologists who are now looking beyond the economic and social benefits of digital media (e.g., connectivity and progress) and also considering their harmful environmental impact.

Traditionally, however, anthropology of media courses have mostly focused on the immaterial messages and contents that media help convey. So, the materiality of media, including the fact that media are tangible, material objects with environmental consequences, does not receive sufficient attention in the anthropology of media curriculums. Through the incorporation of readings and films, active learning activities, and interactive projects in the course Anthropology of Media (ANTH378), this project aims to change this tendency by addressing the harms and long-lasting effects of e-waste on bodies, livelihoods, and landscapes.

Anthropology of Media, a popular course with high enrolment usually offered twice each academic year, is an ideal place for students to learn about the environmental impacts of digital media, which according to a Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report reached a record 53.6 million metric tonnes in 2019 (Forti et al., 2020).


Interested in applying next year? Learn more about Sustainability Education Grants and how to apply.