Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s Sustainability Education Grants! These grants support faculty members who are looking to create new courses or enhance existing ones with sustainability content.

As part of their mission, the Sustainability Hub supports faculty from across disciplines who are working to integrate sustainability and climate change content into their teaching so that students can become agents of change in the world. Selected projects for this year's Sustainability Education Grants span a range of disciplines and topics including:

  • Indigenous land-based pedagogies, food security and sovereignty, forest stewardship and restoration, Indigenous land rights and ecology;
  • Developing innovative renewable materials and energy solutions;
  • Climate justice and the climate-affected landscapes of so-called Vancouver;
  • Increasing accessibility of field-based sustainability science education; and
  • Intersectional approaches in thinking sustainability through JEDDII.

Read on for greater detail on each of these exciting projects!


Approaches to Stewarding Forested Foodlands in Líl̓wat First Nation

Two-year grant awarded to Robert VanWynsberghe (Education) and Tonya Smith (Forestry)

This interdisciplinary summer course in Líl̓wat First Nation will feature collaboration on the themes of Indigenous land-based pedagogies, food security and sovereignty, forest stewardship and restoration, Indigenous land rights and ecology. The aim of this course is to provide experiential, place-based learning to prepare scholars for facing complex issues related to creating climate-just futures, as part of responding to the climate emergency. 

This course will be co-created and piloted in Year 1 with UBC and Líl̓wat First Nation instructors studying and mobilizing around Indigenous food sovereignty. Scholars will reside in Líl̓wat First Nation to learn practical, firsthand knowledge about Líl̓wat pedagogical methods. These methods will relate to Líl̓wat teaching concepts such as nt̓ákmen (our way; the Líl̓wat way), k̓úl̓stam̓ (taking only what you need), nxekmín (Li̓l̓wat laws based on natural laws) and the S7ístken Research Protocol, which is a specific ethical framework developed for and by Líl̓wat Nation. Students will also engage with diverse Líl̓wat Indigenous perspectives on land stewardship and restoration; histories of colonization and Indigenous resistance; and contemporary processes to enhance and restore Li̓l̓wat holistic land-based health through the tending of forested foodlands. Líl̓wat First Nation instructors will also be invited to a learning exchange at UBC, to share ideas and build networks for enhancing food sovereignty, decolonization and Indigenous ways of knowing, which are topics that are at the heart of a teaching garden in the UBC Farm. 


Enhancing BEST 304 (a lab-based course): Introducing an Innovative Sustainability Module and Incorporating an Industry Site Visit

One-year grant awarded to Faride Unda (Forestry)

By equipping B.Sc. in Forest Bioeconomy Sciences and Technology (BEST) students with the knowledge and skills to design and develop innovative renewable materials and energy solutions, the BEST program addresses some of the pressing challenges facing our society today. The addition of a new module to BEST 304 focusing on the development of new biobased materials using non-conventional feedstocks, such as algae or agricultural straw, will further enhance the course's sustainability focus by promoting the development of bioproducts that are not only innovative but also environmentally friendly, as they reduce the dependence on traditional fossil-fuel-based feedstocks and eliminate the immediate release of COfrom agricultural practices. Additionally, the proposed field trip to an industrial facility will expose students to real-world applications of sustainable biobased material production and give them a first-hand understanding of the importance of sustainability and circular economy principles. The opportunity to network with professionals in the field will also provide students with valuable insights into career opportunities and the skills required to succeed in the industry.


So-called Vancouver: Climate Justice Lives Here

One-year grant awarded to Avi Lewis (Arts)

“So-called Vancouver: Climate Justice Lives Here” (working title) is a short film featuring members of the inaugural Climate Justice Study Collective, a project of the Centre for Climate Justice at UBC. The film follows Collective members – including Indigenous elders, IBPOC youth activists and artists, a local elected leader, a lawyer, and local union and community organizers – through the climate-affected landscapes of so-called Vancouver, connecting the dots among the emergencies they face and the community-based responses they fight for. These local leaders take us into their lives, struggles, political demands and emergent solutions. In sharing their worlds with the audience, they weave a fabric of connection, struggle and hope, grounding the study and practice of intersectional Climate Justice – and the transformative change it demands – in the lived experience of those on the front lines. The film will serve as an educational tool, deployed for the first time in GEOG 302 – Climate Justice in 2023 W2. It will also be made available for use in other courses in the Certificate in Climate Studies and Action, and for the wider UBC community. It will resonate with students in a memorable and accessible way, bringing them into the worlds and lived experience of local community leaders working towards justice-based responses in a time of climate and other overlapping emergencies. 


Increasing accessibility of field-based sustainability science education: developing a new course in Conservation Research of Aquatic Resources

One-year grant awarded to Nolan Bett (Forestry) and Scott Hinch (Forestry)

The project aims to create a new 3-credit “field studies” course for 4th-year undergraduates in the Natural Resources Conservation (NRC) program in the Faculty of Forestry. Students in this program pursue careers relating to the conservation and management of biodiversity and renewable natural resources, with many of the graduates entering the workforce as environmental consultants or technicians. A critical component of this program is experiential learning of “field work” (collection and analysis of environmental data), which has traditionally been met through completion of an intensive, 3-month, field-based capstone course. However, remote field work in physically challenging environments creates accessibility issues for students with physical concerns and/or extenuating circumstances that make extended absences from home impractical (such as care for children or other family members). These issues are compounded by growing financial constraints for students, some of whom have difficulty paying large course fees that are required to cover expenses such as transportation and accommodation. Our proposed course, which will initially be a directed studies course but will transition to a formal course designation after it has been piloted for a year, will provide an alternate pathway for students in the NRC program, enabling them to learn field skills that are critical to their future employment, while drastically reducing financial burden and providing greater student accessibility. We will use this project as a model to develop other ecosystem-specific field courses in our faculty, and it could serve as an example to other programs seeking low-barrier, high-accessibility options for engaging students in sustainability field work.


Intersectional Approaches in Thinking Sustainability Through JEDDII

One-year grant awarded to Leonora Angeles (Applied Science and Arts) and Kim Snowden (Arts)

The project focuses on the development of the new GRSJ 309 course on “Intersectional Approaches in Thinking Sustainability Through JEDDII” with community-based, experiential, or action-research focus to complement GRSJ 300 – “Intersectional Approaches in Thinking Gender.” This new GRSJ 309 course will be open to all UBC students across all faculties and disciplines and will be offered in School Year 2025-2026 as potential “Place and Power” and “Ways of Knowing” Learning Pathway in the Faculty of Arts. This new course will demonstrate intersectional-critical thinking on gender, race, sexuality, and social justice to inform diversity, inclusion and decolonization in sustainability education at UBC.