Read on for some examples of successfully funded projects (2018-19) through the Interdisciplinary Education Grant program.

EarthCARE sustainability residency

Project Leads: Will Valley and Vanessa Andreotti
Grant duration: 2 years
Curriculum outcome: New field course for LFS and Education students

Project Summary

EarthCARE is a framework for transformative global justice that focuses on the ecological, economic, cognitive, affective and relational aspects of sustainability. The framework was created by an international network of 30+ social-ecological Indigenous and non-Indigenous initiatives located in 20 countries, with a strong focus on Latin America.

This framework is intended to push the boundaries of prevailing approaches to sustainability that tend to focus on “doing things differently” (i.e. methodological focus) rather than being/existing differently (i.e. ontological focus). When “being” is overlooked, sustainability approaches tend to promote simplistic understandings of global problems and solutions, paternalistic and tokenistic notions of inclusion and ethnocentric views of justice and change. The EarthCARE network supports the design of deep learning processes that can enable CARE-ful learners to think, relate and work together differently to alleviate the effects and transform the root causes of unprecedented global challenges.

This residency will be offered to both graduate and undergraduate students from the Faculties of Education and Land and Food systems. Undergraduate and graduate students will have different assignments and course loads. Participants will spend seven days camping in BC, learning from local and international sustainability leaders from communities who have historically fought to protect their land, water, food security, language and alternative systems of education. The course will push the edges of what is possible in experiential sustainability education by moving beyond “problem-solving” to deepening analyses and developing students’ stamina to navigate contexts that are complex, uncertain, diverse and unequal.


Environmental Humanities and Sustainability Education

Project Leads: Alex Dick and Derek Gladwin
Grant duration: 2 years
Curriculum outcome: New course (online and on campus versions)

Project Summary

This project will develop an undergraduate course delivered both in the classroom and online titled Environmental Humanities and Sustainability Education – linking the Faculties of Education and Arts at UBC. The environmental humanities have arisen out of a global movement initiated by philosophers, critics, students, artists, writers, and scholars in multiple disciplines and communities to address global ecological transitions and futures from a broadly humanistic perspective. Work in the environmental humanities examines the relationship between humanist thinking and artistic production through sustainable social action.

The first of its kind in Canada, this course will contextualize the environmental humanities within sustainability education, drawing on interdisciplinary models and using educational and arts-based pedagogies. Bringing the humanities and arts-based education into focus, this course will alert students to issues related to environmental education, ecological and social sustainability, social justice, and energy futures. 


Humanitarian Engineering - Politics and Practice

Project Leads: Gabriel Potvin and Jenny Peterson
Grant duration: 1 year
Curriculum outcome: New third year course for Applied Science and Arts students

Project Summary

This project will create an innovative, interdisciplinary course that brings together political science/international relations and engineering students to explore the application of technical engineering solutions to humanitarian issues. This will be explored in the political, social, economic and environmental sustainability context. This project-based course will have students working in interdisciplinary teams to develop tangible, sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most challenging humanitarian dilemmas.                                                        

From multiple fields, we seek to develop a course that integrates best practices in project-based and design education, and challenges students to engage in relevant, complex concepts that are important, but usually not part of their respective disciplinary curricula or only explored through disciplinary lenses. Students will broaden their approach to problem-solving and sustainability in a collaborative interdisciplinary setting, informed by the latest developments in humanitarian engineering. This course will be unique at UBC and will allow students to develop the multidisciplinary skills and global mindset that are increasingly demanded by employers and organizations across all fields.


Platform for Local Materials Ecologies

Project Leads: Joe Dahmen and Gerry Pratt
Grant duration: 1 year
Curriculum outcome: Revision of 2 courses (SALA 544 & GOEG 371)

Project Summary

The Platform for Local Material Ecologies will provide a contemplation space at the centre of the UBC campus for reflection and meditation. The project, which will be designed and built by students from UBC SALA (Applied Science) and Geography (Arts) will provide opportunities for students to engage in integrative, problem-based learning across disciplines. The space will provide a place to relax that is sheltered from the elements and is connected to—but apart from— the everyday activities of the campus. Sounds from various environments on campus (water, bird songs, human activity) conducive to meditation or related contemplative activities will be played at low volume in the pavilion via speakers.

Students will work with a visiting sound artist who will be in residence during Fall 2018 to develop acoustical programming for the installation that accentuates connections between local materials and ecologies. The sustainable pavilion will be designed and fabricated by students from waste or materials borrowed from resource streams on the UBC campus that will be returned at project end. It will be zero waste and zero energy, with maintenance and decommissioning considered as an integral part of design and all power required for operation generated on site. The installation will yield positive interdisciplinary learning outcomes during the design, construction phases, and enhancing mental health and well-being of the UBC community by using multiple senses. 


Integrating case-based learning into the interdisciplinary design of sustainable energy systems in ENVR 410

Project Leads: Amanda Giang and Terry Satterfield
Grant duration: 1 year
Curriculum outcome: Revision of an existing course (ENVR 410)

Project Summary

Transforming energy systems to be more environmentally sustainable, socially just, and affordable for all is a key challenge for the 21st century. Understanding the linkages between the technological, social, and environmental dimensions of energy systems to support these transitions is a core interdisciplinary learning objective for all students enrolled in ENVR 410 (Energy, Environment, and Society). Originally developed with the support of the USI, ENVR 410 is a fourth-year elective for Science and Applied Science students that fulfills requirements for the Environmental Sciences (ENVR) specialization in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

This project will update the course to engage Environmental Engineering students, in addition to those from ENVR. To achieve our interdisciplinary learning goals, we will develop six new case studies examining contemporary local and global energy debates. These will become the backbone for the updated course. Case studies have been identified as a particularly promising approach for promoting cognitive and affective learning about sustainability challenges, because of their real-world and problem-based nature.


Global Reporting Program

Project Leads: Peter Klein and Simon Donner
Grant duration: 1 year
Curriculum outcome: Revision of a 6 credit course (JOUR 555A)

Project Summary

International Reporting (JOUR 555A) is a two-term, six-credit course at UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism. In the 2018/19 academic year, we will transform the course into the Global Reporting Program, by bringing together UBC graduate students from several disciplines, to work with students at universities worldwide. The goal is for students to study the challenges of reporting on sustainability and producing a collaborative journalism project and academic investigation into marine supply chains.

The journalism students will work collaboratively with marine-focused graduate fellows in UBC’s “Training our Future Ocean Leaders” program, who will be investigating how to translate knowledge about global supply chains into management and policy change in Canada through the program’s concurrent two-credit course FISH507 “Grand Challenges in Ocean Leadership.” The teams will employ an interdisciplinary lens to develop a more nuanced understanding and analysis of fisheries and sustainability within the industry, aided by the knowledge these students bring from their respective field of study.