Sustainability Fellows span a wide range of disciplines and areas of expertise from architecture to poetry, and mechanical engineering to politics. Meet some of the current fellows, and discover how they are pushing the boundaries of sustainability curriculum by learning about their Interdisciplinary Education projects.
Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts
Jessica Dempsey's research and teaching focus on environmental politics. In geography this often goes under the label of political ecology, which refers to much more than the government or the state. It includes consideration of how environmental politics is shaped by and shapes economics, science, culture, history, gender, racism, colonialism, social movements and more. Those working in political ecology, including Jessica, aim to better understand urgent problems – biodiversity loss, drought, poverty, ongoing dispossessions, gendered and racialized violences, climate change – but recognize that diagnosing the causes of these problems, and understanding the relationships between them, is complex and always political.
In Jessica's research she focuses especially on trying to understand how biodiversity loss continues despite the proliferation of international, national and regional conservation laws, policies and advocacy efforts. It seems as thought biodiversity loss has a kind of momentum of its own: but from where does that momentum stem? Jessica's current major research projects focus on 1) developing a political economic explanation of extinction, centered on an investigation of Canadian wildlife, and 2) examining dominant, increasingly economic and financial approaches to conservation. Her research is in dialogue with diverse methodologies and literatures, including political ecology, feminist political economy, economic geography, science studies, and green finance.
SALA, Faculty of Applied Science
Allison Earl is a Sessional Lecturer in both the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the Department of Educational Studies in the Faculty of Education at UBC, specializing in design thinking, place-based experiential learning and sustainability. As an interdisciplinary academic, Allison has first hand experience of the value of interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability education. Perspectives, methods and skills can be applied across disciplinary boundaries enhancing the learning and competencies of students beyond the expected norms of their programs. She believes the success of the sustainability social movement requires creative, innovative leaders who can collaborate and communicate across all disciplines.
As a Sustainability Fellow, Allison is excited to work with Maggie Low from Indigenous Community Planning at the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) to facilitate learning about concepts of urban, participatory and Indigenous planning for teacher candidates in the sustainability cohort at UBC’s Faculty of Education.
IRES, Faculty of Science and Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science
Amanda Giang is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UBC. Her research addresses challenges at the interface of environmental modelling and policy through an interdisciplinary lens, with a focus on air pollution and toxic chemicals. Combining integrated modelling and qualitative approaches, she is interested in understanding how environmental assessment processes can better empower communities and inform policy decision-making.
Amanda’s current projects include developing digital tools for environmental justice in Canada, assessing the prospective impacts of technology and policy change on air quality and climate impacts of shipping, and modelling the impacts of global policy on mercury pollution. As a Sustainability Fellow, she is working with Prof. Naomi Zimmerman to explore how technology can be used to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration on air pollution, climate, and energy issues.
LLED, Faculty of Education
Derek Gladwin is an Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy Education in the Faculty of Education. His interdisciplinary research focuses on environmental literacy and sustainability education, particularly exploring social and cultural questions within the educational contexts of digital media, visual culture, and literary culture. He has previously held visiting research fellowships at University of Amsterdam, University of Edinburgh, and Trinity College Dublin. He is the author or editor of several books, including Contentious Terrains (2016), Ecological Exile (2018), and Rewriting Our Stories (2021).
As a USI Sustainability Fellow (2020-21), Gladwin will be developing a new course titled Environmental Literacy (with co-fellow Kedrick James, LLED) for teacher candidates in the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) program.
LLED, Faculty of Education
Kedrick James lives in ancestral sx̌ʷýʔłpx (Way of Life) territory in Boundary Country of British Columbia. He was born in unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory. With his family he was a member of the Vancouver Natural History Society since early childhood, and worked for the B.C. Parks Board and as an international migrant farm worker as a young adult. A poet by calling, his journey took him deeply into language, arts and culture, and the digital humanities. Today he is committed to technological innovation, literacy education, and land/wildlife protection and works as an Associate Professor of Teaching and Deputy Head of the Department of Language and Literacy Education at UBC, where he has taught and published on the subjects of ecopoetics, digital ecologies, cultural recycling, environmental literacy and sustainability of information environments. He is also Director of the UBC Digital Literacy Centre where open access apps and software are produced to assist digital literacy education, research, and place-based knowledge mobilization.
Department of Geography (natural scientist), Faculty of Arts
Michele Koppes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and holds a Canada Research Chair in Landscapes of Climate Change, where she conducts research at the interface of climate science, geomorphology, glaciology, oceanography, and human adaptation and resilience. She combines field observations with spatial and contextual analysis, numerical modeling and conceptual development to gain a comprehensive understanding of the linkages between climate change, the cryosphere, oceans, land surfaces and people in the Anthropocene. Her current projects include assessing and quantifying rates of glacial, fluvial and anthropogenic erosion; the physiographic signatures of climate change; impacts of glacier change on freshwater resources; adaptation and resilience of high mountain communities; acoustic geomorphology; and decolonial approaches to earth science.
A former TED Senior Fellow and AAAS Congressional Science Fellow, Michele has extensive experience with science communication, public engagement and policy. As a Sustainability Fellow, she is working with Prof. Juanita Sundberg to develop interdisciplinary curriculum about the Anthropocene.
SCARP, Faculty of Applied Science
Maggie Low is an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Community Planning at the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) at UBC, specializing in Indigenous planning, Indigenous-state relations and reconciliation. Maggie’s work seeks to advance a better understanding of Indigenous sovereignty as it is expressed outside the Canadian courts, with a focus on the implications of these expressions for the well-being of Indigenous communities. Maggie is of mixed ancestry, including Italian, French and German from her mother’s side. From her father’s side she is French, English and a status member of Wikwemikoong Unceded Territory.
As a Sustainability Fellow, Maggie is thrilled to work with Allison Earl from the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) to facilitate learning about concepts of urban, participatory and Indigenous planning for teacher candidates in the sustainability cohort at UBC’s Faculty of Education.
Department of Family Practice (PhD), Faculty of Medicine
Dr Farah M Shroff is a passionate promoter of better health for all through social and environmental justice and mind/body wellness. As global public health educator and researcher, she has worked in many nations to support the social determinants of health and better policies for human rights. She teaches at the University of British Columbia in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Family Practice and School of Population and Public Health.
Department of Geography (social scientist), Faculty of Arts
Juanita Sundberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia. Her research brings the insights of feminist political ecology and the sensibilities of ethnography to bear on the politics of nature conservation. Dr. Sundberg’s work seeks to foster conversations between more-than-human geographies, Indigenous theories, critical theories of race, settler colonial studies, and Latin American Studies in relation to climate change and extinction. A new collaborative project with Leticia Durand, UNAM, centers on vegetal politics with a focus on how sargassum intervenes in political ecologies on the Riviera Maya.
As a Sustainability Fellow, she is working with Prof. Michele Koppes to develop interdisciplinary curriculum about the Anthropocene.
Department of Family Practice (MD), Faculty of Medicine
Dr Woollard is Professor of Family Practice at UBC. He has extensive national and international experience in the fields of medical education, the social accountability of medical schools, ecosystem approaches to health, and sustainable development. He co-chairs the Global Consensus on Social Accountability for Medical Schools (GCSA) and does extensive work in this area with many international bodies.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science
Naomi Zimmerman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering who researches air pollution and climate change. Her research program revolves around the development and application of real-world-based tools to quickly and quantitatively assess the impact of our policy and technology decisions on air pollution and climate outcomes, and to use the knowledge gained to support better environmental policy planning. As a Sustainability Fellow, she is working with Prof. Amanda Giang to bring cross-course collaboration into her Air Pollution, Technology and Society course (MECH 410U).