The Sustainability Scholars Program is an innovative paid internship program. We match UBC graduate students with on- and off-campus sustainability partners to work on applied research projects that advance sustainability across the region.
Apply your research skills to real-world sustainability challenges
Get paid and gain valuable professional work experience
Develop applied skills and knowledge under the guidance of a mentor
Build your professional network and enhance your career prospects

How It Works

The program is open to full-time UBC graduate students from any program or discipline. As a Sustainability Scholar, you work under the guidance of a mentor on an applied research project that supports their organization's sustainability goals.

Apply

UBC Sustainability Scholars work on applied research projects across a wide range of environmental, economic and social sustainability topics. See our list of current paid internship opportunities.

Project Library

The Scholars Project Library contains hundreds of reports, charts, tool-kits, and more, documenting the applied research produced by Scholars since 2010. A useful body of knowledge to support further research around sustainability.

Meet the scholars

UBC Sustainability Scholars come from all kinds of backgrounds and academic disciplines. Scholars stand out for being passionate about sustainability, having a strong work ethic, and for their applied research skills.

Partner with us

Partner organizations are essential to the UBC Sustainability Scholars Program. Partners provide work experience for UBC graduate students and benefit from their applied research.

About Scholars

Sustainability Scholars’ projects have been helping to move the dial on sustainability across the region for over 10 years. Find out more about our history, milestones, and impact.

Project Library

Climate change is catalyzing a new normal, one where the increased severity and frequency of weather-related disaster is driving people to move. This movement is not problematic in itself; however, under crisis conditions it can be devastating. This report outlines emerging global climate displacement strategies to support Canadian policymakers and practitioners in planning for and enabling safe, dignified human movement and resilient, cohesive communities in the face of climate change.

Partner: Climate Displacement Planning Initiative
Keywords: social sustainability, displacement, policy

2021
Sarah Kamal

This report explores the potential for the transition to a circular economy to support a just and sustainable post-pandemic recovery. It provides a base of understanding about net and inclusive circular job growth and a just circular transition, with some recommendations for Greater Vancouver. It also provides insights into how sharing, reuse and repair show up in the lives, livelihoods and enterprises of some marginalized communities in Greater Vancouver.

Partner: Share Reuse Repair Initiative
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling, circular economy

2021
Neha Sharma-Mascarenhas

The Center for Spatial Technologies is developing an online dashboard of high-resolution housing data in Metro Vancouver along with a scorecard system of housing data for cities around the world. Project work included semi-structured interviews with five knowledgeable individuals in the field. Interviewees shared narratives around the housing situation, described details of the housing market, shared insights on housing data, and suggested ways to enhance the tools.

Partner: 221A
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, housing

2021
Charles Pan

This project aims to quantify and compare the climate mitigation benefits of nature-based “green" flood control infrastructure and traditional "grey" constructions. Includes an analysis of literature and data on GHG emissions, identifies the significant information gaps in the literature and offers a set of recommendations to be considered for future work.

Partner: Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Keywords: biodiversity, ecological systems, green buildings

2021
Sadia Ishaq

This report aims to probe the potential roles of and opportunities for non-profits operating community farms in the Canadian context. It includes summaries of information on non-profit community farms obtained from both a literature review and a series of nine community farm case studies, and considerations regarding operations and governance.

Partner: Okanagan Fruit Tree Project Society
Keywords: food systems, social sustainability

2021
Robyn Thomson

This project involved a review of literature and global case studies, and included key informant interviews to determine the feasibility of converting parking garages into affordable housing. Recognizing that City-owned sites face pressure to fulfill many societal needs, four recommendations were developed from the key findings of the research to support the prioritization of 107 East Cordova Street for redevelopment.

Partner: Atira Women's Resource Society
Keywords: social sustainability, transportation, affordable housing, sustainable transportation modes, retrofitting existing infrastructure, parking 

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2021
Jimin Park

This project aims to generate reflection, analysis, tools and recommendations on the climate crisis for environmental organizations to engage with and learn from diverse communities using respectful intercultural approaches. Specifically, the project uses Indigenous Coast Salish ways of knowing as shared in an interactive tool and print resources to help environmental organizations engage with the knowledge it contains as well as intercultural engagement more broadly.

Interactive Prezi for A Pathway Together

Partner: Sierra Club of British Columbia Foundation
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, sustainability in education

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2021
Elizabeth Jackson

This discussion paper provides First Nations communities in BC with an overview of the domestic and international legal frameworks that relate to the right to free, prior and informed consent and mining. The project aims to promote knowledge of legal developments and legal rights, to make suggestions, prompt discussion and  solicit feedback on the ways in which communities could implement the right to free, prior and informed consent in the context of mining on Indigenous lands.

Partner: BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC)
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, human rights

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2021
Samantha Wex

This project is focused on forging and establishing partnerships, both internal and external to UBC Okanagan, to support programming, service delivery, and additional opportunities focused on ameliorating student food security through ongoing development of a physical food hub. This project is a direct continuation of Envisioning a Physical Food Hub at UBCO, a Summer 2020 Sustainability Scholars Program project.
 
Partner: UBC Wellbeing
Keywords: food systems, leadership & behaviour changefood security, food hub 

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2021
Sarah Clement

This study explores how CCEL efforts have increased the overall capacity for faculty members to navigate through the effects of the pandemic while achieving their goals and expectations. With this project, CCEL seeks to understand how their support has helped faculty members in pivoting to online community engaged learning, and if the inclusion of elements of place-based learning, contributes to increased opportunity for students and partners to engage.

Partner: UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL)
Keywords: social sustainabilitycommunity engagement, education and learning

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2021
Neha Gupta

This project addresses the COVID-19 amplification of barriers women in leadership experience and draws on themes of mentorship, trust, inclusion, authenticity and justice in imagining a path forward. Through interviews with notable women in business and community leaders, the report offers personal stories, lived experiences and calls to action for a feminist economic recovery and building a more just and equitable future.

Partner: Minerva BC
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability

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2021
Julia Burnham

This project explores the opportunities in Canadian law towards the shift from the linear economy to the regenerative, circular and sharing economy. It examines how existing policies promoting environmental sustainability in Canada and Canadian substantive law - property law, intellectual property law, contract law, consumer protection law and corporate law, can be deployed and reformed to facilitate the transition to the regenerative, circular and sharing economy in Canada.

Partner: Ecojustice
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling

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2021
Oluwakemi Oke

This project aims to inform those involved in shoreline design with precedents and ideas for using a living shoreline approach. This approach proves to be a useful framework and tool for designing sustainable and resilient shorelines. Two sites in the Vancouver region were studied, and their biophysical conditions were described leading to recommendations for focal species and design ideas for each site.

Partner: Space2place Design Inc.
Keywords: biodiversity,watersea level rise

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2021
Natasha Jackson-Drouin

The purpose of this project was to assemble the Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) portion of the Climate Caucus Councillors Handbook. The Handbook serves as a toolkit for elected leaders and their allies to take action on climate change. This project serves as a living handbook for councillors across Canada, providing them the resources needed to present nature-based solutions to their councils.  

Partner: Climate Caucus Council
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, nature-based solutions, green infrastructure

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2021
Vanessa Sun

Sustainable Product and Service Factsheets help inform more environmental, ethical, and social purchasing decisions in large public institutions across Canada, including cities, universities, and government agencies. More Canadian organizations want to align their purchasing with their sustainability goals and their staff needs simple tools to make sustainable choices when purchasing thousands of products and services every day. 

Partner: Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP)
Keywords: social sustainability, supply chain management & green procurement, sustainable development & green economy

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2021
Varshini Baskar

The Net-Zero Energy-Ready Challenge (NZERBC) supports the development of new buildings that are more energy efficient, less polluting, and more comfortable. This project analysed nine of the winning projects to explore trends in the architectural and mechanical features as well as the GHG emissions potential of the buildings.

Partner: Zero Emissions Building Exchange
Keywords: green buildings, leadership & behaviour change, passive housing, building emissions

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2021
Priyadharshini Krishnan Ponnammal

City governments globally are recognizing the benefits of living with nature, and are launching efforts to protect and regrow urban biodiversity. However, these efforts can reinforce existing inequities,  through green gentrification or ecosystem disservices (for example). How might we build cities that are biophilic, just, and equitable? This project offers a framework for understanding urban social-ecological justice and offers a practical planning tool based on a scoping review.

Partner: Urban Biodiversity Society
Keywords: biodiversity, ecological systems, social sustainability

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2021
Joanne Fitzgibbons

This project provides insights on a framework for tracking progress of the UC3 Strategic Plan 2020-2025, including a discussion of the factors considered in designing the framework. The purpose of this document is to provide assistance to the UC3 in future planning exercises and is meant to inform the UC3 leadership on discussions related to how progress may be measured and tracked moving forward.

Partner: UBC Sustainability Initiative
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, sustainability in education 

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2021
Arthur Zhang

The purpose of this project is to improve the individual and collective wellbeing of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) staff and faculty at UBC through development of a podcast series focused on IBPOC wellbeing, equity, and community.

Partner: UBC Athletics & Recreation
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, equity, inclusion, BIPOC

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2021
Erin de Sousa

 An assessment of the current state of UBC Department of Athletics & Recreation's equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, and a review of related programs in peer institutions across Canada. The report includes recommendations for resources and tools that can be developed at UBC to support identified needs for education and/or growth for staff and students in this area.

Partner: UBC Athletics & Recreation
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, equity, inclusion

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2021
Aayza Asim

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