After a self-evaluation test, Concordia’s Sustainability Action Fund launched the SAF Chat campaign to address the future of sustainability education at Concordia.
Although Concordia University rated Silver in 2012 Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a self-reporting program for North American post-secondary institutions to evaluate their implementation of sustainability on campus, results were low in Education and Research, having received only 10 out of 55 points on the Curriculum category.
Results are attributed to the absence of a definition for sustainability within the academic context, and to the inaccessibility to courses pertaining to the category for students whose program does not directly entail upon the subject.
As part of the Sustainability Curriculum Project—a $60,000 a year partnership between SAF and Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, proceeding from 2012 to 2015—The SAF Chat campaign is part of the first steps aimed to resolve this matter by opening up to feedback from Concordia students, staff, and faculty members online.
“We want to hear from students, how do they want to learn about sustainability? How important is it to them? What topics of sustainability are they really interested in having a course about?” said SAF’s sustainable curriculum researcher, Christina Bell.
Bell has already looked into 700 course outlines in 20 different Arts and Science departments from the 2012-2013 year to assess the sustainability content.
In order to measure how sustainable Concordia’s curriculum is, SAF staff created a methodology including social, economic and environmental issues, as well as the practical application of hands-on practicing on campus.
Chief Executive Officer, Mikayla Wujec, explained the process: “We looked for keywords that pertain to sustainability so that if these keywords are in our course outlines it highlights our sustainability content so that from there we can look further and decide on where we stand on a sustainablility scale of zero to 100 per cent.”
SAF then assesses the accessibility of the course, meaning how many people a course can reach or how open it is to the people on the whole of the Arts and Science departments. Bell added that access to certain courses on sustainability is limited for students whose curriculum does not fall under environmental sciences.
Marc Rowley, web outreach coordinator, urged the importance of engaging students that are not yet involved with the campaign to participate. He designated the expansion from our real life social network into the broader student community to get a wider array of different points of view as a primary objective.
SAF Chat’s deadline has been extended to Friday, November 1, 2013. Winners will receive $30 to Burritoville, Brutopia, or the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore. To participate, visit:
Or send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.