History of Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan

Sustainability initiatives have been formally pursued in campus operations since 2004 when a Sustainability Coordinator was hired in the Facilities Management Division. On the academic side, sustainability became an area of focus in graduate studies with the establishment of the School of Environment and Sustainability in 2007. More recently, in 2012, the Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI) was established to conduct research on environment and sustainability in relation to education. 

Venn diagram relating society and the economy to sustainability

In its Second Integrated Plan, the university identified sustainability as a global issue that needs addressing in all areas of its activities. An 11 member group of representatives from across campus, the Sustainability Commitment Working Group (SCWG), was formed. Guided by the Plan's vision that sustainability “must permeate our thinking”,  the SCWG developed the following definition and vision:

Definition: Sustainability is the stewardship of the natural environment in a socially and economically responsible manner that meets the needs of both present and future generations. 

Vision: Every member of the university community will act sustainably in all areas of campus life: education, research, operations, governance, and community engagement.

Over the course of the Second Integrated Plan's 4-year cycle, the SCWG undertook benchmarking and extensive stakeholder consultation to understand the gap between where we were and where we should be. They measured the university's sustainability performance using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. A bronze rating was achieved. Understanding where gaps existed, the SCWG then developed a unified strategy to move the university toward realizing sustainability as a central organizing principle across five areas—education, research, operations, community engagement and governance. The strategy included:

The Third Integrated Plan commits to "Model Sustainability and Practice Effective Stewardship", setting a goal for a silver STARS rating by 2020.

STARS

AASHE STARS logoThe Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting tool for measuring sustainability performance at post-secondary institutions.  STARS was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education with broad participation from the higher education community. We are one of the nearly 600 colleges and universities that has reported using the system. As of January 2012, we have achieved a bronze rating.  View our STARS report or visit the University of Saskatchewan’s Achievement Record website for more details.

President's Sustainability Council

Purpose

The President' Sustainability Council is a body comprised of sustainability leaders with the primary purpose to advise and counsel the President on how to advance and support sustainability values, commitments, and actions at the University of Saskatchewan. It serves as a forum to discuss campus sustainability challenges and to support students, faculty and staff to participate meaningfully in the planning and implementation of institutional sustainability initiatives and practices.

Mandate

  • To provide recommendations to the President on how best to contribute to a sustainable future, as laid out in the institution’s mission statement;
  • To review and recommend improved governance structures for sustainability initiatives at the University of Saskatchewan, as directed by the President;
  • To assist in identifying ways to recognize and celebrate sustainability successes;
  • To identify and explore opportunities for broader partnerships and community engagement toward mutually beneficial sustainability initiatives and goals; and
  • To provide the President with an annual report on the Council’s activities.

Membership

The Council reports directly to the President of the University of Saskatchewan and is led by a chair or co-chairs appointed by the President. Members of the Council are appointed by the chair(s) as approved by the President. By design, there is no set framework for the makeup of the Council. It is recommended that the Council membership be populated with individuals with a keen interest in sustainability and the ability to bring much needed campus perspectives to the group.

  • Chair: Chelsea Willness, Associate Dean, Research & Academic, Edwards School of Business
  • Martin Phillipson, Dean, College of Law
  • Irena Creed, Executive Director, School of Environment and Sustainability
  • Marcia McKenzie, Professor, Director, Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI) and Project Director, Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN)
  • Tony Chung, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, SaskPower Research Chair in Power Systems Engineering and NSERC/SaskPower Senior Industrial Research Chair in Smart Grid Technologies, College of Engineering
  • Alec Aitken, Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, College of Arts & Science
  • Susan Shantz, Professor, Sculpture & Extended Media, Department of Art & Art History, College of Arts & Science
  • Colin Laroque, Professor, Department of Soil Science, College of Agriculture and Bioresources and Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability
  • Colin Tennent, Strategic Advisor, Master Planning & University Architect
  • Crystal Lau, VP Student Affairs, University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (USS)
  • Jaylene Murray, PhD Student, President of the School of Environment and Sustainability Students' Association (SENSSA), and Graduate Students' Association (GSA) Council Member
  • Kara Leftley, Coordinator, Human Resources at Canpotext Limited, Alumni Representative

Resources:

  • Sandra Duarte, President's Office
  • Margret Asmuss, Office of Sustainability