Second Annual Sustainability Across Curricula Workshops Rocks VIU

March 18, 2019 - 9:15pm

By Don Alexander, Geography & Community Planner Professor, Co-chair VIU Sustainability Advisory Committee 

Following on the heels of last year’s successful Sustainability Across Curricula workshop, faculty, students and community members came together on February 27th to discuss steps to make VIU a leader in sustainable teaching and learning.

As occurred last year, faculty members interested in sustainability discovered what their peers are doing and found opportunities to collaborate – for instance, swapping lectures between chemistry and geography. After an eloquent welcome by Snuneymuxw elder, Geraldine Manson, Margot Croft (VIU sustainability resource person) led an exercise on what measures would motivate and support a sustainability lens at our institution. Among the suggestions was to develop a dedicated web portal profiling sustainability-oriented courses and research on campus. Another was to have a dedicated space in the Upper Cafeteria for students and faculty to discuss sustainability on a formal and informal basis throughout the year.

Before lunch, VIU President, Dr. Ralph Nilson, dropped by to speak about how his prior experience with indigenous health and access to education issues, along with poverty reduction, led to his interest in the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and their applicability to VIU. These goals included No Poverty, Good Health and Well-Being, and Quality Education. After lunch, a World Café exercise, led by Dr. Lindsay McCunn of the psychology department, was held to discuss barriers, possibilities for new initiatives, and how these might blossom into bigger and better activities in the future. Discussion focused, in particular, on a proposal for a one-week summer institute, starting in 2021, that would address a different facet of sustainability every year (e.g. climate adaptation, food security, sustainable tourism, local economic development, etc.) with leadership being exercised by different departments, depending on the topic.

The day was capped off by Dr. Robert Gifford, founding director of the Human Dimensions of Climate Change minor and certificate program at the University of Victoria. In addition to answering questions about the program, he talked about his research on what keeps people immobilized in the face of climate change. Lively discussion ensued about how active teaching and learning can be part of the solution to this problem. As a result of all parts of the day, participants were highly motivated to keep up the momentum. For more information on how you can be involved, contact

Tags: Teaching and Learning