Our Purpose

Education & Research

Our university’s teaching and research efforts incorporate sustainability and advance our institution’s mission.

We envision students having opportunities to learn, research and apply sustainability using interdisciplinary approaches. Through outreach and partnerships, the university brings research and new knowledge to the community, enaabling individuals, communities, organizations and industries to achieve sustainability. The university is recognized as a leader for taking significant action on climate change and for capitalizing on the knowledge and strengths of our academic and research communities.


  • Goal 2.1

    Encourage the campus community and the public to learn about sustainability.

    1. Strategy: Create awareness of resources, research findings, demonstration projects and expertise.
    2. Strategy: Promote sustainability-related programs.
    3. Strategy: Encourage diverse educational approaches for teaching about sustainability across the disciplines.
  • Goal 2.2

    Encourage exposure to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary teaching and research connected to sustainability.

    1. Strategy: Build the capacity to include aspects of diversity and inclusivity within research, and honour diverse research methods.
    2. Strategy: Celebrate professors with a stated commitment to and/or expertise in sustainability.
    3. Strategy: Create opportunities to connect colleagues with a stated commitment to and/or expertise in sustainability.
    4. Strategy: Promote opportunities for students and faculty to participate in sustainability initiatives.
    5. Strategy: Encourage departments and faculties to develop long-range sustainability plans encompassing operational practices, teaching, research and degree programs.
  • Goal 2.3

    Support faculty members to integrate sustainability into their teaching.

    1. Strategy: Develop initiatives to integrate sustainability into curriculum and academic programming.
    2. Strategy: Build on existing community-based teaching and research partnerships and internships.
    3. Strategy: Explore opportunities to regularly assess and report on sustainability literacy.

Progress Highlights from 2016–17

Connects to Goal 2.3, Strategy ii

Eva Lemaire, a professor at Campus Saint-Jean, received a 2017 Campus Sustainability Leadership Award for her work on the study abroad program Projet Afrique (Africa Project). The program provides the opportunity for students to work in Togo on local construction projects, teach, work in hospitals and health centres, and learn through play in orphanages. Dr. Lemaire’s work provides transformative learning opportunities for her students.

As explained by her nominator, Lemaire begins her students' education here in Edmonton with a course designed to unveil colonial approaches to aid work, to de-privilege academic knowledge and prepare students to co-construct knowledge with Togolese partners. Her work reveals global and local connections to sustainable development, by engaging students with advocacy groups for immigrants and women, a health clinic for homeless populations, fair trade shops and eco-homes.

Connects to Goal 2.1, Strategy iii

The university continued to provide innovative ways to spread knowledge of important contemporary issues to the public with the launch of two new massive open online courses (MOOCs). Developed by Onlea, a not-for-profit venture founded at the University of Alberta, these courses allow anyone around the world to learn using immersive videos, interactive games, puzzles and readings.

Indigenous Canada explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. Instructors from the Faculty of Native Studies present key issues facing Indigenous peoples, from land claims and settler relations, to residential schools and Indigenous political activism.

Mountains 101 offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary overview of mountain studies. Learners study the geology of mountains, their importance to biodiversity and agriculture, and their cultural significance around the world. The course results from a partnership with Parks Canada and the Alpine Club of Canada, and videos feature unique views into Canada's mountain parks.

"It will show people around the world how Canadians value and cherish their mountains, and it will tell park users about our course. It's going to put the U of A on the map for mountains."
—Jill Cameron, Project Manager, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation
"The Mountains 101 Course is another great way for people of all ages and interests to discover our incredible natural areas. I am proud of the work that the University of Alberta and Parks Canada have done to help inspire people to learn more about the science and incredible history of Canada’s mountains."
—The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Connects to Goal 2.3, Strategy iii 

As part of the fulfillment of the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System™ (STARS®) submission for 2017, a sustainability literacy assessment was administered to all undergrad students in April 2017. A representative sample of students scored 65 per cent or higher on 15 out of 18 questions.