About the Sustainability Council

The Sustainability Council is an academic leadership unit that works with all faculties to spark learning, discovery and citizenship for sustainability.

We provide students with courses and experiential learning opportunities that lead to meaningful careers. We create avenues for academics to join a central conversation on researching and teaching sustainability issues.

The Sustainability Council is led by an academic team including our director, Robert Summers, and associate directors representing different campuses and disciplines. Our staff are based in the University of Alberta’s historic North Power Plant. Apart from developing and running academic programs and events, we represent academic sustainability on the institution's working groups and committees. We maintain an important relationship with the Students’ Union, collaborating to support up to 100 undergraduate and graduate student volunteers each year.

⮊ Learn more about our directors, staff and working groups / committees.


2019–20

We began our exciting journey in fall 2018, and have been building energy and momentum ever since. Thanks to the tremendous interest of students in the Certificate in Sustainability and Sustainability Scholars, we have be able to open the door to further opportunities. We are hard at work on our proposal for new foundational courses in sustainability studies. We have also been approached to offer an enhanced slate of internships with corporate and institutional partners.

This year, we are greatly expanding our service to faculty and academic staff. Our inaugural lecture series is putting a spotlight on local University of Alberta experts, as well as bringing speakers from across North America into the conversation. The Sustainability Council's affiliate network has launched and is on track to have 100 academic members by year's end. This crucial platform that will enable us to better serve the university community in the year to come.


The University of Alberta's Board of Governors endorsed a sustainability commitment and guiding principles in 2008. This paved the way for the creation of an Office of Sustainability, and for sustainability to be included in the university's strategic plans, including 2011's Dare to Deliver and 2016's For The Public Good.

The office formed an Academic Advisory Committee responsible for the development of teaching and research initiatives—principally the development of an embedded certificate. In 2012, Naomi Krogman was named Director of Sustainability Scholarship and Education in the Office of the Provost in order to move these initiatives forward.

Several key developments were made during her tenure. In 2014, the Certificate in Sustainability successfully launched for undergraduates in nine faculties. The following year, Sustainability Scholars piloted a graduate student internship in partnership with the City of Edmonton. In 2015-16, Naomi Krogman and Apryl Bergstrom led academic consultations for the institution's Sustainability Plan 2016-20. These consultations produced a companion document, Deepening Sustainability Education and Scholarship.

In 2018, the university announced a shift in its approach to sustainability initiatives. Facilities and Operations would ensure sustainability was embedded into the university’s standard operating procedures. The university would retire the Office of Sustainability and shift a portion of its resources toward a new unit dedicated to academic sustainability initiatives.

Taking up this new mandate, the Sustainability Council launched in Fall 2018 using Deepening Sustainability Education and Scholarship as a guiding document. The council focused on rapidly expanding enrolment in the Certificate in Sustainability and adding additional faculties. The long-running Sustainability Awareness Week was revitalized and a new academic lecture series was launched in Fall 2019.

The Sustainability Council’s mission is to develop and support a vibrant community of interdisciplinary sustainability scholarship, research and citizenship at the University of Alberta.

The Sustainability Council’s priorities include:

  • Developing, supporting and delivering academic sustainability programming such as the Certificate in Sustainability and establishing new initiatives at the undergraduate and graduate level;
  • Supporting excellence in sustainability education through instructor support; material and course development; coordination, innovation, and networking between faculties and between academic institutions;
  • Providing opportunities for innovative learning and development experiences for students and academic staff such as the Sustainability Scholars program, Campus as a Living Lab, visiting speaker series, opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research, and related initiatives;
  • Connecting sustainability researchers in an inter-faculty and inter-institutional network, in alignment with the university’s strategic, operational and advancement priorities;
  • Outreach, engagement and collaboration with the university community and others regarding academic sustainability initiatives and research.
The Sustainability Council’s mission reflects the university’s vision in For The Public Good: “to inspire the human spirit through outstanding achievements in learning, discovery and citizenship in a creative community, building one of the world’s great universities for the public good.”
Deepening Sustainability Education and Scholarship

Deepening Sustainability Education and Scholarship outlines a vision that emerged from Sustainability Plan consultations with faculty, staff and students in 2015. The plan collates suggested goals and strategies to help attain that vision and closely informs the Sustainability Council's annual action planning.

Deepening Sustainability Education and Scholarship

Our Commitment and Guiding Principles

The university is committed to instilling sustainability into every aspect of university life. Read the University of Alberta's sustainability commitment and guiding principles, which were endorsed by the Board of Governors in 2008.

Our Commitment and Guiding Principles

For The Public Good

For the Public Good is the university's institutional strategic plan. The plan outlines five goals we will pursue over a decade and identifies how we will reach them. The plan calls on the campus community to "SUSTAIN our people, our work and the environment."

For the Public Good

STARS Gold certifiedThe University of Alberta is a charter member of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System™ (STARS®).

STARS is a voluntary self-reporting framework that helps the university recognize and gauge progress towards sustainability. It is the world's most widely recognized system for post-secondary sustainability reporting.

Learn more.