Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.00
Liaison Jessica Krejcik
Submission Date Dec. 22, 2021

STARS v2.2

Concordia University
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Paula Wood-Adams
Interim Vice-President
Research and Graduate Studies
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:

1) The Individualized (INDI) program, hosted by the School of Graduate Studies, supports self-directed research through mentorship at both the Master’s and doctoral levels that extends beyond the usual disciplinary boundaries of research and creation. This includes support for several interdisciplinary research currents, including sustainability and environmental studies and environmental humanities. Several additional programs that support graduate student research in sustainability are offered at the department level (e.g. MSc and PhD programs in Geography, Urban and Environmental Studies offered by the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment; MSc and PhD programs in Biology offered by the Department of Biology; MEng and PhD programs in Environmental Engineering in the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering.)

2) Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability (LCDS), part of Concordia University’s College system, hosts a multi-disciplinary undergraduate Minor in Sustainability Studies open to students in the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Faculty of Fine Arts, and the John Molson School of Business. As part of this program, students can carry out independent research projects under the mentorship of faculty members for credit towards their degree through one of two course options.

3) The Faculty of Arts and Science supports the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre (LSRC), the goal of which is to foster collaboration across disciplines in sustainability research. This Centre has an active community of graduate students supervised and co-supervised by its members, which span across all four faculties of the University. In helping members to develop cross-, multi-, and trans-disciplinary research in sustainability, the Centre indirectly supports graduate student research.

4) The LCDS and LSRC co-host an annual Sustainability across Disciplines conference in March each year, which involves research presentations by faculty and students of all levels. There are cash prizes for the best student presentations in several categories (undergraduate and graduate poster and oral presentations). Half the funding for this conference comes from the Office of the Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies (OVPRGS) and half from various units across the University.

5) The Sustainability Action Fund (SAF), a student run fee-levy group at Concordia, provides funding for student projects aimed at developing a culture of sustainability within the University. Sustainability Research Awards are given that recognize students currently engaging in research addressing an environmentally or socially sustainable project. Students addressing research related to Concordia’s greenhouse gas emissions are eligible for additional funding from the Eric St-Pierre Sustainability Student project Fund.

Does the institution have a program to encourage academic staff from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:

1) Concordia was awarded a prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities in 2019. Building on the CERC, Concordia has established a cities hub and hired a team of interdisciplinary researchers dedicated to the development of integrated strategies for achieving sustainable, accessible, and inclusive urban spaces and the transformation of cities into more efficient consumers of energy and resources. The team is comprised of five tenure-track cities cluster hires, as a commitment by Concordia to research related to sustainable communities and cities.

2) Concordia has availed of the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program to strengthen its contribution to sustainability research: these include CRCs in Transportation and land Use Linkages for Regional Sustainability; Spatial Ecology and Biodiversity; Corporate Social responsibility (CSR), among others.

3) Concordia has also availed of the Concordia University Research Chairs (CURC) program to recognise faculty conducting sustainability research: these include CURCs in Climate Science and Sustainability; Biodiversity and Conservation; Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functionality, among others.

4) The OVPRGS provides support and funding to two Research Units whose members conduct sustainability research; the Concordia Institute for Water, Energy and Sustainable Systems (CIWESS) and the Centre for Zero Energy Building Studies.

5) Concordia has created 4TH SPACE as a flexible, street-level venue where faculty and professionals are encouraged to go beyond disciplinary boundaries in the search for solutions to society’s big topics, key among them being climate change and issues of sustainability.

6) As mentioned above, the Faculty of Arts and Science supports the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre (LSRC) which is comprised of more than 40 research fellows, from a range of disciplines spanning all four faculties, who share a commitment to sustainability research. The LSRC hosts numerous events and activities.

7) The university library offers a web-based Sustainability Research Guide – including article databases, online tools and resources, recommended books and films and selected journals – designed to support faculty members and students conduct sustainability research.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:
The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

Article 16.03 of the Concordia University Faculty Association’s Collective Agreement offers positive recognition through the following provision: “In accordance with the established procedures of the academic unit, and by mutual agreement with the faculty member, the academic unit heads and the Dean(s), academic duties may be assigned and carried out in academic units other than the member’s primary unit. In the case of members holding a joint or cross appointment, or participating in an interdisciplinary teaching or research project with one (1) or more members of another academic unit, academic duties in both primary and secondary units shall be considered part of the member’s duties for the purposes of all evaluations conducted under the provisions of Articles 14 and 18”.

1) Concordia has identified 9 Strategic Directions, the first of which is to “Double our Research”. As a key step in the plan to achieve this, Concordia is establishing new transdisciplinary research institutes, fostering greater collaboration among researchers, and keeping up the pace of transdisciplinary cluster hiring.

2) Concordia’s CRC and CFI Strategic Research Plan (2018-2023), approved December 2018 includes the following commitments:
“encourage meaningful cross‐disciplinary connections, both internally and externally” (p2)
“prioritize new graduate program development in growing and emerging areas of research, including high risk, future-oriented areas that cross disciplinary boundaries” (p3)
“support new and enhanced graduate student training opportunities (e.g. summer graduate schools, multidisciplinary programs, experiential and work-related learning, GradProSkills workshops)” (p3)
“continue to prioritize and build excellence within these areas and ancillary disciplines, fostering the cross-fertilizations between them will be key in further developing our research and research-creation strengths over the next five years. We believe also that a transdisciplinary approach within each of these themes with researchers from different fields will warrant a greater impact” (p4)

The Strategic Research Plan includes explicit recognition of “people, organizations and society” and “natural systems and sustainability” as two of its six unifying research themes (p5-6).
The Plan also includes a commitment to support several interdisciplinary research platforms: “the MILIEUX Institute, which brings together researchers working at the intersection of design, art, culture and technology; CIADI, the Concordia Institute for Aerospace Design and Innovation, to coordinate and grow Concordia’s aerospace education and research activities; and PERFORM, a platform dedicated to preventive health research” (p6).

3) The Office of the Vice-President Research and Graduate Studies (OVPRGS) has a ‘Support for Research Units and Infrastructure Platforms Program’ which includes funding for Research Centres and other Research Units; these are typically university-wide interdisciplinary groups with well-defined research and/or research-creation axes under which the individual researchers and trainees work in teams. An internal team grant program administrated by the OVPRGS is also available to support interdisciplinary research.

4) Faculties also provide financial support for faculty-based interdisciplinary research centres. This includes LSRC (mentioned above). Another example is the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture (CISSC). This is a research centre within the Faculty of Arts and Science that supports innovative Humanities-based interdisciplinary scholarship by providing opportunities for faculty in humanities, fine arts and cognate fields to meet and collaborate.

5) Our Sustainability in Research plan is grounded largely in developing the supporting framework and incentives necessary to facilitate transdiscplinary research at Concordia, in recognition that sustainability research is often transdiscplinary in nature and that researchers continue to face obstacles in working across disciplines.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:

A Concordia Library Sustainability Research Guide has been created to provide a central area to find databases, journals, articles, videos and more on sustainability topics across disciplines. The guide was created by the Concordia Library team in collaboration with faculty members, staff and students.

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The website URL where information about the student research program is available:
http://www.concordia.ca/artsci/loyola-college-diversity-sustainability/sustainability-across-disciplines.html; http://www.concordia.ca/artsci/loyola-college-diversity-sustainability/Sustainability-in-the-city-and-beyond.html; http://www.concordia.ca/artsci/loyola-college-diversity-sustainability/Sustainability-and-the-climate-crisis.html

The website URL where information about the faculty research program is available:

The website URL where information about the treatment of interdisciplinary research is available:

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