|Submission Date||Oct. 24, 2022|
Université de Sherbrooke
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research
|4.00 / 4.00||
Assistant Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies
Office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies
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:
The Université de Sherbrooke holds 20 Canada Research Chairs (associated with 9 of the sustainable development goals of the UN), 40 private research chairs (also associated with 9 of the sustainable development goals of the UN), and 14 officially recognized and financially supported research centres and institutes related to the environment and sustainable development, covering different areas such as energy efficiency, cellulosic ethanol, glass recovery, high-performance concrete, earth observation, water, ecological conservation, etc. In addition, there are several research teams or laboratories that also conduct cutting-edge research on, for example, life cycle analysis, environmental governance, public policy, environmental education, to name just a few. The presence of these chairs and research centres enables students to pursue graduate studies in an environment that is conducive to learning, to develop their research capacity, and, in particular, in the field of sustainability.
As part of the Strategic Plan 2018-2022, the Université de Sherbrooke gathered most of its researchers around unifying research themes. The Environment and Climate Change theme is one of the six themes identified. The Environment and Climate Change facilitation team has contributed to structuring research in this area, including providing support to graduate students interested to pursue their academic career.
Lastly, through its foundation, the Université de Sherbrooke offers multiple student scholarships, many of which are related to the environment and sustainable development.
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:
Innovation is part of Université de Sherbrooke’s DNA and allows the institution to position itself at the forefront. To innovate, the University ventures to think differently, takes risks, shows imagination and originality. Three principles guide it so that its research has the greatest possible impact, while contributing to the common values of the institution:
• Sustainable development
• Equity, diversity, and inclusion
• The growth of its network with high-quality partners
The university's commitment is to provide the next generation of researchers with an experience that fosters a passion for innovation. This is how, over the years, society will make significant contributions to social and technological breakthroughs.
In concrete terms, and still within the framework of the Université de Sherbrooke’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022, six unifying research themes have been identified with the aim of strengthening interdisciplinary research. Of the six themes, two are particularly associated with sustainability research, namely Environment and Climate Change as well as Togetherness: Culture, Plurality, Governance, and Equity. As with all identified research themes, these two are coordinated by a facilitation team composed of faculty members engaged in related research. These facilitation teams are mandated to develop annual thematic programming (i.e., research and networking activities, conferences, etc.) and have an annual budget of $25,000 to support such programming and to further develop faculty research in these sustainability themes.
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:
At the Université de Sherbrooke, the criteria that are used for the evaluation of applications for promotion and for granting professorial ranks according to the various collective agreements in force are specified separately by each of the various departments. In the documents produced by the departments, recognition of researchers' involvement in interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and/or multidisciplinary research exists, directly or indirectly, to varying degrees. For example, obtaining external research funding in the context of intersectoral or interdisciplinary research programs, or involvement in the creation of a training program of an interdisciplinary nature, are elements that are positively and significantly valued.
As an example, here is an excerpt from the criteria and indicators used in the Faculty of Engineering, which highlight the importance of multi-stakeholder research and collaborations of various types:
• Collaboration with other researchers, research centers, and industries
• Professional contribution in the scientific and professional fields (participation in the activities of learned societies and professional associations, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, and the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers) to the work of provincial, national or international committees, etc.
• Contribution in the field of inter-university cooperation, of government committees, etc.
Interdisciplinarity in research is also strongly valued at the Université de Sherbrooke through multiple other approaches.
In line with one of the objectives of the Université de Sherbrooke’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022, which is to increase interdisciplinarity in its programs, in particular through the integration of activities that bridge disciplines, faculties, and university boundaries, the University has put in place a financial mechanism to encourage the hiring of faculty members with a multidisciplinary profile as well as a dual faculty affiliation, covering 50% to 70% of the position financial expense.
Furthermore, and still related to its Strategic Plan 2018-2022, the Université de Sherbrooke identified four strategic priorities, including the following: "Stimulate research development, in particular, by building on interdisciplinarity." In order to implement this strategic priority, the following actions are deployed:
• Actively develop the unifying research themes and excellence clusters
• Maximize the implementation and impact of research projects
• Ensure the hiring of quality faculty members and ensure their full development. This action includes putting in place a mentoring program for new faculty members as well as career training activities.
In addition, interdisciplinarity is also a key element of the six research institutes officially recognized by the Université de Sherbrooke (https://www.usherbrooke.ca/recherche/udes/regroupements/instituts). These regroup several faculty members, research centres or research teams around a comprehensive and multidisciplinary research niche. The research institutes are multi-faculty and can be interuniversity. The Université de Sherbrooke is home to six research institutes whose main mission is to conduct high-quality research activities, train graduate students, and serve the community through the commercialization of innovations. These institutes were created by the Board of Directors of the Université de Sherbrooke.
Recently, the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies of the University implemented a pilot program of grants for interdisciplinary and interfaculty research, in which C$180K was invested. This program supported 14 new projects, each involving researchers from at least three different faculties.
Through its Centre compétences recherche+ (CR+) [EN: Centre of Competence in Research+], the Université de Sherbrooke offers several pedagogical activities centred on different professional and transversal competencies in order to enrich, in a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspective, the graduate studies of doctoral and postdoctoral students from all faculties and departments. All courses aim to consolidate the scientific, professional, and personal skills of students in order to enhance their employability in a competitive and constantly changing market. The CR+ promotes openness by increasing the opportunities for dialogue between students from different disciplines in its formations.
Lastly, three years ago, the University launched the Grandes conférences de l'Université de Sherbrooke [EN: Great Conference], which consists of a series of free conferences with leading figures from all fields. At regular intervals throughout the year, the Université de Sherbrooke hosts carefully selected key personalities who give lectures open to all members of the university community (students, faculty, and staff). These conferences aim to stimulate reflection and discussion on major societal issues, at the University.
Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:
A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:
The Université de Sherbrooke provides multiple library services to support research in general, including sustainability research. Indeed, through its Service des bibliothèques et archives [EN: Libraries and Archives Service] website, guides can be found by type (e.g., research tutorial guides), by discipline (e.g., environment and ecology, applied geomatics, etc.), and by theme (e.g., special collections), offering the main resources available to assist in research or to support teaching (paper collection and digital formats). In addition to guides, articles related to different fields, books, textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesis, maps, etc. are also accessible. Search tips are provided to better access information from databases such as Scopus, Agricultural and Environmental Science Database, GreenFILE, etc. Since not all members of the academic community can be met in person, libraries must focus on self-directed learning of information skills and provide the necessary resources accordingly. Therefore, information is kept up to date, which is essential.
Dedicated professional librarians are also available and may be reached to guide users in their research, in the selection of preferred documents and in the use of the material. They can also answer questions about the Libraries and Archives Services policies, help develop search strategies and provide information about new resources based on the research field. In addition, users can ask questions via chat, accessible from the service's website.
In support of the Université de Sherbrooke's Strategic Plan 2018-2022, the Libraries and Archives Service, in collaboration with the Vice-Rector, Academic, has developed a Strategic Action Plan 2018-2022 that includes new services for the university community. The Strategic Action Plan contributes in particular to the development of three innovative projects, including the development of tools and training to support researchers in managing their research data.
Lastly, the following is a series of recent specific actions implemented by the Libraries and Archives Service that have an impact on sustainable development:
• A specialist librarian in science and environment ensures the monitoring of the development of collections specific to sustainable development.
• The Geoindex platform is made available to the university community. It allows for the enhancement of geospatial data, a resource that is widely used for the study of sustainable development issues. A professional resource in geomatics provides support to our students and researchers.
• Thematic exhibitions are organized to promote the documentary resources offered by the libraries on national or international days such as Earth Day, Water Month, etc.
• In collaboration with the Vice-rectorat à la recherche et aux études supérieures (VRRES) [EN: Office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies] and the Service d'appui à la recherche, à la création et à l'innovation (SARIC) [EN: Research, Creation, and Innovation Support Service], a coordinator has been hired to manage research data and to develop guidelines, tools, and guides to facilitate the deposit of data by Université de Sherbrooke researchers.
Section on ecoresponsible practices: https://www.usherbrooke.ca/saric/gestion-projets/ecoresponsabilite-recherche
• Some Libraries and Archives Service staff sit on the institutional waste management group.
• A Section Director dedicated to research support has been hired in Libraries and Archives Service.
Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
Student scholarships in environment and sustainable development (some examples):
More on research and sustainable development at the Université de Sherbrooke:
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