|Submission Date||Oct. 10, 2014|
University of Alberta
ER-15: Sustainability Research Identification
Academic Director of the Office of Sustainability
Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology
Has the institution developed a definition of sustainability research?:
A copy of the institution's definition of sustainability research:
Sustainability is a broad concept that includes interlinking dimensions of social justice, environmental health and responsibility, inclusive economic conditions, social equity, cultural vitality, and creative problem-solving. Sustainability is a dynamic process that recognizes, promotes, and protects thriving natural and human systems that tend toward equity and/or renewability. Sustainability involves future-oriented decision-making processes to preserve land, water, air, wildlife, economic production and consumption, resources, recreational opportunities, and the ecological and social systems of which these are a part. Sustainability addresses historical, current, and future pathways to peace in the prevention of war and violence and recognizes that stewardship of the ecological, economic, and social systems upon which humans rely requires the opportunity for people to feel secure and flourish.
Sustainability-related research or curriculum may include such things as:
1) Sustainability as a concept: The history, politics, culture, and science of ideas of sustainability.
2) Natural limits and ecosystem maintenance: The relationship between human population and lifestyle in relation to the finite capacity of natural ecosystems (including the global system) to provide for the needs of living things. Involves monitoring natural ecosystems to establish baseline information and assess ecosystem health.
3) Business and economics: Re-shaping market conditions to address "market failures" and to provide incentives for businesses, economic, and social systems to better maintain the integrity of ecosystems and the well-being of living things.
4) Agricultural productivity: Fosters soil and water health and produces safe and healthy food.
5) Science, engineering and technology: The social, economic, and environmental effects or sustainability solutions derived from basic science, engineering, and technology.
6) Governance, social equity, and capacity: Legal or social factors or reforms that support behavioral shifts necessary to encourage or enable individuals and societies to live in ways compatible with maintaining the long-term integrity of ecosystems, and to promote social equity, and justice.
7) Sustainability discourse: The framing and discussion of environmental, economic, or social sustainability in media, politics, and everyday life.
8) Culture, religion, and ethics: How culture, religion, and ethics – from consumerism to environmental stewardship – shape human behavior in regard to environmental, economic, and social justice, equity, or integrity.
9) Planning and design: Theoretical and applied work in environmental planning and design that promotes the integrity of the environment, or social and economic equity or justice.
10) Peace, security and well-being: Addresses pathways to peace, supports nurturing personal and familial relationships, and promotes adequate access to clean water, nutrition, health care and education.
11) Sustainability science: Science that specifically attempts to build interdisciplinary perspectives from the themes and related academic disciplines listed above to promote human-environmental balance.
12) Other emerging fields and topics relevant to sustainability. Justification will be given on a form used to evaluate the courses.
Has the institution identified its sustainability research activities and initiatives?:
A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the inventory:
The University of Alberta maintains a research portal online that identifies research. The School of Energy andthe Environment (http://www.see.ualberta.ca/) conducted a survey which identified researchers involved in energy and environmental research and the Environmental Research and Studies Centre (http://www.ualberta.ca/~ersc/ERSC1.html) lists professors considered to be environmental experts.
To complete the inventory, the University of Alberta’s website contains a link to all faculties and departments. Each faculty and department contains a link to all faculty members. All faculty members research interests were read and then identified as sustainable according to the definition. Once this was catalogued, the results were compared with the School of Energy and the Environment’s website, the Environmental Research and Studies Centre’s website and a spreadsheet developed during Environment Week, when researchers were asked to identify themselves or colleagues who might be involved in sustainability research. Finally, the websites of major funding agencies, such as Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council were searched for funding related to sustainability research to researchers at the University of Alberta.
The original list of sustainability related researchers at University of Alberta can be located here: http://www.sustainability.ualberta.ca/EducationResearch/Courses.aspx
In 2014 as a part of the process of the review for a new submission to the AASHE STARS the University of Alberta Office of Sustainability developed a more inclusive definition of sustainability research. Method of identifying faculty under that definition is indicated in ER-16. The list generated from that search was compiled and is available at:
Does the institution make its sustainability research inventory publicly available online?:
The website URL where the sustainability research inventory is posted (required if claiming Part 3 of the credit):
The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.