Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 67.16
Liaison Mike Versteege
Submission Date June 24, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Alberta
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Nada Baali
Sustainability Engagement Coordinator
Sustainability Council
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that is one week or more in length?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution, including how each program addresses the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability:


This field school combines the concepts, theories and practices of environmental, conservation and forest sciences in an off-campus field experience. Field skill proficiency in planning, measurement, analysis and reporting is emphasized for biophysical and socioeconomic components of the environment. Students are given the opportunity for field application of the basic skills and techniques that they learned in the first two years of the Environmental and Conservation Sciences and Forestry programs. Students learn basic field skills (compassing, GPS use, aerial photo and map use, field orienteering), as well as specific field and measuring skills in the areas of vegetation, wildlife, insects, forests, soils and ecosite evaluation. Students also examine the human use and management of natural resources and the landscape.

Additional immersive experiences that focus on sustainability include:


Land reclamation professionals are increasingly in demand. Our escalating human population parallels a rapidly degrading arable land base caused by urban sprawl, soil erosion, resource extraction and industrial development. Thus, one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century is to reclaim disturbed lands around the world to secure the livelihood of future generations. The Land Reclamation International Graduate School (LRIGS) helps to meet this challenge. LRIGS provides interdisciplinary and international training to create highly qualified land reclamation professionals with the education and experience necessary to take on leadership roles in academia, consulting, government and industry. LRIGS is the first graduate school of its kind in Canada and around the world.


Engage North is a University of Alberta organization that builds connections between university students from across Canada and Indigenous communities in Canada’s North. It was founded on respect for the Indigenous peoples and cultures of the North. It is committed to facilitating a stronger relationship between Canada’s North and South, as well as supporting the fulfillment of community-driven needs. The needs in Canada’s northern communities span technical, health-wellness, social-cultural, and educational challenges. Given the cultural, environmental and geographical context of the North, as well as the unique constraints on human and technical resources, solutions need to be creative, collaborative, interdisciplinary and context appropriate.

Engage North aims to act as a hub to connect northern community-based organizations with southern resources. It supports awareness and educational events in the southern provinces. In 2017 the projects included five opportunities for students to work in First Nations communities on sustainability related projects from land consultation with oil and gas companies to internships working on First Nations community greenhouse and gardening programs. For 2020, there were 4 placement opportunities in the areas of Lands and Consultation and Health and Wellness with Dene Tha' First Nation and Beaver First Nation communities.


The Community Service-Learning (CSL) office offers a Spring course that will engage students in global service-learning (GSL) activities abroad in Nicaragua. For two weeks, students spend time living with a host family and working with a local community group or organization in areas such as community arts programming, sustainable agriculture, and recreation and education programs for youth. Through this experience, students get an opportunity to engage in facilitated reflection throughout their time in Nicaragua, pushing themselves to think critically and deeply about their global service-learning experience and by doing so, foster a greater sense of global awareness and global citizenship. Students complete a final integrative essay and/or present their project for their final assessment item.
As a prerequisite, students are required to take the CSL 350 course (Selected Topics in Community Service-Learning) at the University of Alberta in May, which will prepare them for their GSL experience. They will engage in a critical exploration of GSL as a pedagogy for learning, examining the tensions as well as the possibilities for solidarity that exist within GSL models.


The Faculty of Extension, Faculty of ALES and the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Man have joined together to offer a powerful experiential learning opportunity for Canadians interested in exploring permaculture for urban areas. This seven week immersion experience provides a solid theoretical training in permaculture principles and design and a rare hands-on opportunity to work with Cuban permaculture practitioners in the design and installation of new permaculture systems. Participants gain first-hand knowledge about the agro-ecological revolution taking place in Cuba and have the opportunity to develop close working relationships and friendships with the local permaculture community and to develop their Spanish language skills, gardening and building skills and a much deeper appreciation for Cuban culture, history and way of life. This program offers Canadian students the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the permaculture and urban agriculture movements in Cuba and thereby gain insight into the on-going efforts to create a more self-sufficient and sustainable food system within the country. Through direct dialogue with farmers, cooperatives, research centres and NGOs, students will explore the policies, practices and social movement that have made Cuba a world leader in agroecology.
The program may optionally be taken for course credit.


These courses focus on studies of biodiversity and on conservation issues in the tropics. They are intended for students who want to experience field research in ecology and get a taste of tropical biodiversity.
Students and instructors meet throughout the fall term and go on a two-week field trip to Costa Rica in January. In the field, projects are related to the ecology and conservation of bats, insects, and forest vegetation using a broad range of current techniques and tools. In groups of 2 or 3, students design and conduct their own field project and help other groups with their data collection. While most of the time in Costa Rica is spent at the field station, the itinerary allows the group to experience the country's diverse landscapes and its culture.

More about our field research in Costa Rica and OSA Conservation:
The Augustana Field Research Program in Costa Rica was initiated in 1999 in order to carry out class-based undergraduate field research on tropical biodiversity, under the umbrella of the six-credit courses in Tropical Ecology and Conservation (AUBIO/ENV 350 and 459) or through independent studies in BIO and ENV. Several students presented their research at scientific meetings ranging from provincial to international and peer-reviewed conferences. For each trip, we have also been sharing the biodiversity information acquired during the courses with our host organizations by providing them with updated species lists and selected student papers. Osa Conservation's Piro Biological Station is the current location of our field studies. This reserve is part of a biological corridor on the Osa Peninsula, an extension of the Corcovado National Park, which together make up one of the largest lowland Pacific tropical rainforests in existence today. The reserve covers diverse ecosystems including mangroves, restored habitats and mature forests. The biodiversity in this corridor is rich, encompassing 50% of the species found in Costa Rica and including over 300 endemic plant and invertebrate species. In spite of this diversity, much less ecological work has taken place in the Osa in comparison to other regions in Costa Rica. Osa Conservation is the largest NGO in the peninsula and emphasizes a multi-disciplinary knowledge-based approach to environmental protection which is grounded in community engagement.


The Field Studies in Environmental Science and Ecology Course gives students the opportunity to engage in research projects that are relevant to ecology, parks, conservation biology, and natural resource management in the Cooking Lake Moraine in east-central Alberta. As part of this 3-week course, students develop field research skills as they design, plan, execute, and present their individualized projects. Fellow students help in data collection. Topics focus on birds, mammals, vegetation, water, parks, and related subjects.


Winter 2019 theme
CSL 350 is an introduction to the theory and practice of community based-research. It involved students in 30 hours of voluntary, research activities with e4c, an Edmonton community-based based social services agency that offers affordable housing, and its housing partners, to jointly research how community and well-being gets created in affordable housing units. CSL 350 introduced Community Based-Research as an action-oriented, participatory form of research that is aimed at the democratization of knowledge production and positive social change and social justice. Students were co-instructed, both inside the classroom and in the community, by e4c and partner staff who sensitized the students to the capacities and strengths as well as challenges of tenants in affordable housing. Students actively contributed to data collection (interviews, observations) and engaged in a process of analysis designed to ultimately
produce ‘good practice’ principles and guidelines for affordable housing providers and tenants as they relate to fostering a sense of community and wellbeing.


Augustana Campus' India Tour is a three-week study tour of India. It focuses on a chosen region of India in order to examine the intersection between religious belief and practice and development challenges. Students examine the issues of development, environmental sustainability, and globalization within the Indian context and are exposed to various development projects as well as an array of religious sites. Students gain an in-depth understanding of India, its cultural and religious diversity, and the challenges it faces in the 21st century.

Course Objectives:
- To explore the basic philosophy, principles and processes of development.
- To understand the major development issues and challenges facing modern India.
- To explore how religious beliefs and practices influence the way people address the challenges of poverty, population, pollution, ethnic and linguistic diversity, rapid industrialization and globalization.
- To develop the skills and insights required to enter into a different culture with empathetic appreciation and understanding.
- To learn the skills required to function constructively in a group, especially while in unfamiliar and stressful situations.
- To appreciate the particularity of one’s own culture in light of an encounter with another.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:


Land Reclamation International Graduate School (LRIGS)
Dr. M Anne Naeth
Director, LRIGS

Engage North
Maggie Glasgow
Program Coordinator

Global Service Learning and Community Service-Learning
Erin Kelly
Partnership Coordinator
Community Service-Learning
Faculty of Arts

Agro-Ecology in Cuba
Dr. Mary Beckie
Associate Professor
Faculty of Extension

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