Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 56.09
Liaison Kyrke Gaudreau
Submission Date Aug. 20, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

University of Northern British Columbia
ER-15: Sustainability Research Identification

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Ken Wilkening
Associate Professor and Chair
International Studies
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Has the institution developed a definition of sustainability research?:

A copy of the institution's definition of sustainability research:

Definition of sustainability research:
Sustainability is a concept that addresses the human relationship to the environment, a relationship that has multiple dimensions. To qualify for inclusion as sustainability research at UNBC, the research must tackle the human relationship to the environment in one or more of its multiple dimensions.

Sustainability research is defined as research that addresses one or more facet of the human relationship to the environment. Sustainability research seeks to improve human and ecological well-being and such is generally solutions oriented.

Has the institution identified its sustainability research activities and initiatives?:

A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the inventory:

Research identification methodology:
To identify faculty members who conduct sustainability research, several sources were used: (1) a university-wide database was consulted (Research Funding Database, http://www.unbc.ca/research/funding/database.html), (2) faculty descriptions on department websites, (3) individual faculty websites, and (4) hardcopy of department or program brochures.

Similar to our approach for sustainability curriculum, we took the stance of an ‘outside’ person (e.g., graduate student) who had access only to electronic and hardcopy material. This hypothetical person was assumed not to have personal contact with the staff of our Office of Research or with individual faculty member or with anyone else possessing knowledge of sustainability research at the university. Our intention was to gain a sense of the sustainability research landscape that this person might see ‘from a distance’.

As the above sources of information were surveyed, the following questions were asked.

Does the research address the human relationship to the environment?
• To qualify as a sustainability research, it first and foremost must address the environment or ecosystems in some manner or another and it must address the human relationship to the environment or ecosystems.
• “Environment” and “sustainability” are commonly associated words; however, not all environmental research can be called sustainability research. To be categorized as sustainability research, it must address in whole or part the human-nature relationship.
• Thus, if research addressed the environment or ecosystems without reference to their connection to human beings, then it does not qualify as a sustainability research. Conversely, if the research addressed non-environmental aspects such as economic development or social equity but did not include the connection between these aspects and the environment or ecosystems, then it did not qualify as sustainability research.
• Research descriptions were searched from other key words such as (in the environmental realm) ecology, energy, environment, land, landscapes, nature, natural resources, pollution; (in the social realm) colonialism, cultural survival, health, equality, human rights, inequality, justice; (in the economic realm) developing, development, equity, finance, inequity, Global South, poverty, Third World, trade, welfare.
• For research to be categorized as sustainability-related, it had to include some sort of environmental term in the description in conjunction with a term related to at least one other dimension of sustainability.
• When an environment-related term plus another term related to another sustainability dimensions were found in the title or description, the research was evaluated for its association with sustainability.

Does the research description use the word “sustainability” or “sustainable”?
• While the answer to this question is not necessary for STARS reporting, it gives us an idea of how widespread the use of these terms is in research.

Is the research solutions oriented?
• We did not require research to be solutions directed to be included in our inventory. However, the answer to this question gives us a sense of how much research is targeted at facilitating solutions.

No efforts were made to contact faculty to verify if the categorizations using the above method were accurate. Thus, it is undoubtedly the case that research with sustainability content was missed. Deeper methods of identification and verification will be used in subsequent sustainability research inventories. Again, our intention with this first-cut inventory was to survey the university’s offering from the vantage point of someone who had reference only to our electronic and hardcopy materials. This hypothetical student will see only research descriptions.

Determination of total number of faculty members:
• The total number of assistant, associate, and full professors was determined for the academic year 2010-2011. Adjunct professors, emeritus professors, term appointments, and lab instructors were not included.

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.