Sustainability at Canada’s Green University™: The Greening of the University of Northern British Columbia

By Danielle Smyth, Art Fredeen and Ken Wilkening.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

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Institutions of higher education have a distinctive role and responsibility in promoting sustainability. Our university, the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), has em-braced sustainability leadership. However, despite a strong emphasis on the environment since UNBC’s opening in 1994, it wasn’t until 2007 that a significant, university-wide transformation took place; sustainability became an institutional centerpiece and strong momentum has been maintained ever since. In this paper, we analyze the sustainability story at UNBC. We first present a brief history of sustainability-related experiences at UNBC from the opening of the university to the present (December 2011), analyze this history to determine influences that best explain UNBC’s road toward sustainability, and examine ongoing challenges and future opportunities related to sustainability at the university. This paper represents the first attempt to document and evaluate the history of sustainability at UNBC. It also adds to the growing body of knowledge on integration of sustainability into the full spectrum of activities at institu-tions of higher education in Canada and across the globe.

Keywords: History of Sustainability, Higher Education, Canada, UNBC, Transformation

The International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.37-49. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 518.521KB).

Danielle Smyth

Sustainability Manager, Office of the Provost, The University of Northern British Columbia, Canada

Danielle Smyth was appointed as the University of Northern British Columbia’s first Sustainability Manager in 2009. As the liaison between faculty, staff, students and external groups such as governments and community organizations, Danielle plays a critical role in fostering a culture of sustainability on campus. She entered this role following the completion of a Master of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies with a research focus on waste management and sustainability. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) from the University of Guelph in Guelph and has experience working with both government and industry on environmental management.

Art Fredeen

Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, Ecosystem Science and Management Program, The University of Northern British Columbia, Canada

Art was a founding faculty member of UNBC whose research, teaching, service, and lifestyle reflect the urgent transformations required for humanity to survive the crisis in sustainability that is upon us. He is a member of both the Ecosystem Science and Management Program and Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute at UNBC.

Ken Wilkening

Associate Professor, International Studies Program, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, The University of Northern British Columbia, Canada

Ken Wilkening is actively involved in the “Green University” movement at UNBC. He is chair of the Department of International Studies, and has served on the university’s Green University Planning Committee since its inception in 2007. He is strongly involved in teaching, research and service related to creating a sustainable global society.