10:25PM Jul 2, 2019
Welcome to the campus energy and sustainability podcast. In each episode, we'll talk with leading campus professionals thought leaders, engineers and innovators addressing the unique challenges and opportunities facing higher ed and corporate campuses. Our discussions will range from energy conservation and efficiency to planning and finance for building sides to social science, from energy systems to food systems. We hope you're ready to learn, share and ultimately accelerate your institution towards solutions. I'm your host, Dave Karlsgodt, I'm a principal at Fovea, an energy, carbon and business planning firm. In this episode, you'll hear my round robin interview with three different thought leaders. All three run programs focused on using their campus as a testbed for sustainability. We'll talk about the logistics of their programs, how they're structured and funded, but also how they're continuing to evolve. Lots of talk about how applied learning is helping to transform our educational system to better address the major social, economic and environmental challenges of our time. I hope you enjoyed this November 2017 interview with Liska Richer of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Rachelle Haddock of the University of Calgary and Caroline Savage of Princeton University. Well Liska, Rachelle and Caroline it's great to have you on the show today, we're certainly pushing my Podcast abilities trying to have three simultaneous guests. So we'll see how that goes. Hopefully, we'll get three times the insights rather than three times the technical difficulties as we get into this conversation. So with that in mind, I'm going to serve mostly as parliamentarian today rather than typical podcast host. And I know the three of you presented before so hopefully, you can do this without me. Maybe we can start with a round robin will go clockwise starting from Vancouver then to Calgary then to Princeton. So Liska, would you start us off by just giving us a little bit of background on your role, your institution and campus as a living lab program?
Sure. So my role is as a manager of a program called the seeds sustainability program. And we're situated within the planning department at the University of British Columbia at the Vancouver campus. My role or how I came to my role, I think I often describe it as a square dance where I was involved in the academic side of the campus for quite some time working on my PhD doing graduate work and as an instructor, and then also working within our formerly called campus sustainability office. I came to a point in time where I was able to merge these interests, and where I was able to sit in what I described as a very unique Milenio random intersection of academia and operations. Whereas I was able to work with both sides of the campus into what is now described as my role on the program where my role is really about creating bridges between the academic and the operational side of the campus to advance our operational sustainability priorities. And at the same time, give students and rich to meaningful applied learning opportunities here, the University of British Columbia, we're working very large campus. And we've got a daytime population of about 70,000, about 21,000 employees and about 50,000 students, we have about 50% of our campus households are occupied by somebody who studies or works here. And that's a that's only increasing, we've got about 500 buildings and 400 hectares of land. We're quite unique in that we own and operate many of our utilities, including our electrical or heating or waste and our water. And we're also responsible for roads and our infrastructure. So really, we're we act as these owner operators of a very substantial part of our our institution, I think, which gives us a lot of unique ability to do things here like campus as a living lab.
Thanks. Let's go moving on to Rachelle and Calgary.
Well Hello, this is Rachelle Haddock from University of Calgary. My role is the project coordinator for campus as a learning lab. I work with the the Office of Sustainability, which has a dual report to the VP of facilities and the VP academic and provost. So we're situated between those those two houses on our campus. The University of Calgary is a pretty young University. We're 51 years old, making us a young and nimble campus. We're very research intensive University. We're currently the number six research institution in Canada, we have over 30,000 students here on campus. And we actually have five campuses that are spread across Calgary and then other places in the world, the program of the campus as a learning lab program, I think, you know, we see it as a way of linking together the education research activities on campus with with operations, so similar to what we're sharing. And we're really bridging these two worlds. As far as how I came to this role, I have a background in forestry and environmental science work for a long time in the nonprofit sector. And most recently for a charitable research institute that was really Knowledge Translation and mobilization organization. And we sought to make research understandable and accessible to people who had to make all sorts of challenging decisions. So the skills I developed it in that position lend themselves well to to this role, whereas with the Fed, we're really building those bridges between these two realms on campus. Thanks for Shell,
Caroline, you're up.
All right. So my name is Caroline Savage. I am the campus as lab manager at Princeton University, which is a small research College in New Jersey. And the environment at Princeton has been very theoretical. So Well, I think and what campuses live means on our campuses, sort of like what Rachelle and Liska have said, sort of this idea of this nexus, how can we connect the dots between the academic piece and the operations piece? How can we on Princeton's campus be a microcosm for some of the global sustainability problem solving that we need to see? And how do we infuse some of that into applied learning as a way to communicate this information and to empower students as change makers, which is a really great concept and wasn't necessarily an easy sell at Princeton, Princeton has historically been a very theoretical University. And there are a lot of benefits to that, but kind of trying to infuse some of the applied dimensions of a campuses lab program has been very interesting to kind of massage through some of the culture here. And I got my start doing campuses lab work, my past position was director of sustainability, Indiana State University, and working there with a large surplus of vacant land that the university owned, and just kind of working with students and with staff and operational folks, faculty who are interested in doing research on this land, and how could we use what seemed to be a problem as a resource as a teaching tool? So I think that's an important takeaway, and we can get into this later is for universities that maybe don't have as much funding, how can you kind of conceive of whatever resources you have as a jumping off point for your own campuses lab program? Because that's exactly what I did. And now we're taking this to a next level at Princeton.
Great. Okay. Well, we got a good introduction from each of you, I guess we should maybe back up a second and just define what we're talking about here. So first of all, let me just clarify for my own mind, is it campus as a living lab campus as a learning lab campuses? What we're talking about here, maybe one of you could give me just Wikipedia, like a definition of what it is.
Caroline, do you want to tackle that you've done?
Um, it's campus as lab campuses, living lab, campus as a learning laboratory for sustainability, applied learning, all these terms are things that don't campuses have used to mean, this basic concept of how is the campus a testbed for sustainability solutions. And I think what that means, in practice various for different campuses. So I think that's why you see a lot of different terminologies, some using the term Learning Lab, some I really have enjoyed the term applied learning, I think that term, we're starting to see that being used more and more. And that's kind of captures the sense that these, these applied learning opportunities don't necessarily have to take place within the confines of the walls of your campus. One idea we've been experimenting with at Princeton is kind of how are the borders of our campus porous? What is the campuses lab look like when we're maybe getting food from the nearby town of trend? You know, how, how are how is our campus beyond the physical geographical borders? And what does that mean? How can we study some of those relationships and where sustainability is happening there? So I don't know if that answers your question about what campuses lab or campuses living lab needs or problem at times, is it more, but that's definitely something that we talked about the campus lab community is what's the right term to use for your specific campus? What does this mean? And how are the words you use to describe it important? I know it helps,
it helps a little bit, I had some vague notion of it being plant is tied to the ventilation system or some abuse, graduate students and some sort of diabolical science. So at least I know it's not that. Well, let's talk a little bit about how does one get projects into such a program. And we talked to me about how did the projects get picked, give me a little bit more of a logistical background.
So at UBC and the seeds program, I think there's a number of different pathways. And there's so many different models from various different universities, with how living laboratory projects get selected, how they're specifically defined, and how they get implemented. With seeds, we have a number of different pathways where we have the community members here on our campus, we might refer to as staff, they identify either challenges or, or opportunity that they have within their area of operations, where they want some help, they want to tap into the academic resources of our campus to to come up with solutions to some of these challenges problems. So we'll work with them to frame out and scope out specific project proposals, and then monitor and implement them and match them in courses here at UBC. So for us at senior level, undergraduate or graduate courses. Another pathway for us is that we succeed sits within the planning department really, in a unique position, where our department develops many of the operational plans of the campus like our Zero Waste action plan, Climate Action Plan, Water Action, plan, green building plan, biodiversity strategy, urban forest management plan, and I can go on and on. So what our team does is we look at these plans, there's so many ambitious goals and actions in these are relevant, really cross cutting across the campus. So our team will will will analyze these plans identify opportunities within them, and also based on our collective conversations from sitting in multiple different kind of campus wide committees that are working to address these collective goals and frame out projects. And then again, integrate those within the curriculum. So those are probably those are two main mechanisms here of how projects get developed. And then our other our other one, that we because we sit within operations, we don't sit within the academic side is we do receive project ideas from students. The condition is, though based our core principle in our program is that every project has to be grounded in the community needs. It's so important to us that and the appropriate stakeholders are involved in which the challenges are the opportunities are the problems effect. So if a student does come to an idea, let's say they want to create a garden on campus, and we need to make sure that's relevant to the community in which that affects, and we'll try to consult with those community members to make sure that that's relative and valid to them. So that's our key mechanism here for how living laboratory projects get identified.
Right. So looking at the University of Calgary context, one thing I neglected to mention is that our campus as a learning lab program, or initiative, stemmed out of our institutional sustainability strategy, which was completed in 2016, after several years of extensive consultation on campus and with the beyond campus community. And that's really where this initiative came to life. And so we're pretty young with this initiative. There have been learning lab type projects underway on campus for a number of years. But this is the first time that we've really had a dedicated staff person working on this initiative. And we also have something called community as a learning partner, which is under developments and both campuses Learning Lab and community as a learning partner, our approaches we us to again, bridge the education and research side of the campus with the operations side. So campus is a learning lab for us is really focused in on those five campuses I mentioned. And at the heart of it, we're trying to develop some core competencies in student leadership for sustainability. These include things like systems thinking, empathy, understanding different worldviews, stakeholder engagement, to name a few of them. So that's really at the heart of our campus as a learning lab approach. We have projects on campus for campus as a learning lab that range from co curricular projects, which are projects undertaken by what we call sustainability, pure helpers, their students who are volunteering two to five hours a week with our Office of Sustainability staff, and they work on a dedicated project over the course of a year. And then, you know, we have campuses Learning Lab projects that take place within courses take place within our new embedded sustainability certificate, individual researcher thesis projects, and then faculty research projects, and then industry and community partnerships looking at sustainability research on campus. So we have a number of types of campus as a learning lab projects taking place. Given that we're pretty young, or we're we're working out the kinks with this. With this initiative, we've decided to focus our campuses Learning Lab projects on a number of key areas, including a new Well, it's actually a redevelopment that's happening on campus with one of our library buildings, which has been selected as a carbon neutral pilot project for the Canadian Green Building Council. We have a number of projects focused on that. We've also been focusing our work our campuses and learning lab projects in on the work of sustainability, stewardship, working groups on campus, which have implementation plans that are created to help advance sustainability on campus. So we're trying to figure out how to use campus as a learning lab as a tool to support the work of these groups. So currently, we have campus as a learning lab projects tied into the food services working group, and then that's zero waste working group on campus. But it's really exciting to see all the possibilities, that campus as a learning lab presents for campus and feels a bit like drinking from from a fire hydrant. I'll pass it on to you, Caroline.
Yeah, that that definitely resonates. Thanks. So I think a lot of what both of you are saying about kind of making sure to align your goals with the projects is really important. And so our campuses lab program, we started kind of with the idea, we're just about to finish a major campus planning initiative, that by the end of this year, that'll be a public document with that will be revising some of our sustainability targets as well. And set the time I came in about a year ago in October 2016. The goal was how can we sort of engage the knowledge expertise of this academic community to help the campus and make really intelligent decisions as we're executing the goals of this master plan and, and that there would be this great alignment. And the longer I've been here, and the more we kind of process this work, it's really seeming to make more sense on our campus to kind of flip it a little bit and stay instead of how can we engage the academic community in service of our operational goals, say the reverse? How can our campus operations be a partner in Princeton's academic mission? So I think in practice, we're seeing the same project still, it's just a little bit of a different, it's we didn't make any radical changes to the program, I think it's more of a shift in the core mentality of how we approach this work, of how we engage stakeholders of kind of the process of doing campuses lab. So it's very subtle. But for us, it's been sort of helpful to refine language and think about how to engage the stage holders and bring folks on to this. So Princeton, what that looks like in practice is three main pathways to campuses lab. One of them is through coursework. So faculty members who want to work with us to maybe revise existing courses that they have to incorporate some kind of applied learning or campuses lab component, and we're proposing something completely new. Of course, we're could be one way to do that. We also have worked with faculty who are just really interested in one aspect of campus sustainability or another, we had one professor who was interested in construction with rammed earth. So she built a rammed earth wall and our campus garden wasn't connected to a course was just interesting. And she was able to engage some graduate students in the academic aspects of that. And then the third way that this is happening on Princeton's campus, is through an independent student research. So all graduating seniors have to go through a pretty onerous, I would say, master's thesis like research project that takes them the whole year to complete. So we already have kind of this resource, right of students that have to do this project anyway. And a lot of the juniors as well have to do pretty intensive research projects. So being able to work with them and catch them early and kind of engage them and thinking about how could they use their research projects as an opportunity to change things on campus or make recommendations is a very rewarding process, and one that seems to resonate with the students a lot?
Well, it's an interesting point you make about flipping it around from utilizing the faculty members for the campus rather than using the campus to support the students themselves. I mean, I think that's something that we've run into a lot when I'm doing consulting work, will end up in situations where sometimes a faculty member will be brought to the table. We actually had one at one point saying his role wasn't really there to give us ideas. His role was to poke holes in our ideas. refreshingly Frank, but you know, there's a lot of dissonance that happens, I see when you try and to use people that are doing pure research. And then when you're starting to try to apply that to the facilities in which they're doing that research is the you know, the the greatest addition, they get to work for their it seems like there's more of a connection, though, than there maybe sometimes is, but it sounds like you guys have found a way around that.
Absolutely. And I would say it's both and right. It's not that you're doing one or the other. I think for us, it just kind of helped us change and reframe some of the language but at the university, I was working at previously, Indiana State University, thinking of it the other way around thinking of academics and service of operations would have been a totally appropriate way to have that conversation. We're still having some of those here as well. It's very slight, very subtle, I think for us.
Yeah. And hopefully I don't get hate mail from faculty members now. So it was great. All right, let's move on to let's talk about money. Maybe you can talk each about how your programs are funded. And just to mix it up a little bit. Let's start in Calgary, and then we'll keep going clockwise, just so we don't confuse yourself too much.
All right. Money. Yes, money is always an issue. We are very fortunate the University of Calgary because our campuses Learning Lab initiative was realized through the institutional sustainability strategy, we have internal funding to pay for my position. So that part's taken care of, for which I'm very grateful. As far as money to engage in actual campuses Learning Lab projects, we have a couple of funds on campus that students can access through our students union. And through the Graduate Students Association, those are sustainability funds, students can apply to access dollars to help them with their projects, and we can certainly support them. In doing so we're also looking at developing other revenue streams, or I should say other sources of funding for carrying out camps as learning lab projects. One thing that we have done is work in partnership with faculty members and graduate students to apply for external research dollars to to bring bringing the types of projects to campus that would really work well, for campuses Learning Lab, we've been able to do this for the library redevelopment project, which I mentioned earlier, have a bunch of exciting research, we're hoping we can roll out in tandem with the redevelopment of this building. So we're continually looking for opportunities like that to to bring dollars into the program. And as Caroline mentioned in her intro, you know, in talking with other people doing this type of work on other campuses, resources certainly are a big limiting factor. And, you know, we're hopeful there's lots of ways to get get creative with how we can use the resources that exist on campus to to best do this work, provide opportunities for students and and amplify, or, I should say, accelerate sustainability on campuses.
Yeah, I can echo a lot of that. And I think that being at Princeton, and being at Princeton fairly recently, coming from a State University and semi rural Indiana, in my career's a sustainability practitioner sat through a lot of presentations, you know, with some really creative sustainability ideas, where the how of these ideas is we threw money at it, and it worked. And that's great. And at Princeton, certainly, funding resources aren't maybe as much of a challenge for us as they are for other institutions. But there's still a challenge. And I think that one of the specific challenges that we see is that our researchers often expect a higher level of support. And what that means is they expect to be able to do things at scale that's greater than demonstration, or that's, that's really impactful. And so sometimes we'll have funding, but it won't be quite enough to do it at that scale. So a lot of what we do is kind of try to work through partnerships, because sort of the idea of being here with with research being so important to this institution, is that, in general, if you have a really solid project idea that's going to have some profound impact on society, usually, somebody on campus or somebody is on campus will work with you to find a way to find it. It's just a matter of going through that process of how so even though the the dollar figure might not be as big of a struggle for us as some other universities, we do have to do a lot of work with making those partnerships and kind of figuring out who's, who's be on board of this who should be engaged in the funding process? Who do we need to loop in that maybe doesn't traditionally work in this area? And how can we kind of pull our resources and provide things at that scale. So there are two main funding mechanisms that our office facilitates, one of which is a fund that operates through our office that we're able to support mostly smaller scale, independent student research projects, or some course revisions, maybe smaller scale faculty research. And then we have another fund that we're working with, in collaboration with the Dean for Research office, to kind of facilitate some of those higher level projects that really support some of the research that our tenured faculty are wanting to do. And that help them maybe explore a new area of their field that's a little bit more risky, that kind of breaks out of the silos a little bit. So that's how it looks at Princeton, but again, wanting to circle back to the idea that institutions are coming at this from different levels of resource. And I would encourage anybody who wants to try this on their own to focus more on resources than on dollars. So one other thing we we're looking at, as you know, sure we could fund binoculars for this next student project, or we could fund I don't know, small scale scientific equipment for things. But a lot of those things exist on campus already. And I think this is true for a lot of campuses. So how can we do a better job of consolidating and maybe I don't know, sharing some of those resources that are more readily available? How can you work in partnerships to do that. And then also, going back to the Indiana State example, we had a lot of vacant land, which was seen as a problem by many people, and the university bought it to kind of quality control the space, but it turned into a huge asset because nobody wanted to work with it. And we were able to start doing completely transformative things that pulled in students who maybe weren't thinking about sustainability at all, or maybe were unhappy in their major. And in that case, and that university, maybe even thinking of quitting school together. So I would really encourage folks to think about what your resources are, wherever you are, and how you can work with those.
Yeah, this is let's let's get here. I echo a lot of what both Rachelle and Caroline have said, so far for our program, we were initially funded as part of our first campus sustainability office, that was in large part funding from retrofit and energy savings, and now record budget funded. So like Carolina, I'm also very thankful for that, for my position. And then in terms of them funding projects, I think that a big part of that is many of your projects don't require or findings, I think a lot of people out there think that projects, in order for them to be successful require funding, but if you integrate them into the curriculum, and leverage existing resources at the campus, whether that's materials from our waste stream, or looking at different donations, or lab supplies or a equipment from our landscape crews, there's a lot of that already exists. Now, that being said, some projects do require funding, and those that funding their seeds has a small pot of money, not much. But again, I think the key word is leverage, which is a as being resourceful as is a big part of I think of the job description, if you're doing CL work, whether that's for us, it's leveraging our students sustainability fund, like many campuses have these where there's a percentage of the student tuition fees are allocated towards a sustainability fund. So our students are able to apply for that. Other ones are many courses, especially Capstone courses, there's some funds that are available for the students. So we've got some engineering courses where they get a 200 bucks to put towards their their project, which is usually not enough, but at least that's some seed money. The rest is that we're able to leverage partnerships with faculties through applying for research money, and other ones working with their different community partners where they've got some some funds, and they can chip in. And then the newer area that we're working on now is external grant funding. So one of these examples is that we were able to fund a large biodiversity project, it's sort of one of the new areas in sustainability that we're looking at here addressing here at through seeds that UBC. And that required, I think, some initial intensive resources. So basically, staff to be able to put their minds to coming up with how are we going to develop a platform to develop a biodiversity strategy for the campus. So that requires some initial funds. So I think that's sort of the the other key area is looking at external funds. But again, as I think what's already been said, is not necessarily you can do these programs, working with testing funds of the university, I think it's, it's just what kind of scale and scope and how you frame out the program that you want to build.
Alright, so we've talked about how to get these projects started, how to leverage resources to get them going, whether that's actual funding or using existing resources. Talk to me a little bit about what are the outcomes that one should expect of these kinds of projects, I would expect that some of these have to be pretty short lived, because you're working within the timeframe that a student is on campus. But I would imagine some maybe have longer time horizons. Talk to me what is what is a great project look like? Or the range of what great projects could look like? Caroline, do you go first this time?
I think at Princeton, one phrase that we've been using a lot, and we continue to use, as we think about, you know, sustainability in a changing world, is this idea of creating a sustainability ethos on campus. So I think they're really impactful campuses, live projects that we see are the ones that help us and our goal of creating such a transformative experience on campus, that our students go forward with the tools to be change makers. And also that, you know, in that process, we're actually doing something right here on campus, that's changing things and putting that work out there. And in a way that's wider than you can do through the confines of a classroom. I think one of the you know, that's kind of like the large scale grandiose picture, what that looks like in practice, I think, is starting to see, especially again, in this very theoretical environment, starting to see more student projects that encapsulate this campuses lab, the so we're kind of tracking how many of the students that have to do this independent research anyway, are choosing to do some aspect of campuses lab with that, one of our projects that has started up just over the course of the past several months, and is seeing huge amounts of interest, as we have initiative called the Princeton vertical farming project, I'd really encourage you guys to check out the website, if you just Google Princeton vertical farming project. It's this professor who has the School of really integrating food systems into everyday buildings and having this be a part of the casual conversation. And the theme of food has really caught on here. So I think he started construction on this vertical farm in maybe March. And he already has maybe four students who are signed up to do this as their senior research. And again, most of them have to pick this and fall right. So in a really short amount of time, he's engaged some students who find this work meaningful and impactful. And oh, by the way, when they leave, they're already starting to see career pathways for how this could benefit them. It is an experience to have.
Great, we'll go to Vancouver,
Sure. So I thank you very think there's there's so many different criteria that can be applied to what makes project successful and and what are successful outcomes. I think, for for us here, what we found is projects are really successful, or I think an indicator of success is when projects are able to build off of the knowledge of a previous project. So they become iterative, they're building a collective knowledge, a lot of that house and we have a seed sustainability library where that serves as a huge resource. So the knowledge isn't boxed in in isolation, we're able to build off work and addressing, for example, or zero waste, or a very, very ambitious Zero Waste goals of our university here, where each project is able to keep move the needle further on that I think another criteria that we're finding is that a building interdisciplinary projects on our campus, so bringing the skill sets and bringing students from different backgrounds together, as well as faculty to address problems, because most of our problems now require interdisciplinary knowledge. So the more that we're able to get those folks together in a room, and to work together, I think is really impactful. Another key indicator of success here is for projects is that they're aligned with the strategic priorities of the both the university. And here it's whether that's to build global citizens give students opportunities to engage in meaningful applied learning, address societal issues, and also advance our operational priorities of the university. So what if that is about developing innovative green buildings, then we develop clusters of projects around those areas. So again, that the projects aren't piecemeal, they're all there's some collective knowledge that our team brings to the table that we're connecting them. So we have projects that are looking at how do we mitigate bird strikes on our on our buildings here? So and then other projects that are looking at how do we bring greenery into the buildings bringing nature inside to the to the buildings and other ones that are doing assessments of our natural assets. So all these projects get connected and rolled up? And then I think that can increase the impact when we follow up on them. So I think those are some some key successes. And I think the areas here that we're seeing, I think it's evolved over the years, like 10 years ago, we saw a lot of early successes were around food. And I think that we've evolved with the food system sustainability, sustainability needle quite quite a bit. And now there's other areas like biodiversity, I think in green buildings as well as well being such as socially social health and mental health and physical health. And now we're really working on on those things.
All right, going to Calgary.
Okay. Yeah, I think debut you raise a great point. There's all sorts of projects that can manifest or something like campus as a learning lab or campus as a living lab or whatever term you you wish to use. There's looking at how we roll little projects here at the University of Calgary. As you move through the different types of projects from those co curricular projects or class based projects up to the industry, community partnerships, you often see an increase in the amount of time invested, perhaps the amount of money required, and typically the amount of risk that's involved. So you know, we're looking to have projects across that spectrum. And another thing we're really looking to cultivate is projects that span what the sustainability compass, which is a tool developed by Ellen Akerson, and I think it provides a great way to look at sustainability. A lot of people when they think about sustainability, they default to green buildings or energy efficiency, but to the sustainability compass really, I think, provides a nice broad definition. So you're looking at nature, economy, society, and well being as you move around the points of the compass. And we really are striving to cultivate projects all around that compass. Something that what makes a successful project for us is that it helps students develop those sustainability leadership core competencies. I'm not able to cite the author, but I recall reading an article talking about CLS isn't service learning, it's transformative learning and and that's what you know, that is the ideal outcome that students are transformed through this experience. Although perhaps not as exciting, but important, you know, students are also developing soft skills that will serve them well in in their roles as sustainability leaders once they leave the campus. On the other side of the house here, we think about staff who are engaged in these projects, we're looking to provide them with a positive experience, we're looking to provide them with outcomes that can help them advance their work on sustainability. When we are doing consultation for campus as a learning lab, I heard one of our staff members say that he was really excited about this. And the because he works at university because he wants to support students, but young Israel, he's removed from them. And so this was a chance to, to work with students directly and to have a positive effect on on their development as professionals. I think both Carolina and Alaska references, but having alignment also with our institutional sustainability strategy, and the operational work that's taking place on campus to advanced sustainability is ideal. If you could have all of these things that a project that that's fantastic, but I think you see a whole range of types of projects. And if they hit one or more of these things, that that's fabulous.
Great. Well talk to me a little bit about the challenges you've run into in in doing this work. And that can include you know, getting a program up and running, if you're involved with that, it sounds like some of you may have been or just you know, what are the biggest things you're running into today? You can kind of answer that one however you want. Rachelle, you can just keep going.
Yeah, sure. I'm going to flip your question on its head Dave, instead of talking about challenge is I want to talk a little bit about opportunities that I see in in, in building this initiative up something we're really excited about is building off existing initiatives on campus, there's so much happening on our campus. For instance, we have a new teaching and learning. It's to the Taylor Institute for teaching and learning. And they have within it a college for discovery, creativity and innovation. And they've been charged with being a hub being an accelerator for experiential learning on campus. So I'm trying to figure out how can we use their expertise, their skills, their connections, a springboard to connect into people who are already doing experiential learning for sustainability on campus, which is really what campus as a learning lab is all about. I'm also really excited to build off the work of people like Caroline Liska and other campuses, that's something I've really leaned heavily on, quite inspired by the approach taken by the California State University system were they offered up a course redesign grant so that instructors could apply for funds to take an existing course and redesign it to incorporate campus as a living lab, into their their course offerings. And I think that is a brilliant approach because it enables you to scale up this initiative, without you as the coordinator having to touch all the pieces. And I think that's a real challenge and opportunity is how can we make initiatives like CL grow and be sustainable, and empower more people? To do this? I think that that part's really exciting. I think, although, you know, I said I was going to talk about opportunities. One challenge that I face. And I think probably anyone working in this type of environment does is the desire to really sprint out of the blocks. And to get things moving oftentimes in post secondary environments, that that's not how it the business is done. And as our chief Sustainability Officer likes to say, you know, walk slowly and bring everyone along. So that's that's a bit of attention. I think that that exists within the work that we do. And I think also it's, it's a complex environment to work within. There are lots of moving parts. Lots of leavers. Probably a little bit of politics thrown into the mix. But that keeps it exciting.
Yeah, absolutely, I think, to build them are so saying about the California system, I think another really powerful lesson from them is that they're creating campuses lab as a norm. Right. This is something that's coming from the system into each of the campuses. And that's, that's really powerful. So I think that's part of one of the challenges, last opportunities that we face to again, especially being in a theoretical institution is how do we make this kind of applied learning culture at this campuses that culture, the norm on our campus and make it less scary, right, especially when it's some of these projects that are, you know, real world, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, build something, you know, maybe even cross the lines of the safety of campus that present real risks? How do we mitigate those risks? And how do we be involved with them making this research feel this risky research feel safe, or sometimes the scaling the risk involved in some of this research so that it makes sense from the perspective of the institution and maybe reputational risk and that sort of thing? So I think, yeah, all those things that Rachelle is saying resonate, and I think I would also say, just about building relationships to one thing I've noticed is that it feels really luxurious now coming from a role where I was the director of sustainability, and you kind of have your fingers in a lot of different baskets, to now being able to focus on this campus is lab research and programming full time, which is wonderful, I think it it, you can do a lot on the fringes of your time. But I really noticed a difference and just how much more quickly things are able to move along when you're able to focus your time on this. So just as building relationships, it's a it's a really time intensive process. And I've been able to do some things with my time here that make my schedule more flexible, or just better able to pivot when you know, we're trying to build shelving for this vertical farming project. And there's a misunderstanding between the person building the shelves and what the researcher said, and I have to kind of, you know, pivot and be there to prevent that situation from turning into a bad relationship, that kind of thing, just these situations that come up when people are working together and someone being able to be there and mediate and kind of speak across research language versus operational language. One thing that we've had come up several times is some of the staff that we work with can be confused by the idea that researchers are going to make recommendations. And so just being able to frame you know, for the staff are saying, Well, why are you going to recommend us that we do things because we like the way we're doing things, and we're doing them perfectly fine. It's a kind of being able to frame this in the the mindset of an academic who's thinking of being able to publish a real research paper in which traditionally, you will make recommendations at the end. And being able to explain doesn't mean you have to change anything. This is just sort of the convention of the academic field. So that kind of work. And and one more challenge, I would say, challenge last opportunity is data. So I think part of the idea of doing campus as a lab and focusing on the unit of campus specifically is opposed to maybe going beyond the university borders, is that we're sitting on quite a bit of data that lives in a lot of different places, and sometimes doesn't communicate with each other well. So how do we kind of find and create easy access to that data is also becoming a hugely time consuming process. And we have resources from different campus departments that are also really interested in this question and willing to help us. So even when you have a lot of folks on board who have a lot of skills and expertise, it just takes a lot of time. And it's it's about as close to wicked problem as you can get within the confines of a university setting. So I think finding that data, creating access to that data, creating access to that data, and that feels safe for people at the university who might have concerns about how that data can be shared, is a challenge. But it's also an opportunity because the more we have these conversations, the more we create potential for this research to move forward in ways that it wasn't possible a year ago or two years ago.
All right, moving to Liska in Vancouver. Great,
I'm building off I think what's been said already, I definitely echo a lot of this, I think, first proceeds at Vancouver, I think the academic silos i think is is a challenge here. It's a real challenge, I think we're seeing an increase in interdisciplinary and trans disciplinary and multidisciplinary courses on our campus. But we still don't have I think I'm a faculty in terms of a one stop shop where we can put our CL projects and where we can assemble the team with the skill set. So when we need a fine art students, when we need an engineering students to be sitting at the same table, and both to be considered the research to be valid, they can get credit for it, we're still having challenges with that. So what's happening is that we have to build numerous projects that are disciplinary, and then connect those and often they become these multi year phase projects. When we can achieve that desired outcome to advance sustainability in this area a lot more I think, efficiently Bry able to assemble that interdisciplinary team, and the team would get recognized by their faculty with credit and in the first place. So I often think of Imagine if we had like the School of everything or school of leadership, where was open to all students at our at our faculty here where they could work towards addressing societal issues in the classroom, I think that would really help us out a lot. Another area, I think that's been touched on in a few different ways that maybe not, as directly is that we have a lot of knowledge at universities that post secondary institutions, and in the practitioners who live and work here, but how do we translate that knowledge? So I think knowledge translation is another huge challenge. Just looking at our we have a library, I mean, how accessible is a 40 page report to somebody who works in the field? Probably not that accessible. So I feel like we need some better ways to explore new ways of communicating, that might require resources to be able to translate that knowledge, but also building projects. So when we start them, they're there, they're ready to go. They're ready to be understood by by anyone. And then the next step is then how do we mobilize that knowledge, not only here, and the place that we initially created, that project to address may be an issue here on our campus. But there are other campuses and again, the regions, the provincial and the National or the federal and the International regions that were embedded within, really the again, I think has been mentioned as universities as microcosms. How can we share that knowledge and to help create change elsewhere? So I think that's another really, really big area. And I think this touches on how do we develop a coordinated approach to how we address societal issues. And some of us actually, through this community of practice that both Rachelle and Caroline have led, is how can we get other universities and other post secondary institutions to to to work together and whether that's to produce some collective impact in an area whether that's in enrich learning, or helping students develop career capital or advancing sustainability? How can we develop more of a coordinated approach? So here, what I'm finding, it seems that we're at a point in our time, where many of the issues that we're addressing here, whether it's our waist issues, or issues with loneliness, those things are experienced in a region? So why aren't we working on those things together? What mechanisms can you put in place to help expedient that we're working on that the data issue? I think that Caroline mentioned that that's a huge one, we've got so much data at campuses, how do we share it? And again, how do you make that accessible? And And finally, I think it's, it's about communicating a challenge for us is, is communicating our successes, but also our failures. And even with our research, with our student research, the ability for our students to get support to communicate the negative findings as well and consider that as valid, I think would go a long way. And seeing that sustainability, getting over the mindset that sustainability is not doesn't have to be an add on to your work campuses. Linden living lab is intended, I think, to be supporting the work of the university, both in advancing the academic mission and in our operational priorities of the campus. All over all these are challenges, but they're all great opportunities that we're working on pursuing here.
Yeah, let's get ready want to go to your school of everything? If you ever create that?
The Dream isn't,
I feel so pumped up right now.
You guys all have careers in politics ahead of you for taking my question about challenges and turning it into inspiration.
game I think that that's that's what it is. I mean, when when I speak about campuses, and we'll be loud, and I think that's, that's what I think I really, really love about this line of work is that for us, I'll speak for me, but I think I think I can for the other two, it's when you're in a room with whether it may be conflict, people say what people are saying, well, we can't do this, because we don't have the resources, or whatever the barrier might be, we see how would this would be a great project opportunity. So we're able to flip it on it. Challenges are good or good for us. They build living lab project. So I just I used to put a simple equation on a on a slide or on the board and God is sustainability challenge. What a great car research opportunity. I love it.
Alright, so to wrap things up, let's let's, let's add on to our inspirational theme here. And maybe just give me a vision for where this goes in the future. What is campus as a living lab or campus as applied learning or whatever term you want to apply? What does it look like in 10 years? Who's up?
I know. Yeah, you were you were on a good streak. Keep going.
All right, let's go.
The 10 year vision is always hard to come up with but I'll say it in five years, we actually just did this through a bit of a strategic planning process with our team and and one of the things is we lead the team through a visioning process to close your eyes and imagine you were walking on your campus and and what would it look like in five years time from now? You know, what's what do you smell? What do you see what the food outlets look like? And and then thinking specifically about for us the seeds program? What is that? What would that look like when you picked up a copy of a campus paper? Through my personal vision statement that I share it was seeds addresses, un sustainability development goals. So it's our universities working and colleges working together, again, to address these broader collected issues that I think that we're all going to get called up to start working on if we're not already doing this, but doing this in a coordinated way. So I see the internationalization of the work that we're doing, I think that's, I think, coming up the pipeline. So I think that's a really, really important piece, how we do that, I don't know, I think there's a number of different ways that we can explore that, I think that in terms of more near term is is increasing our ability to address societal issues, both on campus and beyond. So for us, here with seeds, it's starting to build partnerships with again, the stakeholders that are experiencing the same problems that are working towards them in the regions that were embedded within. So really creating a stronger tapestry. And using that as a metaphor on how we address challenges. So for example, we're looking at a green cord on our campus, we can't just cut a line around our campus and look at this, we need to involve the the rest of the community. And I think in which that impacts over again, if we're looking at how we increase our waste diversion, and our multi unit buildings, well, they're experiencing that in the city as well. So why aren't we working on that together? So I think those are some some key areas. I think the other areas I mentioned earlier was again, how do we mobilize our current knowledge? And then how do we start to plan to mobilize our knowledge from the start of project planning. So I think those are some key I think elements of the vision moving moving forward and really staying I think nimble and diverse and how we deliver see lol So it's not nothing a cookie cutter program, we're really realizing that quite quickly, that we're exploring a number of different hybrid models, maybe we have a paid graduate students, some undergraduate students and volunteer student and everyone's again working towards in this in this collective model, or in different models on working on how we create a better a better world and address societal issues, I think both efficiently and effectively and through a meaningful manner for our students here. Moving clockwise.
Okay, Calgary, here I go. So I think looking down the road five to 10 years. I'm hopeful that students who participate in CL projects leave our campus empowered to be a change agent for sustainability. And you know, a lot of the things Liska mentioned around the ability for students to engage in interdisciplinary work, to leave with those skills, because really, those are the types of skills students will need to to solve the wicked problems that exists in the world currently, and that are going to continue to, to evolve the piece that Liska mentioned about knowledge mobilization, five to 10 years down the road, I'm hopeful we're better able to tell our stories about our learnings, and to enable other students, other campuses, other people outside of the university's orders, to to build off the work that's being done and to be inspired by it. And I'd like to talk a little bit about the community of practice, the campuses lab community of practice, I'm hopeful five to 10 years that we're all continuing to work together across different campuses to create better programs and to really, I think, lift up the work that's being done in other campuses and apply it to our own specific context. And to really take what's been done and, you know, have an exponential outcome with the with the benefit of of that knowledge, it's been incredible to see how willing people are to share both their learnings and their failures. And you know, again, that's another piece that that's quite exciting. Is 510 years down the road, how are we how are we looking at failure and incorporating, you know, the learnings from failures into the next iteration of our work? So, yeah, it's, I'm sure five years will go by very quickly. But I'm sure will all of these programs across different campuses are going to seek great growth, I hope and in those five to 10 years.
Yeah, yeah, I'm thinking about what five to 10 years means in terms of campus sustainability? And it's a really interesting question, because I'm just realizing that the campus like that's actually a really long time. For the campus sustainability movement. I think Princeton only really started a coordinated sustainability program, it got its first Sustainability Officer in 2006. And we were one of the first ones and we've been, you know, focused on environmental sustainability as a field, especially on k, this is this is fairly young. So talking about, you know, twice the lifespan of that program, there's a lot of opportunity there, I wouldn't go so far as to say that 10 years from now, or five years from now, every sustainability project should be campuses lab, I think there's still room for some of the theoretical or some of the, you know, modeling or that certainly, you know, keep that too, but I would like to see it and I think it could become more normal become more of a way of doing things I see the idea of campuses lab is kind of the two point O version of sustainability, this more streamlined, kind of how do we not just talk about ideas, but how do we make sure that those ideas are actually making a change and making a difference. And this the risk of getting too political seems like a really great moment to do that. And the more that we're creating projects that actually demonstrate improvements and improvements that are, are shared across different groups, you know, are we're finding, especially in the us that our society has never been more polarized than it is now. So the more that we're actually creating projects that are doing things and making this more of a normal way of what sustainability looks like, it's not, you know, we're not telling people don't bring your bring your reusable bags to the grocery store, recycle those who don't recycle that it's like, how do we use the collective power of institutions to make positive changes that have real positive impacts in the lives of people that you know, and hopefully, are you. So making the campuses lab idea more thoroughly infused into the curriculum or thoroughly infused into how research is done? And doing that, I think with the goal of better communicating that sustainability is for everybody.
Well, thank you very much to all three of you for such a great description of the work you're doing. I'm definitely inspired. Now, one of the things coming into this conversation was a general confusion about what we're going to talk about, but I'm walking away more with maybe what the future of education might look like. And there's a lot of people predicting the demise of the traditional institution as online learning and other types of learning take hold, but seems like the the three of you are all describing a different vision, which gives me hope that higher ed institutions are going to continue to be on the vanguard of of social and structural change in our society. So that's very well done. Keep it up.
Any final thoughts? Or is there a way people can get in touch with you, I know you have this community of practice, if there are other practitioners out there, or just people have questions about getting a program up and running, is there a way they can get in touch with one of the three of you?
Absolutely, I'm speaking to the community of practice. This is a group that's been meeting to do and I think is Rachelle said, monthly webinars, style calls very informal, we usually prepare a theme, but the focus is on communication and connection. I would say if you're interested in being involved with that, or listening into some of the conversations, you cannot connect you to sort of the repository of documents that have been produced or shared as a result of that collaboration. So I'm happy to do that.
Great. I will include that information and all of the contact information you guys provide in the show notes, but just thanks again for taking the time and and thanks for all the great work you're doing.
Thank you. Yeah, thank you so much. This is a great opportunity, great conversation with some great people. Thanks so much. Thank you.
That's it for this episode. As always, you'll find show notes on the website at campusenergypodcast.com. Please keep those show ideas coming and perhaps take a moment to read a review on iTunes to help us get the word out about the show. Thanks for listening