Description/achievement of initiative
Dawson College’s Strategic Plan goal #7 is to be a leading Canadian educational institution in promoting and practising sustainability in all its endeavours. Operationalizing the concept of well-being for all (individuals, other people and other species) is a priority. Our bold sustainability plan outlines five-year goals and strategies for all sectors of the college.
Living Campus – Reconnecting people, community and Nature.
Living Campus is a learning approach that breaks down traditional classroom structure and uses the entire campus as a learning laboratory where our community of students and staff participate in high-impact experiences. Guided by sustainability principles, our Living Campus promotes authentic and integrative learning. “Classrooms” of our Living Campus allow students to live the learning and become the change-makers and problem-solvers of the future. Projects within the formal and informal educational process are developed to explicitly develop situations that foster opportunities to express positive emotions and relationships. Real-world change is emphasized. Sustainable Dawson recognizes Nature as a restorative agent related to well-being and a catalyst that can increase literacy of all kinds.
Performance indicators have been created with benchmarks and goals for every sector of the college, including facilities, administration, HR, foundation, academics, IT and student services. We work closely with the student union as well. Sustainability tracking and assessment is done through the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) STAR program and the CEGEP Vert network program and the UN sustainability goals within HESI, with reports generated at the end of the year. Some reports are submitted for third party review.
Highlights: Dawson has declared itself carbon neutral forever. GHG emissions have been reduced by 50% (scope 2) since 2010 and student & staff transportation emissions offset in 2018-19. A new Sustainable Happiness Certificate and Facilitator Training program has been developed with several cohorts of participants experiencing the program since 2018. This program links personal well-being and that of others to sustainability principles and has a “pay-it-forward” component.
A climate action plan, waste management plan, and a landscape plan, have been developed to guide purchasing, services and operation of college activities. Some goals: Reduce waste to landfill by 40% in two years; manage foundation funds in socially responsible investments; offer opportunities for sustainability professional development for all staff, increase validation and awards for sustainability champions and develop peer-to-peer education programs to collectively to engage and motivate the community. Educational campaigns and training for sexual violence awareness, gender issues, student rights and free access to college, including health care (students have access to psychologists, a psychiatrist, nurses, and doctor on campus). Dawson Peace Center has 2 full time staff devoted to peace education, workshops and a cross-disciplinary peace certificate for students.
Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer
Dawson has agreements with 3 institutes of higher education in Mexico to promote sustainability best practices and support research in sustainability. A 200 page eBook has been published on this research and action projects developed since 2013. Partnerships also exist with a primary school, high school, daycare/preschool, NGO’s and a church. Dawson is incubating ideas and programs that these organizations can use to build capacity within their institutions and organizations with the goal of having others emulate them. . The College is also partnering with partner universities in Canada to further define Living School attributes. Preliminary discussions with regards to Sustainable Happiness and living schools are taking place in 2019 with Canadian and US institutions dealing with mental health. A book titled: Living Schools: Transforming Education (C. O’Brien, P. Howard, pending publication) will be available in 2020 and reviews Dawson’s journey towards well-being for all. In the 2019/20 academic year, we will establish a Dawson data base with every course, para-academic program, school club, etc. offered at the college and develop an interface where staff or students can view the UN strategic goals associated with each activity. This will be shared with other colleges in Canada and placed on a web site for public access.
Teachers at the college are on the forefront of food security issues and are developing the first “food map” of Montreal. Working with the city, a web site is being developed that will permit anyone to view the gardens, vegetable markets or school gardens within their community. A sustainability forum has been held with partner institutions every year for the last 3 years both in Morelos, Mexico and at Dawson.
A sustainability web site highlights strategic plans, reports, accomplishments, media coverage, workshops and student sustainability-related projects. Example of student project: to create a solar-powered radio station in a small community in Mexico where students can interview residents and “rescue traditions”.
Coordination mechanisms/governance structure
Dawson College strategic plan:
Comments from 1500 students and over 350 staff contributed to the ambitious and visionary 2016–2021 Dawson College Strategic Plan which highlights the promotion of “well- being for all, sustainably” as a core value. Additionally, one of eight strategic goals is dedicated to sustainability: “Be a leading Canadian post-secondary institution in promoting and practising sustainability in all its endeavours” and contributing to a sustainable future is part of our mission.
Dawson College is a vibrant and inclusive community dedicated to providing quality higher education. Our mission is to:
Educate a diverse population of students through transformative and innovative learning activities; engage learners and empower them to become active, responsible citizens; enrich society by offering life-long learning opportunities, cultivating partnerships and contributing to a peaceful and sustainable future.
For additional background information and strategic plan progress to date, view recent news on the Dawson College website.
Goverance: A permanent full-time position has been hired to manage a Sustainability Office since 2017. This position requires extensive sustainability education and planning experience. Two full time program development positions work within the office and one full time Facilities position works on sustainability-related files dealing with operations. A five-year Sustainability Plan was developed that aligned with the college strategic plan.
The sustainability director is informed by a Sustainability Advisory Committee that recommends actions. The committee is made up of a cross section of Dawson employees. A sustainability Executive Committee (sustainability office and operations representatives) meet once a week to review objectives and progress. Monthly meetings occur between the Sustainability Office and the Quality Assurance & Planning Office to review metrics and proper documentation. There is also a Strategic Plan Sub-Committee that is chaired by the Sustainability Office director that reviews how the sustainability plan is meeting the strategic plan objectives. A yearly operating plan is submitted to the College Director General and an annual report received by the governing board of the college.
Dawson College, with partners: Dawson Peace Center, Concordia University, Cape Breton University, Cookshire Primary School, UAEM University (Mexico), UPN (Mexico), UPEMOR (Mexico), Dawson Daycare, Westmount United Church, Earthvalues Institute, Preparatoria Tres Marias (Mexico), AASHE, CEGEP Vert (Canada), Taking Root (Carbon offsets), Ecometrica, Inc. (GHG emission audits)