College of Sherbrooke: Investing in Training in Sustainable Growth

This text is part of the Philanthropy special

With the creation of new spaces and the integration of sustainable development into its courses, Université de Sherbrooke is stepping up its actions to train professionals with better sustainable reflexes. And in accelerating the green transition, the educational institution sees philanthropy as an essential support.

Waste management, mobility projects, measures to reduce greenhouse gases… The Université de Sherbrooke is increasingly integrating the values ​​of sustainable development and is committed to continuing on this path. “It results from many actions that we have taken in the past, but here we are doing it more coherently, with an institutional strategy to make it even faster and even better,” says Jean-François Comeau of the University Center for Education in the Environment and Sustainable Development (CUFE). He leads the new project Integrating Sustainable Development into Education, which aims to support educators in incorporating Sustainable Development Goals into the various courses and programs at the university.

“Our students ask for it,” says Mr. Comeau. In a survey last March, 90% of students considered it relevant to develop sustainable development skills in their education. »

The University also invests in different spaces that allow students of different disciplines to carry out concrete projects with the community, such as the Environmental Clinic, the Community Intervention Program (PIC), the Living Laboratories or the Learning Pavilion.

For a better society

“We can’t imagine building today in 2022 without paying attention to the amount of material resources used in construction, and it’s hard to ignore energy consumption! Mr. Comeau illustrates the importance of these enduring reflexes in all disciplines. Already in the design phase, engineering students are encouraged to integrate ecological and social aspects such as accessibility issues. »

The students continue to develop their skills in their subject, but by being connected as much as possible to our current societal issues, such as the problem of climate change, the expert continues.

Mr. Comeau insists on the role of donors in the implementation and acceleration of these types of projects. “As a philanthropist, our gift is connected to a feeling that we can make a contribution to society. In this sense, I believe that the UdeS is playing its role well. »

Embedding sustainable thinking, from art to computing

At the Department of Arts, Languages ​​​​and Literature at Université de Sherbrooke, Josianne Bolduc was immediately excited to include more content related to sustainable development in her courses. “I teach Creation Projects 1 and 2, which require students to do more personal projects,” explains the one who is the academic coordinator of the Certificate in Fine Arts alongside teaching. I invite students to position themselves in relation to sustainable development and the environment by asking questions. »

Does the use of waste in art trivialize it? Can we create without destroying? Retaining the freedom to choose the topic that speaks to them, students are invited to reflect on these types of questions; supporting articles and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

“In contemporary art, the process is more important than the final,” continues Bolduc. The material of the artists in contemporary art is the society that surrounds us. For me, in art, it’s the students who learn to think for themselves, it’s very confronting and challenging. As teachers we don’t give answers, but it’s important to create space for discussion. If we don’t give this space to the university, who will? »

The artist’s approach can also stimulate thought through cascading effects or reach larger parts of the population, explains Bolduc. “When we share knowledge, it’s anchored and tangible, it’s the medium that carries the message,” she says, comparing it to a scholarly discourse, which can be more instructive. The artists will touch [le public] different, through the intellect and other kinds of experiences [que la science]. »

In the IT department, the same process was initiated with Jean-François Comeau’s team. “We computer science professors are not specialists in environmental issues,” explains Marie-Flavie Auclair-Fortier, professor and deputy head of the computer science department at the UdeS. Mr. Comeau and his team are helping us to add these elements. We think about it, talk about it, integrate naturally into different courses what is the environmental impact at the level of digital data and artificial intelligence algorithms to raise students’ awareness. There are ways of working in IT that we can try to rethink. »

For his part, Jean-François Comeau supports professors and program managers such as Josianne Bolduc and Marie-Flavie Auclair-Fortier in a collaborative and supportive approach. “My job is to support program and course managers, teachers and students. I accompany them to find ways to improve the training already carried out at the UdeS, explains the former environmental graduate of the university. I do interventions with teachers to improve work, scenarios, exam questions and teaching materials used, and help them develop classroom workshops where we encourage students to think. »

Mr. Comeau is also involved in analyzing a program to find ways to emphasize the importance of sustainable development in each of the courses. “I discovered an extraordinary openness on the part of the teachers,” says the expert happily. He explains that supporting staff to integrate sustainable development into the curriculum makes it possible to overcome the impostor syndrome that teachers who feel uncomfortable addressing these concepts without proper training can experience. It is the will of the management that makes people feel supported. »

This special content was created by the Special Publications team at Have to, related to marketing. The elaboration of Have to did not participate.

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