Queen's - UC3 Forum

Innovating and Partnering for Climate Action Impact

In 2018-19, Queen’s University extended its commitment to protecting the environment through strategic partnerships with Sustainable Kingston and the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3). Our institution has recognized tremendous value in growing our network, and is seeking to continue the development of innovations and partnership locally, nationally and internationally. This goal has inspired the working theme for our first Queen's University UC3 forum:

Queen's - UC3 forum - Innovation and Partnering for Climate Action Impact

Surrounded by other academic institutions in a sustainability-minded city, and home to top researchers specializing in environmental impact, Queen’s University has a unique opportunity to educate, engage, and inspire our communities with information, resources, and opportunities to tangibly take meaningful actions in combating climate change.

The objective of this forum was to develop a shared understanding of the current state of climate action in our community and create connections and opportunities to support each other in our climate action goals.

The Queen's University UC3 forum capped off Sustainability Week on October 3, 2019 with a daylong forum offering a robust line-up of speakers, panelists, and idea-sharing.

Forum Highlights

Applying a Queen's Degree to Combating Climate Change

Mike Gerbis highlighted his career journey and how he applied his Queen's degree to combating climate change.

Mike oversees two leading Canadian organizations with a combined mission to “identify, connect and support the global community of change makers to accelerate society’s transformation to a sustainable, prosperous and socially just future for our children.” As CEO of The Delphi Group and GLOBE Series, Mike spends a significant amount of his time developing partnerships and working closely with domestic and international leaders from all levels of government, private sectors across the economy, not-for-profit groups, youth organizations and clean tech solution providers and investors to advance the transition to a sustainable future, while enhancing Canada’s prosperity. He also provides strategic insight to Boards of Directors, federal and provincial ministers and senior executives on issues related to climate change risk management, corporate sustainability and clean tech/clean energy innovation, commercialization and deployment.

In addition to over 25 years of experience in strategic consultancy and event management, Mike also devotes personal time to advancing sustainability and clean technology. He is past Chair of Clean Air Champions and has co-founded two other not-for-profit organizations – Leading Change Canada (current Chair) and The Climate Reality Project Canada (Founding Chair). He also regularly engages and educates youth and business leaders across Canada through initiatives such as SHAD Valley International, TEC Canada and requested presentations and workshops for boards and senior executives on topics such as sustainability, clean tech/clean energy innovation and climate change risk mitigation.

Making a Difference: Universities as Living Labs and Agents of Change

Dr. John Robinson is a Professor in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and in the School of the Environment, at the University of Toronto. Dr. Robinson’s research focuses on the intersection of sustainability, community engagement, and technological, behavioural, and societal change. From encouraging solution development in his own classroom, to working on sustainable buildings, Dr. Robinson has worked to encourage the world, particularly post-secondary institutions, to do their part to improve climate action and contribute to sustainability.

Presentation abstract: The social contract between universities and the society’s they serve is changing. It used to be enough for universities to do research and educate students. Increasingly, however, we are being asked to engage tangibly and actively with the problems faced by the societies which fund us. I will explore the challenges and opportunities facing universities attempting to respond to this demand with regard to sustainability. Based on an agenda which moves beyond harm reduction to what we call regenerative sustainability (human activity that improves both human and environmental well-being), and using examples from UBC, Copenhagen Business School, Chalmers University of Technology, and U of T, I will outline an agenda for transforming the campus into a living laboratory of sustainability, where faculty, staff and students, along with private, public and NGO sector partners, use the university’s physical plant, as well education and research capabilities, to test, study, teach, apply and share lessons learned, technologies created and policies developed.

Research and Innovation Panel

A collection of Queen's researchers from various fields of study highlighted their sustainability research and the implementation of that research. 

The Burden of Proof: Academia's Responsibility in Informing the Public on Climate Change

Dr. John P. Smol is a professor at Queen’s University and the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. Dr. Smol’s research focuses on lake sediment as a way to explore how ecosystems change over long periods of time in response to both human and non-human environmental change. Much of his research is focused in the Arctic, one of the most sensitive ecosystems to climate change. Dr. Smol’s research works to improve our understanding of human impact on aquatic ecosystems, along with creating better methods for understanding climate change.

Presentation abstract: In universities we search for the truth. In some quarters, however, it has become acceptable to dismiss the search for evidence as the domain of “elites.” We live in an era when it has become increasingly common to receive unsubstantiated pronouncements on complex issues like climate change and human rights, typically in “tweets”. My general concern is that science, at the very least, is being under-used by politicians, policymakers, and the public-at-large. At worst, science is being misinterpreted, misrepresented, and misused. I believe that we, as academics, are partly to blame for this situation. My focus will be on climate science, using primarily Canadian examples, although I believe many of my concerns are applicable to other disciplines and regions. I believe the onus falls increasingly on academic scientists to provide information transfer in effective ways.

Community Partnerships for Sustainability Panel

Representatives from various Kingston community groups outlined their climate action initiatives and discussed how we can work together to achieve our sustainability goals.

The panel was introduced and moderated by Councillor Bridget Doherty. Panelist representation comprised of Queen's University, St. Lawrence College, the City of Kingston, Sustainable Kingston, and Tyendinaga.