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The Faculty of Environment commits to creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive community where all feel welcome, accepted and appreciated in learning, teaching, research and our work. 

We acknowledge that our work takes place on the unceded ancestral territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the the səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, on which SFU Burnaby is located. We are grateful for our Indigenous partners and the knowledge they share with us.

Introduction

The Faculty of Environment is creating positive impact locally, nationally and globally – connecting our people, and our research with communities and researchers across the world, and across disciplines. With innovative research programs, our faculty, students and staff are making meaningful changes to address emerging challenges of environmental and societal concern.

This Strategic Research Plan guides our direction over the next five years (2022 – 2027) in implementing practices that allow us to achieve our collective vision and mission. The Faculty has experienced significant growth in recent years with the addition of the School of Environmental Science, an increase in student and faculty numbers, and the introduction of new initiatives – all informing the development of this Strategic Research Plan.

Guided by Simon Fraser University’s and the Faculty of Environment’s commitment to Reconciliation and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, our Strategic Research Plan seeks to incorporate these foundational values, and support our approach and practices to actualize our vision in a just, ethical and sustainable way.

Vision, Mission, and Goals

Our Vision is to be leaders in innovative, community-engaged research and teaching that shape a just and sustainable world. This vision is guided by our desire to mobilize the full capacity of our faculty to connect our people and research to support our Mission.  Our mission is to create impactful knowledge and lasting change, and train the next generation of environmental leaders who will continue the legacy of our collective work.

We strive to fulfil this mission through the following goals:

Creating knowledge through multidisciplinary research designed to deepen our understanding of the world and our interactions with people and places.

Providing leadership through just and respectful engagement with our partners - communities, industry, government, and other stakeholders - to address and provide solutions to real-world problems and challenges.

Training leaders and change agents through undergraduate, graduate, professional and post-graduate programs that provide the necessary education and skills to pursue future careers across a diversity of environmental careers.

Who We Are

Critical to the success and functioning of the Faculty of Environment, are the four Academic Units: Department of Archaeology, Department of Geography, School of Resource and Environmental Management, and the School of Environmental Science. The Faculty of Environment is home to 57 tenure-track faculty, along with a number of lecturers, research personnel (Research Associates, Post-doctoral Fellows), and support staff working together to facilitate and enhance the faculty’s research success. (Figure 1). In addition, the faculty is home to 232 graduate students (79 PhD students, 153 Masters’ students) and over 1,000 undergraduate students (source: SFU Institutional Research and Planning, 2020/21 dataset) (Figure 2). 

Figure 1
Figure 2

STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS AND KEY FINDINGS

Strategic Priority Areas

Through the administration of a Faculty-wide survey, and online consultations with our researchers across diverse career stages, valuable thoughts, opinions and insights into the development of the Strategic Research Plan were provided. These discussions will help shape our Faculty over the next five years and identified two strategic priorities to support our vision.

Stategic Priority Area: Our People

The Faculty of Environment aims to further enrich the experience of students, our researchers, faculty, staff, alumni and our partners through the development of a visionary environment that is supportive, dynamic and inclusive. We will create this environment by achieving the following goals:

Goal 1. Establishing Connections

A significant barrier to establishing a tight-knit community in our Faculty is the physical locations of our Academic Units which are spread out over the growing campus.  This creates a barrier to establishing meaningful connections. As we continue to grow, this is an ideal opportunity to reassess how we work to together.

We seek to encourage creativity, increase the sharing of knowledge, and enhance the impact of what we do by encouraging teamwork and collaborative approaches across our Departments and Schools. Such a goal will serve to unlock a number of new opportunities.

Goal 1: Planning to Action

  • To support a healthy, inclusive and supportive environment, and foster the exchange of ideas, the Faculty will hold monthly social events (e.g. coffee break socials).
  • Leveraging the newfound potential of on-line networking technologies to close the distance gap, facilitate convenient interaction, and linking us with inspiring speakers and colleagues from around the world.
  • The Faculty will continue to hold Town Hall events, bringing faculty, staff and students together to an interactive forum for dialogue, discussion and communication of upcoming Faculty initiatives, interests, and activities.
  • Establish a peer mentorship program for new faculty that will support the sharing of experience, and foster new collegial relationships, career planning, skills development and lead to opportunities to meet faculty from other departments or fields.

Goal 2. Enhancing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is central to our mission of creating knowledge, providing leadership and training the leaders of tomorrow. Our goal is to continually find ways to address equity in how we recruit and support graduate students, how we nominate graduate students for awards and scholarships, how we mentor graduate students to the completion of their degrees.  We also seek to keep equity, diversity and inclusion principles and practices in mind as we recruit and support faculty from equity-deserving groups, mentor faculty for success in tenure and promotion, research grants, awards, scholarly productivity, and in their own ability to mentor others. We understand that fostering research excellence, creating knowledge, providing leadership and training students is enhanced as we bring more diverse experiences and perspectives into the Faculty.

Goal 2: Planning to Action

  • The Faculty recently held Town Hall events, hosted by SFU’s EDI Specialists, to gain a deeper understanding of what EDI means to our Faculty, and our individual Departments and Schools. These activities have informed ongoing discussions on how we plan for safer, inclusive and equitable access for our spaces, our community, our teaching, and our research.
  • Explore ways to develop a supportive environment and arrangement for mentorship for our Indigenous faculty, research associates and graduate students, and our faculty and research associates who are people of colour, people with disabilities, and women. 
  • Explore ways to celebrate the learning and wisdom of our diverse faculty, research associates and graduate students, such as providing greater opportunity for our faculty to share how life experiences have shaped research questions, access to different research opportunities, and research impact.
  • Develop a concrete 5-year EDI roadmap to facilitate meaningful action.
  • Align with University-level EDI priorities and actions (e.g., working with VP People, Equity and Inclusion). 

Goal 3. Supporting Our Students

Our goal is to provide a world-class learning experience for our students, while supporting them to be active and engaged participants in the broader vision and mission of the Faculty.

Goal 3: Planning to Action

  • We are discussing with undergraduate students about how they experience the classroom and engage with research through a regularly held student Town Hall/Forum; the goal of the Town Hall/Forum is to inform decision-making for future undergraduate initiatives.
  • Facilitating meaningful opportunities for undergraduate student participation in research activities.
  • Establish an annual graduate research symposia, to support our community of graduate students, and share experiences and research success.
  • Provide community-engaged curriculum that provides real world experience, and establish collaborative research methods training to expose students to different disciplinary practices and facilitate student interaction.
  • Continuing to attract research award funds to better support student research activities.

Strategic Priority Area: Our research 

The Faculty of Environment conducts research that aims to provide solutions to growing problems and challenges of societal and environmental concern. Our research is designed to drive collaborative change within the communities where we work, nationally with our partners, and globally with our impact. Our Faculty’s research strength is based upon the many disciplines and approaches that shape who we are and what we do. Our goals are to:

Goal 1: Foster a Culture of Research Excellence

The Faculty of Environment will bring the diverse experiences and perspectives of our people to develop a culture of research excellence, and celebrate our success in a collaborative, inclusive and supportive manner.

Goal 1: Planning to Action

  • Increase efforts to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate research success by faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and nominate outstanding individuals at all career stages for research awards (internally and externally). 
  • Develop an annual gathering for early career researchers to exchange ideas, and create more knowledge-sharing community across the Units in the Faculty of Environment.
  • Engage leading researchers within the Faculty to share their approaches to research and fund-raising.
  • Apply a lens of diverse metrics to support the recognition of research excellence in different ways (e.g., community engagement, policy influence, public intellectualism, and cultural influence).

Goal 2: Foster Strategic Opportunities for Research Engagement

Our Faculty has research strengths in several societal and environmental areas. We will build upon these areas of excellence in order to take advantage of emerging trends and opportunities.

Goal 2: Planning to Action

  • Set a Faculty-wide goal (e.g., “big issues” such as reconciliation, EDI, biodiversity, etc.) to create a new focus and engagement over a yearly or multi-yearly period (e.g., one every year, and/or one over 5 years, etc.). 

Goal 3: Demonstrate the Impact of Our Work

Through the innovative and ground-breaking research conducted by our researchers, the Faculty of Environment is well-positioned to be leaders and provide solutions to emerging and growing problems of societal and environmental concern. We aim to develop meaningful, and long-lasting partnerships with relevant stakeholders (e.g., industry, government, local and global communities, Indigenous peoples, etc.) to develop timely solutions to real-world problems and challenges. We seek to improve communication of research findings, success, and partnerships both internally, and externally.

Goal 3: Planning to Action

  • Continue our upward trajectory in research excellence and impact by strategically pursuing funding and partnership opportunities, and by recruiting strong researchers. 
  • Define who is most interested and impacted by our research and improve our communication pathways to those audiences.
  • Continue to communicate research findings and success in FENV to our faculty, to the University, and to the key audiences we have identified for FENV research. This may be done through our newsletters, faculty seminars, stories of our researchers and their work through social media, research symposia and dialogues.
  • Promote communications opportunities for our students, providing them with opportunities to make their research findings more accessible to the public (i.e., the Dean’s Office’s current initiative, “Communicate your Research Results”, that provides graduate student the opportunity to develop a publically-accessible article of their recent research findings, facilitated by help provided by the Communications Team in the Dean’s Office).