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SFU’s Faculty of Environment celebrates 10 years of working toward a better world

May 03, 2019
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The birth of SFU’s Faculty of Environment a decade ago signaled that the university was ready to accept the challenge of addressing the earth’s changing environment.

The faculty, which celebrated its 10th year in April, is one of just four environment faculties in Canada and the only one in Western Canada. It is home to the country’s only interdisciplinary bachelor of environment and offers the unique, collaborative Master of Ecological Restoration program in partnership with the B.C. Institute of Technology.

“It was becoming clear that the changing global environment was going to influence a wide range of human activities,” recalls professor Jonathan Driver, who became vice-president, academic in 2008. He stickhandled the faculty’s creation in 2009 through tight budgets and resistance from conservative professors.

“The university has a responsibility to educate and research in fields that are relevant to society at large.”

A decade on and that vision to develop solutions to environmental problems remains core to the faculty’s strategic plan, says Dean Ingrid Leman Stefanovic, who has led the faculty for the past five years.

The faculty’s goal is to find ways, through teaching, research and community engagement, to help address critical ecological problems and to prepare students to find new solutions for the betterment of the planet, Stefanovic says.

Over the past decade the faculty has initiated new interdisciplinary programs, like the professional master’s in heritage resource management, and certificates in cultural resource management and biological anthropology. This year saw the launch of SFU’s School of Environmental Science.

“The Faculty of Environment’s success story is due to the pervasive culture of community engagement, interdisciplinarity and collegiality at SFU,” says Stefanovic. “We should be proud to have both created a unique Faculty of Environment and to be building a unit of national and international significance.”

DID YOU KNOW?

SFU’s Faculty of Environment will have graduated 3,400 students (including spring 2019 grads) since its creation and its undergraduate headcount has steadily increased to its current level of 1,090 students.

RESEARCH AND MEDIA COVERAGE:

Here’s a look at some of the exciting recent research and media coverage of the Faculty of Environment.

DEPARTMENT OF ARCHAEOLOGY:

Dana Leposky and her recent work on clam gardens received extensive media coverage.

George NicholasConversation article on assessing the scientific nature of traditional knowledge received more than 300,000 views.

Hugo Cardoso was recently appointed a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

SCHOOL OF RESOURCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT:

Food waste expert Tammara Soma was featured in Chatelaine.

Anne Salomon and her recent work on kelp forests, sea otters, sea stars, clam gardens.

DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY:

Kirsten Zickfeld was one of the lead authors of the IPCC 1.5 report released in the Fall.  It was covered extensively.

Nick Blomley was recently named a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

SCHOOL OF ENVIROMENTAL SCIENCE:

The Faculty of Environment’s newest school launched in April 2019 to train the next generation of scientists to tackle environmental problems.