Senate Approves “Strategic Directions” Almost Unanimously

Questions About Commitment to Sustainability Questioned by One Senator

The Greenhouse located in Concordia University’s hall-building is one of many student-run initiatives trying to promote a sustainable environment. Photo Brandon Johnston

A draft of Concordia University’s “strategic directions” has been approved by its body of Senators almost unanimously at their last monthly assembly of the year.

Senate, the second highest decision making body at the university, passed the draft with only one vote against. The Board of Governors will validate this draft in June, according to university spokesperson Chris Mota.

University President Alan Shepard called the draft the “first phase” of a two-part process. It basically is an outline of how the administration can evolve the school to better serve the needs of students and the local community.

Trevor James Smith, the outgoing graduate representative for Senate, says that he’s concerned how the document treats environmentally sustainable initiatives as “niche” topics.

He adds that the administration leaves these issues to a few disciplines like urban planning, geography and a few programs in engineering.

“We’re not letting the motivation of sustainability permeate into the greater bulk of the Concordia curricula,” the geography graduate student said.

The term “sustainability” is only once used in the document, and it says that the university will make a “deep and multidimensional commitment” to it.

“People should be leaving the university, regardless of what you study, with a general aptitude,” Smith said about teaching sustainability.

Sustainability is an “incredibly important societal issue,” and it is one the document addresses using different terminology, Mota says. She references how it calls for “future-ready students” to have “global competence and environmental intelligence.”

Students have previously demonstrated a willingness to learn about sustainability. During the second ever gathering of the university’s student congress last November, a motion to integrate a “sustainability component” into all programs passed.

“If sustainability is still not in this document, then I’m not sure why,” Smith continued.

In December 2014, the school created a “sustainability governance framework,” which includes three subcommittees that completes tasks like evaluating resource usage, environmental safety and community engagement.

If the hierarchy of committees acted faster over the past two years, there might have been more recommendations for the first phase of “strategic directions,” Smith argues.

With “action planning” beginning in the fall, Mota says that the subcommittees work can be aligned to match the new directions.