From March 13 to 17, 2023, the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) will be holding its fourth Sustainability Week. To help start the programming, U of T professors Shashi Kant, Stephen Scharper, Andrea Olive, and Blake Poland will bring their collective health and environmental expertise to lead a panel discussion called “Love + Sustainability.”
“When we’re thinking about love, you think about the love you have for your family, your friends, your pets, but what happens when the external [world around us] is not receiving that same amount of love?” asks Michelle Atkinson, the sustainability projects and engagement coordinator for the Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MScSM) program at UTM, in conversation with The Medium. “Each of [the panelists] will have an opportunity to speak about the intersection of sustainability and love from their own perspective.”
“We want this panel to be something that is accessible to anyone, but we also want it to be a deeply meaningful conversation for anyone attending who has known [Barbara Murck] and [Rose Mary Craig],” explains Atkinson. Before they passed away, Murck was a professor at MScSM, and Craig was a program coordinator at MScSM—both dedicated their lives to sustainability.
Atkinson has worked with partners, including the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union, the UTM Sustainability Office, and the MScSM Student Executive Council (MSEC), to hold events for Sustainability Week. Notable events include the Trashion Show and MSEC Presents: Mock COP (Conference of the Parties).
The Trashion Show will be held on March 14, 2023, at the William G. Davis Building’s Meeting Place. Atkinson explains that, “Some people have submitted ideas ahead of time, but we’re also inviting anyone to attend, […] whether it be a creative design out of reusable materials, or […] your best thrifted hand-me-down traded outfit.”
Likewise, UTM’s first-ever COP will be held on March 17, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Student Centre’s Presentation Room. The event is modelled after United Nations (UN)-style conferences, where delegations from various countries gather to discuss global issues like climate change. Participating students will be assigned a delegation, then presented with a wide-scale challenge to solve. Students are welcome to register for the event.
“There is a role that everyone can play within [sustainability] and make it something that [they] do with love and with care […] because it has a very, very wide lens,” Atkinson says. “Sustainability, like love, is a universal thing.”
According to ESG | The Report, a company that advises individuals and businesses on how to invest in sustainable living and practices, there are three pillars of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic. As explained by the company, the social pillar “focuses on creating a better quality of life for all [through] access to basic services such as health care, sanitation, and education.” The environmental pillar “seeks to protect and conserve natural resources while using them in a responsible manner.” The economic pillar puts forth that “investment in renewable energy sources and promoting fair trade practices” will ensure equitable growth.
“Often when people think of sustainability, they think only of the environment and might say something like, ‘I am not an environmentalist, I wish I could contribute to this [cause], but I can’t,’” says Atkinson. “These pillars, along with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals are very accessible in the sense that we all can see ourselves represented in them.” In this belief, Atkinson believes that Sustainability Week encourages UTM to work “towards a more sustainable community on campus and beyond.”
Sports & Health Editor (Volume 49)| email@example.com — Alisa is a third-year student completing a major in Professional Writing and Communication with a double minor in Political Science and Cinema Studies. She served as Editor-in-Chief of Mindwaves Volume 15 and Compass Volume 9 and was a recipient of the Harold Sonny Ladoo Book Prize for Creative Writing at UTM. Her personal essay, “In Pieces,” appears in the summer 2020 issue of The Puritan. In 2022, she published her first poetry chapbook, Post-Funeral Dance, with Anstruther Press and wrote for The Newcomer as a journalist. When Alisa isn’t writing, she’s probably reading historical nonfiction, ugly-crying over a sad K-drama, or dreaming of places far, far away.