Faculty Sustainability Guide

This guide provides starting points for faculty for implementing sustainability and climate action in relation to teaching and research responsibilities. This critical work is informed by diverse perspectives and Indigenous ways of knowing; we can all help enact the tenets of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant and embed interconnected responsibility for climate justice and action into our individual and collective work at OISE. What follows are sugggested sustainability practices and climate actions for you to consider.

Curriculum and Teaching

students in garden

Network: Share events with your students and professional communities from OISE groups related to sustainability, including SCAN, OISE Wellness, Indigenous Education Network (IEN), the Centre for Indigenous Educational Research, and the Centre for Black Studies in Education.

Greening your curriculum: Embed Sustainability & Climate Action (S&CA) into existing courses and/or consider designing new courses with S&CA content. Commit to enacting S&CA in a sustainability statement in your course syllabi. 

Digitize course and program materials (rather than printing them). Consider using the University of Toronto Libraries’ Syllabus Service  for course readings to acknowledge copyright practices and limit the need for students to purchase course readings on paper.

Connect your courses to experiential learning opportunities through Community Engaged Learning (CEL), Campus as a Living Lab (CLL), and OISE’s Community Learning Garden.

Intersections & Decolonization: Embed social and ecojustice topics in your courses (e.g., environmental justice, environmental racism, just transition, climate justice, etc.). Consider ways to bring nature-based, place-based and Land-based learning into your courses by engaging with OISE’s Centre for Indigenous Education Research (CIER), the Indigenous Education Network (IEN), the Natural Curiosity project, Indigenous Climate Action, and Indigenous U of T

Advocate for sustainability expertise as a criteria when hiring new faculty.

Shifting Towards Sustainability at OISE

Each year OISE students work on CCL and CEL projects as part of their course work, contributing to the shifts to sustainability at U of T and in their communities, while gaining valuable professional experience. CLL projects have taken on many forms at OISE - leading workshops, supporting research studies, creating environmental art installations, and contributing to OISE’s S&CA Plan are a few examples. CEL projects have included developing a podcast series, facilitating school EcoTeams, and working with local NGOs.

Community Engagement and Outreach

Centre wellbeing: Explore connections between personal and planetary wellbeing by joining OISE Wellness activities. Improve air quality and ‘green’ your workspace with plants. Schedule outdoor meetings when possible. Reduce the use of single-use plastic at department events.

Connect with OISE’s Sustainability & Climate Action Network (SCAN) to help advance our S&CA Plan. Get involved with OISE’s SCAN webinars, Natural Curiosity webinars, and the annual SCAN conference.

Fund sustainability practices or programs in your department by applying, for instance, to OISE’s Sustainability Fund.

Get involved with deepening sustainability at UT through engaging with the Committee on Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability.

Contribute your expertise to UT and community groups working towards racial, social and climate justice.

OISE students learning in Taddle Creek Park

Shifting Towards Sustainability at OISE

OISE Wellness and SCAN have been partnering on webinars and workshops that focus on the clear connections between human well-being and sustainability. Check out their events on the practices of Nature-based Mindfulness, the importance of Nature-based Learning, and how to engage in Sustainable Happiness.


OISE students & TDSB sharing research

Explore and cite publications on Indigenous-led research initiatives and methodologies.

Promote ‘green’ research practices in your department through sustainable conference planning and reductions in research-related air travel. Hold virtual meetings when possible.

Consider research impacts to the environmental and society in ethics review processes. 

Engage with S&CA educational research initiatives (e.g., ESE-TE network, NAAEE, etc.). 

Offer paid learning opportunities (e.g. GA, RA, Work Study) to support OISE students’ S&CA research. Encourage students to add ESE to their Co-Curricular Record

Support student research in S&CA by serving on thesis/dissertation committees.

Suggest new resources related to S&CA for the library for your research and student reference.

Shifting Towards Sustainability at OISE

Bottled or filtered water? In the past, many departments at OISE purchased bottled water, which has a large carbon footprint due to extraction, transportation, and plastic pollution. As bottled water will no longer be subsidized at OISE, consider using the filtered water found near the elevators on each floor. Bring a (reusable) pitcher to your next meeting!

Facilities and Services

1. Commit to low-carbon transportation (e.g., biking, walking, public transport) when commuting. Check out U of T’s bike repair service and city bike lockers available at OISE. 

2. Reduce your resource use: 

  • Turn off/unplug electronic devices when not in use  
  • Use filtered water from OISE’s refillable water stations
  • Replace single-use plastics with reusable alternatives (e.g., mugs and containers)
  • Take the stairs when possible to lower energy consumption (and improve well-being)  

3. Reduce paper usage:

  • Set printer defaults to double-sided (individually and as a department) 
  • Require students to submit assignments digitally (rather than on paper)
  • Sign forms digitally (e.g., use Adobe signature)  

4. Consider the environmental and ethical impacts of purchasing goods and services. Is this item really needed? How long will it last? Do sustainable or used alternatives exist? Where/how was this item produced? Can it be repaired, reused, or recycled?

5. Make vegan, vegetarian, low-waste, and Fair Trade meals the default option when catering meetings or events. Avoid using single-use plastics at events.