Past Summits

Every year, the Office of Sustainability collaborates with the Student Umbrella for Social Justice, and Sustain SU: The Student Sustainability Service to host the Student Sustainability Summit. This event allows like-minded students to come together and make connections, discover tools, and develop skills in order to inspire sustainable changes on campus and in their communities.

Winter 2016

2016 Theme Sustainable Cities And Communities: Planning for transformational change.

What makes a community sustainable? Faced with the challenge of climate change, communities must demonstrate resiliency and undergo transformation in order to learn to thrive in the new global context. In this conference, participants will take a critical examination of the processes, policies, ethics and societal implications of growth and development.

We will explore the role of political and community leadership, power and privilege, as well as how historical and contemporary forces shape the places we live today. Together we will take a solutions-based approach, to discover how local actions can create global change.

Session Descriptions

Presenters range from advocates for tiny homes to net-zero engineers, CEOs of successful social enterprises to experienced urban planners.

Winter 2015

Woman serving healthy green salad.

The fifth annual summit was held on January 24 and 25, 2015 at the University of Alberta. The theme was Food for Thought - Exploring pathways to sustainable food systems, a critical exploration of the processes, policies and impacts that our food systems have on people, planet and profit.

From farm to fridge, we all experience and interact with food frequently and in varied ways. Participants examined the structure, strengths and weaknesses of the complex food systems within which we exist, and learned how food relates to culture, politics, justice, health, environment, land use and more. Speakers were encouraged to use a solutions-based approach to explore community-driven movements and the ways in which food activism opens the door for sustainable food systems.

This was the largest summit yet, with participation from students across the province. 139 students from 13 post-secondary institutions attended, including 25 from Calgary, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray and Red Deer. That represents a 50 per cent increase in participants and twice the number of institutions.

Session highlights

  • Michael Walters: Edmonton city councillor reflected on the challenge of food security as a political leader and hobby food system entrepreneur.
  • Debra Davidson: explained how climate change exacerbates food security, and engaged listeners in some of the innovations that could save the day.
  • The importance of indigenous food sovereignty, harvesting local and wild food, food systems, how gender and food politics intersect, and more.

Winter 2014

Woman student speaks while other students listen in classroom.

The fourth annual summit was held on January 24 and 25, 2014 at the University of Alberta. This year, the summit took an organizing theme: “Power & Prosperity: The relationship between energy systems and communities.” Workshops and speakers presented on the varied and complex opportunities and challenges that result from energy production and consumption. The theme provided for an in depth exploration of the environmental, economic and socio-political consequences of fossil fuels in Alberta and beyond.

Students from across the province joined in the summit. Thanks to sponsorship from eBus, travel was arranged for students travelling from Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Calgary and Lethbridge.

Session highlights

  • Cara Pike: Friday's keynote by the founder of Climate Access explored ways to communicate more effectively on the need to respond to climate change.
  • Joe Arvai: Saturday's keynote by University of Calgary professor Joe Arvai discussed ways to democratize resource management in Alberta.
  • Green Energy Futures: documentary-maker David Dodge shared stories from the frontline of the green energy revolution.
  • Temporary Foreign Workers: Dr. Alison Taylor, Dr. Bob Barnetson, and Jason Foster provided insight into Alberta's labour policies and their role in the energy industry.
  • Solar energy: three different solar engineers were on-hand to share their experiences in the industry.

Winter 2013

Three people seen from behind, conversing; lecture hall full of people fades into distance.

Winter 2013’s Student Sustainability Summit was held on January 25 and 26, 2013. This year the Summit Planning Committee decided to extend the event by an extra day. Again, the Summit  invitation was extended to other post-secondary institutions in the Edmonton area. While attendees were mainly from the University of Alberta, there also students from Kings University College, Grant MacEwan University, NAIT, NorQuest College and Athabasca University.

Session highlights

  • Sustainability Scholars: A Graduate Student Discussion on Sustainability in Practice – Hosted by Stephy Sylvestre, Moderated by: Naomi Krogman
  • Keynote Speakers – January 26 AM: Jessie Radies of Live Local Alberta, PM: Trevor W. Harrison of the Parkland Institute
  • Social Justice 101 – Hosted by the Student Umbrella for Social Justice, Presenter Sayeed Devraj-Kizuk and Elauna Boutwell
  • It’s in the story: Building leaders for positive change – Hosted by the Greater Edmonton Alliance, Presenter: Kristen Goa
  • Developing Capacity: A Model for Community Based Sustainability Initiatives – Hosted by Sustainable Food Edmonton, Presenter: Areni Kelleppan
  • Fostering Sustainable Behavoir – Hosted by the Office of Sustainability, Presenter: Lisa Dockman

Attendees included the following comments about their experience in their evaluations:

“I really enjoyed the questions that it provoked me to ask myself about the community that I am a part of. Also I valued the opportunity to share the many concerns I have and hearing others thoughts.”

“We were able to hear from people who have focused on some of the many different aspects of sustainability.”

"I loved meeting new people who had similar interests to me and it was an amazing congregation of inspiring and like-minded thinkers!”

"Very well organized, structured and facilitated! I felt such a good vibe and the positive, cooperative energy was inspiring!”

Winter 2012

Large group of people looking up at camera, pointing fingers upward.

Winter 2012’s Student Sustainability Summit was held on January 28, 2012. The invitation to the event was extended to other post-secondary institutions in the Edmonton area. While attendees were mainly from the University of Alberta, there were also students from Grant MacEwan, NAIT and Red Deer College present!

Session highlights

  • Keynote Speaker – Julian Agyeman
  • Speaking Up for Sustainability – Hosted by Pembina Institute, Presenter: David Dodge
  • Sustainability Scholars – Hosted by Stephy Sylvester and Stefanie Drozda
  • Youth Engagement and Community Development – Hosted by Edmonton’s Next Generation, Presenter: Tegan martin
  • Advocacy: Moving the Window of Possibilities – Hosted by the Parkland Institute, Presenter Ricardo Acuña
  • Action Planning – Hosted by Sustain SU and the Office of Sustainability, Presenters: Lisa Dockman and Ian Moore

Attendees included the following comments about their experience in their evaluations:

Good presenters, fun and learning intensive atmosphere!”

The Summit focused on more than just the environmental side of sustainability.”

“[The Summit] had a very welcoming environment where people developed relationships with one another.”

Fall 2011

Young women conversing in lecture seats

Fall 2011’s Student Sustainability Summit was held on October 22, 2011 as part of Sustainability Awareness Week.

Session highlights

  • Keynote Speaker – Bill McKibbon
  • Social Justice 101 – Hosted by SUSJ and EWB, Presenters: Elauna Boutwell, Zoe Wagner, Rebecca Kresta and Sierra Jensen.
  • Consensus Decision Making & Team Building – Hosted by APIRG, Presenter: Denise Ogonoski
  • Creating a buzz - Inspiring your audience to take action – Hosted by the Office of Sustainability. Presenter: Emily Dietrich, Sustainability Coordinator (Outreach and Engagement)
  • Funding Opportunities & Grant Writing – Hosted by Student Group Services, APIRG and the Office of Sustainability. Presenters: Bill Pickering, Louise Veillard and Cheryl Williams.
  • Sustainable Living Beyond the Classroom – Presenter: Emilio Gagliardi from Eco Evolver.

Some glowing comments from Summit participants

There were a lot of interesting workshops and a lot of notice ahead of time of when the summit would be.

The food was really good, it was free, the volunteers and delegates were very friendly.

Winter 2011

Young photographer smiles for the camera; banquet tables in background.

Winter 2011’s Student Sustainability Summit was organized primarily by Sustain SU, with the support of many partners including the Office of Sustainability.

For more information on this event, please visit Sustain SU.