Being a Master's Student at the Institute of the Environment - What their first week of class looks like!

Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Blog Post

Every year, we organize an action-packed Welcome Week that brings together our Master’s of Environmental Sustainability (MES) students, our professors and local environmental professionals. The program starts with an intense three-day orientation that lets our students learn more about the National Capital Region and discuss the meaning of sustainability with professors. It also allows them to meet members of their cohort from different disciplines. The goal is to foster a collaborative environment, connect students with environmental leaders, highlight different environmental opportunities and have fun!

Panels and networking
Orientation Week SPI Roundtable Session - Institute of the Environment

Students talking with research experts during the SPI roundtable discussions

As part of our orientation, we aim to offer students high-quality networking opportunities with professionals, experts and stakeholders working in environmental sustainability. On the first day, our students had the opportunity to engage with leading environmental-economy experts from the Smart Prosperity Institute (SPI). They discussed various topics during 10-minute roundtable sessions, including effective communication for impact, sustainable agriculture, behavioural economics, clean innovation and conservation of species at risk. The roundtables allowed the students to hear about SPI’s national research in these areas, and even inspired some thesis and research paper topics for them.

 

 

Institute of the Environment - Career Opportunities in Environmental Sustainabillity

Career Opportunities in Environmental Sustainability panel. (From left) Don Grant (moderator), Kate Lindsay (FPAC), Stephan Wehr (Delphi Group), Julie Pezzack (Stratos) and Scott Vaughan (CCICED).

This year’s program also included a panel titled Career Opportunities in Environmental Sustainability. Approximately 70 people, including our students, were able to connect and learn from professionals from the Delphi Group, Stratos, the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED). The panellists identified certain skills, knowledge and attitudes that are important for success in their fields. They also offered advice and wisdom for all those interested in environmental sustainability careers

Panellist Stephan Wehr, vice-president of Delphi Group, told us that the event was a great opportunity not only for our students, but also for MES alumni and the panellists themselves!

“I really enjoyed participating on the MES career opportunities panel, and it also bore some immediate fruit for us — we ended up hiring a former MES grad who was in the audience that day and reached out to me afterwards”
— Stephan Wehr, Delphi Group

We also hosted an informal alumni panel just for our students. It allowed them to learn more about the program from the perspective of former students. The alumni discussed what they enjoyed most about the program, how the program helped them after their studies and what projects they are currently working on, while sharing valuable advice. The panel was greatly appreciated by the students, as it prepared them for the road ahead!

Tours in the National Capital Region
Gatineau Park Hike - Institute of the Environment Orientation Program

Students and staff during the Gatineau Park hike.

During orientation, we also want our students to learn about environmental initiatives and conservation efforts taking place in our wonderful city. Students and staff hiked Gatineau Park’s King Mountain trail with park managers and conservationists. They learned that the National Capital Commission has a long tradition of conserving and protecting natural environments in Gatineau Park. Researchers from scientific and academic institutions have been studying the park for over 40 years. The park contains various ecosystems and habitats, and is home to more than 1,600 plant, 50 fish, 54 mammal, 232 bird and 17 amphibian species.

In addition, participants toured Zibi, a sustainable community redevelopment project by Windmill Development and Dream Unlimited Corp. with low and high-rise condominium towers and townhomes, commercial and office space, unique waterfront plazas and outdoor squares, and recreational facilities. Windmill staff led the tour.During orientation, we also want our students to learn about environmental initiatives and conservation efforts taking place in our wonderful city. Students and staff hiked Gatineau Park’s King Mountain trail with park managers and conservationists. They learned that the National Capital Commission has a long tradition of conserving and protecting natural environments in Gatineau Park. Researchers from scientific and academic institutions have been studying the park for over 40 years. The park contains various ecosystems and habitats, and is home to more than 1,600 plant, 50 fish, 54 mammal, 232 bird and 17 amphibian species.

The site is uniquely situated on the banks of the Ottawa River, in both Ottawa and Gatineau, and is on unceded Algonquin territory. The tour illustrated how issues related to the environment are interdisciplinary. The guide explained that negotiations are ongoing with the provinces of Quebec and Ontario and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and laws and standards vary by province. Windmill and Dream are trying to be visionary and raise the standard for green development. The tour illustrated the complexity of the project, and how a number of areas (law, policy, economics, science, stakeholder engagement, public consultations, etc.) needed to be considered to achieve its goal of sustainable and profitable redevelopment.

Team-building activities

Students in our program come from varying backgrounds — natural sciences, social sciences, arts and law.  Welcome Week team-building activities aimed to create a sense of community among them and provide an opportunity for self-reflection, so that students could identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Despite this more serious goal, the week also included a lot of laughs! Students completed a number of activities in small groups, including an on-campus photo scavenger hunt with various challenges and charades. This bonding experience certainly helped students and staff to get to know each other, and created lifelong memories.

Institute of the Environment - Orientation Program Introductions

Introduction to the program with Scott Findlay, associate director and professor at the Institute of the Environment

 

Much more!

Other Welcome Week events included a Campus Sustainability Tour, to highlight the good work uOttawa is doing; an introduction to sustainability seminar with IE professors, which highlighted how various fields approach environmental sustainability and how they intersect; a conversation with sustainability entrepreneurs; a CO-OP information session; an administrative info session; and — perhaps best of all — a happy hour at the Heart & Crown!

 

 

 


Apply for our Master’s of Environmental Sustainability Program!

Deadline to apply:

  • Canadian citizens and permanent residents: February 1

 

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