Sustainability: Transdisciplinary Theory, Practice, and Action (STTPA) Conference at the University of Toronto Mississauga

Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Blog Post

By Charlotte Heller, Master of Environmental Sustainability (MES) Candidate, Institute of the Environment, University of Ottawa.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them” – Albert Einstein

This quote shared by one of the keynote speakers perfectly captures the sentiments of the participants of the STTPA Conference, a three-day interdisciplinary sustainability conference organized by the Institute for Management and Innovation at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present my master’s thesis research at this conference, which hosted academics and professionals from around the world working on sustainability across a variety of sectors. Participants were welcome to present their work as it related to any of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals; as you can imagine, there was a diverse selection of presentations and lively discussions on a wide range of topics intersecting environmental, social, and economic sustainability

Keynote Speakers

Each keynote speaker had a unique background that led them to a career in sustainability in their respective fields. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Ersilia Serafini on her career path to becoming president of Summerhill, and from John Cartwright who spoke about the role of labour unions in advancing climate justice efforts in the GTA. It was inspiring to hear from David Suzuki, a seasoned environmental activist and word-renowned leader in sustainability, as well as from Fatima and Amna Sultan, 10- and 8-year-old sisters who represent the next generation of sustainability advocates. The full list of keynote speakers included:

  • Dr. David Suzuki, David Suzuki Foundation
  • Prof. Gregory Cajete, University of New Mexico, Native American Studies
  • Prof. Scott Frickel, Brown University, Sociology
  • Prof. John Holmberg, Chalmers University of Technology, Space, Earth and Environment
  • Ersilia Serafini, President of Summerhill
  • John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council
  • Fatima and Amna Sultan, Two Sisters on a Mission
Concurrent Sessions

The concurrent sessions throughout the conference had something for just about everybody. I went to presentations on sustainability in urban areas, land-use planning, and ecosystem conservation which were relevant to my thesis research, as well as talks which were of personal interest such as behavioral science and sustainability, sustainable public transportation, and the potential use of insects as a protein source.

Poster Presentation
Presenting my thesis research during the poster session

Presenting my thesis research during the poster session

The poster session was a great opportunity to practice presenting my research results to a diverse audience and to stimulate new ideas for my analysis. My poster even won first place among graduate research posters! It was a nice surprise which made my first conference experience that much more memorable.

UTM Campus

The UTM campus was a perfect backdrop for this conference, as sustainable infrastructure is integrated throughout the campus. Surrounded by the Credit River, UTM is home to several LEED certified buildings, green roofs, a bike share program, and beehives which produce honey for campus food services. I was particularly interested to see the campus stormwater pond, as they are the focus of my master’s research.


The STTPA Conference was a great learning and professional development opportunity which enhanced my experience in the MES program. Thank you to the conference organizers for the opportunity to present my research, and to the Institute of the Environment and my supervisor Dr. Frances Pick for providing funding which made it possible for me to attend the conference.

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