3 Highlights from uOttawa’s Master’s of Environmental Sustainability Orientation Week!

Publié le mardi 17 octobre 2017

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University of Ottawa Master of Environmental Studies 2017 cohort

Photo credit : Master's of Environmental Sustainability, uOttawa

Every year, uOttawa’s Institute of the Environment organizes an action-packed Welcome Week that brings together our Master’s of Environmental Sustainability (MES) students, our uOttawa professors, and local environmental professionals. 
The aim of the program is to foster a collaborative environment, connect students with environmental leaders, highlight different environmental opportunities, and have fun!

Lisa Bayley-Craig

Lisa Bayley-Craig

“I came into this program thinking I wanted to be an advisor in the energy sector. But the information received from the many presentations during orientation has opened my eyes to a wider scope of areas I can explore. ”

Lisa Bayley-Craig, 2017 Master’s of Environmental Sustainability Candidate



Here are three highlights from this year’s program:

1 - Hiking and Learning! Gatineau Park – Biodiversity Conservation in the National Capital Region

Master's of Environmental Sustainability - Orientation 2017

Photo credit : Master's of Environmental Sustainability, uOttawa


Students and staff hiked up Gatineau Park’s King Mountain trail with Park Managers and Conservationists. We learned that the National Capital Commission (NCC) 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 species; 50 fish species; 54 mammal species; 232 bird species and 17 amphibian species. Of all the species identified, 133 are classified as being at risk . Park management is concerned with various conservation issues such as protecting biodiversity, protecting species at risk, and limiting habitat fragmentation. With the anticipated trends associated with climate change, the Park must act to reverse the impacts of certain stressors otherwise its health will quickly deteriorate. 

MES alumnae Danielle Soulard wrote her final Research Paper on the Park: "Impacts of Recreational Trails on Wildlife Species: Implications for Gatineau Park."

2 - Team-building Activities at Eco-Niche

Master's of Environmental Sustainability - Orientation 2017

Photo credit : Master's of Environmental Sustainability, uOttawa

Students in our program come from varying backgrounds – natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and law.  The Welcome Week’s team-building activities aims to create a sense of community among students and provide students with some self-reflection so that they can identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Despite this more serious goal - the session also includes a lot of laughs! In small groups, students complete a number of challenges: 

  • 3 Minutes to Win It! 
  • Sorting Numbers Game
  • Environmental Sustainability Resources Challenge, and of course, 
  • An Egg Toss

Everyone cracks up (pun intended) as students launch their contraptions across the dirt road to see whose engineering feat goes the farthest. With a well-designed and carefully calculated metric (the human step), we determine which team has the best toss with the least amount of eggs broken. We hope that this bonding experience helps students get to know each other and the staff, and fosters an environment where students can help each other throughout the program, and into their professional careers.


Aaron Levine-Master's of Environmental Sustainability candidate

Aaron Levine

“This orientation really helped me get comfortable with the people I will be spending the next year or two with, which is great because I've learned we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and will be able to assist each other in the areas we're not as familiar with.” 
Aaron Levine, 2017 Master’s of Environmental Sustainability Candidate.



3 – A Tour at Zibi with Windmill Development Staff

Master's of Environmental Sustainability - Orientation 2017

Photo credit : Master's of Environmental Sustainability, uOttawa

Zibi is a sustainable community redevelopment project by Windmill Development and Dream Unlimited Corp. The project aims to develop a sustainable living space that includes low and high rise condominium towers and townhomes, commercial and office space, unique waterfront plazas and outdoor squares, and recreational facilities. The site is unique as it is situated on the banks of the Ottawa River, in both the City of Ottawa and the City of Gatineau, and is on unceded Algonquin territory. “This project promises to be one of the most socially sustainable, environmentally-friendly and innovative developments in Canada” .
The tour illustrates how issues related to the environment are interdisciplinary in nature. The guide explained that negotiations are constantly underway with the province of Quebec and Ontario, the Government of Canada, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and the laws and norms vary by province. Windmill and Dream are trying to be visionaries and strive to increase the standard for green development compliance. And, at the end of the day, like any business, they want to turn a profit. 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 a sustainable and profitable redevelopment site. 


The Master’s of Environmental Sustainability program also focuses on those four knowledge domains with foundations in Economics, Science, Law, and Policy. Our goal is to provide students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to integrate these knowledge domains and examine environmental challenges and opportunities as a whole.

Other Welcome Week events include a Welcome Round Table, an Introduction to Smart Prosperity Institute and the Eco-Fiscal Commission; Campus Sustainability Tour to highlight the good work uOttawa is doing; a Vocational Opportunities Panel; an Introduction to Sustainability Seminar with the IE Professors that highlights how the various domains approach environmental sustainability and how these domains intersect; a Conversation with Sustainability Entrepreneurs; a Welcome Video from the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honorable Catherine McKenna; a CO-OP information session and an Administrative Info Session, and, perhaps best of all - a Happy Hour at the Heart & Crown!

Authored by Kaitlyn Innes, Assistant Director (Graduate Studies) at the Institute of the Environment. 

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