Lieutenant-governor talks social sustainability with Brock students, researchers


Ontario’s lieutenant-governor met with a group of Brock University students and researchers Wednesday to discuss environmental sustainability, mainly how to understand and bring ‘social’ aspects back into sustainability discourses.

Less than three months after taking office, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell said the discussion on environmental sustainability was just getting started.

“We have so much in this province,” Ms. Dowdeswell told a group of close to 40 in the sixth floor of Brock’s Plaza building, which is a hub of the University’s increasingly renowned environmental sustainability activities. “We are so rich in terms of resources, human resources, and have so much to contribute to the rest of the world. We are doing some of that and we don’t talk about it and we don’t let people know about it.”

Ms. Dowdeswell engaged in a roundtable discussion with many of the faculty and students from Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC).

“I think the answers will continue to be looking systemically and holistically at things, which make for great conversation but not a very good track record in terms of delivering,” she said. “Finding ways in which we can focus on systemic issues and responses, real problem solving as opposed to standing up on a platform and finger pointing, is part of the way ahead.”

First-year Sustainability Science and Society graduate program student Katrina Krievins said the lieutenant-governor’s visit and discussion “validates what we are interested in researching here in the program and in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.”

“It shows that it’s very important in Ontario and the world.”

Brock scientist Ryan Plummer, Director of the ESRC and driving force behind the new graduate program, said the lieutenant-governor’s visit so early in her term is an honour for the University, and a strong signal about the importance of sustainability initiatives.

“I’m invigorated by the lieutenant-governor wanting to talk to Ontarians and, specifically, get the social aspect of environmental sustainability on the agenda,” he said. “We need to think innovatively about different mechanisms to make that happen.”

The visit caps off a year in which Brock was awarded a UNESCO Chair for sustainability research, and also launched the new Sustainability Science and Society graduate program that grants a master’s in sustainability.

Before she became the Queen’s representative in Ontario this fall, Ms. Dowdeswell had a distinguished career as an internationally-recognized executive, including terms as Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Program.

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