Engaging Youth and Fostering Sustainability

Vincent Chiu, a third-year student in the Department of Psychology and 2016 UBC Sustainability Ambassador, shares how he is enhancing his education through sustainability courses and experiences.  

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

A: Hello, my name is Vincent Chui. I am about to enter my third year at UBC. I’m currently taking a Major in Psychology with a Minor in Health and Society.  Growing up in the Metro Vancouver region, I was able to engage in cosmopolitan issues and join in interdisciplinary discussions which shaped me into the person I am today. In my free time, I like to bike and actively engage youth in societal issues and encourage political collaboration by connecting ideas and youth with municipal and federal government representatives. My interests also extend to cognitive and behavioral psychology, neuroscience, lean start-ups and entrepreneurship, technology, behavioral economics, impact investing and social innovation.

Q: How did you first get involved in sustainability at UBC? 

A: I have always had an interest in sustainability. In Grade 11, I remember going to a student leadership conference, and at that conference I ended up attending an inspiring lecture led by Dr. John Robinson (former Associate Provost for Sustainability at UBC). John talked about regenerative sustainability, and the idea of shifting mindsets for a more sustainable world. Sustainability is a slow process, and one that requires a change in behaviour. This was a turning point for me, as I saw a natural link between sustainability and psychological behaviour, so I knew that majoring in psychology was a natural fit for me. 

Q: What are you up to over the Summer? 

I'm currently working at a centre that showcases sustainability innovation and technology from around the world. We advise urban planning and development initiatives on how to become more sustainable. I'm also working with a few other Sustainability Ambassadors and we are starting an Earth Charter Club at UBC with a focus on awareness, policy, urban design and impact investing.

Q: What do you enjoy the most academically?

A: When I decided to major in psychology, I knew I wanted to take courses that would allow me to learn more about cognitive sustainability and how our behaviours affect global issues. One of the most memorable courses I took was ENDS 221 “Sustainability by Design” led by Professor Patrick Condon. Not only was Professor Condon extremely inspiring, he encouraged the class to share and argue their own perspectives on sustainability, and really communicated to us the idea that everything is diverse and you can never have enough metrics!  

Q: Any tips for incoming students who want to get involved in sustainability on campus?

A: Clubs, and UBC in general, are very open to new ideas. Blend your sustainability education with any chance to practice it - be it through a club, community or career. Once you've had an opportunity to solve a sustainability challenge once, you can do it again for any group on campus and scale it up. Rather than trying to solve multiple challenges, I'd recommend trying to solve a single challenge very well at a large scale over your 4-6 years at UBC. Most of all, join the UBC Sustainability Ambassadors!

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