The Sustainability Scholars Program is an innovative paid internship program. We match UBC graduate students with on- and off-campus sustainability partners to work on applied research projects that advance sustainability across the region.
Apply your research skills to real-world sustainability challenges
Get paid and gain valuable professional work experience
Develop applied skills and knowledge under the guidance of a mentor
Build your professional network and enhance your career prospects

How It Works

The program is open to full-time UBC graduate students from any program or discipline. As a Sustainability Scholar, you work under the guidance of a mentor on an applied research project that supports their organization's sustainability goals.


UBC Sustainability Scholars work on applied research projects across a wide range of environmental, economic and social sustainability topics. See our list of current paid internship opportunities.

Project Library

The Scholars Project Library contains hundreds of reports, charts, tool-kits, and more, documenting the applied research produced by Scholars since 2010. A useful body of knowledge to support further research around sustainability.

Fraser Estuary Research Collaborative (FERC)

A new stream in the Sustainability Scholars Program focusing on applied research with the goal of restoring and protecting the endangered Fraser Estuary.

Partner with us

Partner organizations are essential to the UBC Sustainability Scholars Program. Partners provide work experience for UBC graduate students and benefit from their applied research.

Meet the scholars

UBC Sustainability Scholars come from all kinds of backgrounds and academic disciplines. Scholars stand out for being passionate about sustainability, having a strong work ethic, and for their applied research skills.

Fund scholars

Climate change, biodiversity loss, and growing inequality are some of the most urgent issues facing our world today. Support from donors will allow scholars to make a direct impact through organizations doing the on-the-ground work needed to address climate change and other critical sustainability challenges.

Program History

Sustainability Scholars’ projects have been helping to move the dial on sustainability across the region for over 10 years. Find out more about our history, milestones, and impact.

Project Library

This project aims to identify the gaps between BC Energy Step Code airtightness requirements and the construction industry's understanding of building airtight envelopes to support meeting those requirements more predictably and avoiding final blower door test failures.  The report examines the results of an industry-wide online survey identifying trades that can most benefit from support and at what stage(s) of construction practices can be improved to construct an airtight building.

Partner: Township of Langley
Keywords: green buildings

Ezgi Yuruk Haktanirlar

This project draws on the firsthand experiences of congestion pricing professionals in five US cities to share lessons learned within the context of evidence-based recommendations from the fields of public policy, risk communication, and the behavioural sciences. It is our hope that these timely insights will give current and future proponents of congestion pricing the best possible chance of successfully designing and communicating their versions of this essential tool.

Partner: TransLink
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, sustainable development & green economy, transportation

Nigel Deans

This project aims to create a framework post-pandemic community recovery plan for the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. The purpose is to provide recommendations for organizations to implement in order to help the community recover from the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes suggestions in five areas of focus: the overdose epidemic, access to dignified housing, social connection and isolation, autonomy and self-determination, and gender-based and sexualized violence.

Partner: Atira Women’s Resource Society
Keywords: social sustainability

Sarah Glazier

Climate change is catalyzing a new normal, one where the increased severity and frequency of weather-related disaster is driving people to move. This movement is not problematic in itself; however, under crisis conditions it can be devastating. This report outlines emerging global climate displacement strategies to support Canadian policymakers and practitioners in planning for and enabling safe, dignified human movement and resilient, cohesive communities in the face of climate change.

Partner: Climate Displacement Planning Initiative
Keywords: social sustainability, displacement, policy

Sarah Kamal

This report explores the potential for the transition to a circular economy to support a just and sustainable post-pandemic recovery. It provides a base of understanding about net and inclusive circular job growth and a just circular transition, with some recommendations for Greater Vancouver. It also provides insights into how sharing, reuse and repair show up in the lives, livelihoods and enterprises of some marginalized communities in Greater Vancouver.

Partner: Share Reuse Repair Initiative
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling, circular economy

Neha Sharma-Mascarenhas

The Center for Spatial Technologies is developing an online dashboard of high-resolution housing data in Metro Vancouver along with a scorecard system of housing data for cities around the world. Project work included semi-structured interviews with five knowledgeable individuals in the field. Interviewees shared narratives around the housing situation, described details of the housing market, shared insights on housing data, and suggested ways to enhance the tools.

Partner: 221A
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, housing

Charles Pan

This project aims to quantify and compare the climate mitigation benefits of nature-based “green" flood control infrastructure and traditional "grey" constructions. Includes an analysis of literature and data on GHG emissions, identifies the significant information gaps in the literature and offers a set of recommendations to be considered for future work.

Partner: Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Keywords: biodiversity, ecological systems, green buildings

Sadia Ishaq

This report aims to probe the potential roles of and opportunities for non-profits operating community farms in the Canadian context. It includes summaries of information on non-profit community farms obtained from both a literature review and a series of nine community farm case studies, and considerations regarding operations and governance.

Partner: Okanagan Fruit Tree Project Society
Keywords: food systems, social sustainability

Robyn Thomson

This project involved a review of literature and global case studies, and included key informant interviews to determine the feasibility of converting parking garages into affordable housing. Recognizing that City-owned sites face pressure to fulfill many societal needs, four recommendations were developed from the key findings of the research to support the prioritization of 107 East Cordova Street for redevelopment.

Partner: Atira Women's Resource Society
Keywords: social sustainability, transportation, affordable housing, sustainable transportation modes, retrofitting existing infrastructure, parking 

Jimin Park

This project aims to generate reflection, analysis, tools and recommendations on the climate crisis for environmental organizations to engage with and learn from diverse communities using respectful intercultural approaches.

Partner: Sierra Club of British Columbia Foundation
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, sustainability in education

Elizabeth Jackson

This discussion paper provides First Nations communities in BC with an overview of the domestic and international legal frameworks that relate to the right to free, prior and informed consent and mining. The project aims to promote knowledge of legal developments and legal rights, to make suggestions, prompt discussion and  solicit feedback on the ways in which communities could implement the right to free, prior and informed consent in the context of mining on Indigenous lands.

Partner: BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC)
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, human rights

Samantha Wex

This project is focused on forging and establishing partnerships, both internal and external to UBC Okanagan, to support programming, service delivery, and additional opportunities focused on ameliorating student food security through ongoing development of a physical food hub. This project is a direct continuation of Envisioning a Physical Food Hub at UBCO, a Summer 2020 Sustainability Scholars Program project.
Partner: UBC Wellbeing
Keywords: food systems, leadership & behaviour changefood security, food hub 

Sarah Clement

This study explores how CCEL efforts have increased the overall capacity for faculty members to navigate through the effects of the pandemic while achieving their goals and expectations. With this project, CCEL seeks to understand how their support has helped faculty members in pivoting to online community engaged learning, and if the inclusion of elements of place-based learning, contributes to increased opportunity for students and partners to engage.

Partner: UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL)
Keywords: social sustainabilitycommunity engagement, education and learning

Neha Gupta

This project addresses the COVID-19 amplification of barriers women in leadership experience and draws on themes of mentorship, trust, inclusion, authenticity and justice in imagining a path forward. Through interviews with notable women in business and community leaders, the report offers personal stories, lived experiences and calls to action for a feminist economic recovery and building a more just and equitable future.

Partner: Minerva BC
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability

Julia Burnham

This project explores the opportunities in Canadian law towards the shift from the linear economy to the regenerative, circular and sharing economy. It examines how existing policies promoting environmental sustainability in Canada and Canadian substantive law - property law, intellectual property law, contract law, consumer protection law and corporate law, can be deployed and reformed to facilitate the transition to the regenerative, circular and sharing economy in Canada.

Partner: Ecojustice
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling

Oluwakemi Oke

This project aims to inform those involved in shoreline design with precedents and ideas for using a living shoreline approach. This approach proves to be a useful framework and tool for designing sustainable and resilient shorelines. Two sites in the Vancouver region were studied, and their biophysical conditions were described leading to recommendations for focal species and design ideas for each site.

Partner: Space2place Design Inc.
Keywords: biodiversity,watersea level rise

Natasha Jackson-Drouin

Racialized and Indigenous communities (and other historically marginalized groups) are often disproportionately impacted by pollution and unsustainable resource development. Through the development of an interactive dashboard with maps that chart racialized, Indigenous, and lower-income communities and highlight their proximity to industrial polluters such as toxic waste facilities, landfills, or other environmentally hazardous activities, and impactful resource development projects, the study seeks to track the disproportionate impacts of environmental harms on historically marginalized groups in British Columbia (BC). By identifying the environmental racism faced by communities in BC, West Coast Environmental Law seeks to target their environmental legal aid efforts better to support the environmental protection and sustainability of marginalized communities. 

Partner: West Coast Environmental Law
Keywords: environmental racism, environmental justice, climate justice

Blessing Mangwanda

The purpose of this project was to assemble the Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) portion of the Climate Caucus Councillors Handbook. The Handbook serves as a toolkit for elected leaders and their allies to take action on climate change. This project serves as a living handbook for councillors across Canada, providing them the resources needed to present nature-based solutions to their councils.  

Partner: Climate Caucus Council
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, nature-based solutions, green infrastructure

Vanessa Sun

Sustainable Product and Service Factsheets help inform more environmental, ethical, and social purchasing decisions in large public institutions across Canada, including cities, universities, and government agencies. More Canadian organizations want to align their purchasing with their sustainability goals and their staff needs simple tools to make sustainable choices when purchasing thousands of products and services every day. 

Partner: Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP)
Keywords: social sustainability, supply chain management & green procurement, sustainable development & green economy

Varshini Baskar

The Net-Zero Energy-Ready Challenge (NZERBC) supports the development of new buildings that are more energy efficient, less polluting, and more comfortable. This project analysed nine of the winning projects to explore trends in the architectural and mechanical features as well as the GHG emissions potential of the buildings.

Partner: Zero Emissions Building Exchange
Keywords: green buildings, leadership & behaviour change, passive housing, building emissions

Priyadharshini Krishnan Ponnammal