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.

Apply

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.

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.

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.

About Scholars

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 evaluate current emission reduction resources provided by Climate Smart Businesses Inc., using a sectoral approach to identify gaps in current emission reduction resources and develop sector-specific emission reduction plans. Climate Smart will utilize sector-specific emission reduction plans to guide reduction efforts of small to medium-sized (SMEs) businesses in the short, medium, and long-term. 

Partner: Climate Smart
Keywords: green buildings, leadership & behaviour change, sustainable development & green economy

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2020
Eliza Bethune

Researched innovative practices to support health & wellbeing to reduce incidence of chronic disease in employee populations. Identified strategies to increase usage of nutrition services available to faculty and staff at the University of British Columbia. Uncovered barriers to utilizing and quantified usage of Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) nutrition services through an internal employee survey. Created three electronically-distributable tools to be sent throughout UBC.

Partner: UBC HR
Keywords: food systems, leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability

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2020
Katherine Lienhard

This research provides an overview of the experiences of students belonging to equity-seeking groups at UBC and outlines the barriers that impact their sense of belonging and social connection at the institution. Through assessing the relationship between wellbeing priority areas and social connection the report synthesizes and evaluates the connection between social determinants of health, and the structural determinants of wellbeing that can impact social connection.

Partner: UBC Wellbeing
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, diversity equity and inclusion

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2019
Beatrice Zano

This project aims to support the City of Port Moody to develop an Electric Vehicle (EV) strategy by reviewing the best practices of selected local governments as well as by analyzing the policy context and feasibility of a joint tri-cities strategy.

Partner: City of Port Moody
Keywords: transportation

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2019
Zeynya Alemayehu

This project aims to develop a high-level equity approach to inform the City of Vancouver's Equity Framework for City Plan. Includes best practices on racial and gender equity, intersectionality and decolonization from local governments across North America and Oceania. Provides directions for embedding equity in city planning in a meaningful, transformative and substantive manner to positively impact the lives of all residents, particularly those communities excluded by colonial and other unjust systems.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city

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2019
Romina Tantalean

This project showcases existing global sustainability precedents for large-scale redevelopments. A total of thirteen case studies were examined across five countries. The case studies demonstrate innovative approaches to environmental, social and economic sustainability. The subsequent discussion focuses on policy analysis, opportunities for reconciliation, and best practice implementation. This project will help to inform the future redevelopment of the Jericho Lands.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: climate and renewables, green economy, healthy city

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2019
Craig Busch

This project aims to support the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to develop a proactive plan to improve canopy cover and increase equitable access to green space for residents in the Downtown Eastside (DTES). This project reviews successful cases of greening dense and vulnerable communities, identifies gaps in the planning and implementation of urban forestry projects in the DTES, and develops recommendations on next steps.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: access to nature, healthy city

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2019
Zhaohua (Cindy) Cheng

The long term goal of this project has been to develop capacity around Teaching Assistant (TA) wellness at UBC. Building off data collected in 2018, we continued collecting information on TA wellbeing through focus groups and surveys until June 2019. This data was used to: 1) Construct a university-wide report on TA wellbeing (2018) 2) Create a TA Wellbeing Research Strategy (2019), and 3) Construct department specific TA wellbeing reports (2019). 

Partner: UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Keywords: ecological systems, social sustainability, sustainable development & green economy

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2019
Nicole Malette

This project aims to evaluate the low cost strategies to comply with the BC Energy Step Code Standard in affordable housing projects for BC Housing. The main purpose of the report is to primary focus on Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) that can improve energy efficiency of the building while do not necessarily increase the cost. The report also analyses a few examples from BC Housing Energy Step Code Compliant projects.

Partner: BC Housing
Keywords: green buildings, social sustainability, sustainable development & green economy

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2019
Hamid Karimi

This project identifies the barriers of energy conservation measures through case studies. Strategies are currently being developed by BC Housing to determine the most impactful energy conservation measures that can achieve the Clean BC 50% greenhouse gas emission reduction target. Increasing the building envelope's R-Value, switching to an air source heat pump fuel source, and ventilation upgrades are impactful strategies for deep energy savings.

Partner: BC Housing
Keywords: green buildings, GHG reduction

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2019
Halley Sveinson

Investigating the development of an analysis tool to support the business case for medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles.

Partner: Fraser Basin Council
Keywords: transportation, electric vehicles, fleet procurement

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2019
Balpreet Kukreja

This report seeks to examine barriers to effective green infrastructure (GI) operations and maintenance (O&M) models and aims to document best practices in developing alternative frameworks. Alternative programs include community stewardship programs and workforce development programs. Lessons learned from these alternative strategies demonstrate how GI O&M can be leveraged to provide social and equity benefits.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: access to nature, clean water, green economy

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2019
Alicia Kingdon

This project aims to contribute to the attainment of the City of Vancouver's healthy city goals by reviewing the City's policies through an anti-Black racism lens. The project culminated in long-term and short-term recommendations which if adopted would assist the City in tackling anti-Black racism. The project entailed interviews with City staff, the Hogan's Alley Society and select members of the Black community.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city

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2019
Oludolapo Makinde

Gaps and limitations exist within the current municipal, provincial, and federal data collections on mental health and wellness. These gaps do not highlight the inequities Indigenous Peoples endure accessing quality health services. Applying Indigenous principles and concepts of health and wellness to the review of data helps to reveal and address these inequities. Recommendations include, centering Indigenous ways of knowing into research about Indigenous Peoples, by Indigenous Peoples.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city

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2019
Rachel Wuttunee

The purpose of this report is to inform local government approaches to supporting public childcare in BC. The report provides an overview of the different types of publicly delivered childcare currently offered in B.C. Included is a discussion of the benefits and challenges of public delivery. Future opportunities to leverage resources towards building a system of universal access to childcare are also discussed.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: healthy city

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2019
Michelle Gautreaux

This project aims to identify best practices in planning for sea level rise for employment lands in the City of Vancouver, including industrial and port lands. Includes a summary of tools and approaches found in the literature and used by other jurisdictions including land use/regulatory tools, engineering, financial tools, economic resilience planning, multi-stakeholder engagement and public awareness and education. Implementation considerations and recommended next steps are provided.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: climate and renewables, green economy, healthy city

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2019
Halina Rachelson

This project advances Vancouver's Circular Economy of Food (CEF) by answering two questions:

  1. Which indicators best track the valorization of waste?
  2. What is the economic value of our local CEF?

An AHP survey was designed and distributed to a panel of CEF related professionals. The results validate two KPIs from a set of indicators. The CEF's economic value for the region of Metro Vancouver is calculated and an initial policy & action plan presented.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: green economy, local food, zero waste

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2019
Dionissios Batistatos

This study identifies the major challenges and opportunities for the implementation of on-street electric vehicle charging from light poles in the City of Vancouver, aiming to address homes without access to off-street parking. It includes a review of the programs and projects of other jurisdictions; an assessment of the existing streetlight poles electrical infrastructure; and a recommendation of possible locations for pilot projects.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: green economy, green transportation, healthy city

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2019
Andres Puentes

As the City of Vancouver approaches the culmination of the 2020 Greenest City Action Plan, there is an opportunity to assess and set new food policy targets. As targets are measured by indicators, there is also an opportunity to review, evaluate, and select new indicators to inform the development of these emerging targets. This report reviews existing food system indicator frameworks in order to develop a series of recommendations for the City.

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: local food

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2019
Shannon Lambie

This project focuses on improving our understanding of the health and environmental impacts of street dirt and establishing a benchmarking of Vancouver's street sweeping operations. It consists of a literature review of street dirt analysis, including chemicals of concern and potential chemical concentrations, as well as and a benchmarking study which gathers street sweeping operational and fleet data from various cities to compare with Vancouver's street sweeping operations. 

Partner: City of Vancouver
Keywords: clean water, healthy city, lighter footprint

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2019
Timothy Luk

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