SENS announces Certificate in Sustainability award winners for the 2020-21 academic year

Three students were recognized this year in two categories for their resourcefulness, leadership, and dedication to sustainability principles.

By Megan Evans

Outstanding Sustainability in Action Project Award

“Identifying the Outstanding Sustainability in Action Project Award winner presents the committee with difficult decisions each year,” said Dr. Colin Whitfield, Assistant Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS). “This year I was particularly impressed by the number of new and innovative projects that the ENVS 401 student teams were working on. The Riversdale Community Fridge was one of these, and Renata and Julianna's execution of their project was truly first-rate. The fact that many people in Saskatoon learned about and supported the project over the last several months is a testament to the tremendous job these students have done.”

Students taking ENVS 401 are expected to put sustainability principles, learned throughout their undergraduate degree from a variety of course electives, into tangible action.

Project co-leads Renata Cosic and Julianna Sparks took on the issue of food insecurity, with a community fridge project located in the Saskatoon community of Riversdale. “This project will create a significant impact in the community,” Cosic said. “The Community Fridge operating in Regina gets used multiple times a day, even creating line ups of people waiting for food. We strongly believe that the mutual aid model of this project will enable it to continue to exist long into the future. We are also aware that this is a band-aid solution to food insecurity and that the root causes need to be addressed by our governments in the form of basic income and the like.”

The ENVS 401 projects also provide students with opportunities to develop their skills in leadership, creative thinking, and collaboration.

Cosic also took some important lessons away from the project. “From this experience, we've learned that not everything goes according to plan. We also learned the delicate art of navigating partner relationships.”

“The most important thing I learned as part of our ENVS 401 project is how powerful collectives can be when they work together towards a common, worthwhile goal,” Sparks said. “Seeing how eager the community was to help in any way was incredibly inspiring and reminded me how amazing humanity can be when we make it our goal to care for one another.”


Learn more about the Riversdale Community Fridge project:

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Certificate in Sustainability Excellence Award

While the Sustainability in Action project award is open to any student who has taken ENVS 401, the Certificate in Sustainability Excellence Award goes to a deserving student who has demonstrated their knowledge and commitment to sustainability thinking throughout the undergraduate Certificate in Sustainability.

“Completing the sustainability certificate was important to me because it’s something that I felt really aligned with my values,” said award winner Zoey Bourgeois, who recently completed her undergraduate degree in toxicology. “Not only did it fit into my degree requirements, but the classes interested me. I liked that ENVS 201 laid the foundation and encouraged thoughtful discussions. I couldn’t wait to enroll in 401, which allowed us to take the reins and shape our very own sustainability project. 401 was unlike any other class I’ve taken, and it was great to see our hard work pay off in the final product.”

“Zoey has proven herself to be an engaged student who is an effective communicator, critical thinker, and someone whose leadership qualities are invaluable for tackling sustainability challenges,” Dr. Whitfield said of the award winner. “I hope Zoey's career path keeps her working in the realm of the environment and sustainability as I know she will find success in her future pursuits.”

For her ENVS 401 project, Bourgeois focused on the accessibility of composting on the USask campus. “I chose my project based on my personal experience of living in residence on campus, and not being able to compost. I generated quite a bit of my own food waste, and I knew the hundreds of other students living in residence did as well. The Compost Collective idea made sense because there was a need for the project, and we were able to make an ambitious, yet reasonable plan. Thinking about the amount of food waste that could be diverted from landfill and converted into compost that could benefit on-campus operations, seemed like a great idea.”


The School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) congratulates all the undergraduate students who have completed their Certificate in Sustainability and ENVS 401 projects in the 2020-21 academic year. Click to learn more about the Certificate in Sustainability, ENVS 201, and ENVS 401.