Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: UBC SEEDS: Maximizing Student, Staff, and Faculty Synergies
Year Submitted 2007
Name of Institution The University of British Columbia
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Terry Sumner<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Vice-President, Finance and Administration
Telephone: 604-822-4141
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

Multiple stakeholder involvement is at the heart of SEEDS. In the initial project meetings, the SEEDS Manager works with staff and faculty to carefully clarify the desired outcomes, and to establish solid commitment among the participants. It is vital to ensure that the research or field of study that staff members require fit well with the learning outcomes that faculty have set for their course. At this stage, the SEEDS Manager helps the parties negotiate any changes needed and facilitates creative dialogue about other stakeholders who may need to be included. The outcome of these meetings is a project that is achievable in terms of the time and expertise students can offer and that has a commitment from staff to provide the background material and time needed to enable the students to do the best job possible. For a project to be successful, it is imperative that a strong network of stakeholders guides it forward from the beginning. Faculty play an integral role in this network by sharing expert advice with other members of the team and feel grateful for the opportunity to contribute. SEEDS allows faculty, staff and students to work in partnership, creating blueprints for change which bring us further towards a sustainable campus community.

Supporting Documentation

Appendix 1: Feedback from SEEDS Participants 2005-2006

Appendix 2: SEEDS Projects 2005-2006

Note: If you would like to read the students' reports, please visit the SEEDS project library at: http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/seeds.html

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

The SEEDS program is an excellent candidate for transferability to other institutions of higher education. Today, more than ever before, universities are realizing they need to set good social, environmental and economic examples for their societies to follow. As of March 2006, 24 institutions in Canada (130 in North America) had signed the Talloires Declaration - a commitment to make sustainability the foundation for teaching, research, and campus operations.[1] SEEDS successfully addresses this need, and the program has already gathered much outside interest. In the last year alone, the Sustainability Office (SO) has responded to inquiries about SEEDS from the University of Toronto, the University of Manitoba, Western Washington University, and a network of universities in Mexico. In addition, SEEDS has been presented to audiences at Ball State University in Indiana, as well as in Whistler, Halifax, and even Japan.

The SO recently developed a workshop to train organizations on how to implement another of our successful programs, the Sustainability Coordinator program, which will be attended by participants from across the continent and as far away as Hawaii. We plan to develop a similar training workshop for SEEDS. UBC can easily package the program for other universities as the SO has a clear protocol already in place for setting up and managing SEEDS projects, with documentation pertaining to each element of the program: protocol, project and student registration forms, an electronic library system for completed projects, evaluation forms, and recognition materials.

SEEDS could be integrated into any college or university provided with an individual to manage it, which would require roughly three days per week. The program manager should have strong networking, facilitation, mediation, and problem solving skills, along with a keen interest in furthering sustainability at the university and forging unique partnerships among students, staff, and faculty.

[1] <http://www.ulsf.org/pdf/td_signatories.pdf>

Quality Impact

UBC SEEDS supports the creation of a socially, economically and ecologically balanced community through the grassroots involvement of students, faculty, and staff. Many of the critical blueprints for change and future action are emerging from the teamwork, brainstorming and research inherent in SEEDS. The program benefits the campus as a whole by:


giving staff members a greater sense of participation in and responsibility for the academic enterprise;


offering mentoring opportunities that facilitate teamwork and enhance research experiences;


assisting students to prepare in practical ways for the world of work;


integrating research opportunities through research projects, research based inquiry and problem solving;


offering interdisciplinary opportunities;


making the campus a more attractive community that demonstrates sustainability; and


enhancing public awareness by communicating research results to specialist and non-specialist communities both on and off campus.

As for particular projects, in the initial project meetings, the SEEDS Manager works with staff and faculty to carefully clarify the desired outcomes. At the conclusion of the projects, we gather information about the outcomes, the benefits to participants and the contribution to sustainability at the University through an electronic and in-person evaluation process. These evaluations began in the first year of the program and shed light on what we are doing well and where the program can be improved. Information from the evaluations forms the basis of our annual report. Feedback on the program from participants has been outstanding. As one student said: "UBC is not an inaccessible institutional block. It is a community of individuals doing their best. Getting to personally meet this network and play a role was hugely rewarding." Faculty and staff also rank the program a success. One professor said the project report "was unbelievable! The students tied in the entire course. It's like nothing I've ever read! I always benefit hugely from SEEDS when I see students taking the theory and applying it to a practical, relevant project." Notes a staff member: "The work the students have done is absolutely incredible." Additional comments from participants are provided in appendix 1. Further benefits to the University include:


Research and testing with the Biodiesel Project has led UBC Plant Operations to use 20% biodiesel in its landscape vehicles.


Research from SEEDS projects has led to a pesticide-free campus. It has also sparked a reassessment of landscape techniques in order to reduce heavy metal contaminants in storm water.


SEEDS teams have inspired the design of seven new gardens on campus.

SEEDS coordinates a leading group of interdisciplinary scientists investigating how the world can use its seafood resources in wise and sustainable ways. SEEDS also coordinates a sustainable food systems project for the campus which has transformed many food services operations.

Productivity Impact

Since SEEDS was launched in the fall of 2000, there have been 241 student reports completed, involving more than 1,500 participants. In 2005-6, SEEDS attracted 344 participants - 30 instructors, 273 students, and 41 staff. SEEDS projects have benefited the university in a wide variety of ways, including substantial monetary savings. Since September 2003 (when we began tracking the figures), staff report that SEEDS projects have saved the University at least $169,000 in consulting fees. In addition to saving money, staff find the projects beneficial to productivity because of the quality of the students' work.

With clear goals set at the outset and the continued involvement of staff and faculty, students are able to produce valuable recommendations. For example, the Director of UBC Food Services, who has been involved in numerous SEEDS projects, writes: "Many sustainability initiatives undertaken by our department over the past five years are a direct result of recommendations coming out of these student projects." These initiatives include switching exclusively to fair trade, organic coffee in all of UBC Food Services' non-franchise outlets, incorporating more local, organic foods into its menu selections, providing composting facilities for customers, and developing procurement standards for an ongoing sustainable seafood program for the department. SEEDS projects have also led UBC Plant Operations to use 20% biodiesel in its landscape vehicles. In 2006 this amounted to roughly 13,000 L. This type of fuel blend produces 12 to 18% fewer emissions than pure petroleum diesel. [1]

[1] "Lowering Canada's Vehicle Emissions," EnviroZine: Environment Canada's On-line Newsmagazine 54, (May 13, 2005), <http://www.ec.gc.ca/EnviroZine/english/issues/54/feature2_e.cfm>.


UBC's SEEDS program is Western Canada's first academic program bringing together over 1,500 students, faculty, and staff to address sustainability issues since its launch in 2000. Intent on finding solutions, these participants studied ecological, social, and economic issues. Some of these projects have been implemented, some are under consideration for implementation and others have significantly affected decision-making. In addition to contributing to theimplementation of important projects on campus and providing valuable opportunities for students to put their academic learning to use, SEEDS creates connections and true partnerships that will help build a stronger sense of community among students, staff, and faculty lasting into the future. Oftentimes, students and faculty seeking to improve sustainability on their campuses fail to acknowledge the importance of staff involvement.[1] At UBC we wanted to emphasize the vitally important role staff play in the initiation and implementation of campus change. We planned a program that uses personal contact and one-to-one communication with staff members to reinforce the importance of their role. Since staff members are the ones who ultimately make the decision to build a compost system, address problems of staff back injuries in creative ways, or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars implementing storm water monitoring and remediation, they are key to success. The following quote illustrates the kind of satisfaction staff feel in the program:

"I have personally had the good fortune of working on a number of SEEDS projects that have had, and continue to have, impacts on the way we steward and maintain the campus landscape. The collaborative spirit of these projects is inspiring, and I believe promotes teamwork, a balanced perspective in the face of complex problems, and the understanding that significant progress in sustainability cannot occur without mutual support and collaboration. The opportunity not only to be supported in my work, but also to offer support to students through mentorship is extremely satisfying. Also, working from a interdisciplinary/multi-stakeholder perspective helps to dissolve theoretical or pragmatic blindspots that might otherwise limit the efficacy of potential solutions."

[1] Sarah Hammond Creighton, Greening the Ivory Tower: Improving the Environmental Track Record of Universities, Colleges, and Other Institutions (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1998), 15.