Experiential Education Coordinator, Community Partnerships and Employers
Lina Brand Correa
Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change, York U Business and Environment Diploma Program Coordinator with EUC and Schulich School of Business
York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) is inspiring and preparing students for transformative careers and engaged citizenship.
Now more than ever, our world needs positive change to create a just and sustainable future. Climate change, extreme meteorological phenomena, biodiversity loss, water shortages, waste management, the omnipresence of microplastics, energy challenges, and sustainable urban development are just some of the issues that we must tackle as individuals, communities, a nation, and worldwide.
York University has long been known as a top-ranked international teaching and research university that prepares its students for longterm career and personal success. Its Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) is continuing this legacy of excellence, offering academic programs that empower students as changemakers who can help to create the more just and sustainable future we all need through interdisciplinary thinking, experiential learning, and global perspectives.
An all-encompassing call to action
“The Faculty of EUC was created as an all-encompassing call to action to respond to the most pressing challenges the world faces today,” says Aren Sammy, Experiential Education Coordinator at York University. “We focus on people and the planet, and on being changemakers in the field.”
The Faculty offers 3 undergraduate degrees (BA, BSc, & BES), six undergraduate programs (Cities, Regions, Planning; Ecosystem Management; Environmental Arts and Justice; Environmental Science; Global Geography; and Sustainable Environment Management), two certificate programs (Geomatics and Sustainable Energy), and two graduate programs (Environmental Studies and Geography).
The Faculty of EUC’s goal is to inspire and prepare students for careers and engaged citizenship through experiential education, critical thinking, hands-on-research, and leadership skills. Its research spans the biophysical sciences, social sciences, and the arts, pushing the frontiers of urban, environmental, and geographical knowledge.
Solving complex problems
“The EUC is a multi-disciplinary faculty,” says Lina Brand Correa, Assistant Professor with the Faculty of EUC. “We have people looking at environmental, urban, and social issues from all sorts of different angles and disciplinary backgrounds.” This inter-disciplinary lens is critical to providing the broad approach and diversity necessary to tackle increasingly complex challenges.
Addressing complex issues also involves mobilizing knowledge is a considered way. In YorkU’s case, knowledge mobilization refers to the process in which academic research is translated, synthesized, disseminated, and transferred to the organizations, institutions, people, and communities that would benefit from its understanding, in order to effect positive change in the world. Too often, research is contained in the academic world — but its real value is when it’s accessible, out in the world, making a difference.
In the Faculty of EUC, knowledge mobilization happens through faculty members’ research initiatives and through the steadfast focus on providing enriching experiential education opportunities via action-oriented collaborations with changemakers, communities, and institutions.
Experiential education is really the foundation of preparing students for the real world. We focus on people and the planet, and on being changemakers in the field.
A holistic approach
“We work closely with students in our research and there’s also a lot of community involvement in our research projects, so it’s a matter of establishing partnerships that are equitable and that benefit communities as well,” says Brand Correa.
Researchers in the Faculty of EUC actively and constantly consider how their work can have an impact in the real world — including in supporting student career success.
For Brand Correa, whose research focuses on the use of energy from a social sciences lens — “exploring issues of why we use energy the way we do” — taking theory into the real world is critical. “In one course, the experiential education component was field work on the Bruce Peninsula,” she says. “We can talk about a complex issue like energy poverty or energy justice as much as we want, but students don’t really understand it until they see it in real life and talk to people who are dealing with it.”
Solving real-world problems
This is why the Faculty of EUC places such a huge emphasis on experiential learning opportunities, which help students to deepen their learning and develop important professional and life skills, such as communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and civic engagement.
“Experiential education is really the foundation of preparing students for the real world,” says Sammy. “Most of our courses have an experiential education opportunity — from guest speakers to real-life case studies to workshops, field trips, research opportunities, work placements, and internships.” The Faculty of EUC also includes several living labs, such as the Ecological Footprint Initiative and the Maloca Community Garden, as well as its Las Nubes EcoCampus in Costa Rica. From the classroom to the workplace to the community, educational education enhances students’ learning with real-world, hands-on learning opportunities.
Creating positive change
Beyond cultivating the next generation of changemakers through its graduates, YorkU is encouraging and empowering all individuals to take action in righting the future for a more sustainable world. The school’s new Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living offers faculty, staff, students, and members of the public the opportunity to learn about sustainability from six of York’s world-renowned experts.
“You can access the microlectures online for free and you can complete the whole series in less than an hour,” says Brand Correa, “The microlectures explain some of the main environmental challenges that we’re facing and ask viewers to commit to put their learnings into practice. At the end, you’ll receive a Sustainable Living Ambassador digital badge.”
Because if there’s one thing the Faculty of EUC exemplifies, it’s that we can all be part of creating positive change in the world.
To learn more about studying at the Faculty of EUC at York University, or to partner with EUC’s experiential education opportunities, visit yorku.ca/euc.