The University of St. Michael’s College has a long-standing commitment to social justice, and in response to Laudato si’ and Fratelli Tutti’s call to establish new relationships with the environment and with all humanity, St. Michael’s has committed to orient itself proactively and lead as an institution that is dedicated to social justice and sustainability, whether environmental, social, or financial.
In June 2023, the Collegium of the University of St. Michael’s College committed to fully divest the University’s investments from fossil fuels by the year 2030, or sooner if possible.
The University of St. Michael’s commitment to sustainability — is one of three priorities in our 180 strategic plan to put the college’s Catholic identity first.
Learn more about our ongoing ESG initiatives in the 2023 President’s Report to Collegium.
Leadership in Canada
Just ahead of Earth Day 2023, the University of St. Michael’s College achieved the designation of “Blue Community,” committing to protect water as a human right and public good. St. Michael’s joins Regis College and the Sisters of St. Joseph to adopt a seven commitment “Blue Community Pledge.” Learn more about the pledge here.
- The Regis St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology is home to the Elliott Allen Institute of Theology and Ecology which has been offering master and doctoral level theses in eco-theology since 1991.
- St. Michael’s is the only Canadian Catholic college to join in a new network of universities who have pledged to use their investments to nudge corporate Canada into action on climate change.
- Supported by the McConnell Foundation, a group of 30 university presidents, including St. Mike’s president David Sylvester, created several tools, resources, and connections to scale their social impact and put Canada on a more sustainable course. Download the report here.
Capital Projects and Strategic Initiatives
Following a pilot project in 2020, replaced eight (8) existing urinals at Elmsley Hall residence floors with waterless urinals estimated to save over 100,000 litres of water annually and reducing 17.5kgs of carbon per urinal.
Elmsley Hall’s new windows will result in an almost 88% reduction in total electricity consumption for the building (drop from 26,195 kWh to 3,062 kWh).
Fisher and More Houses washroom renovation projects employed water efficient metered faucets to reduce water consumption and LED lighting to reduce energy consumption.
- LED lighting retrofits throughout campus interiors and exteriors.
- The following buildings have interior LED lighting throughout: Alumni Hall, Carr Hall, Elmsley Hall, Kelly Library, Odette Hall, and Sorbara Residence.
- LED lighting outdoor retrofits: all lamp posts were replaced with high brightness and intensity, energy efficient LED bulbs and new fixtures lenses.
- In conjunction with the LED replacements, the installation of astronomical timers for exterior lighting also helps to reduce energy consumption as the schedule automatically adjusts to sunrise and sunset to eliminate the need for separate photo control devices. This initiative also enhances overall campus security by providing a well-lit site for staff, students, and community.
Avoiding Unnecessary and Dangerous Waste
Across St. Mike’s, units are making strides to reduce waste and shift towards recyclable, compostable waste instead.
- St. Mike’s is capturing 67% of recyclable and reusable materials, while also diverting half of materials from landfill.
- Advancement has cut its paper use in half by using exclusively electronic filing for donations under $1,000.
- St. Basil’s has begun to use more recyclable and compostable materials and packaging in its outreach ministries (e.g. Out of the Cold)
- The St. Michael’s Alumni Magazine now offers a digital, PDF subscription to those who would prefer not to receive printed copies.
References and Resources
Smart Practices, Long-Term Gains — Chief Administrative Officer Effie Slapnicar discusses how St. Michael’s involvement with UNIE reflects the way sustainability is being woven into all aspects of the College’s culture. (Spring 2021 President’s Report)
St. Michael’s Adds Voice to New Climate Crisis Investor Initiative — The University of St. Michael’s College has joined a coalition of other Canadian universities to launch the University Network for Investor Engagement (UNIE), an initiative that will engage investee corporations on climate change risks. (Feb. 19, 2021)
University of St. Michael’s College and Umalia Collaborate on Brokering Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships — Students from the 2020/21 Cohort of the Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility & Sustainability will be studying the Climat’Eau project. This project, led by Umalia for the last three years, is a multi-stakeholder partnership in Benin, Africa involving local Beninese partners, the Sô-Ava municipal government and the Sô-Ava Collective of Civil Society Organizations, the Canadian company Technologies Ecofixe, and Université Laval. The purpose of the project has been to build resilience of populations against the effects of climate change in Benin. (Nov. 10, 2020)
The Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology – Past Doctoral and Master’s Theses
InsightOut: A Water-secure Future for All — Water justice activist and author Maude Barlow reflects on what it means for St. Mike’s to become a blue community. (Apr. 17, 2023)
InsightOut: Feeling Anxious About the Future? You’re Not Alone — St. Mike’s alumnus Dr. Simon Appolloni is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment. His current research interest lies in understanding and utilizing pedagogies of hope that build resilience within students as they navigate paths toward sustainability. Simon has maintained his pre-doctoral volunteer work within the environmental-social justice not-for-profit sector. (Nov. 14, 2022)
InsightOut: Investing in Our Planet — Lauren Amaral is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of St Michael’s College pursuing a double major in Environmental Science and Global Health with a minor in Environmental Studies and a Certificate in Sustainability. She is the current President of Clean SMC, a sustainability-focused group at SMC that strives to promote environmental initiatives among students at the University of Toronto. (Apr. 21, 2022)
InsightOut: Helping Earth Day Become a Celebration of Renewal — Rosemary Boissonneau is a climate justice activist and a doctoral student at St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology, where she studies ecotheology and scripture. Her research involves applying ecofeminist and decolonial methods to the interpretation of Old Testament texts in order to retrieve an understanding of the land as an active participant in the covenant with God and the people of Israel. (Apr. 20, 2022)
InsightOut: Of Heatwaves, Floods and Climate Change—Our Kairos Moment — Dr. Hilda P. Koster is an Associate Professor of Theology and Director of the Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology. (July 29, 2021)
Douglas Kaufman: A Christian Approach to Environmentalism — Douglas Day Kaufman was drawn to study at St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology because of his interest in ecotheology. (Nov. 13, 2020)
St. Mikes is listed on the Blue Communities university network: https://bluecommunity.ch/blue-universities