2023 Global Engagement Seminar tackles energy at the crossroads

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Our insatiable appetite for energy is one of the most pressing and contentious challenges facing humanity today. With technological, environmental, medical, economic, and political factors, societies everywhere have difficult choices to make in the pursuit of creative solutions. 

This winter term, Waterloo students will tackle this challenge in the annual Global Engagement Seminar (GES), a course for undergraduates from all Waterloo faculties to explore the problem and possible solutions through an interdisciplinary lens. With the 2023 course theme, Energy at a Crossroads: Society, Technology, Environment, Health, co-instructors Dr. Angela Carter from Political Science and Dr. Magdy Salama from Electrical and Computer Engineering will encourage students to take creative risks beyond their disciplinary comfort zone. The emphasis is on innovative and collaborative problem-solving and will culminate in a Summit in early April where students share their ideas and projects with the university community and the wider public.   

Interdisciplinary by design

With the instructors selected from different yet complementary disciplines, the seminar emphasizes the importance of applying interdisciplinary approaches to real world challenges. Carter specializes in environmental policies and politics surrounding Canadian fossil fuel development and on new international approaches to climate policy, and she serves as a member of the Net-Zero Advisory Council, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Salama is a registered professional engineer whose research expertise includes distribution system planning and performance analysis, smart grid analysis, and renewable energy analysis. He developed the Power Quality, Electric Vehicle Power Electronics, Ultrasound Imaging, and the Sleep Staging lab at UWaterloo. 

Diverse mentorship

Six experts will join the course as guest lecturers and mentors to the students. Named after the seminar’s founding donor, the Jarislowsky Fellows contribute expertise from diverse areas that span academia, government, energy, healthcare, social justice, and climate activism. This winter term’s fellows include Dr. Tarek Abdel-Galil, an electrical engineer with extensive experience in renewable energy and power system planning; Dr. Courtney Howard, an emergency physician in Yellowknife and a globally-recognized expert on the impacts of climate change on health; and Melina Laboucan-Massimo, an expert in climate justice, Indigenous sovereignty, and women’s rights, founder of Sacred Earth Solar, and co-founder and director at Indigenous Climate Action.

“This course is incredible. The guest lectures by global experts in the topic are extraordinarily interesting, with some really significant figureheads involved. There's one big project and a few mini assignments, and no tests so you can really focus on paying attention to the lectures without taking notes. I believe the structure of this course is the future of exceptional education.” — Mechatronics Engineering student, GES 2022 course

Students can register for ARTS 450 Energy at the Crossroads via Quest. Learn more about the 2023 Global Engagement Seminar.