By: Micaela Kelly (she/her)

Waterloo’s Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) unit has once again displayed innovation in sustainability with another award-winning project.

CEE’s focus on sustainability through international work terms has earned the unit the Sustainability Education Award - Silver at Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Reimagine Education Conference and Awards.

Known as the Oscars of education, the Reimagine Education Awards took place December 6-8, 2022. The awards reward innovative approaches that enhance student learning outcomes.

In her presentation, Dr. Norah McRae (she/her), associate provost, CEE, discusses the unit’s efforts to incorporate sustainability into international work terms through their United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) centred work term activity.

Sustainability Education Award - Silver at the Reimagine Education Conference and Awards

Highlighting SDGs is important at an individual level because it creates more meaning and purpose for our students. At a societal level it helps create a more intentional approach and agency towards advancing the SDGs. It will have a huge societal and systemic impact due to the scale and size of our co-operative education program.

Dr. Norah McRae, associate provost, CEE

Each year, more than 3,000 students travel to over 60 countries for their work terms.

CEE’s SDG activity aims for co-op students to develop tools, awareness and agency to advance the SDGs. It provides opportunities for meaningful and educational conversations with their supervisors. The activity has been well received and CEE plans to offer it for all co-op students in 2023.

Driving sustainability within CEE

CEE works in partnership with its employers and the campus community to drive and advance the SDGs through various forms of practice. This includes education and awareness opportunities for co-op students during their work terms. Students who complete the activity look at the SDGs in the context of the organization employing them and what contributions they can make.

Through the SDG activity, co-op students are actively engaging in environmental stewardship and creating impact within various industries. “Through this work-term activity students and their supervisors discuss the SDGs and work together to understand how they further integrate them into business,” says Shabnam Ivković, director of international strategic initiatives, CEE. “Where students and employers participate in the activity, we have seen significant impact in awareness growth and motivation to engage with the SDGs, which continues in various ways for both groups after the work term.”

In August 2022, CEE won Best Paper at the annual WACE conference for the paper titled Value and impact of an internship activity to increase awareness of and engagement with the UN’s SDGs.

About the Reimagine Education Conference and Awards

The annual conference was a hybrid event in Egypt, the U.S. and online. Reimagine Education brings together faculty, university leadership, chief innovation officers, and other stakeholders from 70 different countries in the future of higher education and learning. The conference explored topics like the science of learning, nurturing employability and integration of sustainability. Attendees from around the world gathered in the various locations to collaborate and ideate about the future of education and what innovations to deliver the education of tomorrow.

The Reimagine Education awards recognize innovative approaches that aim to enhance learning outcomes and employability. The award categories include future of learning, future of universities, future of work and sustainability education. The judges received more than 1,200 submissions across the 18 categories. After the four evaluation rounds with more than 500 judges, the winners are selected by 25 grand jury members. CEE was proud to be shortlisted for three categories — nurturing employability, the power of partnerships and sustainability education — among the 200 shortlisted submissions.