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Sarah Burch awarded national funding for sustainability policy lab

Monday, March 14, 2016

Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced more than $23 million in funding for 95 projects at 26 universities across Canada. Included in this, is funding for researcher Sarah Burch to build a Sustainability Policy Research on Urban Transformations (SPROUT) Lab at the University of Waterloo.

Sarah BurchThe investment was made by the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund — a fund designed to help universities attract and retain the best and brightest researchers from around the world by giving them access to cutting-edge research tools.

Burch is Environment's most recent Canada Research Chair.

"The reality of urban environmental and social sustainability problems clashes with the traditional role that researchers play in building knowledge," says Burch, who also teaches in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management. "It reveals a puzzle that remains to be solved: after more than two decades of attempting to address issues like climate change, successes have been largely incremental and piecemeal. It is clear that new mechanisms and tools are required to foster knowledge sharing, meaningful engagement of stakeholders to explore development pathways, and collaboration amongst a global network of sustainability innovators." 

The Sustainability Policy Research on Urban Transformations (SPROUT) Lab will demonstrate how environmentally sustainable building materials and communications technology can come together with multi-disciplinary research methods to foster innovative, action-oriented, scholarly work that deeply engages multiple stakeholders.

“Investments like today’s in Canada’s research infrastructure are incredibly important to the nation’s future. They give Canadian researchers the tools they need to make new discoveries that will better the lives of Canadians today and for years to come," said Duncan.

The physical design and technology embedded in SPROUT will directly enable Dr. Burch's team to uncover innovative partnerships between local, provincial/state and national governments that respond to climate change, the role that small businesses can play in sustainability transitions, and the ingredients of transformative change. The SPROUT Lab can produce results that support the growth and resilience of Canadian small businesses, and enable the creation of healthier, more prosperous, and more environmentally sustainable communities.