True impact of an institution is seen in its actions

“With great power comes great responsibility”

It’s one of my favourite superhero lines — an admonition to a young and cocky Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman) from his beloved Uncle Ben.

It’s a reminder that we do not travel through this world alone — that greatness only matters if it’s balanced by good actions.

Advancing industries, educating leaders and innovating new technologies make Waterloo a powerful institution. But that’s not what makes Waterloo great. Greatness comes from a deep-seated awareness that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Stacey Ash Nathwani, executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy, leads a global coalition connecting research, resources and resolve to address global energy poverty. Power to the People details the Affordable Energy for Humanity initiative and some of the world-changing energy research that begins right here at Waterloo.

For some, a sense of global responsibility has very personal roots. In his research, Vinh Nguyen, a professor of English, works to build better understanding of the experiences and impact of refugees. The Thinnest Line explores how Nguyen’s research related to his own experience as a child refugee, and the transformative potential that higher education offers to student refugees sponsored by the Federation of Students.

Video games might seem like the ultimate anti-social pursuit. But at the Games Institute, multidisciplinary research — from engineering and computer science to psychology and health sciences — comes together to encourage healthier ways to live, work and play. Gaming Your System explores how gamification has become a core tool, not just for marketing and media, but for self-improvement.

There’s no question that the University of Waterloo has accomplished and is capable of truly great things. The influence of our students, researchers and alumni is felt around the world.

But, true greatness remains firmly rooted in a pervasive and persistent commitment to use our knowledge, technology and resources for the betterment of all.

It’s a good reminder for the superhero in all of us.

Staff photo credit: Bryn Gladding