Strengthening sustainable and diverse communities

At Waterloo, we share a commitment to build communities that have genuine care and concern for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the environments where we study, work, live, and play. We believe that our communities are more than physical infrastructure, and that they have the power to help shape and inform how we achieve our goals. In the Strengthening Communities theme, we focus action on four primary areas which cut across all parts of our learning, research, and living endeavour.

Goals and objectives

The Strengthening Communities theme area focuses on four goals and 14 objectives. The Strengthening Communities team developed initiatives to address these goals and objectives. Goals, objectives, and initiatives can be can be viewed by expanding the links below. Initiatives shown reflect some of the activities that are planned to address the goals and objectives, and are expected to change and evolve over time.

Goal C1: People-centred institution committed to care, concern, respect, inclusivity and well-being for all

Working in partnership with all stakeholders, mobilize the commitments from the Okanagan Charter and Healthy Workplace statement to embed and promote sustainability and foster personal development and supportive environments for mental health and resilience, physical health, social inclusion, belonging and spiritual well–being in campus culture.

  • Implement Wellness Collaborative initiatives and priorities
  • Implement selected PAC-SMH recommendations in collaboration with Centre for Teaching Excellence and the Associate Vice-President Academic office:
    • #1: Develop a mental health framework for use when writing new, or reviewing existing, policies and procedures, including new academic programming.
    • #5: Develop best practices around exam and evaluations with a wellness viewpoint in mind (e.g., reducing high stakes final exams)
    • #7: Implement and use universal instructional design to improve course delivery.
    • #10: Include peer mentorship activities in all aspects of student service delivery to improve connection, collaboration and develop a greater sense of belonging.
  • Health promotion campaign to encourage sense of community and belonging
  • Develop internal key performance indicators and dashboard to monitor key student support and experience data

  • Develop and implement a performance measurement framework aligned with Ontario quality health framework for primary care, including all of Campus Wellness

  • Student experience research and evaluation project

  • Mobilize the commitments of the Okanagan Charter and the Healthy Workplace Statement by developing mental health literacy training

  • Comprehensive wellness program integrated across faculties including smoke- and vape-free campus, integrated faculties and health and integrated performance wellness framework

  • Universal instructional design, using a wellness lens

Nurture relationships between faculty and students to promote academic curiosity and risk–taking in a safe and supportive community of learners.

  • Increase involvement of students in the governance of their programs
  • Develop and support faculty-specific academic skill development through course-integrated activities

  • Provide targeted support to students at risk academically

  • Develop and deploy translation/pre-incubation programs to support student and faculty commercialization aspirations (via entrepreneurship)  

Create a supportive environment for international students that also celebrates their contributions to our diverse community.

  • Support international students through programming and campus partner collaborations via the international peer community

  • Support students through a team of dedicated, regulated immigration consultants 

  • Support the international student experience by strengthening staff and faculty knowledge of the ISE and intercultural learning  

  • Create specific orientation programming for international students and expose them to various programming and clubs that align with their culture and interests

  • Elevate awareness of and engagement with international student supports and international activities through a more prominent brand, a more visible and accessible space for services and programs, and an international community gathering space (e.g. global lounge)

  • Expand and enhance opportunities for students to develop greater intercultural competency on campus, and receive recognition (e.g. Global Experience Certificate, peer mentorship training, student leadership)

  • Build a sense of community among international students

Goal C2: Connected and supportive community

Intentionally develop programming to inspire collaboration for shared research, teaching, learning and community building opportunities among our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

  • Well-being supports for employees and their dependents (Policy 67)
  • Regularly monitor employee engagement
  • Engage with the University community to significantly enhance the employee experience; Attract, retain and engage employees with more personalized experiences to help them achieve their full potential
  • Extend the future talent framework to employees for internal career progression
  • Standard process for managing accommodations for employees with restrictions and limitations due to protected grounds

Develop a culture of involvement that fosters inclusivity and a sense of belonging.

  • Create comprehensive communications plan for students
  • Creating an inclusive and welcoming environment by creating peer networks to welcome and coach other students 

  • Promote a culture of involvement by engaging students in inclusive digital communities/ creating awareness of opportunities through student-focused channels 

  • Priority around the brand of the Warriors, and the proportion of undergraduate students who report feeling a sense of community (NSSE) community a common brand and language can have, and the inclusive approach to engaging all members of our campus in programming and services that provides a community of support

  • Provide wide variety of food options that meet dietary needs with clear labelling (vegan, vegetarian, halal, made with gluten, made without dairy)

Sustain a meaningful relationship with alumni around the world that includes peer support, social connection and learning over their lifetime.

  • Create and support unique opportunities for learning to deliver diverse, engaging, and relevant educational experiences independently and through partnerships.

Ensure co–op students experience continued connection to the University during their work terms.

  • Continue co-op student connection
  • See initiatives in world leadership in work-integrated learning (WIL) goal and Student Success Office operations

Broaden our understanding and engagement of communities on our campuses and with our alumni, external partners, regional, national and international communities.

  • Offer volunteer opportunities for alumni through the Global Alumni Volunteer Network
  • Engage students and link them with the Student-Alumni Bridge program
  • Build community through the online alumni network

Goal C3: Leverage resources to engage, develop and build capacity and infrastructure

Become a societal role model of sustainability in policy, process and practice through full implementation of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy and meaningful action to address climate change in our operations.

  • Advance the actions and initiatives of Shift:Neutral to reduce (reduction in emissions by 17.5%) in Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2025

  • Implement actions identified in Shift:Neutral

  • Advance the University’s Shift:Neutral action plan to achieve a 60% waste diversion target

  • Increase the percentage of active and sustainable transportation trips (walking, cycling, public transit, carpooling, teleworking) used by employees and students travelling to campus.

  • Increase the percentage of active and sustainable transportation trips (walking, cycling, public transit, carpooling, teleworking) used by employees and students travelling to campus.

  • Complete a number of objectives from the Environmental Sustainability Strategy (46 actions)

  • Engage members of the University community to be involved in sustainability action on campus

  • Support students and employees in making healthy, sustainable and equitable food choices on campus

  • Enhance protection of campus green spaces to support outdoor connectivity and wellbeing

  • Map and build awareness around the UN Sustainable Development Goals Project

Leverage our entrepreneurial spirit and model organizational efficiency and sustainability in all domains of our service.

  • Engage with the University of Waterloo community to build capacity for, and a foundation of, operational efficiency, while leveraging resources and fostering a culture of continuous improvement through education, communication, collaboration, and ongoing engagement with our campus stakeholders

Ensure all campus community members understand their role in and contribute to a positive student experience.

  • See objective: Nurture relationships between faculty and students to promote academic curiosity and risk-taking in a safe and supportive community of learners

Goal C4: Promote and support Indigenous initiatives and a culture of equity, diversity and inclusivity for all

Embrace and act upon the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations and calls to action and build stronger relationships with our local Indigenous community.

  • Build a purpose-built space on main campus (and satellite campuses) for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit space
  • Educate non-First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples to help create awareness and space for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people to work and study at Waterloo
  • Develop a University of Waterloo Indigenous five-year strategic plan

  • Establish a University of Waterloo Indigenous Advisory Council

  • Develop Indigenous curriculum and pedagogy throughout all faculties

  • Strengthen Waterloo's community relations with First Nations, Metis, and Indigenous communities with an emphasis on Haldimand Tract nations

Improve the representation, participation and engagement of equity–seeking groups within our community.

  • Increase the number of Indigenous tenure track faculty across all faculties and locations

  • Develop a recruitment strategy to increase the number of Indigenous students at Waterloo

  • Develop an action plan with Human Resources to recruit and hire Indigenous staff across the institution

  • Develop an Indigenous STEM outreach strategy

  • Develop a First Nations, Métis, and Inuit admissions policy

  • Develop a First Nations, Métis, and Inuit strategy in every faculty

  • Enhance Indigenous student scholarships and bursaries

  • Develop and implement an institutional equity data strategy

  • Improve data collection on Indigenous students

  • Develop accountability frameworks for equity and anti-racism, grounded in data

  • Incorporate equity related demographic data to build evidence base for equity action: develop a process and gather student and employee data re: gender, sexual orientation, racial, and ability

  • Enhanced academic accommodation support for student survivors of trauma

  • Enhanced academic accommodation support for students in co-op / work-integrated learning (WIL)

Advance programs, policies and processes that foster equity, diversity and inclusivity.

  • Expand training and education on equity and anti-racism for students, staff, and faculty

  • Develop equity and anti-racism training

  • Deploy equity training to all clients and Velocity staff

  • Waterloo equity training and external training leveraged specific to systemic oppression in technology communities

  • Develop and deploy equity values and policy for Velocity and create continuous improvement for Velocity operations against and OKR framework

  • Focus on developing and implementing Indigenous student equity initiatives in the programs and services offered and/or facilitated by the Student Success Office (SSO)

  • Focus on developing and implementing student equity initiatives in the programs and services offered and/or facilitated by the SSO

  • Expand welcoming and inclusive spaces on campus

  • Create and update policies and processes related to equity (create a new equity policy, Policy #57 on Accommodations, policy on caregiving, update Policies #65, Policy #14)

  • Achieve compliance of multi-year accessibility initiatives

The Strengthening Communities Action Team is responsible for developing plans and leading implementation for the strengthening communities theme.

The team is comprised of:

The team works closely with faculties and Waterloo stakeholders including the President's Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health, the President's Anti-Racism Task Force, Undergraduate Operations Committee, and Graduate Operations Committee.