by York University
March 17, 2023

York University empowers individuals to take action and create positive change

The new, free microlecture series aims for a more sustainable future.

With microplastics in our food, increased risk of human-made disasters and ongoing disruptions to ways of life in northern and Indigenous communities, the effects of climate change and environmental devastation are rapidly becoming more evident, widespread and intense. It’s more important than ever for communities and individuals to take action.

York University has created a powerful resource in the quest for a better future—offering a chance not just to learn about sustainability, but to make a difference on an individual level and inspire others to take tangible actions towards a more sustainable world.

A convenient way to learn

The new Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living is a free, open-access program that gives participants the opportunity to learn from six of York’s world-renowned academic experts on a diverse range of topics related to sustainability. 

Thanks to its innovative “microlecture” format, in less than an hour participants can learn how microplastics journey through and impact our ecosystems, unravel the relationship between energy and economic growth, explore why the most vulnerable amongst us often face the highest flooding risks, discover the difference between a hazard and a disaster in the context of emergency management, consider how colonialism has impacted the way disasters affect Indigenous communities, and dive into the reasons why our lakes are rapidly warming. 

“Each of us has a role to play in creating a better future for our planet, and transitioning to a cleaner, just and more prosperous planet needs to be both an immediate priority and a sustained effort,” says York University’s president and vice-chancellor, Rhonda Lenton. “The Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living helps to foster a culture of collaboration and gives us the tools and knowledge to make a difference.”

Participants are tasked with making positive, sustainability-focused changes in their daily lives based on tips from each professor. For those who complete the series, correctly answer test questions and commit to putting their learnings into practice, a first-of-its-kind Digital Badge in Sustainable Living—which can be added to social media such as LinkedIn—will recognize their commitment to environmental responsibility and serve as a powerful tool for challenging others to do their part.

After earning their badge, participants become Sustainable Living Ambassadors, prepared to inspire others in their own communities to make small changes that can have a big impact.

Global challenges, like climate change, represent critical inflection points in society, and the collective response will determine the future well-being of people and the planet. York University recognizes the important role academic institutions play in convening people and ideas for meaningful action.

Commitment to sustainability

By making the Microlecture Series freely available not only to its own students and community but to all who want to join the movement for a more sustainable world, York University is showing its commitment to driving positive change and empowering individuals to take urgent action.

“By working together and taking small steps,” Lenton adds, “we can achieve great things and build a world that is more sustainable for generations to come.”

The desire to build a more sustainable future and mitigate the threats facing people and the Earth underscores York’s core values and goals, and the Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living is just one of many ways York University is bringing its Sustainability Action Commitment to life. 

York’s top 35 ranking among universities worldwide on the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking recognizes the university’s steadfast commitment to right the future. Along with the recent announcement of ambitious new goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2049 or sooner, York is expanding its sustainability office and leveraging education, research and partnerships at local and global levels to explore transformative solutions to the broad range of issues impacting the sustainability of our world. Most recently, announcing former Toronto city councillor, York alum, and long-time champion of sustainability, Mike Layton, as York’s inaugural chief sustainability officer.

Through the university’s efforts to educate and inspire the next generation of change-makers, York continues to establish itself as a sustainability leader in the Canadian post-secondary education sector.