By Karen A. Lefkowitz, UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Communications Officer
Studying a particular region and examining similarities and differences can provide insights that are invaluable in our new, globalized world. This analysis can lead to individuals becoming better informed world citizens. With its interdisciplinary outlook, the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability is a perfect fit for Canadian Studies at UCLA.
Canadian Studies at UCLA is a decade old and was originally managed by the School of Public Affairs. The program is now being led by the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES), in partnership with the International Institute, with support from the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles. The purpose of this program is to bring Canada to life at UCLA. Through exchanges and interactions with Canadian counterparts, topical public lectures and conferences by prominent scholars and policy-makers, and funding opportunities, Canadian Studies will aim to foster a better understanding of Canadian society and its relationship with the United States.
IoES Director Glen MacDonald leads an Executive Committee which includes Professors Yoram Cohen, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; David Rigby, Department of Geography; David Neelin, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics; Jean-François Blanchette, Department of Information Studies; Brian Walker, Department of Political Science; Vinit Mukhija, Department of Urban Planning; Patrick Coleman, Department of French and Francophone Studies, and Paul Weiss, California NanoSystems Institute. Each member has a personal or professional connection to the country and is committed to growing the program.
Under the leadership of the IoES, Canadian Studies at UCLA will embrace a strong environment and sustainability focus. MacDonald said, “Canada and the United States share the same continent and thus many of the same environmental challenges and opportunities. Those challenges include supporting their populations while protecting species, ecosystem services, and preserving healthy air and waters." He continued, "Both countries also have abundant natural resources that must be managed in environmentally informed and sustainable manners.”
Employing the Institute’s distinctive multi-disciplinary perspective, the program will strive to spotlight a variety of Canadian-oriented topics. Canadian Studies at UCLA will address subjects such as: sustainability policies, business practices and technologies, resource management, species and habitat conservation, and climate change. Through teaching, research, and public programing, the program will facilitate awareness of issues of mutual concern for the two countries among faculty, researchers, students, and the public at large.
MacDonald commented on the connection between Canada and the United States. “At this time sustainability, resource management, environmental concerns, and climate change are important issues that link our countries physically, biologically, economically, and socially. The IoES hopes to serve as a nexus for helping to focus the considerable cross-campus strengths UCLA has in these areas.”
Canadian Studies at UCLA has a broad mandate to engage the campus in educational, research, and outreach activities that help build understanding and cooperation between the United States and Canada on issues of mutual interest, concern, and opportunity. MacDonald stated, “The program will be a resource for students, faculty, and the wider Los Angeles community to learn about the shared issues we have with our neighbor to the north, learn from their experiences, inform Canadian scholars, policy-makers, and others about our experiences and develop partnerships to tackle important issues together.”
The opportunity to learn more about this country will help in developing plans for a sustainable future. Canadian Studies at UCLA’s ambition is to contribute to a knowledge base that leads to wise and thoughtful decisions for the long-term development and well-being of the North American community and optimistically, other places around the world.