As director of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program at U of T Mississauga, Prof. Shashi Kant has seen up close how some students have struggled during the pandemic with lost employment or income. He became concerned: how would they pay rent and put food on the table? He wondered how he might support students as they navigate these challenges.
So last year, he made a donation to create the Equity and Diversity Award, which grants $2,500 annually to one student in the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program. Because he wanted the award to go to students for whom it would make the biggest difference, he stipulated that financial need – not academic merit – be the main qualifying criterion.
For Kant, sustainability is rooted in love for the planet and all living things. He says taking care of each other is how we achieve social progress. “Love and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. You cannot do sustainability unless there is love,” says Kant.
Kant understands that fostering Canada’s next generation of sustainability leaders also requires being inclusive. He observes that the United Nations’ sustainable development goals include inclusive and equitable quality education for all. To attract students from a wide range of backgrounds, Kant structured the award to also give preference to students who are Black or Indigenous or who are registered with UTM’s Accessibility Services office. “A diverse mix of voices and perspectives is essential to address climate change and create a sustainable world,” he says.