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Three 'big hairy' ideas

Meet the first-ever winners of a campus innovation competition
May 18, 2016
By J. Latimer

Peter Stoett: “’Waste Not, Want Not’ challenges the entire Concordia community to take sustainability seriously.” “’Waste Not, Want Not’ challenges the entire Concordia community to take sustainability seriously.”

Their ideas were audacious — and it  paid off.

The three winners of the first Concordia Council on Student Life (CCSL) Big Hairy Ideas Competition answered the call for "inspiring and ambitious projects that will have a big impact across our university community."

“Each hairy idea was unique and bold — nothing less than transformative, as we’d hoped,” says Andrew Woodall, dean of students. He points out that submissions needed to be a collaboration between students and faculty or staff. "It's a great opportunity to bring together the sometimes disparate parts of the university in a way that benefits students in general."

Twenty-three proposals came in for this new funding initiative — not to be confused with the CCSL's Special Project Fund. Here’s a look at the winning projects.

Waste Not, Want Not

“Currently, Concordia only composts 26 per cent of its compostable waste, and that’s sent out of province for processing,” says Keroles Riad, project lead and PhD student in the Individualized Program. “Our goal is to build on the existing ‘zero waste’ events at Concordia, like the Concordia Shuffle and Back to School, and establish a complete composting cycle across campus.”

Riad, working with student Gabrielle Caron, outgoing sustainability coordinator for the Concordia Student Union (CSU), and Peter Stoett, director of the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre (LSRC), realized that an educational component was key to their initiative’s success.

The $35,000 grant for their proposal, “Waste Not, Want Not: A Complete Composting Cycle for the Concordia University Community,” will be used for creating outreach materials for faculty and staff to help educate the Concordia community.

“’Waste Not, Want Not’ challenges the entire Concordia community to take sustainability seriously,” says Stoett, professor in the Department of Political Science.

“Students, staff, and faculty will engage in experiential learning as we implement an education campaign that reflects the need to manage the mountains of compostable waste produced across campus. What better way to ‘embrace the city’ and ‘embrace the world’ than by reducing our collective ecological footprint?”

This Big Hairy Idea came from the CSU, LSRC, the Graduate INDIvidualized Student Association (GISA) and Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).

Find out how students, faculty and staff can volunteer for Waste Not, Want Not.

Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR)

It’s more than simple recycling. Salvage hubs already exist on campus to drop off your dead laptop, cell phones and other consumer waste.

Instead, this Big Hairy Idea is a call to create one central repository for unwanted art materials. It would become a depot for things like half-empty tubes of paint, foam core, hardware, Styrofoam, fabric and any curiosity that could be used in sculptures, collage and mixed media.

From left: Kathleen Vaughan and Anna Timm-Bottos. From left: Kathleen Vaughan and Anna Timm-Bottos. | Photos by Concordia University

“The vision for this project is to live in a world that sees potential in what is discarded. It will provide a collection and redistribution site for 'waste' materials to students, teachers and artists that need creative supplies,” says project lead Anna Timm-Bottos, a third-year master’s student in the Department of Art Education. “It is possible to shift the way we access and reuse materials.”

Building on her thesis research into creative reuse, Timm-Bottos partnered with key Concordia collaborators in the Department of Art Education, Office of Research, EH&S and Art Hives.

The $45,000 grant will provide two years of funding, while Timm-Bottos works to secure a physical space for the CUCCR, build its infrastructure and implement a collection, sorting and display system. She also plans to develop educational materials to support the concept.

“Concordia would be the first university in Canada to do anything like this,” says the project’s faculty advisor, Kathleen Vaughan, associate professor in the Department of Art Education. “I hope to see it grow and for Concordia to take a leadership role in creative reuse.”

To build public awareness, Timm-Bottos and Kay Noele, an incoming master’s student in Concordia’s Department of Art Education, will be decorating the public piano outside the Guy-De Maisonneuve Building with reused creative materials on Friday, May 20.

“We want to show the creative potential in action,” says Timm-Bottos.

The ultimate equity audit

It’ll be another first for a Canadian university.

This Big Hairy Idea winner plans to audit Concordia course curricula, syllabi and policies to highlight areas of improvement in the representation and inclusion of three things: genders, sexualities and learning styles.

“It’s more about mapping, really, than auditing,” says Gabrielle Bouchard, peer support and trans advocacy coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy. “We’ve already got so much buy-in within Concordia. That’s very encouraging because participation [in the audit] is voluntary.”

From left: Gabrielle Bouchard, Lucy Anacleto and Mireille Paquet. | Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Bouchard From left: Gabrielle Bouchard, Lucy Anacleto and Mireille Paquet. | Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Bouchard

Bouchard teamed up with Concordia undergraduate student Lucy Anacleto and Mireille Paquet, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, to propose “Hairy Like a Unicorn: A genders, sexualities and learning diversity audit.” They were awarded $42,056.

“Here at the Centre for Gender Advocacy, we have the capacity to take on a big project like this,” says Bouchard. “Now, we’re busy gathering support from the faculties, administration, unions and student groups.”

There have been other Canadian university audits that looked at sexual equality or disabilities, but there has never been a comprehensive mapping of sexualities, genders and learning styles.

“Ultimately, the final map will be a strong tool to make changes so students and faculty feel more represented.”

Find out more about the CCSL Big Hairy Ideas Competition or review the official guidelines.


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